“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. “
(The Skin Horse speaking to the Velveteen Rabbit, in The Velveteen Rabbit, By Margery Williams, 1922)
We All Are More Than Our Scars
I used to think of scars as something ugly, as something to be ashamed of. I used to hide them, cover them up like it would somehow make me feel whole again. Not sure why I used to do this; I think I wanted to be “perfect” or to at least seem “perfect.”
Beauty is Pain
Later in life, I learned that scars are proof that we have lived, battled, experienced life, and survived. They are evidence that our bodies were strong enough to overcome injury. In my life, I have discovered the beauty of scars and the strength in how we heal from physical or emotional pain.
There is always residual scaring left behind, and those warrior marks should be praised. Our scars tell stories. Sometimes the stories are of life-threatening catastrophes that make us cringe at the very thought, but in hindsight, they’re just visual footnotes to the ordinary and bloody roadways of life.
Learning Through the Pain
My own scars have led me to this point in my life; they remind me of the unexpected journeys my body has taken and how strong I am. Through the suffering, the pain, and the uneasiness, I learned and found what it means to be happy, whole, and healed.
Though I have always known this, it never truly hit home until I woke up one morning amidst a battle for my life, coaching myself to love me again, and to accept the new me.
I grew up with frequent visits to the hospital. Most of my hospital visits came from basketball—broken nose and thumb, pulled muscles, and once, I had a chunk of my sclera gouged out by accident. I was always getting hurt somehow, but these visits never required significant medical surgery.
So when I would see someone with disfiguring scars or disabilities, I would wonder how they managed to go on with life and be okay. I never understood how someone could be comfortable in his or her skin, looking so different.
Time Allows Reflection
It was not until years later that I would come face-to-face with my own questions, and answering them by living my truth. In 2009, I had my adductor removed due to cancer. I honestly did not know what I was up against and sure as hell never gave a thought to having a disfigured leg.
Something Was Different!
In the days following my surgery, I could see a very noticeable difference in the sizes of my legs. One was normal, and the other was very thin and unhealthy looking. I remember thinking that I had to hide my thin leg, that I had to somehow come up with something that would give me the fullness I was born with.
I had a 2-foot long scar that marched up to my inner thigh, and a massive gap in between my legs now. My left leg was extremely weak and atrophied. I had to learn how to walk again because I had a terrible limp, and when I turned corners, my left leg would swing out uncontrollably.
Learning to Love the New Me
I had to get used to not having a muscle there to keep my left leg in. It took years to love the new me, and even more patience to accept this new version of myself, but I no longer view this long and jagged scar on my leg as a deformity.
Now, it reminds me every day that I have survived, and not everyone is so lucky. We live in a vain society that needs to be pocked, popped, punctured, stretched out – to show us that there is beauty in marks of distinction.
Scars Are Strength
Every scar is a symbol of strength. I am proud of myself and how far I have come. If I could talk to my younger self and answer those ridiculous questions I used to ask in my head, I would tell young Brandi this:
There is no such thing as perfect; as long as we are humans, perfection is a myth.