When I was seven I was in an accident that left me with a huge scar down the back of my left calf. My heel had to be reconstructed in order for me to walk again. However, the greatest pain wasn't physical, it was mental and emotional. It was like a tattoo on my heart. I don't talk about it much, in fact, if you know me you know that I act like the whole thing never happened. For 18 years I have pretended it didn't affect me. But the thing about repressing our feelings is that sooner or later our feelings will find us anyway. Lately, I've been feeling more self conscious than ever and I've tried to let those emotions come, to let them out, to let them touch the surface and crack me open, and the results have been, well, me feeling completely naked!
Every time I look at my left leg I feel naked. When I wear shorts in public I feel naked. I feel a need to cover myself up because the world shouldn't have to look at my scar. But the truth is, I am the one who prefers not to look at it. It is tough, because vulnerability is a scary thing. I put so much effort into hiding my scar so that people won't stare and wonder what the hell happened to me.
A few days ago I made myself go to the beach alone in shorts. There was an event going on that day, so it was crowded with people, some running, others competing in various contests and there were kids in Halloween costumes everywhere. For me, it seemed as if the universe was testing my bravery. I thought about changing clothes, because of course I brought a pair of pants with me just in case. I resisted the urge to change and I made myself walk, one foot in front of the other. I am here, ALL OF ME IS HERE. It was terrifying and also incredibly liberating.
We all have our scars, and yours may look completely different than mine. Times of crisis leave a mark on us whether we like it or not. They become a part of us and they make us who we are. I recently read that if we are able to to change our perspective towards traumatic experiences being our biggest opportunities for growth, then maybe it would be more acceptable for us to be in the moment and feel the emotions as they come. Trauma transforms us and shake us and yet leaves us stronger than we ever were.