This morning I found myself mesmerized over my scars from my knee surgery. What once were bloody gashes that made my stomach quiver when the patches were removed are now merely small blemishes. Today I can barely notice three of them, one of them was mistaken for dirt on my leg by my PT just the other day in fact. The largest and gnarliest is the scar across my shin, though it has faded to fine white line its the scar that still sends electric sparks off like fireworks in my body if its touched, tricks my leg into believing I have a bruise down near my foot (nerves are strange right?) and if its rubbed by my jeans it feels like my knee is swollen like a balloon but don't stress for me, it isn't. This scar is my story.
On the tough days, the days where I need a little reminder I will look at this scar and remember the battles I have fought to be here. The endless rehab hours, solitude, determination, patience, missed opportunities, lessons and most importantly belief that got me through it. My scars prove that I healed, that I can do anything I put my mind to and provide another part of my history written on my body.
Defined as a mark left on the body where a wound, sore or damage has not healed properly or connective tissue has developed AND/OR a lasting effect of Grief, fear, or other emotion on a by a traumatic experience. This is a scar. A moment that has left a mark of its presence in our life and our story on our body, or within our hearts. Both define a scar with a negative connotation- something that has previously caused destruction, turmoil or grief. Most of us solidify this connotation by feeling ashamed, self conscious and damaged when it comes to most of our scars. Though of course we all have a few that bring us to laughter or a geeky grin thinking of the fall or tumble that brought some on like the scar on my right big toe from when I ate shit skateboarding in a bikini in Forster and mum came to my rescue ( No I was not 10, I was 23). I think our greatest challenge in life is to think of all our scars as Alessia Cara says "No scars to your beautiful, we're stars and we're beautiful". To see these marks of our history as the very proof that we are survivors, warriors and as a reminder of all the things you conquered to make you who you are today. A sign that you can heal, and a reminder to others that they can too. As I'm writing this I have come across this quote " She wore her scars as her best attire. A stunning dress made of hellfire" by Daniel Saint. This made me think of Katniss Everdeen in her flaming gown and how it sent the crowd into uproar and appraisal and I want to wear my scars like I wear my gown to Opening Night- proud, confident , feeling radiant and damn sexy and YOU SHOULD TOO!
We all have scars, Every scar is unique to us and our story and though they may be similar to anothers each has marked our body in its own way. There are scars that we are proud of , and then the many that we are ashamed of . I have scars on my sides from where stretch marks lined my skin as I grew those dreaded womanly things called hips. They make me feel uneasy when they are seen but these hips are part of my booty that I love and one day will help me bear children. I have scars on my body from self harm. Scars that remind me of that time when I was 14 and my body was changing at a rate faster than others and quicker than I wanted it to, Out of frustration and high intensity anxiety moment fueled by tears my nails had dug a tremendous amount harder than I thought wishing that body was not mine. Boobs were growing and I was becoming a dancer with "Big Boobs" and friends were making comments about how large they were as they stood there with mozzie bites on their chests giggling and little did they know the punches they were throwing at my heart and pride. "Whats your bra size?" at a job was rapidly becoming my most hated question and I dreaded the moment to try it on and try not to complain or feel fat because I was overflowing like when your muffins come out deformed because you overfilled the mixture. By the way this didn't stop being a constant burden in my mind until recently. In fact only three years ago when I was 22 a close friend made a remark and laughed in what felt like ridicule when I said I was having a 'small day' which ended in me in tears having a moment in the bathroom before tech run. Ive now learnt to appreciate and love my body for its womanly curves and highlights. I love that I can wear no bra under a gown and receive compliments and actually accept them gratefully. I laugh at times at how something which I despised on myself for so long has now become a beautiful asset and pride. I always pray no one will notice the scars as they make me feel deeply ashamed at times but then again they are part of MY STORY, my adolescence and growing to love myself so if someone were to ask me I would wear them with pride, and maybe it will help some other girl love her body a little more.
My heart holds its own invisible scars also. To the stranger it seems whole and plump but only I myself know the marks it bears as you do for your own. The holes from the times your heart broke that you sewed yourself through tears, overseas travel, new experiences and of course self development books. The childhood traumas that burst and ruptured all over again when we turned 21. The small bruises from the mistakes we have made, the friends we trusted, the lessons we learnt. But just as the marks on our skin, this branding upon our hearts is OUR STORY. Let them remind you of everything you have experienced, overcome and struggled through and let them become your wings to soar. I love hearing the stories behind someones blemish of victory- whether that is a made up shark attack tale that has me laughing or a heart felt tale of a survivor that has gone through battle. I challenge you to sit down and think of your scars as a roadmap to your life. Start from the first, possibly a birthmark and trace through the milestones of the incredible life you have lived. I did this today and it made me cross between laughter and welling up but feeling god damn proud at the end of it. From my scar near my right eye from when a boy punched me because I teased him when I was 4, to my other eye where a scar lays from when my cousin slashed my eye open with a ping pong racket that time he wouldn't let me play... Dad you are right I was always sticking my face into things and never learnt!. To the scar on my hand from the 20 or so stitches after my abuelas german shepherd lost the plot and chewed my hand (which has now lead to a fear of dogs) and the hole that remains from thinking a belly button piercing was sexy, again Dad you were right. These are my stories, they made me who I am today and I look forward to being 90 years old explaining to my grand children where all these jagged wounds came from and feeling proud of the history I have lived.
