September 18, 2015

Why my Scars are the Most Beautiful Part of my Body.


I start my morning by opening Facebook and scrolling through twitter.

With a cup of coffee to my right and my son playing at my feet, I see beautifully filtered and often photoshopped pictures, highlighting gorgeous, airbrushed and otherwise flawless skin that doesn’t showcase a single blemish.

The same can be said for the moments I’m sitting in the waiting room at my OBGYN’s clinic or my son’s pediatrician’s office. The magazine covers lay carelessly on the table, glowing arms and smooth legs overlapping one another in a heap of immaculate, printed, glossy flesh.

I don’t see those images when I get out of the shower and stand in front of my bathroom mirror, though. I see the scar on the right side of my stomach or the six inch scar tearing down my right knee. I see the scar underneath my chin or, sometimes, I see the scar on the inside of my left palm.

I do not have beautiful, airbrushed skin.

I’ll never have glowing arms and smooth legs.

I am not flawless.

And I know what’s supposed to happen. I know I’m supposed to feel wanting and tarnished and in need of whatever new and arguably over-priced product that promises to make me look impeccable.

But I don’t.

The scar on the right side of my stomach makes me feel strong.

I was pregnant with twins when the ultrasound came back abnormal and additional tests needed to be run. I was scared and unsure and fearful of a future one or both of my son’s wouldn’t get the chance to experience. I remember the cold needle sliding through my stomach—a mix of uncomfortable numbness and unpredictable pinches that kept my knuckles white and my focus on my partner. As my stomach grew, the scar stretched, so it is now wider and longer than that initial incision.

The additional tests came back negative and my sons were healthy. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, one of them died. I endured the pain of carrying both life and death inside of me, simultaneously and with constant apprehension. I birthed a son that would breathe and a son that never took a single breath.

The scar on the right side of my stomach makes me feel strong.

The six inch scar tearing down my right knee makes me feel determined. I played college basketball at a small, private college—juggling the responsibilities of full-time school, full-time practice and full-time freedom. It was a scrimmage and she was a teammate but my body believed differently. A wrong turn and a loose ball and suddenly my knee popped and cracked and crumbled, leaving me on the ground with the acute—and painful—awareness that I’d never play basketball again.

I endured seven knee surgeries in three years. I had bones drilled and ligaments repaired and cartilage transplanted. I had an infection that left me in an emergency room, speaking to a woman who refused to treat me because my last name was Hispanic and she assumed I didn’t have insurance. I took a semester of online courses, writing term papers and taking timed tests as my knee was icing. I refused to miss class and I was committed to graduating college in four years.

And I did.

I now walk with a slight limp and bone still grinds against neighborly bone but I can play with my son, bouncing a small basketball on our living room floor as his eyes grow wide with a wonder and an excitement that is as humbling as it is refreshing.

The six inch scar tearing down my right knee makes me feel determined.

The scar underneath my chin makes me feel resilient.

Every time I see it I remember unbridled rage and unending torment. What I can’t remember is which specific time, which distinct outburst, which particularly violent tantrum left this small, almost-invisible mark. It could have been the time I argued during a football game and hands ended up around my neck. It could have been the time I was thrown to the kitchen floor, after failing to dismantle a fight. It definitely could have been the time the dinner wasn’t up to a particular standard and pieces of broken dishes were scattered across our dining room floor.

Every time I was pushed, I got back up. Every time I was hit, I silently smiled. Every bruise and cut and mark was a chance for vindication. I knew real love and real strength and real power and, in the end, I was able to demand the same.

The scar underneath my chin makes me feel resilient.

The scar on the inside of my left palm makes me feel worthy.

I had noticed the bump typing, a regular part of the full-time job that helped pay for my college education. I told my then live-in boyfriend when my concern became unavoidable, but he didn’t see it as a problem. As the pain increased and my mobility suffered, I made an appointment to get the mysterious lump removed.

My best friend took me to the hospital the day of the surgery. The boyfriend was busy with work. What was supposed to be a quick, 30 minute procedure took hours. What was supposed to be local anesthetic turned into general anesthesia. The surgeon warned me of a complication, explained that I would be in considerable pain and urged me to rest for the duration of my weekend, until I would see him that following Monday.

I asked the boyfriend to help me. He told me I was being dramatic. I asked him to stay home and care for me. He left to play poker with his friends.

That Monday, I learned the mysterious bump was a tumor and the doctor didn’t know if it was benign or not until that very day. Not wanting to worry me unless he had to, he kept the details of the procedure from me until he could tell me that the tumor was, in fact, harmless. He explained the reason for my increased pain and discomfort, as they had to cut into my muscle to remove the entire tumor from my hand.

The boyfriend apologized. Not long after, the boyfriend wasn’t my boyfriend anymore.

The scar on the inside of my left palm makes me feel worthy.

So when I’m starting my morning and I open Facebook and I scroll through twitter, I don’t feel less than the images so many perceive as accurate representations of perfection or beauty.

When I’m sitting at a doctor’s office, waiting impatiently and perusing magazines, I don’t feel broken or used or in need of a product to smooth my tattered edges.

Instead, when I see packaged flawlessness or declarations of a filtered ideal, I feel strong and determined and resilient and worthy.

I celebrate my scars—marks of a life truly lived. I see a beauty that is both pain and pleasure, intertwined in a way that leaves me forever altered and undeniable unique.

I do not hope or wish or attempt to be flawless.

I am scarred.

I am me.


Relephant read:

Loving My Scars. 


Author: Danielle Campoamor

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr/Daniel Pasikov

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