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Caring for My Scars

Written for LJ Idol topic #9: My Scars.

I've felt quite a bit of resistance to answering this LJ Idol topic. I'm not sure how to address the topic without either feeling fake for not revealing something big, secret and scary, or hurting myself for doing so. After a lot of contemplation, though, I started to realize there were a few angles I'd never thought about.

I have two scars from the foot surgeries I had. One scar is rigid, it's on the outside of my heel from where they had to open me up so they could move the heel bone. The other scar started out well, it wasn't hard and moved nicely (exactly what you want it to do). That scar is over the arch of my foot. It's shaped like a candy cane. It's where the doctor went in to fuse the "cuniform joint at the first metatarsle", in other words, the joint which is mid-foot on the side where your big toe is. It's now a more painful scar because that fused joint has become arthritic and that's also where they went in to take out the screws once the joint had fused. So I know a little bit about scars and their care. What hadn't occurred to me until now was that the care of physical scars and the care of emotional or spiritual scars can be very similar. So here's what I know about both.

First, it's vital to care for wounds appropriately so when the scars happen, they'll be well healed scars. This involves cleaning out a wound when necessary. Anger, resentment and guilt are all natural substances, but if used improperly, they can be just as harmful to emotional wounds as salt, dirt and baking soda can be to the wrong type of wound. If a harmful emotion starts to take over the experience and is not helping you heal, it's time to clean it out. A lot of times, guilt gets into my emotional wounds. This happens when I take a comment to heart which isn't helpful. Anger can be good when it spurrs action, or allows me to clear some guilt out, but it's not good to let that get into a wound too far.

Next, it's important to use the right amount of cover. For some wounds, covering them up is important. When I'm struggling with the emotional fall out from being in so much pain, I sometimes need to cover that up. There are some people who cannot understand what I'm going through, and who always make comments which make the guilt stronger. I'll answer a question honestly and openly and let them see my wound and before I know it, they've poured guilt right into that wound. Now, I know that sometimes it's important to keep that wound well covered up I also know that if I didn't cover and protect that wound well enough, it's important to do some cleaning as soon as possible.

On the other hand, sometimes it's better to keep that wound open. That's especially helpful because I often find that wounds do well when exposed to things such as empathy, understanding, supportive comments and new perspectives. Going back to the pain example, some of the most beneficial ideas have come when I'm honest and open about what I'm feeling. It can be important to be open about fresh wounds because those healing interactions and other things which are healing work the best when you don't yet have a scar.

I learned a few things about what to do once you have a scar, too. Scars need to be moved. The least painful scar is often the most flexible. I learned how to break up scar tissue which allowed some of the tightness in my scars to decrease. It also helped the scars to be less obvious. Yes, breaking up the scars was painful, and I didn't like doing it, but I found that the results were worth it. Emotionally, some scars have to be broken up, too. For me, scars are broken up through writing and talking about them. That writing might hurt, but it's very cathartic and it means that the next person who bumps against my scars won't get lashed out at.

It's important to nourish the scars, too. I frequently use things like lotion or lavender to soften up the scars. Keeping them soft helps with pain and makes them look better cosmetically. I nourish emotional scars by paying attention to them, giving myself room around them and getting the help I need to care for them when necessary.

One thing I've rarely been able to do is show pride in my scars. I rarely intentionally show them to others. They are an area of sensitivity to me, and I don't like for others to touch them (part of that is due to RSD). It's one symbol of trust when I show my scars. It means I trust the people I show them too a lot of the time. Trust is hard, but it's important with scars. Trusting others takes the fear out of having the scars exposed, and that's a very good thing.

Comments

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turtlechelle
Jan. 11th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
scars
Wow, well writen and lots of great points. May I share this with my therapist? I think it could make for some interesting reading for her and discussion for us.
puppybraille
Jan. 11th, 2008 03:48 am (UTC)
Re: scars
Sure, it's a public entry, so I definitely don't mind you sharing it with her. I hope it's helpful to both of you. And thank you for asking!
kittenboo
Jan. 11th, 2008 02:06 am (UTC)
neat take on the topic!
puppybraille
Jan. 11th, 2008 03:48 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you think so!
spydielives
Jan. 11th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC)
I like your connection between physical and emotional scars, as well as the care-and-feeding... so to speak.

Well done.
puppybraille
Jan. 11th, 2008 03:49 am (UTC)
I almost used "the care and feeding" in my title! Thanks for commenting, I'm glad you liked that theme.
jenandbronze
Jan. 11th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)
I never thought of it in your perspective, thanks for sharing this... what an awesome post!
puppybraille
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!
puppetmaker40
Jan. 11th, 2008 03:26 pm (UTC)
Lots of good information in that entry and I like how you contrasted between the physical and emotions scars.
puppybraille
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm so glad you liked it and found the info useful.
mme_furiosa
Jan. 11th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
This was a unique and interesting take. Well done!
puppybraille
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:22 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it.
sushimustwrite
Jan. 13th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
You know, we talk about the healing of scars, but in order to do so, we have to take care of them, even when we do crack them open again. Thanks for this.
puppybraille
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:23 am (UTC)
I'd never thought about the aspect of opening old scars and how hard that can be. Last week someone pointed out that the second surgery might have been less painful if I had had the incision somewhere not over a scar. I did have to care for the scar again though, as you said.
anamacha
Jan. 13th, 2008 10:05 am (UTC)
nicely done, if a bit long-running ... interesting how you played back and forth between physical and emotional, and talked about caring for them instead of just "here they are!"
puppybraille
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad the care aspect worked. Length is something I always struggle with, I'm usually either too short or too long.
anamacha
Jan. 17th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
yeah -- I try to err on the side of brevity. In my first draft I'll go and spout off, but then I'll cut a lot of it simply because there's SO MUCH TO READ in this contest. People might miss the finer or more important points of a longer post.
puppybraille
Jan. 17th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
Yeah, good point about there being a lot to read. This is where procrastination hurts me. It would probably help if I looked at the entry in Braille as well. Sometimes I'll post, then see things I'd like to change (before the deadline), but am not sure if I can do that or not in this competition.
anamacha
Jan. 19th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
you could run it through your reader software, or ask a friend to help you with it ... ?

As for changing things, well, I don't know of any official rules, but reckon that would be ok before the deadline. Afterwards, not so much.
n_decisive
Jan. 13th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
Truly loved how you likened caring for an emotional wound to that of a physical one!
puppybraille
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
I'm surprised how well that worked for readers, I wasn't sure if it would come off as too cleche.
wherdafux_d_cat
Jan. 14th, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
Nicely done.
puppybraille
Jan. 17th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 8th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
wow someone else has a candy cane shaped scar...I have one on my left leg
puppybraille
Mar. 10th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC)
I'm not sure who left this comment, or if you will see my response, but I wanted to say thank you for commenting. I needed to reread this entry today, and seeing your comment inspired me to read this post again, so thank you for commenting!
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