I have a new scar. Not a very impressive or dramatic one, just a small white line on my upper thigh that marks the spot of a muscle biopsy. It’s my only 2013 scar and hurt like holy hell at the time. The wound continued to throb for several days before turning to tender and finally healed. I’m rather attached to this little scar though; it eventually bought me peace of mind – unlike the longer scar a few inches below from running into a pane of glass – so I chalk up this latest addition as being well worth the pain.
Scars are funny old things. We bear many of them with great pride and a sense of ‘Look what happened to me!’ such as the one around my elbow from falling through a barb wire fence at camp or the one from when my 10-old self used an illicit knife in the art room and cut her knuckle down to the bone. They all represent acts of tomfoolery, bad luck, misjudgement or necessary medical intervention. Little landmarks of a life lived, or even saved, with many offering the opportunity to tell a funny, dramatic or embellished tale of woe.
The bigger the scar, the better the story – right?
I could, of course, go on to tell you about the aches and pains on damp days from old broken bones: finger, foot, arm, ass… but me thinks you’re getting the picture and are now considering your own collection of scars and injuries. And I bet you’re smiling.
But what about all those other scars, the secret ones we bear on our souls?
I’ve been pondering the huge difference in the way most of us treat our physical vs. psychological scars for several weeks now. How we tend to the one kind with reasonable consideration for our own good yet almost wage war on the other in our bid to annihilate the pain of their cause as fast as humanly possible. We suck it up, get over it, and move on.
I’m talking everything from huge disappointment, fear and grief to unmentionable hurts and humiliations that we are too ashamed to examine in the same bright light, because somewhere along the line we’ve assumed an automatic approach of shrugging them off or, worse, burying the hurt in a graveyard of society-approved positive thinking. Because that’s what we’ve been told is best.
But what if I could physically extract my spiritual epicentre and roll it out to examine the bangs, bruises and breaks that have also left their indelible marks?
It would go something like this: ‘Oh look! That was a deep cut when X called little me stupid, and that long faded scar is when my ex dumped me and broke my heart. I can still see all the faded stitch marks from where my pals lovingly sewed me back together again under chocolate and alcoholic anaesthesia. That big scab is from the death of my father. I picked at that for years but it’s starting to heal now.’
Sure, I would also find scars from incidents I can barely remember, but it might just shed a little insight on why I react the way I do in certain situations. It might just buy me some light bulb realisations and more peace of mind. And it might just give me the opportunity to apply a mental band-aid that doesn’t contain calories.
Soul extractors, however, are the stuff sci-fi is made of. But in a bid to accomplish the next best thing, I made a mental decision to embrace all my scars. To dare run my tongue across trauma toothaches and nudge neglected battle wounds. To call a truce with old hurts and stop fighting momentary sadness or melancholy. Because that’s ok too. Life is a sometimes seemingly random mix of rough and smooth, but everything does pass.
And this is what I found.
I am who I am. All my scars add up to me. I’m blessed and grateful.
I have dug up some old hurt and thrown it way. I have dug up other hurt and put it back on the shelf, prepared to look it in the eye and live with it. Not suck it up, get over it and move on, but acknowledge it for what it was: a meaningful moment in my life.
And other old hurt is still on my 2014 ‘to do’ list, which means I have identified things I now know I need to sort out.
Turns out my little 2013 scar was a catalyst to greater thinking. At least for me. And it was certainly worth the holy hell in May that did indeed pass but forever left me with a tiny white line.
So I’m ending my own private scar wars and giving peace a chance. Right here, right now.
Happy New Year!