The Story In Scars


Scars are not just a type of disfiguration to me, they are a story of transfiguration. The writing work I’m doing now is heavy with trauma, healing and scars. More to do with the courage it takes to bear it, pull the poison, and change misplaced shame into the confidence to walk while carrying them inside and out. We become more than we were in the lessons we learn at every stage.

I have scars on my left arm that have grown with me from a fit of anger I threw right before my fifth birthday. I punched it through a glass door instead of grabbing the handle I was aiming for, with the intent of slamming it to show my severe displeasure with my mom.

Lesson One:

Anger expressed heedlessly hurts the one expressing it more than its recipients.

I have a small scar on my right brow bone from the brilliant idea I got from a cartoon I watched one morning when I was six. I took my friend’s pogo stick out onto the little frozen pond with the intent of hopping across the surface, punching holes in the ice as I went along. Against the advice of my pal, I instructed him to stand back and be amazed by my skills. I slipped on the second hop, and the pogo stick knocked me in the eye as I went down.

Lesson Two:

Unless you’re writing science fiction, physics wins over creative license.

I have a scar on my left knee from waking up early at a friend’s house when I was eight and deciding I was going to catch one of her horses and jump a fence. Seemed like a simple thing to do. Nobody had the right to tell me to stay away from the horses, or that I needed lessons to jump. Easy peasy. So I caught her, climbed up and rode as fast as I could towards the fence. At the last second, she baulked and veered to the side grinding my knee into the siding of the house at which point I slid off of her onto the ground.

Lesson Three:

Arrogance is a silent scream for experience to school you into humility.

I have a scar on my head from being hit by a car at ten years of age. While playing flag football, I ignored my little brother’s shout to look for cars and chased the ball out into the road. It is true that some experiences in life happen in slow motion. I lost the game of chicken with the driver of the car and sustained a busted head and fractured ribs.

Lesson Four:

Always consider carefully the warnings from those who love you.

My last physical scar (so far) is on my stomach. Not the barely noticeable c-section scar of today’s nip and tuck doctors, but the basic, emergency, we’re losing both of them scars that heals in a deep, tight and twisted way. No matter how flat the stomach, the scar shows. At the pool this summer one of the two college boys chatting with me asks,

“What’s the other guy look like?”

I smiled and said, “Almost six feet tall, handsome, and the light of my life.”

Silence.

The other young man hands me a beer and says, “Darlin’, that’s bad-ass.”

Lesson Five:

Love is worth every single scar.

These are what I consider average life scars. These do not carry the same weight as those of whom I write. The physical scars from injuries in combat or the surgeries to try to fix them, the heart scars for every life taken or lost, the emotional/mind scars from the healing of who the warrior was with who they had to become. It is a painful, messy, at times seemingly impossible accomplishment.

Scars are not for sissies. You have to have the balls to say, “I did that. I felt that. That happened to me”. You have to have the spine to let who you were meet who you are and accept all the shit in between. Then you have to admit that you’re not done, because you’re still here, and you have too much life not to head to the front of the pack and lead us somewhere better.

Because you know both sides of life. You’ve lived both. We trusted you. We still do.

You didn’t go through all of that to come home and render yourself invisible and powerless. You didn’t learn all that you have to sit in silence and in pain. We need you to speak it, name it and show us how to overcome the reality of blood, sweat and humanity. Don’t numb out and isolate. We already know how to do that. Show us what you learned, show us how to lead, show us how to heal all that is rotting around us.

Show us. We need you.

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