I’ve been thinking about scars, sort of. Rarely the visible kind, actually. The inner ones–right now, the secondhand ones. The kind you get from the people closest to you. The kind you get sitting in the dark, holding someone’s hand as they explain how they’ve been hurt and how it has shaped them, and you are hurt and crying for them.
It’s an ugly thing to realize that this is something you can’t fix, can’t erase, couldn’t have prevented. A sick thing rolls in the pit of my stomach every time I think of the way we have to live forever with the consequences of wounds someone else thoughtlessly inflicted.
My scars are stupid ones. I fell off a scooter and have a odd, prickly looking scar on my knee. I burned myself cooking or baking, cut myself on glass and metal at work and so my hands are covered in tiny little imperfections; silver-white lines and splotches that don’t really tell any story other than that of my clumsiness, which is hardly remarkable. I have one on my thigh from an unfortunate incident involving a carpet staple and a younger sister. She really felt horrible about that. I have scar that bisects my left eyebrow, and I spend a really inordinate period of time most days pencil hiding it with eyebrow pencil. It exists because I was a dumb, clumsy eight year old that decided to not only try on a pair of heels that were three sizes too big but also try to walk down a flight of stairs in them.
My not-so-physical scars don’t really have entertaining stories behind them. Behind them there are hurts that I’ll probably never forget, doubts, fears, panic attacks, and unfinished suicide notes. That’s not how it is for everyone. Some people simply have fewer scars. God knows I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
But there’s a scary permanence in scars. It’s not like I was hurt once and I’ll never have to deal with it again. Hurts like that shape you. They change your personality, can even change your character, if you let them. They can make you more open, more compassionate, and more forgiving. Or you can become bitter and twisted, angry forever at things beyond your control.
Hurt is inevitable. Everyone faces some level of hurt at some point in their lives. Transform it into a gift. It takes a while. You have to forgive the person who hurt you, and learn to actually deal with your pain, instead of hide it away. But, once you’ve dealt with it, worked through it in your head and heart, turn it into something you can use.
When you’ve suffered, you are in a unique position to help people that have been hurt similarly. Which is hard, because every time you talk to that person, it will bring up your own hurt and if you haven’t handled it properly, it festers. But the deepest hurts can’t be explained in a textbook, you can’t just be taught to help someone who has endured trauma, abuse, assault–unimaginable pain.
Scars are a lot of things. Stories you may or may not want to share. Hurts that you don’t particularly want to revisit. A way to minister to others. A way to, perhaps, lessen their scars. Keep them from having scars so deep.