Trauma and My Saving Grace

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Trauma and My Saving Grace

Photo: Me on the left. Mike, my older brother, right.

I've seen people's heads turn and tilt in confusion.

How does a child of four years old, having received a Liver transplant and Cancer treatment, look like this tall, healthy 23 year old boy?

Obviously, I'm not putting myself on a models pedistal or anything. But people have stepped back in awe when they see my scars at the beach or something. When they find out, they constantly ask questions regarding my recovery and what I do to stay healthy. At first glance, I do not look like someone who has experience trauma to such a degree where doctors said, to my parents...

"Your son is going to die"

It was not an easy journey up until now and it's still tough. Even though I know I am healthy and everything is stable, I can never fully shake the feeling that I'm being operated on. I don't even remember the surgery itself, but I remember the lights in the hospital, waving to my big brother who watched from the outside window, the fresh stiches on my belly...all at 4 years old.

Today, I still find myself crossing my arms across my stomach, feeling nervous for my body. This nervousness carried itself towards my confidence when speaking in public, encountering tough situations and so on. I always felt less relevant because of this...Bullies took advantage of this lack of confidence and post truma. They said things that triggered extremely violent responses from me...Throwing heavy rocks at them, gripping my arm around their heads and squeezing...These were not acts of someone who simply just got angry at being bullied, these were the cries of a boy who felt damaged, vulnerable and scared...

My parents were the best through this. My Mom put in so many hours with the school systems, trying to get them to provide me the proper attention I needed. My Dad used words to dicipline these actions, making it very clear that my violence and immaturity was not ok. Both played their roles...

My cries for help were answered throughout time. I can recollect every scenerio in which I was first approached by the friends I still stick with today...They were the ones who have helped me make it this far. Whenever I am with them, it all dissapears...The haunting memories, the vulnerability, the anxiety. I swear, they have magical powers. I used to ask myself "Why on earth do these people want to be friends with someone like me?"

Now I have learned to not question it. They are my saving grace and each friendship was developed through series of events that were meant to happen. I don't have a social circle that lets me take a large group to a bar for drinks...But each individual plays their role.

Daisy. Christian. Rahul. Samantha. Emilyann. Laura.

I will never give up on you. I wish words had more meaning...because my description of you guys goes beyond this world.

To all of you reading...Value your friends and family like there is no tomorrow. It's so energizing, being with them. Call up your pal for a cup of coffee if you haven't seen him/her for a while.

- Matthew


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