Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Scar Means, I Survived

I am reading an interesting book called "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave and I came across a section that struck me and made me think so I had to write a little something about it.

In the beginning of the book the writer writes this, "On the girl's brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, lke the stars and the moons on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That s what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must all see scars as beauty.....Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived."

A scar means, I SURVIVED, that statement couldn't be more true. The fire wanted to make me ugly with scars, but it is those scars that can make me beautiful in a way because they show survival. I have come to peace with the scars on my body, I really have. It is the scars on my face that still bother me and make me feel ugly. The scars on my face don't make me feel like a survivor. Which is ridiculus because the scars on my body are much worse than the scars on my face.

But I did survive and I have the scars to prove it. Chris Cleave writes, "...we must make an agreement to defy them." I must make an agreement with myself that I will not let the fire destroy me but rather I will defy it. But am I strong enough to do so, to make such an agreement? I must muster the strength to defy that fire and what happened that night and see myself as a survivor AND beautiful. This will be very hard for me but I will write here, for all you to read, that I promise to make that agreement with myself. I'm not sure I can see myself as beautiful yet, but I can definitly see myself as a survivor. And I have the "beauty" to prove it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Entire Family Home for Dad's 60th

It was my dad's 60th birthday on Friday but we actually celebrated it today because both my brothers and their wives were coming down for the weekend to celebrate it. This is the first time the entire family has been together in years and it has been a most wonderful weekend.

My brother Jake went to the butcher in Portland before coming home and got filet mignon steaks to grill for my dad's birthday dinner and he did a perfect job. It was seriously the best steak I have ever eaten. After we were full of meat we took some family photos and then had cake and opened presents. My dad was treated well this year with the gifts he received. There was laughter everywhere, all the time and it was such a wonderful sound to hear because I don't hear it that often coming from myself. I'm not happy. I'm fighting to be happy but I am not winning the fight very easily.

This weekend was bittersweet because even though I was surrounded by my family that I absolutely love with all my heart, it reminds me that I'm alone, without boyfriend or husband, because I am also surrounded by married siblings. How long will I have to wait before I get to have someone to love me too? And I'm afraid the answer to that question is quite some time because of my ugly and disfiguring scars.

But my brothers were wonderful. And so were my sister-in-laws. We really did have a most wonderful birthday weekend celebration. I wish they didn't have to go so soon for they leave tomorrow morning. It seems like they were hardly here. I am very close to my brothers and it's always very sad watching them go. But I'd like to be even closer to them as well as my sister-in-laws. I never had a sister so it would be nice to be closer to them. I see the comradery that exists between my brothers and I often wish I had that with a sister. I am envious of the bond that exists between my brothers. I am envious that they have love. But it is a positive envy, not a malice one. But I do envy what they have in their lives. Will I ever be as successful in my life as they have been in theirs? Somehow I feel like I've royally screwed up my life and will never have what they have. I was given a second chance at life but will I be able to fix the things that went wrong and make amends? Will I be able to take this second chance and take it for all it's worth by doing things right this time? Can I fix my life and be happy?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Making My Story

I had a little tiny breakthrough in therapy so I had to write about it.

My therapist asked, if they were to make my life into a movie, what kind of message would I want to get across? That I arose from the ashes to be successful and happy? Well what am I going to do right now, in these chapters of my life, to rise from the ashes; to rise from adversity and find success and happiness against all odds?

So what am I going to do, right now, to make that story? The biggest thing I need to do right now is get a social life back. I can't sit around in my house all the time and expect my story to write itself and magically come alive. I must come alive first and I'm dead right now. There have been times when I have been very much alive, like when I'm spending an evening with friends. But I must be consistent. I must write my story and to write my story I must live it.

I want my story to show how I survived the odds and rose from the ashes to be successful and happy. So I must live that. GET A LIFE SARAHBETH!

My therapist also asked me what it is I see when I look in the mirror. I told her I see an ugly girl, a girl who's lost everything. She said that I've gotta switch those tapes in my head if I'm going to rise from the ashes. That, and probably through tears, I must look in the mirror and say "You ARE beautiful, you are a kick-ass actress." That's probably going to take me awhile, switching those tapes. But I'm gonna give 'er a go.

