Day 82: Lessons from a toe nail

ImageNew Year’s Eve 2013 has had a lasting effect on my life until Saturday night when a deeply damaged big toe nail finally gave up  its fight…and let go.  For 18 months, I’d been nursing that toe…specifically the toe nail…hoping that when it finally fell off a new healthy toe nail would be in its place.
 
So on Saturday when I noticed that it felt “different”…I walked into the bathroom to investigate.  Sure enough, it was only hanging on by a thin connection.  As I gently pulled the toe nail, it gave with little effort and no pain.  What I found waiting underneath was anything but a shiny new healthy nail.  
 
Clearly, I had damaged the toe nail so significantly that the new nail growing in was also damaged…wait, let me be more specific…the new nail that is half grown in is damaged.  I can see a sliver of a healthy nail beneath it…and I know it’s going to take months for this other damaged nail to finally fall off or grow out.  
 
I went to yoga today — like I do nearly every day — and each time the tops of my feet touched the mat, I was reminded of my missing toe nail…of how sensitive the skin is now that it’s exposed.
 
As Erin instructed us to turn our gaze to our right big toe and come into half-moon, I was forced to look at my toe…and I had to fight back the tears.  Not because it looks weird…or hurts.  It took me a minute but I realized the tears were because I was looking directly at a scar…a scar I couldn’t hide from anyone or myself.  A scar that represents an evening I don’t remember because I drank way more than I should have.  An evening packed full of several bad decisions that resulted in 18 months of pain…and waiting to shed a memory.
 
Now that’s its been physically shed, I’m still faced with the remnants of it and everyone can see it.  My toe represents all those wounds I’ve tried to keep buried or hidden from view only to find out that the scars are still visible.
 
In college, my friends used to joke that I had perfect beach feet.  The kind you see walking on the beach in TV commercials.  Not anymore…this toe is not TV worthy…or beach worthy…or should even be allowed  to walk around in sandals, but it’s summer so what choice do I have?  I mean, it’s summer…and it’s  just a toe nail.  It doesn’t change who I am…or who I’m going to become.  I’m no less or no more perfect because of it.  And that’s the point…
 
Just like all those other mistakes and lessons learned…I may carry the scars but the effort to keep them hidden isn’t worth it when in all actuality, it doesn’t change who I am.  As a matter of fact, they were necessary to make me who I am today.  And for that, I should honor them…cherish them…learn from them…but ultimately let them go.  Because we never truly heal if we hang onto the scars.  The point is to feel the pain, learn the lesson, and move on.
 
So just like my toe nail…I’m letting go.
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