There is a story behind every scar. Whether it’s a bragging tale of some adventurous childhood stunt, a sad drama of a traumatic experience, a heroic action story of a sporting accident, or the scientific documentary of a battle scar from an operation. When I have thought about scars, more often than not, it has been attached to a negative connotation. Beauty and scar are often not used in the same sentence. Scars can often make the person bearing them feel self-conscious, ashamed or painfully reminded of the experience that caused the scar.
But have you ever thought about what a scar actually is? A scar is the evidence of a healing process that has taken place. For the skin to produce a scar, damage has to be done to the deeper layer of skin, the dermis. The scar itself is not the injury, but the process by which the damage is repaired. A scar is a beautiful thing!
Growing up, I never had any notable scars. I never had stitches, and no bad cuts resulting in scars. My first scar was from my first experience of requiring stitches, after an episiotomy giving birth to my first child, four years ago! Probably the last place you would dream of having stitches. The memories still make me cringe, ouch! My second encounter with stitches resulted in by far my most impressive scar! Due to complications with my second pregnancy, I had a C-section to deliver my next baby. For me, these scars are my battle trophies. I would go through it all again in a heart beat, as the rewards far outweighed the pain and resulting scars. They are reminders of my most prized possessions and a symbol of a Mother’s love, and what she would do for her children. I did not really give them second thought.
One year after having my second child, I had to get my gall bladder removed due to gall stones, which saw five new small scars on my abdomen. I am no bikini wearer, especially after having two children, so this was not devastating. But my most recent scar has been the one that rocked my world, and what made me think about scars in the first place.
A few weeks ago, I had to get a small lump removed from my left cheek. When I was first told that I would have to get a cut and stitches on my face, I was initially pretty devastated. It didn’t help that it all happened in one of the hardest months I had ever been through, and my emotions had already been through a thorough workout. Plus, let’s be honest, no one wants to have imperfections on their face! I then felt stupid and vain at being upset about something that, in the big scheme of things, was nothing. So many people go through much worse situations. At the end of the day, I was healthy, and it’s just a scar.
My scar is still quite fresh, is still healing, and this is a journey I am still traveling. There are some days I feel ok with having a scar on my face, then there are others I feel pretty down and self conscious about it. But along the way, I have learnt so much. When I first came home from the procedure, my two little girls looked at me, my youngest pointed to the bandaging and said ‘sore’, then went on as normal. When I took the bandaging off, my four year old said my stitches looked like a caterpillar on my face. Bless the honesty of children! But, apart from their initial reactions, they didn’t treat me any differently than they normally did. They didn’t look at me any different. I was still their mum, and the fact that I had a scar didn’t affect how they saw me. My husband, who was amazingly supportive throughout, was the same. I began to think, if the people that I love the most and are dearest to me don’t care about me having a scar on my face, why should I? What were my priorities? Was my outer appearance that important to me?
Like any situation life throws at us, we can choose to let it take us as a victim, and let our scars define who we are, or we can choose to let them become part of our journey, our story. No one goes through life unscathed, and some situations we face do change us, and become part of who we are. There are going to be experiences in life that cut deep and cause enough damage, both physically and emotionally, that we actually need scars to heal. If the cut has been deep enough to cause damage, we need it to scar. A scar is far better than an open wound!
My challenge has been to see my scars in a new light. For them to be part of my story, rather than reminders of my failures, things that didn’t quite go to plan, or situations I wish hadn’t happened. To view my scars as trophies and battle scars accumulated along life’s journey, and situations that I have survived and conquered. To see the beauty in my scars, and the healing process that they are.
Love Sarah x