Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Scars We Wear

This week, I’ve had an interesting experience. Out of the blue, my arms and back broke out in this painful swollen rash. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t sleep or get dressed, or breathe, so I went to the ER on Friday. By then, my  arms looked like something out of a zombie movie. GROSS!! At the hospital they put me on steroids and ohhh, the relief. Now my arms look a little less hideous and the lion’s share of the pain is gone, but the doctor tells me, that like a burn my skin is damaged and it will take time to heal. I may even have permanent scars. 

This got me thinking about the scars we were wear, some on the inside and some on the outside….and scars are relatable to all of us.  Some of our most beloved stories deal with deformities or abnormalities on the outside, such as Beauty and the Beast or how about Cyrano de Bergerac (you know the guy with beautiful words and hideously long nose).  Even more often, stories deal with the scars on the inside, the one’s no one sees but are just as real and affect us profoundly. For example, the characters of Les Miserable dealt with the scarring of their past choices.  And what about all those broken hearts we see in movies. Katniss, the little girl forced to grow up with no father and a useless mother and Gale not able to have the one he loves. We all relate to the scars left by a broken heart, at least in some small way.

So, as I sat in the emergency room, I had a thought. Maybe the emotional and physical scars left behind are more battle wounds then terrible disfiguring scars. Maybe they show what we have survived, not just that we’ve suffered. In many ways, scars are trophies, physical reminders of our resilience as human beings. 

Not that I love that my arms and back are red and peeling like a patchwork quilt of skin, but I find some comfort knowing that my scars, both inside and out connect me in common ground with my fellow man. So maybe next time, you survive something that leaves you feeling beat up and disfigured, you’ll see your healing wounds as an affirmation that you are a survivor and you’ll also know, you’re not alone.

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