Shit I say as I spot a trail of blood leading from my dresser to my bed I know find myself lying on in a painful rage. I look down at my feet and find my left foot covered in sticky, red blood. If there is one thing I hate more than bananas (yes I mean this in all seriousness), it is blood.
When I was around four years old, I ripped my left shoulder open in an accident. It sounds and, at the time, looked more gruesome than it truly was. I was on the swings in our garden, when all of a sudden I got the brilliant idea to jump off the moving swing at its highest point – launching my small body sideways against the nearby fence. The fence, as old as it was, was home to a rather large and pointy nail, which grazed the skin around my shoulder open, leaving blood to gush out of the wound.
Like so many children, I was unfazed by my accident and got my ass up from the ground and went inside to find my mum. It was only when I saw the pure look of horror on her face when I trodded into the kitchen, that I knew something had gone wrong. Following her shocked gaze – eyes wide, her mouth slightly open and a faint “oh no” escaping her lips – I found myself staring at my white tshirt. Only it wasn’t white anymore. It was soaked in crimson.
It was in that exact moment that I started to feel a pounding in my shoulder, a kind of pain I had never experienced before. Over time, the large gash on my shoulder healed, merely leaving behind a scar which is visible to this day. But it wasn’t the pain that kept me up at night; it was the horrendous sight of my vibrant blood, an image that has burned itself into my mind forever.
I wonder if this experience is the source of my squeamishness nowadays. One of the most horrid situations I have been in involves me cutting my finger open on a shampoo bottle in the shower. I was standing in the shower, looking at the drop of blood trickeling down my hand, when all of a sudden I was not. Confused, I woke up on the shower floor, water violently splashing onto my face. I had fainted. One drop of my own blood and I was on the floor. Similar experiences have occured since.
What causes an occurance to have a lasting effect on a human? Is there a level of trauma involved in this process? Or is it down to us, to over-exaggerate and prioritise certain experiences over others?
The bleeding of my toe has calmed. I fetch a bandaid and walk over to the mirror over my dresser. I lift my shirt and stare into the mirror, at the scar visible on my left shoulder. I stare and stare, until the scar finally fades away…. wait….NO. I blick furiously at my shoulder, willing the small mark to reappear. It obliges and I find myself in a state of relief. For my scar is more than a reminder of my fear of blood; in an odd way, it is a symbol of my childhood. It is a mark that defines me to this day. And for that, I cannot fault it.