I’ve had visible scars on my left forearm for 14 years (scars left from nonsuicial self-injury). NSSI was my coping method of choice in my early 20’s. The short story, I was coping with unresolved emotions from abuse in my childhood. The long story, is in my book, Discovering My Scars.
The first few years, I covered the scars in different ways whenever I was in public:
I did so because:
As the years went by, I slowly stopped covering the scars, but was still very conscious to keep my arm out of full view.
One day when I was training a customer at the Apple store, I clearly remember having to point at something on the screen (which was abnormal, as we were taught to use words only to help customers learn the Mac). My scars were in full view, and he took the opportunity to say, “Why did you try to do that? You’re not going to do it again, right?”
His assumption about my scars was not 100% clear, but I took it as him thinking the scars were the result of a failed suicide attempt. I don’t remember what happened next, but I remember the feeling in that moment. I felt shame, embarrassed, judged, misunderstood, scolded, and exposed.
I continued to be very conscious of my scars, as the fear of being exposed and judged had now actually happened, and I never wanted that feeling again.
When Mom and I started making DIY videos on YouTube (Mother Daughter Projects), nine years after the scars appeared, I again became very aware of my scars.
When we filmed, if I noticed my scars were in full view, I would change my position. If my scars happen to be very visible in a photo for the tutorial on our website, I would blur them out in photoshop.
At that point, I had done a lot of work on the issues that led to my NSSI, and was not ashamed of my scars anymore. The removal of my scars was for the comfort of our viewers. We didn’t want our audience to be distracted by my arm, and not be able to focus on the project. I was not overly concerned about the questions that might come, although I think that was Mom’s biggest concern.
If asked, I did want a good answer. I didn't want to be blindsided like I was by the customer years before. I really wanted to explore the subject of my scars, and not just give a quick response (or even delete a question altogether), so I continued to blur my scars.
But in the back of my mind, I knew I would write my story one day. I knew I would tell the story of how the scars appeared, the events that lead up to them, and the healing and recovery that happened after. I knew one day I would not feel the need to blur that part of me anymore.
And three years ago, I did start writing my story. Discovering My Scars is now available for all to read!
In this week’s project on Mother Daughter Projects, there happens to be a picture that shows my scars in full view. I saw it, and my first thought was I needed to blur it. And then the thought went away. My story is out there. I no longer need to hide, I no longer need to fear, and I no longer want to blur any part of me.
And hey, bring on the comments/questions about my scars. They give me a great opportunity to share about my memoir!