For a long time I’ve avoided this topic although it comes up sooner or later in most blogs about borderline. But after all the hastily typed updates I’ve posted recently I wanted to do a more extensive “musing post” today.
Basically, scars are signs that someone has survived something. That a wound has healed and everything’s fine again. Nevertheless many people hate their scars. I know people who are ashamed when they go swimming after they’ve had a surgery. Persons who try to hide their scars. People who think they are less beautiful because they had to have stitches.
I never understood that. Even as a child I found it fascinating when someone told a story about an injury from the past – often just a funny episode about a wild soccer game or a fall from grandma’s apple tree.
This is very different from scars that originate from self-harm. People hardly ever ask what happened, they rather speculate. The story they would hear is never pleasant and most people don’t see that these scars are signs of a struggle to survive as well. The people who bear them try even harder to hide them than people who got stitches after an accident.
I for my part am not ashamed of my scars. I have no problem showing them to people I trust and I also don’t think they’re hideous. Nevertheless I never wear hot pants. Because I fear being judged. Fear that people might think I’m just seeking attention. Fear that people who have never dealt with the topic could think the weirdest things (and I don’t mean strangers who can think what they want as far as I’m concerned but friends who suddenly have a completeley different opinion about me).
I like my scars. That may be sick or weird but I do like them. I would miss them if they suddenly vanished. I need them as a reminder. The more my scars fade (and three quarters of them are already invisible) the more I want to create new ones. I always hope that at least one of them will remain for the rest of my life so that I’ll never have to fear forgetting what can happen when my head gets out of control. Don’t know if that is plausible but for me self-harm is something quite visual. I hardly ever feel the pain anyway but I can see clearly. This also makes it hard for me to use skills – even when the skin turns reddish I can see no remaining sign and I miss that a lot more than I could ever miss the pain.
I would love to tell all the peoplewho think that self-harm is just attention-seeking that I only “need” it for myself. If there were scars only I could see that would be fine with me. Even though people generally imagine that self-harm means an Emo-girl with scratched forearms in a short-sleeved T-Shirt, reality is mostly a person who desperately tries to function, DOESN’T want to attract attention and thinks about hiding the latest injury constantly. That being said I know many people who don’t injure their arms and to whom self-harm means something completely different from the cutting we all know.
Even though it might be difficult to talk about it I am grateful for every person who asks sincere questions (and can deal with the answer) instead of speculating or telling me things I already know (such as: “That doesn’t solve your problems!”). I wish for a world in which it is common knowledge that self-harm is the symptom of an illness and not: attention-seeking, bizarre, selfish, immature, condemnable or disgusting. I wish nobody had to worry about not getting a job due to their scars. I wish for stars who speak about fighting (and hopefully overcoming) self-harm. I wish for more compassionate and less judging glances at the swimming pool. I wish for people who listen more and talk less. I wish for a slap on the back for all those whose scars are so old that they give hope to people who want to stop hurting themselves. Maybe I even wish for advertisements with scarred people in them (due to self-harm or not, doesn’t matter) – because after all this is also about beauty ideals. And without wantig to glorify self-harm I wish for more matter-of-factness concerning this topic because: Even though the emotions behind a scar might be horrible, speaking about it in a normal way is still the best we can do. I can see that when I talk to my therapist; she makes it so easy to speak and that’s because there is no drama. She just asks. Just like she asks about other things. Without beating about the bush, without judging, without pity and above all without a false sense of embarassment. By the way, you don’t need to major in psychology for that. Nothing is harder to tolerate than people who think they have to ask questions just so that they can interrupt the answer in order to show just how understanding they are. Or persons whose eyes nearly pop due to ill-disguised curiosity. Or wannabe-saints who tell me I just have to find my way to *insert random deity* in order to find healing.
Please dear world: Let us all speak normally (for lack of a better word) about our scars – we all bear at least one, whatever the reason may be. Whether it is self-harm, a laceration from playing or a rebellious appendix: Let us just talk and learn and look. Because wherever a scar might come from: The person who bears it has survived something and has a story to tell and is so incredibly beautiful – with or without scars.
With this in mind I wish a nice start into this week to all brave scar-bearers out there!