Most of my life has been spent grasping outwards towards the gratification, rewards, materialism, and food that I "think" will make any bad day or time better. Most of us do this regularly ...
- You didn't get the job you were working so hard for = a night out with the girls drinking wine to feel better
- Someone broke your heart = you post a hot new photo to get ALL THE LIKES and start to believe in yourself and worthiness again
- Life feels lonely = but you booked a great job today so you will be BUSY and HAPPY
- Something ruined your day = Buy a new outfit or hell a whole new wardrobe and reinvent yourself
We do this all the time hoping, wishing, believing that grasping outwards towards these things and the happiness they can bring us will turn life around, will rid us of this emptiness and loneliness and make us feel "worthy" "enough" and most importantly like we have it all together. Yet this action is the very thing that destroys us the most- there comes a time where the tipsy warmth wears off , the amazing project comes to an end and you are back to unemployment or your friends are too busy to come to save you and the reality of it all seeps in. We say hello to the guilt, the sadness, the "life is unfair" conversations , the never ending "what if" anxious spirals our minds spin and we are back there at the beginning.
For myself work provided the instant gratification and reward system that would allow me to pretend that I was happy because I was busy every single day living what others would call a "dream life". When my heart was broken, I booked a job that meant the world to me. I busied myself with rehearsals and assisting and taking class and going out for drinks with the girls to meet new people and I convinced myself that I was Okay. Look at me go ! Im booked and blessed (cue vomit), busy, have so many friends and I didn't spend one moment thinking about the boy. Cut to one week later when the job was over, I was waiting for checks to pay my rent and my friends had gone back home well needless to say - I WAS NOT OKAY. An even deeper anxiety, worry, and sadness ate away at my little heart. I was breaking down and fast. This was not a one off occurrence either there has been a gazillion of times in my life where my successful work, my identity as a known dancer, and my butterfly social life have provided momentary bliss as I'm sure it has for you too. Over 200 likes on your photo or an email from an agent no matter how much you believe it will not "fix" you or the problem.
Until the very opportunity of grasping outwards ceased and was unattainable I may have been caught in that endless task of convincing myself and others that my life is fabulous and of trying to control every minute detail of my life and steer the ship to the right even though the current is dragging me to left. Sarah Wilson describes it perfectly in her book "First we make the beast beautiful" when she likens the flow of life to a river- "we try to dam the river with piles of logs and other obstacles because we think the river should flow differently" (our outward grasps to control others and situations) but eventually "the pressure builds...the flow wins out and Boof!" our attempts to manage and control explode leaving life to flow as it pleases and had planned to all along. This was my life- I tried to control my career, my relationships, my experiences and pre planned each moment until the day I tore my ACL and realized that even though I was doing everything "right" SHIT STILL HAPPENS.
Lying in bed, stalking instagram and seeing all the experiences and jobs that I could not do, the life I wasn't living and realizing I had no control over anything brought a storm of emotion and turmoil for me. Weeks of resisting and strong resilience until I finally hit the ground, cracked and started from a blank slate. I sat in it- sat in the grimness and mud of it all. It stank, it hurt and it was godly lonely but its exactly what I needed for this to change me- to grow. I felt the discomfort mentally and physically and didn't resist but instead went inwards to find the real me . For once in my life I can say I have found a place within myself where I am Happy- whole heartedly joyful with life as it is. No outer rewards such as an amazing career, gratification for my talents, fancy social life, or lover... simply my soul, my body and my mind and when those tough moments come I sit, I watch, I wonder, I let it pass and then I get curious. I write out my manifesto in my diary, get brutally honest with myself and the messiness I have brought on and then find myself at a place where the world is silent and I am smiling through my eyes at myself. This deep inner happiness is nothing in comparison to the short bursts of excitement rewards bring.
If there is one thing this time in my life has taught me it is that in order to grow I must let go. I must ride the wave that life is offering and resist the need to control. Smile at the unknown and find joy in the uncertainty of it all. I don't know what next week will bring, I don't know if my knee will fully recover, I don't know if I will book that dream job or find my life partner or god I don't even know if my bus will be on time tonight or not. Let go and embrace the endless possibilities, take one step at a time and see where it leads you - maybe to the picturesque instagram worthy lookout you wanted or maybe you wound up on the other side of the cliff but find a hidden gem of a spot.
I know I'm not "cured" of this controlling, worrying, fomo life but I'm getting a hell of a lot better at sitting in it, laughing and loosening my tight grip and just seeing what happens tomorrow let alone next year.