Validating our scars
We all have scars, but we can learn from them, suggests Cath Jenkin.
(Diane Cassells)
I have a thirty centimetre scar along the front of my right leg. How I got it is inconsequential here, but it reminds me that I survived something, and that courage can get you through. It's a reminder of something a dear friend endured and came out thriving.

The scar stories

There's a scar on my right elbow. It reminds me of my best friend, who has been with me for years, and whose love has seen me through the darkest days of my life. On my left cheek, I bear a scar from adult chickenpox. It reminds me to be grateful for my health every day. On my left hand, there are two scars - both from broken glass. They remind me of a friend who left my life, and the world, too soon. It happened the day he found out he was going to be a father. He died three weeks later, in a car accident. There's a little scar on my forehead that reminds me that I can survive almost anything life throws at me, or throws me into.

My scars were traumatic when I got them. But, over the years, they've been reminders to me that I can and have survived. My scars have given me strength, and served as talismans of hope, on sad days.

My daughter has a scar, on the left-hand side of her mouth. She was involved in a freak electrocution accident at an old daycare (don't fret, the daycare closed down soon after and she was moved to a new one) and she almost died. She was 9 months old. I spent the night with her in my arms, sleeping in a cot. I've never been more frightened. She recovered.

She's always asked me about that scar, and I've explained to her why she has it. She doesn't remember the incident now, 7 years on, but she is proud of that scar.

The eye of the beholder

When she was 3, I decided to have cutesy "mommy and daughter photos" done. While we were awkwardly posing, the photographer noticed the scar and said to my kid "don't worry, I'll just airbrush that ugly mark out of your face in the photos".  It may have been a well-meant sentiment in her head, but it didn't go down well with me, or my kid. She burst into tears, saying "mommy, my face is ugly!". I let loose my vitriol at the photographer, asking her if she liked taking photos of beauty or plastic, because I had a pile of Tupperware at home she could have. We walked out, and I took my kid for a gigantic milkshake.

Whilst slurping up our strawberry drinks, we talked about what had happened, and I took my daughter through every single scar on my body. I told her why they were important, how I got them, and why they made me proud.

Since then, when we were confronted by some well-meaning, yet idiotic approach to her scar, she's been proud of it. She says it's her reminder of the endless love I have for her, as she knows I will even sleep sitting up in a cot for her. That scar tells her she is alive.

I'm not afraid of scars. I am afraid of a world that tells us to hide them.

Do you see scars as disfigurements or stories waiting to be told?

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