A chronic illness of unknown origin has left me with many scars. I'm fortunate that they're not publicly visible. Injuries and operations have added to the tales my body bears. Last year, I found out that even my brain is visibly scarred when seen with the right technology. Every day I am reminded of the toll that life has taken on my body. I cannot hide from the fact that I have experienced pain.
Emotional scars are equally significant and just as lasting as physical scars. Their endurance though is not the only attribute they share with their tangible kin. A scar is both the tissue where the injury occured but different from it as well. It is denser, tougher, harder and less sensitive. Despite this, a scar can still ache, echoing the original pain a long time after the trauma occured.
Earlier today, I realized that I've been hardening my heart for years. It's been a survival tool. One cannot survive by letting themselves stay too tender. Scarring has been essential; it's how open wounds knit themselves together again. A scar can say that this person is functional. I can look at each scar and know that I have been healed, but sometimes I wonder if I wouldn't get stuck in the pain of certain events so much if I didn't have so many tangible reminders of having been hurt. If you don't see something, you can deny its existence.
I've wondered many times how some people can just not show their pain. Common sense says that it has to be there, but some seem to be made of teflon, gliding unwounded through whatever life brings them. Is it strength or is it callousness? a constructive or destructive toughness? Teflon people can seem less than human. So do their polar opposites, the perpetual victims who refuse to conceal their hurts.
I've had an image growing in my mind for some time, a heart split by many breaks. Growing from those wounds are roots which spring up into a wide branched, lush leafed tree. It's the icon of a goal, to let pain, injury and grief to give life to something vibrant, healthy, beautiful, and strong. A wound can be the compost for a life better lived.