Scars mark the places where life and sanity were threatened, ordeals endured, wounds opened and closed. They evoke a queasy awe in the best of us. We stare and look away, want to ask what happened but don’t dare broach the subject, as if these patches of mended flesh identified experience beyond the realm of human discourse. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the word ‘scar’ is one letter away from ‘scare.’ -Kat Duff
Scars are irrefutable proof that something happened.
I got my first huge scar when I was six years old. I’d stacked three scabby-barked logs in the back yard then stepped back a few feet to take a running leap over the stack. I barely cleared it; I dragged my leg over the log and tore a gash in my shin. The scrape was about two inches long, and deep enough that I sported a hideous jagged scar for many years.
The scar is gone now, except for a tiny patch of puckered skin that’s nearly invisible. Like many of my childhood experiences, that leap seems like it might not have happened, after all. I no longer have proof that I scraped the shit out of my shin, and if I don’t have proof, did it really happen? Never mind that I remember the messy scrape and the serious owie (but I don’t remember crying. huh.)–never mind the vivid sensual memory. The scar’s virtually gone.
Emotionally disruptive events leave marks, too—I hesitate to call them scars because in many cases they’re just lessons, however much they hurt. And I think that for a fair number of those lessons, it’s our choice whether we regard them as lessons or deeply scarring traumas.
Maybe all of them.
I don’t know. Betrayal, for me, feels traumatic. But if I consider my expectations, open and hidden, and if I consider what I learned about myself because of a betrayal—I just can’t comfortably label it a traumatic experience. I feel like I have a couple of horrible scars, and like they should be visible…but they’re really just lessons learned. When I look at them like that, it diminishes the emotional reaction I have to the memories. I welcome this.