Many of us feel most comfortable conforming, not drawing attention to ourselves. Many others pride themselves in being different, “standing out from the pack”. I envy them!
I very much belong to the first lot: I totally hated my 9 cm (3½”) scar from a pyloric stenosis operation back in 1945 when I was just 10 days old. My scar shame was quite apart from the symptoms of post-traumatic stress which (as far as I can discover) resulted from the story of my first illness.
This deeply felt sensitivity about my scar was probably not unconnected with the psychological effects on me of the surgery, but it mushroomed when I became conscious of wearing a scar that is “front and centre” and very obvious in the bath and at the beach. Asking my parents about it clearly unsettled them, further intensifying my own discomfort.
The internet has shown me that my obsessive sense of shame is far from universal among those who have needed infant surgery, and that many flaunt their scar with pride and think up fantastic stories about having been stabbed, or attacked by a shark.
But I have also been greatly comforted to learn that many have felt as I did: my emotions and inner pain are hardly freakish or unique.
One of the things that has helped me to find peace with myself is the number of people who have used the web to share their own struggle towards the self-acceptance of their disability or disfigurement. Often their life was much more difficult and their blemish more severe than mine
I have also joined the many who have also gone online to “objectify” their scar: to post a photo of it or of them wearing it in public, empowering us to break through what is very much a self-imposed complex and to see ourselves as others do.
Again and again the posts and comments on social networking sites like Facebook express gratitude at the opportunity to network and share something that in the past was all too often a lonely and endless ache.
For those interested, here are some links to blogs that others and I have found liberating –
Angella Dykstra – Scarred for life
David Fetterman’s story about Father and son
Nathan Long – Forced to fast for peace
Enjoy! Grow! Share!