Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Skin Disease

I've been reading up on Epidermolysis Bullosa--a life-threatening skin disease in which the epidermis does not attach to the dermis, due to lack of the protein collagen. Consequently the skin blisters with the slightest bump or scratch. The blisters are painful and cause scarring, which leads to deformities in the extremities. A child with EB knows only a life consumed with daily wrappings, ointments and dressings, constant pain and emotional suffering. It was all I could do to get through each heart-wrenching paragraph and picture describing this gruesome condition.

And then I realized I have the same disease.

My physical epidermis is attached just fine, but I have a skin hyper-sensitivity of another sort. Call it the "disease to please," the fear of man or public opinion, or plain old being too sensitive--the fact of the matter is, I blister inwardly at the slightest bump to my ego. I'm constantly dressing new wounds and nursing old ones it seems--as a result of what someone said to me or thought about me. I tiptoe my way around people at times, careful to not get my too-thin skin scratched. It's a nasty ailment, this approval-addiction affliction.

The good news is, unlike EB, there is a cure for my particular skin disease (for more on the cure, read the post, "Have You Seen My Self?"). I am in recovery. My skin is slowly but surely thickening. I'm finding that I'm more and more able to survive the bumps that result when I say something bold--or stupid for that matter. Stares, whispers and bad opinions--real or imagined--are becoming but the brush of a feather against my increasingly resilient skin.

More and more I'm able to walk away from a people-encounter without suffering for hours over things like, Did I talk too much? Was I too opinionated? Did I sound immature? Ignorant? Was I a busy-body? I am so misunderstood! I was misjudged! (Should I have announced this blog post on Facebook--or will they think I'm tooting my horn?)

I'm hanging what people think and going to take the bandages off.