Friday, June 21, 2013

Wear Your Scars Like Badges of Honor

My sister a few years ago gave me a piece of advice that has resonated with me in a great way. She once told me to wear my scars as badges of honor. They are the proof that you have gone through hard trials and made it through the other side.

  This makes total sense because scars are what is left after the wound has healed. This saying goes well for both physical scars and emotional scars. Be proud.

I have a scar that no matter how hard I try I feel self conscious about. Seven years ago I was taking out the trash and tripped over my own feet. I landed on top of a dried up shrub that was now just very sharp sticks that my landlord had yet to dig up and get rid of. I had never really thought about it until one of the sticks impaled my shin.

 XXX warning graphic wound description XXX

It didn't bleed very much but it had gone so deep into my leg that it went through all of my layers of skin and went into my subcutaneous fat tissue. I know this because little yellow balls of subcutaneous fat were falling out of it. When I stood up the stick fell out and I had a neighbor call the ambulance. Where I lived at the time, the ambulance was not very efficient. They gave me some gauze and told me to wash it under my sink and go to my doctor some time that week.  My old retired nun neighbor sat with me as I attempted to wash a gaping whole in my leg and was so nice not to be bothered by the stream of extremities that flowed out of my mouth faster than the water came out of my faucet. I knew that my wound was more serious than just a doctors appointment and my neighbor agreed to take me to the emergency room.

First I had X-rays. Not uncommon. Then my emergency doctor came in to take a look. First he looked at the X-rays and decided that we should numb it. Unfortunately you can hurt yourself so deep that totally numbing the wound is impossible. He then decided to stick a pair of tweezers down into my wound to make sure that no pieces of stick were hiding inside my leg. That hurt pretty bad but I tried my darnedest not to scream. He wasn't satisfied with the tong excavation and decided to use his finger. Sadistic Bastard. He was able to shove his finger into my leg wound all the way to his knuckle. I screamed but I refused to cry in front of him. I was going to show him that I was not some wilting shrinking violet.  After "Dr. Pokes A Lot" left the room I broke down and cried like a baby. I shook, I snotted, I wailed. That had to be one of the most painful situations I have ever endured. He was really upset that the ambulance paramedics had given me such poor advice because sticks tend to splinter and if I had waited too long with a splinter in my leg it would have become infected and I would have possibly lost my leg or become septic. So in truth he wasn't sadistic but very thorough. Painful but thorough. Then after they cleaned my wound with frigid ice water he came back and stitched it up. Good as new, except that I have an inch long scar that at it's widest point is 1/2 an inch wide. It is in a half moon shape and resembles what a shark bite looks like.

Now, I realize that it isn't the biggest scar ever. I know that in many cases my scar is less than other people's scars. I am not saying my scar is worse or causes me more self esteem issues than others. However, I can not hide it unless I wear pants. I also have nerve damage that makes it burn and itch off and on. I usually stamp my leg like an agitated horse until it goes away. It makes me feel like I have ugly legs, and I admit that I am self conscious about it. Because it is an indented scar I can not cover it with make up. The scar tissue has no pigment therefore I can not cover it with tanning lotion. It is a stark white scar that stay that color no matter what I try, so I have stopped trying to tan my legs because it makes the scar more visible. Now I feel bad because I blind the neighbors with the paleness of my legs when I wear shorts on my porch. I have had comments about me "lighting the way" with my legs if we are somehow plunged into darkness. Hardee Harr harr.....

I have wrestled with how to wear it like a badge of honor but what do I have to be proud of? That I survived being viciously attacked by a stationary one foot tall shrub that had died two summers previous? That the zombie bush only took a chunk of my leg and didn't go for my brain?

It makes me uncomfortable to look at so I do not look at my legs much. At least I try not to.

Scars are a part of life. They make you unique. Not only do I have a scar on my leg and other places from other incidents but I also suffer from emotional scars. I wrestle with trying to wear them as badges of honor as well. I was abandoned by my real father, I have severe to moderate OCD that has plagued my whole life, I have anxiety issues and phobias. I have suffered from low self esteem and I sometimes am vulnerable to other's comments. I am over sensitive and over compassionate to where some people in my life have taken advantage of that fact. How do I learn to wear my trials as badges of honor? How do I become proud of my scars? I am not sure but I am working on it. Day by day I struggle to be proud of myself. No one is proud to have mental illness, that would be absurd, but I am proud of what I have been able to achieve despite what my mind is telling me. I am proud that I have finally found the courage to speak up and educate others on mental illness and stigma. I am proud that I am able to gt up each morning and look forward to what the day holds, knowing that it may trigger some OCD issues but that I am strong enough to deal with it, if it rears it's ugly head up at me.

As time goes by I have become less ashamed of my scars emotional, mental,or otherwise. I have become more accepting of my issues. I have learned to be less self conscious of my leg, my being over sensitive, and my OCD. I am learning to wear my scars maybe not as badges of honor yet, but as badges of strength. Badges of truth. Badges that I am healing even when I feel raw and bruised. I am hoping that one day I can wear my scars as badges of honor as well. It's a daily effort but I believe I can do it.

Neurotic Nelly

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