So tonight, I am going to start my story by going over to a friend's house to watch a movie and tomorrow I'm gonna do something else to tell my story. Perhaps I will try telling myself those things in the mirror. yeah, that might be a good start to a book or a movie, but most importantly, to my life. What must I do NOW to make my story successful 5 years from now?

Rise from the ashes.....against all odds...

Dear Jack

Dear Jack,

I know how much you value the vinyl record and want people to have something tangible to have for their music. Well, I'd like to tell you that I have finally invested in a record player and guess what my first album was? YOUR Raconteur album, Consolers of the Lonely. Yup, I am now a vinyl collector and I thought you'd be proud of me for that since you advokate for the vinyl record instead of this generations ipods and itunes.

and I have to tell you, it was a fantastic investment because to hear you on vinyl is amazing. it's such a different sound than listening to you on my ipod. I love it. And your album artwork is so great. I could listen to you all day on vinyl. However I am having trouble getting some of your albums because they're all temporarily out of stock wherever I go! How are we going to solve this problem? How about you send me the album "Elephant" or "Get Behind Me Satan" with a li'l autograph on it :) Those are ones that I can't seem to get.

Anyway, I just wanted you to be proud of me for going vinyl. I love you :)

Love, SB, your biggest fan.

HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Waiting for My Life to Begin

I am getting anxious waiting for this neck to heal. I emailed my doc a picture of my neck and he emailed almost instantly back saying that it has healed tremendously since he last saw it and I was to make an appt in 3 weeks. So I go in on July 14th and will probabaly start my expansion then. I was really impressed with how fast I heard back from my doctor. In fact, my doctor and I are on a first name basis and I think that's pretty cool. It's nice actually to be so close to your doctor and so important to him. He calls me his favorite patient.

My mother has gone to full time again, which is good financially, but it leaves me alone all day again. And me being left alone is not good. I mean, nothing to worry about for my safety, but it is just the extreme loneliness that I feel when I'm alone. It always gets me thinking about my former life and the accident and then I cry. And I cry with no one to hold me but the music of Jack White.

I still have so far to go yet and that just exasperates the loneliness. When will my life begin again? I feel like I'm just sitting here waiting. Waiting for my life to begin but it can't until I'm well and finally on my own again. I anxiously await that day. I imagine and daydream of a life filled with things I love and things I love to do. Perhaps going back to school or finally a job that suits me and that I love. A life filled with auditions, successful auditions and the theater whether I'm in it or watching it. A life enjoyed with the company of my closest of friends and family. A life where I don't mind waking up in the morning because it means a new day filled with all those things. But most of all a life filled with love. Love from my family, friends, and from a companion.

Until that day I feel like I'm just living day to day with no purpose, no goals. Just the power of loneliness that swallows me with tears running down my cheeks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I am the Master of My Fate: the Captain of My Soul

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gait,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

~William Ernest Henley

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Mother and Family

You know, I rant and rave about having the best support from my friends but I think I sometimes forget to give the ultimate credit to my mother and my family. For it was my poor mother who had to put the fire out and will live with that memory for the rest of her life and my poor father who stayed with me till the paramedics got there so he has to live with the memory of the site of my skin burned off, and my poor brothers, one of which who lives in Portland so was at the hospital morning and night, staying by my side as I lay in a coma, all wrapped up in gauze, breathing and feeding tubes coming out of me. My family was there morning and night, my father often praying out of a prayer book at my side while I was in that coma.

And when I woke up, my brother Jake and his wife were the first people I saw and I could barely talk from the smoke inhalation damage. So they just patiently sat with me giving me smiles though I knew fear resided behind them. Fear that I might never have woken up and fear now of the pain and suffering that lay ahead of me, and of course, the scars that they saw.

But they continued to come back everyday, and took my first steps out of bed with me as I relearned how to walk again. They helped cut up my food and feed me because I could not yet hold a utensil. They were there everyday.

