What are your scars, and what meaning do they have?

1) Childhood scars: Here, on my knee, is the faded pad of tissue from taking a hard fall from my bike on pavement. I was small but tough. I was the kid who played football in the park on summer nights, hanging on like a Jack Russell from a larger kid who probably didn’t even feel me there. I never gave up.

2) Horse scars: Here, on the inside of my upper arm, is a long, thin scar acquired from being thrown by a bolting horse into a barbed wire fence. Her name was Chiquita, she was probably a TB cross, and I don’t think we knew much about her before buying her. She was a maniac, almost killed me, but I learned a lot about psychology, dominance, and overcoming fear. I don’t have any scars left by Salut, the worst of my “project” horses (in the days when I would ride anything). He was a 17-hand Thoroughbred stallion that had originally been intended for the racetrack. His elderly breeder died, and when I went to look at him the Mexican guys on the ranch had been having informal rodeos on him. It took three guys to saddle him, and he threw them off one by one until they tired him enough for one guy to ride him at a run arounnd the pen, whipping him back and forth with the reins. I bought him out of pity. Never expect a horse to feel gratitude. Although I was extremely careful around him, he moved like a striking snake: once he picked me up by the neck and shoulder, shook me like a rag, and threw me; the other time he managed to knock me down in the arena, and all I remember seeing is a vast, black horse belly over me as he reared and struck. If he wanted me dead, I wouldn’t be here writing this now.

3) Self-inflicted scars: I led a rather schizophrenic life during my teens. I was a fairly popular kid, had a lot of friends and a jock boyfriend, but I felt alone. I felt as though I was acting, always. I got almost straight A’s, did cheerleading and drama and played flute, and at night I would cut my arms over and over, as it was the only way to release some of the pain. God knows why I felt that I had so much pain inside me; I only know that I would never in a million years go back to being a kid. Never, if a fairy godmother offered it to me. Most of the thin, parallel scarring has faded, although the thick criss-cross pad of scarring on the wrists can still be seen. I look back at myself at fourteen, or sixteen, and it’s like looking at a stranger. I was a smart kid, a bookworm living in a small, redneck mountain town, and I was more alone than anyone else I’ve ever met. But no one else knew.

4) Stupid scars: Here, on the inside of my lower arm, is a dead white burn scar caused by scooping up a hot curling iron and standing frozen for a second or so…long enough to leave a scar that I’ll always carry with me. Why? Who knows…

5) Pregnancy scars: If you look at my skin, you can see that I’ve had a child. Pregnancy is very hard on the body, no matter how careful you are. These scars are worth everything, and I would never change how I got them. I’ll never do it again, you understand, but these scars were hardwon in the bearing of something beautiful. I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable about them, but no one has ever commented, and some lovers when questioned were honestly surprised, as they hadn’t noticed. For me, though, it’s something that will always make me shy on a first night.

What do your scars mean?

3 thoughts on “Scars”

  1. Fascinating post.

    I think it’s very brave of you to share your story about self-inflicted scars. There are so many young people out there going through what you did, who think they are the only ones. It’s good for them to know they’re not. I wish I knew what the answer was, to help keep young people from feeling that way. I have to wonder if it’s not something of a brain chemistry thing as most adults I’ve talked to who once did the same, couldn’t pinpoint the cause either. What do you think?

    Is the curling iron burn the one I remember you putting mustard on? :P

    I have relatively few scars from injuries. Or at least the incident was so irrelevant and inconsequential that I’ve forgotten how the scar came to be. The majority of my scars are from weight loss and gain.

    1) Childhood scars –

    I have a small dent-type scar on my left eyebrow from learning to walk. Our neighbors, an elderly couple, had a little dog I loved to play with. I was chasing the little dog around their coffee table when I tripped and fell, cutting my eyebrow on the corner of the table. It’s nearly invisible now, but it keeps the hair on my eyebrow from growing in a nice neat line.

    When I was 5 I had a huge crush on the boy across the street. His name was Mikey. I remember thinking he was so very cute and exotic and fascinating with his dark chocolate skin and the most amazing hair (a very natural and somewhat puffy afro). One day when we were playing in my courtyard he became enraged by something I had said or done and he pushed me into a large wooden planter. The corner of the planter ripped my arm open. The resulting scar was fairly large, running a good 3/4 of the way up my forearm, wide, very dark purple and raised. Today it’s a mere 1/2″ long and barely visible.

    In the crease of the fourth toe on my left foot (next to my pinky toe – would that be my ring toe?) there is a scar. I was about 6 or 7 and my folks had taken us swimming at Steven’s Creek. When leaving I climbed into the back seat of our Pinto and with the seat pushed forward, rested my foot on its base so I could clean the sand away. My mother, not realizing my foot was there, pushed the seat back. The latch that locked the seat into place cut my toe open. I screamed. It hurt quite a bit and to add insult to injury, the seat locked into place with my toe still in there. They finally managed to unlatch the seat and push it forward, pulling my foot out. My mother was horrified and shaking. There was a good amount of blood. They took me to the emergency room where some pinhead put a butterfly bandage on it. Three days later I tore it open again and this time our family doctor stitched it up, but only after cutting away the dead scar tissue. Not a favorite memory.

    2) Pregnancy scars –

    These have never bothered me. Not a bit. I’m a mother. It’s what happens. I wouldn’t change it for the world. If someone dislikes them – well, we know what they can go do.

  2. I was watching something recently – I know, the video of Secretary (interesting movie!) and it reminded me of that and led to this post. She cut herself when stressed. I was never that bad, but it was still the same type of thing. I said to Phil at the time that I think this is probably a lot more common than people realize – people just don’t talk about it. I suppose it could be a brain chemistry thing. WS once told me that he used to pluck his eyelashes as a teen; I think that falls under the same self-mutilation description. Strange.

    Yes, good old American mustard (French’s) is the best thing for fresh burns. (For everyone over here – English mustard is WAAAY too strong – don’t try it!)

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