Hard-living novelist Harry Crews wrote “There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with,” in his book Scar Lover.
The problem with that, is it’s not always true.
I know. I have a few.
We all do.
The physical ones are the easiest to resolve. I have a scar on my back, perfect placed right in the middle. There’s no hiding it. It’s worn with age but it’s still there. A divot out of my landscape, that marks a particularly challenging segment of my life. A warning. A reminder of a time when I was living by the seat of my pants. A time where, had it not been for my roommate, I’m not sure I’d still be here.
I was sick from an infection inflicted by an angry bee sting. I was not taking care of myself. I was 20 and invincible, untouchable. The precarious mix of youth and New Orleans does that to a girl sometimes.
I had stayed at school, missing Thanksgiving at my, at the time, hopelessly messy home. My parents were divorced. My mother had remarried and had another child, my father had been living in London, engaged to a person who I refer to as “she who shall not be named.”
None of us were exactly seeing eye to eye.
I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to stay there. I was a mess.
So I did what anyone in my position would do (not) – I hooted and hollered, paying attention to everyone and every thing, except myself. I was goofing around al fresco with a Philosophy PHD candidate with one name, like Bono, and whose style icon was Judd Nelson in the Breakfast Club. Looking back, we were so insufferable and cliche. It’s a shame. I guess we all have moments where we are common.
Subsequently I was stung by a bee. I’m mildly allergic to bee stings plus, hello Diabetes! The wound got infected. I paid no attention.
Three days later, I was in ICU.
Just so I’m clear, I wasn’t trying to hurt myself really. Consciously. But I did, as a result of not handling my business. Had it gone on any longer, it could have killed me.
Although you can’t really see it well in the photo, it’s there. Right smack in the middle of my back. I feel that scar all the time. Kind of like Harry Potter. It flares up when I get close to doing something incredibly dumb.
I know it’s not a huge, obvious scar but it’s emotional footprint is large.
I left that part of me in 1990. Literally and metaphorically.
I worked on getting to the bottom of why I have that scar through therapy and self actualization. For years. Still am, every day. It’s a badge of stupidity but it’s also a badge of redemption. I am not ashamed of it. I chose a wedding dress that showed it off. I show it off as much as possible. It got me here.
The scars that don’t show are the ones that scare me the most. I know I have them. I felt one of them prick up the other night.
I was having a conversation with the MS about us. I felt my scar present itself and some of his too.
If my emotional scar could talk it would say this (Imagine Joe Pesci as Nicky in Casino as the voice) Scar: Heyo! I’m here and I’ve got my fists in a ball. Try to get me and I’ll get you the same way I got the last one.
It’s weird how those scars have more interaction with each other sometimes, than we do. They’re going to have their input on everything we say and do. The key is not letting them lead the conversation.
I tried to explain myself and my scar yesterday. “This is what was happening blah, blah, blah – I know it and I just want you to know as well. I’m not assuming you’re doing the same thing as I experienced in the past, but I want you to know where I’m coming from…”
And as Robert DeNiro (Ace Rothstein) describes Joe Pesci’s character in Casino: “You beat Nicky with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a gun. And you beat him with a gun, you better kill him, because he’ll keep comin’ back and back until one of you is dead.”
I’m trying to make sure the scar is the dead one.
Easier said than done, right? Tell me about it. I have a dear friend who is going through something now that is definitely, unconditionally going to leave her with a scar. There’s no other way to slice it. My advice to her is to let it.
Let it sear into your memory. Do not fear it. Learn from it. Let those lessons guide you in the future.
Scars are for fighters and you are a fighter. You’re fighting for your happiness and your son’s happiness.
Wear it with pride. Own it.
Become a scar lover.