I was flipping through Pinterest a few days ago and came across the following quote by an anonymous writer that read: “Scars on the soul, scars on the skin; Some on the outside, some are within; Some have a story, some are unwritten; Some you can see but most are quite hidden.”
Having recently had an operation, I remember the feeling of walking into the surgeon’s office for the first time. That sinking feeling in your stomach that you are putting your trust in someone you barely know’s hands. Being a twenty five year old girl, my biggest concern was post-operation scarring and how the scars of my procedure would be carried with me always. That got me thinking about what the significance of a scar really is.
One of my favourite social media accounts is called “Humans of New York.” A photographer captures New York City one person at a time by telling a snippet of their story. I remember once coming across an image of a girl with piercing green eyes that told a story of her scars – she had been severely burnt by acid that was thrown in her face by an unknown man who happened to change her life that day. The face she would see in the mirror from then onwards was no longer the same. Her scars were visible for the world to see, however, instead of masking her appearance, her scars told a story of torment, torture and most importantly power; to overcome a situation that made her powerless and rise above it. Her scars became a symbol of hope and perseverance. A reminder that nothing in this world has the power to bring you down unless you let it.
I once came across a series of images captured by Sophie Mayenne from London, who worked to change the perception of scars through her photography project ‘Behind The Scars,’ a series of poignant photographs of people, their scars and the stories behind them. Although vulnerable and insecure, having hidden their scars for years as well as the psychological trauma that accompanied them, her subjects rawly exposed their scars and embraced the project enthusiastically. Mayenne in an article by Bored Panda expressed that the subjects found the experience of the photoshoot to be “very therapeutic – as they may have not shared their experiences before, and for others they are consolidating their new found love of their scars – and body.” Shedding the burden of insecurity often comes with acknowledgement and exposing the things that we so often hide away from. Much like the subjects in this series, people often shy away from exposing their more vulnerable selves. In our present society it isn’t always easy to be raw, real and vulnerable with societal norms dictating the way we should feel and what is viewed as “fitting,” as communication fades and cowering away from hostile situations has become the new norm.
The New York Times featured an article by Dana Jennings entitled ‘Our scars tell the stories of our lives‘ who wrote, “Our scars tell stories. Sometimes they’re stark tales of life-threatening catastrophes, but more often they’re just footnotes to the ordinary but bloody detours that befall us on the roadways of life.” This particularly stood out to me based on the fact that I’ve always thought of my scars as am imprint of an past experience that has form part of my footprint in some way, shape or form.
At CN&CO, one of our blog columns the Ink Link features individuals with epic tattoo stories. In her writing, Jennings says “scars, perhaps, were the primal tattoos, marks of distinction that showed you had been tried and had survived the test. And like tattoos, they also fade…“. Much like my tattoo, my scars tell stories: of trials, tribulation, perseverance, survival and success. They are a reminder of times when life was challenging. Markings of where the structure of my character was welded. An untold story of survival. A constant reminder so that others know that they too can heal. Also, a reminder that the past is real. I am not ashamed of my scars, they are what they are. My scars tell my story and there is no power greater than that of stories and much like Jennings, I believe in the power of scars.
As of now, I have two very small scars on my face due to two injuries that happened while I was at varsity. I have numerous hidden scars that don’t appear on my skin, that are a reminder of all the things that I have overcome. My past experiences, triumphs, downfalls; of things that have built me up and broken me down. More recently I now have four new scars on my body. Scars that are there because change needed to occur. A perfect show that I have been tried and overcame the test. For now, I am still conscious of my scars. A few weeks and months from now, I may likely be less conscious of them but that by no means makes them less significant. They are part of my journey, much like tattoos with ink only I can see. My scars are not my shame, they are my story and I love stories.
So as my wounds begin healing, and my scars start becoming less visible, I am reminded about time and healing and how essential it is to take the time to heal and most importantly to trust the process. Being immobile is not easy but I am reminded of the importance of rest. To listen to my body, trust that it too needs time to heal and afford myself the time to do so. One of my favourite quotes is written by Anaia Non that reads, “the scars meant that I was stronger than what had tried to hurt me.”
Today, I am proud of my scars.