“Our fickle bodies,” Bob remarked when I showed him my throbbing index finger. “All I did was pull a weed,” I whined, laying the swollen digit back on its bed of ice. Tami saw me minutes after it happened, a purple crease on a pale sausage. She comforted me with “This happens to me sometimes; guess we’re getting old.”
Only a few days earlier, I’d had to dig a splinter from underneath the nail on this very finger. I had washed my hair and laid the towel to dry over the wooden porch railing. After dinner, I grabbed at my towel and yanked my hand away when the dark sliver of wood bit into my finger. I didn’t quite see stars. Instead, I flashed on one of those World War II POW scenes the nuns used to show us in grade school before the duck and cover drills. (No wonder I dream about body parts.)
This seemed like more than a coincidence. Same finger, same week. I thumbed through Louise Hay’s “Heal Your Body” list. Under Problem, I found “Index Finger” and under Probable Cause it said, “Represents ego and fear.”
I didn’t see that coming! I suspected I might find something about fault finding, finger pointing, criticism, or judgement. I began to doubt the woman I’ve trusted since the 80’s. There’s nothing wrong with my ego, I thought, and I’m not afraid of anything.
I slept with my right hand elevated, and in the morning my finger was back to normal. But I couldn’t let go of Louise’s verdict. The words, “fear,” “ego,” “criticism,” and “judgement,” scrabbled at the back of my mind until I knew I had no choice but connect them.
“Do you think ‘fault finding’ has anything to do with fear?” I asked a friend, afraid of her answer. She’s one of those friends, though who knows how to deliver honesty in a velvet glove. Also, we are both first-borns, both diligently responsible for the behavior of our younger siblings. She realized she had to be in charge the day one of the neighbor kids drowned when she wasn’t paying attention. And it seems I always knew. My mother told me recently that I was “the centurion – the guard who watched out the door to see if everything was alright with my brothers.”
So we learned at an early age to recognize potentially dangerous behavior. It was our job to head mishaps off at the pass. Kids with matches, no, no, no, no. Swimming too far out into the bay, nope. All must be reported and/or addressed. Elsewise, we would hear about it. “Why didn’t you say something?” “How could you let this happen?”
That explained the connection between fear and judgement. As for ego, we agreed that pointing out other people’s faults is grand food for ego. I hated to think I was one of those people who make themselves feel good at other’s expense but the writing was on the wall. There is only one verdict for this unpalatable epiphany. Throttle back on the finger pointing. Decommission the centurion.
As a litmus test, I asked Bob what he thought. “That would be a good thing to work on,” he said with more gusto than expected. So I’ve stepped away from the score board. My decommissioned-self suppresses vocal criticism and avoids passing judgement. Blissful impartiality, here I come!
I thought it would be harder, this turning a blind eye. I imagined shivering in a corner with withdrawal symptoms. But it’s been as easy as tossing aside a winter coat on a warm day. Sure, I still notice the behavior of others, but I don’t feel the need to criticize. I’m loving my new freedom, and I owe it all to one little finger.
4 replies on “The Decommissioned Centurion”
If there was a least critical person, I can’t name them.
But I love thinking of you as first-born Centurion.
You rule a great potluck!
Don’t give that up…
There’s always room for growth! I’m often reminded of my shortcomings and try to fix them as well. Good for you taking that step 😉
You crack me up! Thanks for the laugh and good example. I judge that I could be less judgemental too!
Dear Camille, how you inspire me so to also take moments to stop and reflect on personal growth. It’s always lovely chatting with you, and I am glad for you as well as thankful for being able to share your thoughts to those around you.
I pondered your post for awhile as I frequently think of what my body is trying to tell me. Searching for the patterns. Collecting the data to see where the connections lie. There have been a couple of times where I went through the list that Louise Hayes provides and found that her suggestions did not quite match with what was happening in the present. I can go through the list and find ways to connect with all of these issues as I’ve experienced just about all of them. They are just not always the highlight of the moment of pain or illness. I’ve thoroughly broken down the thoughts and feelings and when the pain arises to at times come to find my own personal relation to a symptom and what has brought it on.
Much of her guideline is very direct and spot on. Like the creeping up of my back pain and frequently experiencing a lack of support, inability to receive love, inability to trust and the guilt that accompanies it.
Ahh, fingers and how we point from our self righteous stance. Such a regular part of the human condition, considering our beliefs hold our reality together. When something is right to us, we question how others are doing it another way and still able to sleep at night! This one is very important to think about. When I begin to criticize and judge others I see that I am refusing to connect. Yet, I yearn for connections very much. So I must be willing to walk judgmental thoughts out the door as fast as they came in. Then look for a way to connect my reality to another’s reality. Blending them together as it creates something bigger and larger than my own self. Which to me, is so beautiful and makes this world a less scary place.
Now, I thought you might find this next part interesting and something to ponder further. In the early morning I awoke to use the restroom. As I stepped out of bed in a pitch black room, I felt a strong itching sensation on my ankle. I quickly bent over to scratch it, and did not notice or sense the hard wood shelf which met my fast moving head. My right temple ached and throbbed fiercely. I thought, “What a dumb mistake”. Moving on to later in the day I went to cut some zinnias for Bower guests. While holding the scissors I quickly moved them upwards while turning my body to face the flowers and the side of torso caught the tip in a hard way. I thought, “Wow! What a very dumb mistake.” A couple of hours ago I was laying and worrying on matters. I decide to get up and grab a glass of water and I stub my toe on a chair. I thought, “Okay, what is WITH all of these dumb accidents?” As my head still throbs and hurts whenever I chew. I think of how you looked up the symptom of your finger. I go to Louise Hayes guidelines of symptoms online and before I can scroll down to ‘H’ for head, I am at ‘A’ and “accident” flashes at me like its in neon lights. I read it: Accidents: Inability to speak up for the self. Rebellion against authority. Belief in violence.
That moment when I was laying and worrying on matters? Very much correlated with the inability to speak for the self. The family court hearing that is frightening me to tears. My desires to have a voice in my present environment but getting shot down at the times when my courage and confidence is at a low point. If I can’t speak up for myself around those who I think care for me, how will I be able to around those who certainly do not? However, I must. It is time now to take a stand. If at least, just for the sake of my head, toes and anything else in danger of accidents.
Much love to you, Camille. What a great thing, to be able to ponder at all.
Much love to our precious neurons, dendrites, synapses and neurotransmitters too. 🙂