After the Caesarean-section birth of my daughter, the nurses (big don’t-mess-with-me yet, ever-so-gentle-military-type mommas) told me that I would be fine in less than two weeks. But they warned me that although I would be fine on the surface, I should always wrap up in something warm during cold weather because internally, my scar would never heal completely. I easily took their advice to heart, perhaps because I could relate it to my experience with other scars- both emotional and psychological, which I’d recovered from, but had never fully healed.
Sometimes during the heart of winter, I feel a sharp tear across my belly as though a red-hot blade is slicing through me. Even the slightest noise seems to exaggerate the horror. Luckily, a hot cup of tea and burying myself under heaps of blankets fixes me right up.
I wish I could apply this remedy to all the other painful, invisible scars of my life experience.
“A woman’s heart is like an ocean filled with secrets”. These words are spoken in one of the closing scenes of the movie “Titanic” (I can feel myself getting judged, lol) and ring true to me every time a painful memory resurfaces. Because of the pressure we put on ourselves and from society which demands us to exude strength, composure and bravery in the face of emotional adversity, we keep the murky sides of our vulnerability, our invisible scars, a deep and dark secret. We mask the pain until we’ve convinced ourselves that it is not so bad.
Sometimes we do what we can because we are helpless
I’ll admit the self-delusion works, albeit temporarily. Our emotional scars have an impact on us psychologically no matter how ‘OK’ we look externally. All it takes is a trigger: it could be the tone with which someone spoke, a place, or even something as small as a smell or song, for the remnants of pain that are lingering in our subconscious to erupt.
Granted, sometimes we do what we can to manage because we are helpless otherwise. I’ve gone through the phases: from intense rage, bewilderment, numbness and sometimes laughing like a deranged woman because the hurt is so potent and unbearable. The world only sees that women are crazy and emotional yet few ever stop to take a closer look and think about all the drama weighing on us. These invisible scars that we carry around with us – unhealed.
I try to protect myself and opt to be reclusive because I have serious trust issues. Only recently did I discover that the real issue was whether I could trust myself to be discerning after past failures. An epiphany I probably would not have had, had I not finally summoned the courage to explore these scars of mine that nobody sees.
To keep myself from making a spectacle of myself (if I can help it), I have developed a new habit of becoming my most trusted friend. I confide in myself all the things I am too embarrassed or hurt to disclose and then between me and myself, conjure up the best way to express those troubles. This is a step from my old self who had a habit of simply internalising things and never addressing them until they forced themselves out at unsuitable times.
Some scars never heal and take a lifetime of treatment, but they motivate a self-awareness that we would not reach otherwise. I know the things that set me off; therefore I know how to deal with situations.
For example, because I was exposed to abuse in my childhood, I get irritable when men talk about their given right to ‘discipline’ their women, even if in jest. If the situation does not permit me to speak up or prohibits me from walking away, in order to preserve my composure and sanity, I will do the ‘so-called’ rude thing of either putting on my headphones or zoning out and begin to create a work of art on my notepad.
A single, sure method of treating old wounds does not exist and I will not attempt to make mine universal. That aside, I have found that spoiling myself with copious amounts of kindness is the minimum requirement for making the journey as smooth as possible. Cold weather finds various ways to present itself in our lives so as to remind us of our invisible, scars. It is always best to have that warm blanket handy when those moments come.
Main photograph is taken from www.testdb.msmagazine.com