By Mark Brennaman
In early 2000, I was a victim of a senseless, unprovoked act of violence that left several scars on my neck. I survived and the assailant is in prison, yet I will never really be the same. To shave is to see one of the scars. Until recently, to see the scar was to trigger a visual memory of the violent act. I’d “see” the assailant’s rage-filled face behind me.
My first solution was to stop shaving and trust my hair was properly combed. I just didn’t want to see the scar which brought back the memory of an ugly event that nearly claimed my life.
The dilemma worsened with each passing day. Instead of feeling better with time for surviving, I began to remember the terrible event more often and more vividly. It seemed as though I experienced the attack day after day.
I finally sought help. My doctor’s first question to me was, “Do you have a good relationship with your father?” I replied, “Yes, we have a great relationship.” The doctor then asked if my father had taught me how to shave. Before I could answer that question, a memory I had forgotten for many, many years popped in my head, and I immediately smiled!
“Doctor,” I replied, “this is so cool. I remember standing at my dad’s side as a little boy, infatuated with the process of shaving. It got to the point that when he shaved in the mornings, I was always there watching him, asking endless questions.
“My dad bought me a little plastic toy razor, and it even had a knob on the bottom of the handle that opened the top, just like his real razor. The blade was a piece of cardboard that looked like a razor blade. After that, I got to smear shave cream all over my face and shave with my dad.”
My doctor then suggested that I think of this pleasant memory every time I shaved to displace the memory of the attack.
Everyone in my family remembers my little plastic razor after all these years. It has been so much fun reaching back to my boyhood, a time when I trusted everyone and yearned for the future. The remembrance has replaced my violent memory.
I not only get to feel the love my dad showed me then when I shave today, I get to remember what it’s like to be innocent once again. Precious memories are made in an instant and last forever. I am so thankful my dad had the patience back then to let me “shave” so I can shave today without visualizing an ugly event.
The memory alone has strengthened an already strong relationship. What made me very happy then is making me happier today. Thank you, Dad!
EDITOR’S NOTE: The author’s website is: http://www.witwords.com
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1 thought on “Mirror Image”
Thanks for sharing this remarkable story–I think the doctor was also heroic for making such a sensitive and thoughtful suggestion.