We all have them. Scars. Small, large, deep, light, old and withered, fresh and pink. Some are hidden beneath layers of protection, regret and possibly denial. These are the ones we only look at in the safety of our private space. Then there are the ones that are physical, visible and tell stories of grand adventures. These are the ones we may take great pleasure in relaying the stories behind their creation. I’ve been thinking a lot about scars as Iately. Probably because I recently acquired some rather impressive ones and the stories that tell of their creation into existence are equally as interesting.
As I tallied my scars and called from memory each of their origins, I realized each one carried a lesson or had led me to something memorable. There is the little oval puff on the front of my right ankle from when my brother pushed me into a pool. I caught my foot on the edge and proceeded to bleed profusely turning the pool into what looked like a scene from jaws. I was cared for by the young, handsome lifeguard on duty. He later became my very first boyfriend and that led to my first kiss. This little scar pillow on my ankle makes me smile as I think about us huddled under the tunnel at the top of the playground slide, soft misty rain covering our heads and backs as electricity raced through my belly and our lips met and I tasted him for the first time. My brother was completely forgiven.
Then there is the pepperoni slice on the inside of my right calf. This is now visibly all but faded. It is the memory of its birth that I’m really seeing. I can feel the wind on my face, taking my breath away as I pressed harder into the drivers back and gripped my arms tighter around his waist. I clung to my first love as we screamed down the highway on his red-hot Suzuki motorcycle. When we finally stopped and disembarked from the bike, my skin peeled off on the muffler. My sky-blue mini skirt completely inadequate for protecting me in so many ways, least of which from the heat of the exhaust pipe. I had never even felt the heat that seared the salami scar into my leg, branding me with a tattoo of our love for all eternity. I realized love has a way of dulling our senses.
I have the usual collection from the drunken stupor of my 21st birthday, various surgeries over the years; appendix, tonsils, lollipops on my breasts for the reduction that helped my back pain, and sundry scrapes and falls. My latest ones are no exception. My right wrist now bears the marks of Salty’s teeth where he clamped my wrist instead of Sage’s foreleg. In hindsight, I believe I was the better outcome. Had he achieved his goal and caught her instead of me, I’m afraid she and he would have been injured beyond repair. As it was, this incident had been brewing for some months and I knew it was only a matter of time before a more serious outcome would present itself as a result of their tussles. My lesson from this scar is to pay attention and act sooner before anxiety escalates. Defuse the situation before it can turn into a trip to the ER or emergency vet.
This lesson of awareness can be applied to humans as well. Instead of rushing in to fix something or stop an altercation, pay attention to the subtle signs and body language, eye contact or lack of, any verbal queues, or tension in the air. When I sense these things, I try to take action before they erupt. That action may be to remove myself or to change the energy in some way. The main thing is to pay attention, be aware of the energy and act before it bites.
My latest scar is the best one of all. It stretches from the top of my shoulder midway down my bicep. It came to life when I shattered my shoulder after tripping over my youngest bulldog. The result was a trip to the ER, a surgery to put it back together and now months of rehab. I found myself sifting through my closet recently looking for a blouse that would be nice enough, cool enough for the warming weather AND cover my scar. I quickly realized my options were limited with my current wardrobe. So being the forward-thinking, fashion-conscious woman I am, I went online and ordered some nice new additions that will be equally professional, comfortable and cover my shoulder and upper arm.
This scar carries several lessons with it. One is again about awareness. When you have a dog, who has no sense of boundaries, ALWAYS look before stepping. And most importantly when you are incapacitated to such a degree of near helplessness, inviting others to assist you allows them to give back from all that you have given to them over the years Recognizing the gift in caring for someone you love and allowing them to repay that love in a time of need, opens a door that can never be closed again.
Knowing that if this injury had happened to one of my family members, there would be nothing to stop me from taking care of them. Probably to the detriment of their recovery. Instead, I had to let go of my ego and self-pity, recognize and appreciate them to do for me that which I would happily do for them.
Many people have asked me if I’ve forgiven Sage for tripping me. When I was first asked this, I was confused. My first thought was, there is nothing to forgive. I tripped over her. She’s a dog. She didn’t wake up that morning intent on causing me grievous injury. She has been my constant companion. Ever aware of even my slightest discomfort, wince, or sigh. There is no blame and nothing to forgive. There is only acceptance of the situation, allowing of others assistance and perseverance through recovery.
These scars tell the stories of my life. They remind me of the wonderful, sometimes painful experiences and wisdom I’ve gained along the way. They remind me of what it is to be human. When I lay my head down at night to slip away into my dreams, I ask myself these questions:
- Was I kind today?
- What did I learn today?
- Is there anything I could have done differently?
- Is there anything or anyone I need to forgive (including myself)?
- What am I grateful for?
- What is my intention, wish or desire for tomorrow?
As long as I keep learning and I appreciate all that I have (people, things and experiences), then I am successful. My scars are gentle reminders of what it is to be human and what it means to really succeed in this life. To overcome adversity, to love, to forgive, and to feel gratitude for all that I have, all that I’ve done and all that I’ve yet to experience. Bring on the scars.