All scars are a sign of a healing or a healed wound, right? Or they are a Jason Momoa signum. Some scars are sensitive – the body still remembers the injury, itchy sometimes, a little painful in the cold or in the heat. Many scars are silent – the body has forgotten the injury, only the scarred skin remains as a reminder. Ever notice how some people get cute scars that don’t bother anyone except their own selves? While other people get those ugly scary scars that bother the whole world including their own mother?
One summer day
This week, I have been going through the scars I have on me. On a warm day, I went to the lakeside in our neighborhood for a swim, to be in the sun, to be with people and nature. Swedish summer is temperamental – 1 summer day where the weather and the water are warm at the same time. Sometimes, in the middle of July, you don’t know if that summer day has already come and gone.
Carpe diem is the phrase you are looking for. Sieze the summer day.
On summer’s warm day, I want to be outside so I don’t miss it. And on this day, I wear something that exposes my skin so it can meet and know the sun – which almost always makes me think a little extra about the scars on my legs. I often wonder if people are staring at my legs, my scars, the deformation – the un-beautiful bits of me. If the sun’s beams are shining extra bright on the scars, to expose them. Because when my mind focuses on my scars, it believes that everything and everyone, including the sun, have no interesting things to think about on summer’s best day – except stare at my scarred legs.
In my youth, my 1st instinct was to hide my legs, hide the scars, I loved long skirts and trousers. Youth is not a loyal friend, and life catches up with us fast. On this year’s summer day, I just walked out in my red shorts and when I arrived at the lakeside, I realized that I had not oiled my legs. I had both scars and dry legs. In public.
Scarred by Love and passion
In my youth, I would have gone back home to get oil for my legs. No doubt about that. This year though, I got to thinking – my scars do not hurt. They do not shout: “look at me!!?”
My scars do not smile insanely at passerby or scare children. They are silent. Infact, the scar on my right leg reminds me of my childhood years with my older brother Peter. I got the scar from him. By mistake. As a child, I felt that Peter was the coolest bestest young man/boy alive. I spent most of my day seeking his attention. This one day, he was busy doing something with a sharp object. Knowing myself, I was definitely running towards him the moment I saw he was ‘busy’. He did not even realize I was there before my leg was bleeding, and we were both screaming.
We do not remember the hours between the blood and screams and me coming home from the hospital. However, I do remember Peter carrying me everywhere on his back for weeks after the hospital visit. Or was it months? He was very attentive and sorry that my leg was injured. By the time my leg was healed, we had a totally different relationship Peter and me.
Why can’t remember feeling angry at Peter for the injury, and how is it that I have never been afraid of him? I remember his attention turned on me, he saw me, he knew I was there, he knew I craved his attention and he knew that I could get injured. He became protective of me. At school, if you wanted to fight with Peter, you just had to look at me the wrong way. We created a bond that would last till today, which has been good for both of us as adulthood complicates life into absurd levels. Both of us still reach out to each other, even when we are too exhausted to reach out to anyone else.
Scarred by fear
I have a 15-year old scar on my left eyelid. It is almost gone, invisible. But I sometimes stand in front of the mirror and look for it. This scar is from a boyfriend who pushed me into the corner of the living room cabinet-door because…I cannot remember why. When the blood run down my eye, I was afraid I had injured my eye. I must have looked frightened. He had smiled as I started crying and he rolled his eyes and left.
“You are so sensitive,” he had said as he left.
Because our brains are selective rememberers, I remember his smile. How come I remember how angry and fearful his smile made me feel?
Obviously, we broke up that day because I got scared and when I get scared, I run. I am not scared anymore. However, I still remember how it made me feel to stand beside someone who did not join me in my fear, when blood was running down my face.
Scarred by life savers
I have a 6-year old scar on my lower abdomen from an operation performed with the intention of saving my life. The invisible that was eating me inside would have killed me withing ten years if it wasn’t removed. To remove it, I had to sign a paper saying “I accept scars” on my tummy-skin and inside my belly.
I slept through the operation, obviously, meaning I don’t remember pain, or fear, or worry. Why do I remember the restless worry in the months leading up to the operation? Plus, the depressive relief and anticipation of health that came after the operation?
Nowadays, I see the scar as the place where life, hope and health entered me.
What do your scars tell you about your life?
For me, to be the possessor of properly-healed-scars is a confirmation that I was nurtured. Someone was present to care for my wounds when I couldn’t. It could as well have been the opposite. These scars, our old healed scars, they are not just scars – they are:
- life-saving operations
- a challenge accepted
- moments shared with someone
- lifetimes spent alone
- a journey completed
- declarations of love and loyalty
- a child neglected
- seconds when attention turned away
- fear defeated
- lovers who are a little too rough
- an abusive spouse
- a seeker of control
- a fight you won
- one who uses fear to get what they want
- parents who hit to punish
- lacking empathy
- a fight you won
- inadequate love
- games gone awry
- a tree climber fallen from the mango tree
- a farmer with tools sharpened too sharp
- drivers who forgot to brake
- cyclists on a rainy day
- trauma survivors who self injure to relieve pain
What do your physical scars say about you and your life?