The one on the right is jagged, dipping into soft skin and running about three inches long. It’s fading. The one on the left is finer, almost evanescent. I struggle to find it in the soft light of my writing space. Battle scars from an elusive beast named cancer. Eight years free and clear, hopefully the war is won.
Scars show a person has lived. A person has fallen. Skin has been ripped, pulled and shredded. A visual story branded on living tissue. A knife cut flesh willingly or unwillingly, by accident or necessity. Scars tell a story, even if we don’t want to. They are a marker that something happened and it’s left a lasting sign, a tattoo on my body.
Each of us has them. Some of us lucky to only have a few small ones, the time I got chicken pox at 25 and thought the first pox was a huge pimple on the left side of my nose and I picked it, only to discover more pox all over my body, too late, scar produced. And some of us have bigger ones, billboards from car accidents or battles with disease that required skin to be sacrificed.
Scars are the outer branding that a story must be told to truly know a person.
We worry what people will think of our scars, the visible ones must be discussed. They are always questioned. “What happened?” and the choice is to tell the truth or invent some grand misfortune. The explanation depends on the day, doesn’t it, and the person asking. Skin scars do eventually heal, some fading into white lines that are hardly noticeable. Other wounds have rough edges shouting exclamation points of trauma. The scar determined by the intensity and treatment of the injury.
It’s the scars that lie within that fascinate me. The ones that aren’t visible, yet they are. Inside scars are just harder to see. Inside scars manifest in the actions or inaction of people. They come from experiences that leave a lasting impression on a heart, mind and soul. The events that happen that have changed me as a human being. One day I was this, and after I’ve lived through an experience now I’m someone else. Scars change you. Heart scars make some people tough, so they may avoid being hurt again, or fearful of intentions and motives, always on guard against an attack. And sometimes heart scars make you tender, more aware that feeling is all that is important. Love is all that matters.
Invisible heart scars are intriguing. A piece of who I am has been scooped out, leaving my heart to mend. These are the scars I try to hide, but they guide my very existence:
The first time my heart was broken, when I actually heard the crack splitting amidst the words, “I think we need some space,” and I struggled to continue breathing. The intense pain of leaving someone once loved, or being the person left behind. The wistful wound of love that will never be. The cutting pain of betrayal that leaves you stunned, shaken to the core and questioning everything. Death, the finality of love lost. Being treated as a commodity, not a human being.
It’s amazing the events we survive and endure, thinking emotionally we have surely died, and yet we rise. It’s in the aftermath that we decide how to process what’s happened. How will the trauma affect us? The invisible scars are the ones that make us who we are. Will the world be bitter and cruel? Will the world be full of light and love? Where do your scars lead you? Will I choose love or fear to guide me? It’s my choice which to use as the compass.
You know someone, truly know someone, by the scars that they carry. It is in our brokenness that we connect. It is in our vulnerability that you will see me and I will see you. It is in the real, not the glossed over, pretending, scars-covered-in-makeup, that we see each other for who we truly are.
If you want to know me, you’ll have to get to know my scars.
Author: Darlene Versak
Editor: Emily Bartran