And they continue to be here for me, through all my pain and loneliness. Through all my suffering and hopelessness. Through all my doctor appointments and surgeries. They are my beautitful family and I am so lucky to have them. I must give out a special thanks fo rmy mother for it is she who is my primary caretaker. Everyday she helps me shower, dress my wounds, dress me, get cups and plates out of the cupboard for me, cooks for me. And along with all those responsibilities she has her own self to take care of.

So along with having the best of friends, I have the best of family. Between the two, somehow I keep standing, and keep fighting. So thank you, mother and family and friends, from the bottom of my heart and deep inside my soul for standing by me no matter what. You are the seat cushion on an airplane that acts as a floating raft for me. I know you're there, you're always there, and when I need you all I have to do is hold on tightly and I will stay afloat through the rough waters. I love you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Pictures

Here are some new pics. The Legacy Emanuel Hospital where burn center is located.

Front entrance of the Oregon Burn Center.

This is what the tissue expanders looked like. very painful and uncomfortable.

The right side of my neck (where the right tissue expander was placed)

The left side of my neck (the left tissue expander)

A flat back!

Where the tissue expanders once were (though they are still in there, just deflated)

Having to Know a New Life

I am having a hard time lately believing in anything. I look at old pictures of myself and I cry because right now I don't recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror. Though the fire only got the bottom half of my face, it was a good bottom half. The fire burned my lips and cheeks and chin and it's so hard to believe that those things will be fixed, according to the doctor. My lip is big and pulled down and out by my neck, which was the most severely burned. So I feel like I look lik ean idiot when I smile or even just let my mouth be relaxed. That is one of the most embarassing things the fire left me with.

The scarring on my face the doctor has said he will essentially "sand" off (i can't remember the right word he used). And as for my lip, well hopefully it will help be released when he finishes my neck and then he will probably release it again so maybe there will be hope that I'll have a normal looking lip again.

But when I look in the mirror, or at old pictures of myself, I feel a vengeful, mean God for how could he do this to me? I will bear these scars forever. My skin will never be the same. The only good thing that came out of the accident was that I have changed...for the better. I now know what it feels like to be stared at for my disfigurement. I now know that there are more to people than what you see and beauty is much, much deeper than the skin. It goes deep into the soul. It's funny though, because even though I know that beauty runs deep in the soul and hides behind the eyes, I still don't feel beautiful. I feel ugly. And I'm finding it hard to believe that the doctor will be able to repair and reconstruct me to my old self, despite his confidence that he can. I'm scared. I'm real scared that I'll never be beautiful on the outside. I have so far to go yet.

Sometimes I actually hate God for what He did to me. Why? What did I do to deserve such a horrible punishment? He ruined everything in my life. Yet, despite that, He did show me what family and real true friends are because I have the best family and the best friends in the world. He also changed me for the better. I no longer take things for granted because I have had to start all over and still am unable to do the simplest things in life. I know a much different life than I used to. And it's a life that questions even the existance of a God. For if He loved me, couldn't he find a better way to teach me a lesson? One that wouldn't have disfigured me and left me to question my own faith. I cry to myself all the time asking why. why, why, why? I hope someday I will find the answer. And I hope someday I'll be able to look at myself in a picture or the mirror and see the girl I once was, only a little better.

Be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead! 1 Peter 1:6

Be content with what you have, for God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid." Hebrews 13:5,6

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Night with New Yet Old and Dear Friends

Last night I spent an evening with four friends who are near and dear to my heart, but two of them were new to seeing me, though I have been friends with them since college. I was exremely nervous seeing them but as soon as I got out of the car and began walking up to their house, they both came out immediately showering me with hugs, real true hugs. And they made me feel loved all night long. I swelled with their love. They didn't make me feel like a disfigured freak. They treated me just as they treated me years ago in college. Despite my nervousness, which never truly faded, I began to settle in and behave with confidence because they backed me up.

We chatted and played games that made us laugh endlessly. Kristen and Jon are my new (yet old) friends that I know I can confide in and comfort me when I'm lonely. I already miss their hugs and their laughter. I had been in a deep depression for this whole week and they truly pulled it out of least for the night and hopefully a couple days of after effect.

