Monday, September 19, 2011

Scars and Damsels.

I had Tech Lab today.  I suppose those words are probably gibberish to most of my readers, so I'll explain.  I am taking a class about building, designing, and maintaining sets for theatrical performances.  There is a lab portion a few days a week, and today was my lab day.  Because we do a lot of painting and playing with power tools, we're supposed to wear clothes we don't mind wrecking, so I wore a t shirt with the collar cut off.  It's comfortable and fashionless, the perfect thing to splatter with paint and saw dust.  I spent most of the day with it falling a bit off of my shoulder. Off of my left shoulder.  Because I make sure it stays high and over my right side always.

There are scars under there, scars I still don't want anyone seeing.  I know this is foolish of me - they are three small lines, hardly massive damage.  But they represent massive damage on the inside.  And no matter how many times Boyfriend kisses them, or how often I have to see them around the straps of my leotard, I hate them.

As soon as I can, I cover them up.  Thats the funny thing about being a woman, isn't it?  We're asked to be delicate, almost frail - yet we're not allowed to have scars.  We're like porcelain: valuable because of our form and frailty, useless as soon as we chip or crack or break.  How am I supposed to be a damsel in distress if I can't rumple my dress?  Yet I follow the rules and dutifully hide these small markers of my strength behind a careful cloth covering.

After all, no one wants to see a woman with scars.  No matter how small  they maybe, they're generally hiding something bigger on the inside.  Ironically, as I covered my tiny physical marks today, I lay bare - only for a few moments - the longer, deeper, more virulent scars on my heart.  We were in class and discussing how something had made us feel. . . and my hand was up.  And my mouth fell open, and I felt so strange spilling out words, trying to describe a feeling you can't understand unless you've had it.  I focused tightly on the teacher, willing myself not to blink, not to sigh, not to break.  Not to acknowledge any other faces or voices in the room, not the kind eyes or the gentle expressions.  Not the bored person a few chairs over, or the one next to me who already knew some of the story.  Then it was done, and my story half-told hung in the air like the ashy remains of a fire, wafted away on the breeze and only ever half contained.  I blinked, and the spell was broken.  Tight throat and tingling palms, I tried to draw that invisible veil between these scars and this self, but wasn't quicker than a classmate's hand.  He reached out and grabbed mine tightly in his, without a word, and suddenly the tears - which had already made a bid for freedom today - were much closer to the surface. 

I shifted slightly, making sure my three.  tiny.  straight.  tidy. unimportant.  shoulder scars were covered.  The tears were forgotten as I realized my own foolishness.  I could leave heavy words hanging in the air, revealing to people I hardly knew a little dark in the bottom of my heart, but I couldn't let a friend know I had surgery scars?

I am not a sighing damsel, crying out from her ivory tower.  I have paths sliced in my flesh and in my heart that could take a hundred years to heal - and I refuse to fear them anymore.  Next time, perhaps I'll let those tears fall, instead of snatching back my hand.  Perhaps I'll even wear a tank top without a blouse carefully arranged, covering my shoulder.


  1. Thank you so much for Sharing. Somehow I knew to read this post tonight (late as it was- both in date and time) and it touched me just right. It's ironic that in so many ways I have log wanted a scar to prove where I had been, the pain and conflict etched undeniably- certain and able to be proven to those who never justified or believed. But of course it is your discussion of the deeper scars that rings so true.
    How dare we be strong if we are cracked? How dare we be weak if we are "perfect"?
    Funny that now that I face my first real skin-level scar, potentially life saving as it is, I feel my most vulnerable and unfixable in years. Much like you I fear the inability to hide it (especially as it will be across my throat) but also the frailty and story that hiding it creates. I hope to find such sharing moments, freeing in both their profound emotional difficulty yet public, commonplace nature.

    I miss those happenstance sharings and human connections- treasure them and do please follow that shaking voice and surprisingly raised hand. You never know when your story helps free another's uncertainties.

  2. I just saw this comment now, months later. I'm so sorry for not responding sooner - I wish you all the best on your ventures and all the strength in the world for those scars that leave no physical marker. If you need anything, let me know <3