Scars

We humans cannot help being prideful creatures. When I have been wounded, either sleight or deep, my instincts push me to a private place. Solitude always feels right for coming to grips with an assault. Healing is another matter altogether. Especially when the skin has closed over but the offense continues to fester. That’s when exorcism seems like a pretty good idea. Managing our demons takes on many forms.

There is honor and endurance in choosing to heal and let go of that which has wounded you. However, there are occasions when a scar is so reviled that it must take on another persona altogether. I know a young woman who once was a cutter. But as she matured she concealed these physical scars with tattoos that depicted uplifting imagery. As a result, her emotional scars began to heal as well. Now when she looks at her wrists, there is no hostile reminder but rather inspiration, and that has made all the difference in her growth.

Not every tattoo has to be a traumatic touchstone. Some are well thought out and others added on impulse. It can simply be for aesthetic appeal. Or a tattoo can be the artful manifestation of a wound — the celebration of a battle survived, an offense overcome, an enemy endured. Whether the physical fight is won or not, there remains this symbol of dignity for having the belligerent gall to survive it.

A metal worker has confidence that a weld is the strongest metal on a machine. By the same token, it is equally true that scar tissue is the toughest skin on our body. Any truly resilient spirit commands a durability that surpasses pain.

Bullets, blades and automobiles do not create scars. The true authors of our deepest disfigurements are betrayals, bullies, and broken promises. And despite its origins, a scar can be a friend whose very presence is a cautionary reminder — “Don’t go this way again. Find another.”

Scars are proof positive that the past was not imagined, whether they began with the unceremonious tearing of flesh or a deeply affecting trauma that has burned itself into your skin with ink. There is something liberating in looking at a scar and have it almost say to you, “See, we got through this, didn’t we?”

For many people it takes a very, very long time before self-worth and value may deem to make their first blessed appearance. But the moment they do — the very instant a person sees himself or herself honestly — it’s love at first sight. For those who are healthy, a scar is simply a tattoo with more interesting tales to tell.

When I study a scar long enough, I see more than evidence of a wound — I recognize proof that healing is possible. If, and hopefully when, I stand before my maker, he will not look me over for virtues. He will examine me for scars and for evidence that I rose above them.

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18 thoughts on “Scars

  1. Pingback: Love On My Arm: How My Tattoo Made Me More Body Positive | The Stretch For Something Beautiful

  2. Hello Michael – Another insightful post. It is tempting to retreat when scarred or to disguise the scars received. I agree with you, instead of being ashamed of our scars, they should be viewed instead that one has battled fiercely and managed to emerge from those battles. Thanks for this post 🙂

  3. ‘Scars are proof positive that the past was not imagined, whether they began with the unceremonious tearing of flesh or a deeply affecting trauma that has burned itself into your skin with ink. There is something liberating in looking at a scar and have it almost say to you, “See, we got through this, didn’t we?”’

    I think one of my greatest challenges as a therapist is to support people in their journey to accept their scars so that they can finally move forward in their lives. Your post eloquently expresses the beauty in the healing process and is a reminder why we (healers of all kinds) do what we do.

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us.
    Lyre @ Lyre’s Musings

    • My dear Lyre, I am taken aback by your generous compliment. How delighted am I that my writing has touched you so. You’re gracious remarks are most welcome and I am quite the happy camper at such a top-drawer review.

      Thank you ever so much for such a glowing endorsement. Cheers.

  4. I loved so many parts of this. I had quotes I was copying throughout, but when I came to this:
    “When I study a scar long enough, I see more than evidence of a wound — I recognize proof that healing is possible. If, and hopefully when, I stand before my maker, he will not look me over for virtues. He will examine me for scars and for evidence that I rose above them.”
    it trumped them all. Beautifully put. Thank you for such a great reminder of what *living* actually means!

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