TW: This post discusses self-harm.
As soon as I saw @geekmagnifique launch the hashtag #ScarredAndSexy, I was immediately excited. And then I saw her amazing post You are more than your scars. And I had thoughts. Many thoughts. Loud thoughts.
Self-harm is the one addiction I’ve struggled to break. Over a decade of not knowing how to cope and reaching for temporary relief. It’s been 8 years since I broke the habit. But there have been relapses. Each time leaving a reminder on my skin. And the craving is always there.
I have a problematic relationship with my scars. Yes there have been times when I have been ashamed of them. Pulling my sleeves down. Looking away and mumbling that they are private.
But more often than not I haven’t hidden them away. I display them in defiance. There’s always been an angry resentment when people notice them, as if to say, why are you making a big deal out of this?! How dare you look at me like I’m a freak. I dare people every day to notice them. And it’s taken me a long time realise that I’m constantly testing people, waiting for them to slip up and react badly.
I’ve seen all the reactions. The averted gaze and quick change of subject. The sliding shift in attitude behind the eyes now they know they are talking to a weirdo. Occasionally people get it right and just listen without asking anything more. But more often than not I see sad eyes and confusion. As if they don’t know what to do but it makes them uncomfortable.
That used to make me furious. Having friends that in my opinion ‘pretended to care’. OK I was a little bit self-centred. I’ve seen my loved ones with scars now (though not of their own making) and I KNOW I have made the exact same expression. It took me years to realise how horrifying it was to have someone you care about being hurt. And how helpless you feel.
Slowly, slowly, in moments and whispers, I stopped letting my scars define me. I was the one doing it to myself. Again. And now they are fading in places. I went to take a picture for this post and struggled to find them. Which to be honest, is kind of freaking me out. A lot. Barring a few relapses I’ve been clean for years. What happens when the scars fade completely? Who will I be then? Can I stop the cycle?
Other posts have shared pictures and selfies. I’m not ready to do that. But I am more than my scars. And really I always have been. They are part of the whole. I think I might be getting this self-acceptance thing.
I am #ScarredAndSexy.
NB: If you struggle with self-harm, this link might be helpful