So thank you to Kristen and Jon, as well as Sam and Jamie, and Clay and Jen, for loving me. It makes me want to cry cause you have made me so happy. You know if this accident had never happened to me, I don't think I'd be making the friends that I am. I've never really had friends like Kristen, Jon, Jamie, Sam, Clay and Jen. I mean, I had them in college, except for Clay and Jen, but I lost touch with them and through this accident I have found them again. And I am so lucky I have because these are real, true friends. Friends that have your back and friends that will look past your scars. I hold you dear to my lonely and broken heart. May you help piece it back together with your beautiful friendship and love. Thank you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Story Written About Me

It is early morning, well, not too early. It's almost 7am but no one in my home is up yet. And as usual I got on my computer and to my surprise I had a message from someone containing something so very special. It was a message on FB from a once good friend of mine who wrote a short story about me. And this story she contained in the message for me to read.

And as I read it, I wept and wept it was so beautiful. She is a fantastic writer, wonderful with words. Her name is Rebecca Burch Greenidge. Someone actually took time out of their day to really think of me and write about me? Well what she wrote was perfect and I want to share it with you as well. I am lucky to call her friend. Below is the story she wrote. Grab a Kleenex, I can guarantee at least some tears will run down your cheek.... Thank you, Rebecca, for writing such a beautiful story about me. I love it more than you'll ever know. It is so very special to me.


it was a while ago now.

across the digital lines.

a catch up fit for this culture we live in. i’d of much rather been across my kitchen table, sipping glass of wine or whatever she’d like. but she was on the other side of this patch of land, discovering the depths of dreams.

she lives her dream. my god she was sure and strong and beautifully brave. i was never as brave. she moved to the big city – small town girl living tall-order dreams among tallest of man-made boxes.

i looked around that day and gulped deep as my dreams had changed. from center stage to sweet friend who placed metal round my finger. and i just kept thinking how she is so brave.

i stumble upon her new story only days ago. a story that has changed the landscape of both time and dreams and her very own skin. i was struck when she said she looks in the mirror and doesn’t know the face looking back and my god how i feel like that many days but o god how i feel small for saying that as she lets me peer into her mirror.

and today. yes today. she let us look at the very landscape of her.

and i stopped cold.

what tragedy and beauty mixed all together and some say that her eyes make it impossible to see the scars and i say it’s the eyes that give contrast to the scars. i don’t miss the scars. i do see them. i want to see them. i want her to know that i want to see them. and i want to tell her how beautiful her landscape is. how it makes me look deeper and wonder with hot tears over painted cheeks about how it’s these scars that make her eyes shine in ways they never have.

i see the brave.

i see the heartbroken.

i see the loneliness that aches so deep.

i see the questions.

i see the uncertainty of her own will to keep living.

i see the smoldering of dreams she fears are lost.

i see the pain of a new self she must get to know.

…and i know a god who loves it all. i know a god who runs spirit over these wounds and knows the reason to her rhyme. i know a god who holds the answers to her whys. i know a god who reaches in to her and says “yes baby girl, come to me” and who is never overtaken by her rage. i know a god who whispers her name through scared ears and who on that night breathed a breath that kept her life for a reason and was so hot and deep, it changed something much deeper than anything you see when she lets you look in her mirror.

i call her bravery.

a name befit for her. now as before.

only she doesn’t realize. how like then, this too is her.




she is bravery. in. the. flesh.

and this is one way he made her in his likeness. one way, he calls her daughter.

one way, she too is drowning in this ocean called grace.

and she is not only inspiring. but deeper.

she shows me god. anew.

as dreams we chase seem miles away and the hurt is as deep as the uncertainty and she points me towards this life sustainer, dream giver, hope maker all over again.

the one who gives and takes away.

she is his latest gift to me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Person Behind the Blog

Here are a couple more pictures for you to see. This is me. The person behind the words of this blog.

