After recovering from my third spinal surgery, I was binge watching my guilty pleasure, Criminal Minds. They said something that really made me think. It was an obscure flashback scene where someone said “Scars only show us where we’ve been, they do not dictate where we are going”. That was when I realized that I have spent years stressing over my scars and thinking they were a hideous eye sore when in actuality they are the one thing that makes me feel most empowered.
Every time I look at my back it serves as a reminder… a reminder of how strong I have had to be the past 5 years. A reminder that I am not supposed to be walking, but am. A reminder of a time in my life where I could’ve been destroyed by the fire, but instead I was built from it.
Scars are something that is given a stigma in today’s world, they are seen by many as an imperfection which should be covered up. I have a vivid memory from homecoming my junior year of high school where I wore a dress that had a peephole in the back. A girl pulled me aside and whispered to me, as if I didn’t already know, that my scar was showing. This completely destroyed me. Instead of feeling beautiful after the hours I spent primping, I felt like I was a walking freak show and that everyone was staring at my back. I let this completely ruin my night and honestly, it is something that I still think about and makes me emotional.
I can’t help it that it was in my stars to have all of these surgeries but I am so grateful that I did. I would not be half the woman I am today if it were not for the struggles I faced after my accident.
Looking at my scars now I see something incredible. I see a little roadmap that leads through the journey of recovery I have faced and how far I have come. I have three seven inch long memories tattooed onto my back. The ones from my earlier surgeries more faded and the one from my recent surgery standing out, loud and proud. A year ago I wanted to cry every time I wore a swimsuit or wore something backless. Now, I want to shake that version of me and remind her of how much of a badass these scars have made me.
My advice to those of you struggling with scarring: your scars do not define you but they do shape you into the person you will be in the future. I’m not “Claire with the back scars”. I am “Claire, the tiny diva, that tends to be a little extra, who also happened to beat paralysis and make an epic comeback.”
I feel so crazy beautiful when I see my back. Some people get uncomfortable when they see it, and that’s okay! It can be hard to see something that looks painful but remember that if it is painful for you to look at, just imagine how painful it is for the person bearing the scar.
I am just like everyone else, except my story and struggles are permanently displayed on my body for everyone to see. They are my battle wounds to show the world what I have overcome. My scars in no way, shape, or form determine where I am going in the future. Sure, I do have some restrictions physically, but I’ll be damned if I let my physical impairment hold me back from achieving everything I have ever wanted and more.
There are going to be moments in your life that will change your world in a matter of seconds. Whether you like it or not, these moments will change you. Let them change you for the better. Let them make you wiser, stronger, and more empathetic. Show your scars proudly, because the girl who is wearing these scars deserves to be really damn proud.