A few days ago I was talking to my best friend. Ninety-Nine percent of the time she’s right about what she says. I value her advice because she IS right so often. So those very few times when we disagree I find it very disconcerting. This is one of those times when I’m still trying to figure out if she is right yet again.
During our talk she went to great lengths to tell me something. She stressed that even when I was in the midst of the very worst and the necrosis was slowly eating my breasts away, or the sutures were tearing open and I had two tennis ball sized gaping wounds where I once had breasts, I was still whole. That no matter what happened to my body, in essence I was still me.
To some extent this is true. Even when I felt like a mangled, worthless subhuman thing, I was still Maria. I still had the basic make-up that makes me who I am.
There IS a point I have problems agreeing, however. If a situation, no matter what it is, breaks your spirit, if your mettle is pushed beyond the breaking point and you shatter under the weight of the situation, are you REALLY still whole?
Here is where I have to say No. Those pieces have to be put back together again. In many cases, those shards come together to create something stronger than before. Mettle isn’t tested unless it’s been through the forge.
Once in a while, for some people, those pieces don’t quite mend right. Mental illness can develop from extreme stress. When someone endures long periods of high stress levels, that saturation of adrenaline, etc can actually cause changes in brain chemistry. I’ve talked about post traumatic stress disorder before. Panic disorders, anxiety and depression are other issues that can develop. All of these mental issues can become life threatening. Depression can lead to suicide. Panic attacks and anxiety can lead to high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.
Of course modern pharmacology can supply you with a pill to alleviate the symptoms of those mental illnesses. But the underlying cause still remains, possibly for years. This raises the question: Are you really whole if you don’t FEEL whole?
My friend’s premise is that our essence or soul cannot be affected by what happens to our bodies. That essence remains whole and perfect. That’s all well and good, but if the MIND, that mental spark that makes us who we are, is damaged, are we still whole?
In THIS regard, I have to disagree. Once something is broken it can never truly be made whole again. I will NEVER be the same again. I don’t just mean physically, either. Perhaps I am ‘whole’ but I am changed and I will never be the same.
That is not to say that I am not still ‘Maria’. I am. I have been changed by what has happened though. Who wouldn’t be? In some ways I am stronger. In others, I am weaker. Those aspects may eventually change. Right now, only Time will tell.