My old scars have started to cause me some discomfort recently, they are becoming very itchy – l could understand if they were new scars as that would be the healing process. But these are not, they are probably close to 10/11 years of age and some are older. There will always be some reason behind the itchiness – be this the skin is drier around there or that they never healed properly, and the nerve endings have taken longer to fully heal, or there might be hair trying to grow through the wealed skin. Who knows.
However as l was scratching my arms last night, l was reminded of a conversation debate l had with a fellow dog walker last year. We were walking our dogs together, and as it was a gloriously hot morning, we were both wearing short sleeves. I had worn short sleeves for most of last year, and had managed to secure a tan to my forearms, and of course this highlights the scars.
The dog walker, l had walked with a few times over the year, reacted to my scars quite unexpectantly, and l realised he had never seen them before, and asked somewhat alarmed. “What are those on both of your arms? They look like you had an argument with something very sharp or l pity the other guy, if you look like this?”
“Oh have you never seen these before then? How have you missed them, each morning for the last two weeks l have been wearing short sleeves, how is it that this is the first time you have seen them?”
His answer was short, no he hadn’t, how on earth had l acquired them?
“Well l could lie to you and give you some fancy story about how l fell through a greenhouse, and that is something l told people for years to hide the truth, or l could tell you the truth and that is l am an ex-self-harmer who used to cut my flesh on a very aggressive basis frequently when stressed. Which do you want?”
“Oh l see, mm, why would you do that?”
I explained the situation and further explained that in many ways it is similiar to that of aggressive stimming, and that l had originally started at the age of around 5. That it was the way in which l found l could cope with life, an unhappy childhood and very confusing parents.
I came to realise that many people judge you without knowing you and it matters not if they say they are modernistic thinkers as many people are still very old fashioned in other ways- this chap turned around to me and told me l shouldn’t tell people the truth in case they think wrong of me, and that l shouldn’t wear short sleeves so they are still visible. He finished it off with “You seem to be proud of them, and you shouldn’t be proud you should be ashamed.”
“It’s a different type of pride than you think, it’s the pride that l didn’t cut my throat, it’s the pride that l got to the end of the tunnel and into the light and finally it’s a pride that has to with achievement – as in l finally kicked the habit of self-harm, after years and years of self-abuse and addiction. These scars are from yesterday, they are mine, and l do take ownership for them, they are not meant to be pretty, they were acts of hatred and pain and if anything, they are now a badge of honour because l did get through and didn’t give in to the depression that wanted me to end my life. However of the many things l could be, ashamed isn’t one of them! I didn’t cut for other people, the gratification was mine alone and when l was actively cutting all l ever did was wear long sleeves. Self harm is a very personal addiction, many a time people don’t know you are doing it.”
He said that people who had scars whatever they came from, shouldn’t wear clothing that displays them to the world as it is unsettling for others.
I asked him about the invisible scars in people’s heads, the indelible stains that life can leave people with if they have experienced trauma, or of PTSD or child abuse or anything that is simply horrific, should they never go outside into the world in case something shows?
He couldn’t answer that, instead he simply said “If you don’t mind, l would rather not walk with you anymore.” With that he turned his dog swiftly around and walked the way we had just come. I have seen him a few times since then, and we do not even say hello. If he sees me wearing short sleeves he huffs and tuts.
So tell me, what are your views on this? I don’t mean just from an ex self harmer’s point of view as you may well not be, but if you have scars from something on your body, do you hide them away or wear them with the pride of they are part of you anyway?