Life is a trophy shelf for scars. At 42 there’s just enough hindsight and foresight to see pain hasn’t killed me yet and isn’t likely to in the near future. Discomfort comes daily at home, at work, in my online life and in my private offline life.
I have two prominent scars on my body. Prominent as in 10 centimetres in length, not easily hidden save for the fact one lays beneath my bikini line where I birthed my 4 children and the other underneath my hairline where I had a crainiotomy in 1995.
Like most people I have collected nicks and notches of scars on fingers, knees, and toes. My son has a doozy of one after a huge dog stood on his chest taking a chunk out of his chest wall exposing muscle and fat. We all have scars. We all lived through the pain, and the aftermath of those scars.
Some heal better than others, have you ever noticed? My first section scar the line across my bikini line rose, like a flesh coloured rope, the tissue is known as a keloid. Sometimes it just does that. Some scars achieved whilst tripping over tree stumps take longer to heal as the body works the tree material out and pusses and bleeds till the wound closes in and antibiotics do their job.
Some scars are emotional. I grew up in an alcoholic home. The scars I gained there have to do with the reminder to not trust, to not feel and to not talk. Some of you grew up with abuse carrying the burden of those same reminders.
Seeing people we love get hurt, or near death can lead into onerous scars, the worst burden of that being PTSD. Whether by occupation or by association in community by nature, humans affect other humans. And sometimes damage to our system occurs, the integrity of our being is compromised and scars form.
I have written about scars before. They teach us in nursing school that scars will never be as strong as the original tissue nature gave us. That leaves us more fragile than we were before the wound. That leaves us more vulnerable to more damage and more scars.
And I’ll tell you the only comfort in all of this is that every scar we carry is proof that we have endured. We endured through childbirth, through abuse, through trauma, and through pain. Which makes you stronger, than you would have ever believed if you hadn’t stopped to take stock of your metaphorical war wounds. And your admittance of vulnerability only evidence that you are stronger still. When we know ourselves vulnerable, the care with how we proceed is more thoughtful, more careful, and with more precision; but this is a double edged sword between self preservation and living wholly.
Your vulnerability is not an excuse to not proceed, it is permission to open up places you are afraid to go and see things and opportunities with new eyes. Your vulnerability is not an excuse to hide from pain, it is permission to feel it with the knowledge there is joy to be felt as well. Your vulnerability is not an excuse to never risk, want, reach or fly inside your dreams, it is absolute permission to admit fears, and face the discomfort knowing a new scar (or triumph) may be around the corner.
Today I am going through a list of my own scars. To not fight the pain I am feeling, but to accept it, and then to have my history preach to me healing. My crainiotomy scar healed, and my csection scar healed; though faded, sometimes they ache and twinge to remind me of their presence, just as the emotionally uncomfortable things going on in life are doing the same about past scars on my heart. But I lived, more self-aware for all of it I think too. I think in that alone there is hope, even amidst the hurt.