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Sharing Our Scars

By Stacie Chadwick

Reading between the Pines
Last night, my husband and I went to a socially-distanced dinner with friends. As one moment led to another, we literally and figuratively took our masks off, and the conversation moved more deeply than the cocktail chatter that seems to permeate polite communication.

We quickly flowed through the requisite kids and COVID-19 touchpoints and landed on the individual periods of pain we’d each experienced in life. I don’t know why, on a cold winter night, we leaned toward the things we don’t normally discuss. Maybe it was the weather, or the wine, or the simple fact that we’ve all been so socially distanced from one another that we’ve forgotten polite conversation is grounded in the watchability of an endless list of Netflix shows. Regardless, sharing our individual struggles created a current of connectivity that permeated our time together, like a pinball that gains momentum as it bounces from lever to wall and back again.

Everyone on the planet has experienced heartachingly sad situations, but we don’t often divulge the frustration, setbacks, mistakes, stings, soreness and regret that color life’s darker moments. When we do, we learn firsthand that we’re all infinitely more complicated than the picture-perfect snapshots we post on social media, and that somehow sharing the bad can feel…kind of good. When we tiptoe out into the scary world of revelation, the power of shared experiences creates a current that propels everyone involved forward. Moments became more meaningful because they’re real.

Don’t get me wrong, our conversation wasn’t fully weighted down in seriousness. We also laughed. A lot. At ourselves, our kids, and that cat filter lawyer guy on Zoom – at how life’s absurdities ebb and flow depending on the moment. Or the year. And somehow, sharing our pain actually made the night feel lighter and more grounded at the same time. More important. Relevant. And we all walked away from the table having learned something about one another, and ourselves, that was worth remembering.

It’s not the shining light of achievement that connects us. It’s sharing the ways we navigate the sometimes surprising, yet often deeply personal, dark tunnels we find ourselves stuck in, that binds us to others. Whether it’s mistakes we’ve made, transgressions we’ve been subjected to, sharing life’s disappointments, or the aftermath of bad luck, true connection is bound more by life’s flaws than its perceived perfections.

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