A Painful Memory

So lately I’ve been getting much e-love from across the blogosphere. A beautiful thing, indeed. Makes me feel like I have friends. And with your friends, of course, you tend to share things that you wouldn’t normally share with others — personal, painful-type things. Things that happened to you when you were a kid.

Speaking of painful things that happened to me when I was a kid, here’s a memory o’ mine:

I am sitting on the floor of our family room. Each of my feet is wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap. I’m maybe four. I am the unhappy posessor of a condition whereby the skin on my feet itches so badly that I am constantly using just about anything I can get my hands on to scrape large and deep portions of it away, prefering the resultant stinging pain to the torture of unrelieved itching.

Since I can remember, the entire lower fourth of all my bed sheets have been stained with blood; instead of regular shoes I wear sandals and paper-thin socks that I wear once, peel off, and then throw away. The question of what exactly is wrong with my feet makes doctors call in other doctors, who call in other doctors, who shrug their shoulders and say they just don’t know, let’s try this.

The latest thing they’ve tried is putting salve on my feet, and then wrapping them tight in the same stuff you use to wrap sandwiches. If possible, this has made my feet itch even more — plus, now I can’t get to them. If I end up in hell after I die, and the fire starts burning me, I’ll go, “Oh, yeah. This feels just like something that happened to my feet once.”

Anyway, as I’m sitting on the floor of our family room with my Saran-wrapped feet before me, I am trying my best not to cry, and generally failing at it. I’m also looking up at my mother, who is standing in the door space between our living room and kitchen. She is regarding me as if I’m something foul the cat has dragged in. Because my pain and tears are choking my words away, I try to communicate with my eyes that I know she can’t do anything about my feet, but that I desperately want some of her affection. She is having none of it, though. Looking disgusted, she turns and disappears back into the kitchen.

So. There’s … that moment. Awful!

My feet got better, by the way. They continued to plague me throughout high school (though they began improving around junior high), and by the time I was about 23 they were fine. (I have this weird, speckely sort of discoloration on the tops of my feet, though, from where I guess I actually scratched the color pigment off my feet, if you can believe it. There was a time they were actually talking about amputating my feet, I’d done them such damage. So I guess that makes sense.)

Today, I am happy to report that I am positively insane about shoes. Especially any kind of athletic shoe, which I used to never be able to wear. Life, of course, offers us all mind-boggling pleasures galore — and one of them, for me, will always be putting on … well, any kind of real shoes at all — but especially a pair of athletic shoes.

See ya’ next year (and a few quick answers)
Free concert (and then some) in North County San Diego this Saturday afternoon
Say it ain’t so, Trader Joe!
The tragedy of Christian fundamentalism strikes again
About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Stephanie

    Wow, that hurt my heart. Thank you for sharing this though. It is a great reminder to be even more gentle with the children. I'm sorry you endured that, John, and I'm glad it had a happy ending.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    That is a painful thing, indeed!

  • http://kathleenpopa.wordpress.com Kathleen Popa

    You have my sympathy. I’m so glad they didn’t amputate. Where would you put your shoes?

  • http://samwrites2.wordpress.com samwrites2

    John,

    Sorry about the pain and even more so about the lack of affection.

    Nothing I can think of seem adequate to tell you other than I wish that painful memory didn’t suck so bad.

    Instructive reading, though, and a reminder to me to give my children that affection you wished for.

    I like your story for the happy ending, though. From pain apparently came much pleasure.

    By the way, what’s your favorite athletic shoe? or will revealing that endanger any pending endorsements?

    Mine used to be New Balance in the 1980s – but it’s like the quality ran downhill over the years to the point now I’d call their product unfit even for limping.

    -Sam

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    The happy ending provided relief for the sadness we all shared; for a little boy longing for his mom’s touch, and not getting it.

    I am thinking of those 470 children in the news today who have been taken from their mothers. God only knows where and in what strange conditions they have landed. As wrong, or as right it is, it is heart-breaking to think about.

    Anyways, John…you turned out great!

  • arlywn

    did you ever find out what was wrong? I dont think its possible to scratch the pigment off your skin. the discoloration sounds like the skin disease micheal jackson had, and my uncle has. I dont remember it though.

    I love when doctors have no idea whats wrong with you. Makes you feel… special. I’ve spent years around doctors- thankfully I had some pretty smart ones. And now I get spots on my feet. Which always comes with the muscles locking up and I do this weird zombie duck shuffle thing. But its the spots…. they are so weird. I currently have 2 on my knees that hurt…. that was bad last night.

    Anyway, its always great to be normal, and its so exciting, and exhilerating. Of course, if you’re lucky, that normal thing doesnt last and then thats harder…

    Congrats on the feet… and shoes. Shoes are cool.

  • http://html PenIee

    Praise God you have got over that awful condition! I sometimes wonder that though I know God doesn't give these things to us, it does make us more sensitive. Painfully sensitive. And that is why you are a good writer. So all this (building you up) hasn't gone to your head; it has gone to your hands for writing!

  • AB

    I just stumbled upon your blog today and I'm very impressed! I'm glad your feet got better. But what about your relationship with your mom? Did that heal as well?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Kind question! But, alas, I can't answer it here, in this … arena.


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