My scars are everywhere, faded to white over the years, but still there.
The long white line that stretches across my belly where five kids kicked and screamed their way into the world.
The raised blotch on my knee from the paint-gun episode in tenth grade.
The tiny mark on my lower back – the last remnants of a potentially tragic accident involving a crochet hook, a bus, and a new understanding of velocity.
The chicken pox on my neck that I scratched, and the shingles that showed up years later after three days of having too much fun with friends.
The muffler burn that forced me to tell my parents I had been on the back of a motorcycle.
They are everywhere. Like lightning bolts telling a story of my life.
There are others, though, just below the surface.
The scars I carry from the girls in middle school that somehow still echo when I look in the mirror. The scars from my 11th grade math teacher whose condescending voice I still hear every time I have to do a simple equation. The scars that bleed again and again when I see my daughter struggling in school, or my son not getting on the team.
They are the scars that define my movements, guide my words, influence my choices.
You can’t see them; you don’t even know that they are there. But they have shaped my heart, my mind, my body.
I used to hide them. Shameful of what they were, ashamed of my weaknesses and frailties. Now, I know better.
They are the war marks of a life lived – Hamlet’s heartache and natural shocks that flesh is heir to.
The older I get the more I accumulate. I’m still getting them. Still feeling new stings that I know will leave a mark and change the way I live my life, or speak to friends, or view the world.
Sometimes, they set me on an entirely new course, and then, instead of scars, they are more like stamps on a passport. Gateways I’ve travelled through, sights I’ve seen, snapshots of moments that somehow changed me. Some more subtle than others.
I’ve been thinking about these scars that I carry, and wondering about the ones I’ve inflicted on others without realizing it. Maybe when I wasn’t sensitive enough. Or simply cruel.
That’s really all we are, I guess. Far from perfect. Far from pristine. As citizens of the world, we are scarred, and marked, and changed, and transforming. Our hurts and our pains are absorbed and as time moves on, we have to choose how they will heal. Will they fester and blister and consume us with rage or thoughts of revenge? Or will they fade and become a part of us, transforming us, making us better with their flaws?
My scars are everywhere. I see them in the mirror. I feel them in my soul. They are the roadmap of my life.
And I embrace them.