For a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that you have faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even through refined by fire - may be proved genuine, and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:6-7

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Allowing Myself to Be Who I Am (first picture of my face)

I had an insightful therapy session the other day. My therapist told me a story of when she was once in therapy as a young woman and a new mother and her therapist asked her to follow her through this forest and ended up at this incredibly old, ginormous, and ugly tree. And my therapist sat under the tree with her therapist in silence. She says that she asked the tree, in her mind, how she got to be so old and ugly. And to her surprise (and you're gonna call this crazy) but the tree answered her back inside her mind and said, "because I allowed myself to be."

What my therapist was trying to say was allow yourself to be whatever you are and you'll be much happier. I'm isolating myself and hiding away and therefore not allowing myself to just be whoever I am. Whatever and whoever I am, I need to allow myself to be it and in my case that means scars and all. So, here I am, going to post a pic of my full face (with my new haircut) and finally, finally! allow myself to be who I am. So here goes readers and followers, here I am, scars and all. But I hope you keep in mind that they are still working on reconstructing my neck and face so I will keep looking different with every surgery. But nonetheless, HERE I AM! Please be kind. This is a big step for me.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tired of the Fight Today

I'm so tired of being lonely. I want what my best friend has. I'm really jealous of her, but in a good way. She's got a really, really good guy that loves her and proposed to her finally. They are so good together and I want that too. But I can't even show my face to some of my friends so who is gonna want me? I'm like Frankenstein with all my scars. Who is gonna want that? Oh gosh, here comes the tears. I try to be tough but sometimes I just can't do it anymore. I'm so sick of being alone. So sick of crying over being alone and so tired of talking about it. I'm sure you all are tired of reading about it too. I'm sorry.

I'm tired of doing the same damn things everyday. I miss the life I once had. Life was never boring in New York. There was always a new Broadway show to see, a new concert to go to, a game to watch at a bar, a baseball or football game to go to, a street fair to go to, a parade to watch, shopping, picnic in the park, ice skating in the park, movies in the park and so much more I could go on and on. God, I mourn that life so much. I hate crying and here I am, a complete ball bag as I write this.

My last tie to New York is my driver's license and I'm going to lose that this week when I go in to get an Oregon driver's license. I need some kind of Oregon ID because I always have to have it when I go into surgery and my license is expiring in January anyway so my mom pursuaded me to get the OR license. So I'm kinda sad about that in a weird way. I can't even find half of my pictures I took while in New York and that really gets me. I'm losing New York.

What do I have anymore? I know I have my wonderful family and friends but what do I have for me? I can't run like I used to. I can't get out by myself. I can't drive. I don't really have any money. All I do everyday is color, cross stitch or read, or watch movies. I'm so sick of doing those same things everyday. I'm just so sick of everything. Why did God to this to me? Why? He ruined everything in my life! He's made me start over, which may be a good thing because he gave me good, true friends that I never had, but He took away the city I loved, He took away my physical attributes, He took away my ability to do some easy things in life because of my limited mobility.

I just don't know if I really have the fight in me some days. Today, I don't. I'm lonely and scared. And it's a beautiful day to go running and I can't.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Contact Made with a Friend from NY!

Last night was amazing. I got in touch with an old and dear friend from New York City and I have lost touch with practically everyone in NY except for Colin. This is guy who used to be a regular at the bar I used to bartend at. Jack and coke was his drink, i still remember to this day. But he began by facebook emailing me back and forth and then it went to texting and then to talking on the phone. But he apologized for not being here for me sooner, which is okay, he didn't know. He didn't fnd out till he went back to New York and Colin told him what happened.

anyway, we both cried on the phone as we talked about the accident and it was so touching to me. I finally made some contact with a friend from NY! Oh how I miss New York and my friend. And the energy there is absolutely wonderful and contagious. It's such an amazing city. But he promised we would text everyday and he would be there for me with this accident and I believe him. But once again, girls and boys, followers and readers, he is getting married so no matchmaking :) He seems to be in a good place so I am happy for him.

One thing he told me, as I sit here being lonely again, is that I will have that husband that I will kiss before going on stage to accept an award for whatever it may be and that brought major tears to my eyes since that has been a major thing with me: being lonely and longing for companionship. And when he said that, he was so sincere that I truly believed the moment. But I wake up again, without anyone, but, I do have my friend back and I guess if that's all I can get right now, I'll take it.