Typically I avoid long glances of my naked body, but recently I took a long look at my reflection in the mirror. It has been a while since I contemplated my physical appearance. I mean my scars. From my surgery. I stared at myself my changed and altered self. I realized that I am covered in scars. Most of which I acquired in adulthood. The first ones I see are on my shoulder. Three big holes that are there from a staph infection I got after a tattoo. It was not an unclean tattoo. I gave it to myself because I kept touching it. The infection required me to go to the hospital e.r. several times to have the wounds drained. It was very painful and I begged for all the numbing medicine they would dole out.
The next scars are cancer related. I see the small horizontal slash that resides over my port. This is how my chemo meds are administered. I love my port. No more endless needle sticks due to my bad veins. I don’t always like this scar though. It is noticeable with any kind of crew neck shirt. It is only a year old so it is still quite red in color. And it is accessed a lot so it seems to always have a bruise or puncture hole in it. The next scar I see is the big bad mastectomy scar. The one that made me cry for hours in the weeks that followed my surgery. The scar itself is different from one side to the other. On the right side it is flat and smooth. In the center I have what can only be described as a “belly button”. That is sadly what it looks like. I hate it. You can see it through my clothing. On the left side my scar is covered in the stretch marked tissue that used to be atop my breast. To be flat chested with stretch marks is a bit cruel. This side also looks like it has skin cancer so red bumps of various sizes crawl up onto my chest from the scar.
My abdomen has had stretch marks from pregnancy since I was 20. I hated them for years. But I had one child that was 10.8 lbs and my twins were 8.8lbs EACH. So there was no getting around it. They are my battle scars. As much as I once wished they were gone I know that I am proud of how I got them. When I met Kelly I was afraid for him to see them. Eventually he did. He loves me anyway. There are two other scars on my abdomen. The cesarean section incision from which Clay was born. A surgical procedure that undoubtedly saved his life. Although we planned to have him at home my conscious led me to the hospital. And at the delivery we found out that his head was not engaged in the pelvis. Just his umbilical cord presented on the cervix. A complication known as cord prolapse occurs when the cord is compressed and limits the flow of blood/oxygen to the baby. It is very dangerous. If I had not had a c-section this is likely what would have occurred.I am thankful that he was born safely.
I also had my appendix removed a few years back. I was in agony and went to the doctor. She told me she thought I had an appendicitis. I said “Do I get antibiotics for that?” “No you get surgery for that.” My scar covered body brings about many different emotions. At times I find it very disturbing. I am still human and vain. At other times I am more accepting of the situation. I have cancer this is what happens. I have never really heard breast cancer patients talk about the physical scars. We are so busy talking about the intense emotional issues that a scar seems less significant.
I have emotional scars too. I think if I could look at my heart/soul I would see twisted and ugly lines running all over it. Due to the damage of an unloving father, a harsh step mom, an alcoholic ex husband. Damage that I did to myself through sin. Acts of unkindness that I committed toward others. And the cruelty that at times was done to me. And cancer has scarred my inside too. My heart is broken for my children. It is marred and beaten from the day to day disappointment of not getting a “full ride”. It is a twisted mass that only resembles the heart it once was. It still has the same capability to love. It is just not as pretty.
I think these scars are really the tough ones. My physical scars I hide with a shirt. My internal ones I hide with a smile. Or I cry alone. I think the internal scars make us the vulnerable and damaged people we are. Maybe the past makes us more kind and empathetic. Or it can make us more closed and angry. The damage provides opportunity for change. My past is something I have learned a lot from. I choose my friends very carefully. I do not allow toxic people in my life. I protect my little wounded heart from those who intend me harm. I also let myself be open to love and joy because I am painfully aware of how short life is. I try to not be embarrassed by my flat scarred chest or my checkered past.
When we are close with one another those scars disappear. We don’t notice every flaw. If we do then we are probaly very unhappy. Love is about looking past the defects and accepting each other for what we are. My cancer has scarred my body. It has altered me in every way. But I am still me. And just as Kelly loves me though I am scarred on the outside he loves me with my internal scars as well. Beauty is just skin deep.