I have scars. They are scattered over my thighs, my stomach, and my lower back. For the past 10 years of my life these scars defined a huge part of who I was. These scars said that I was a crazy mess of a girl. These scars said I couldn’t find a healthy way to cope with life. These scars said I was WEAK. So I hid my scars. I lived summers in Arizona and Las Vegas never wearing anything aside from jeans because I was afraid to have anyone see my scars. When I was 14 and my family found out I had been cutting myself they thought I was doing it for attention. My mother was embarrassed by what I’d been doing so she told me to stop it. The problem was I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know how else to calm the storms inside of my head. I knew only that cutting my skin open made me feel better. So because I didn’t know how to stop I became better at hiding. My cutting moved from my legs to my back and stomach where the evidence was much easier to hide. Within my family it became just another thing we didn’t talk about. I became a master at lying and very good at pretending I was okay. I also became deeply ashamed of my scars. Pretty, healthy, happy girls didn’t cut themselves. Normal girls didn’t crave pain and blood and secrets. When I grew up and decided to stop hating myself my scars were an issue. They were a reminder of how lost I could get in my emotions. They were visible proof of what a freak I had been. As I grew more confident in the person I was in every other area of my life, my blindness, my personality, my ability to take care of myself and others, my scars remained a serious point of shame for me. They continued to be a reason to hate my body, my past, and who I had been. This summer when it started to get hot I decided I was done. I wasn’t going to spend one more day hiding who I was. The very real truth is that I spent the majority of my life being broken and in a lot of ways, I was comfortable with that. It was what I knew. Changing who you’ve always been takes a huge amount of work and perseverance. Part of being strong for me now is accepting all the ways I wasn’t. Being confident means I can wear shorts or a dress that doesn’t go to the floor. Being me hasn’t always been perfect. I haven’t always done the healthy thing. I haven’t always been happy. I haven’t always been free from shame and embarrassment, but today I am. I’m PROUD of my scars because I’m proud of who I have become. I’m proud to say that I don’t have to keep secrets anymore. I’m proud to say that I no longer have to pretend I’m okay. Because I’m so much better than okay now.
Sometimes I realize how much I’ve grown as a person based on what I don’t want or need anymore. Maybe this is something Everyone experiences as they grow up and I’m just stoping to notice it in myself. Or maybe its just that I’m finally comfortable enough in who I am to admit that I no longer find peace in pain. I know there were times in my life when I craved pain, in any form I could find. There were nights with sharp things pressed into my skin, blood running down my legs. There were days upon days spent starving, shaking, aching cold from hunger because I refused to just shut the hell up and eat something. There were months of crying myself to sleep because of some nameless sadness. Anyone who knows me at all knows my favorite band is Blue October. They have been my favorite band for over 10 years now. I still listen to them most everyday. The first song I heard by them was called Hate Me. When I hear this song now, I can’t say why it called to me so strongly when I was a teenager. The song is about alcohol abuse and a relationship ending. At 13 i had never had a drink in my life. I had never shared so much as a kiss with a boy, let alone an actual breakup. Nothing about this song should have pulled me in the way it did. Over the last few weeks i’ve been trying to put my finger on whatever it was that made me love that song above all others, for years. Blue October has other songs That had much more to do with my life at that time. Songs about very real depression and loneliness, things that absolutely did touch my life at 13. Those songs aren’t the ones that I clung to for years though. It was Hate Me that I held so close for so long. This morning the answer finally hit me as i was looking for a new book to read. There is a website where you can input titles of books you enjoy and it will generate a list of suggested books based on your previous reads. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve visited this website. Because of this, the suggested books took me by surprise. There were lists entirely devoted to books about anorexia. There were lists of books all about girls who sliced their skin open over and over again. Books about sick, sad, broken girls. Reading through these book titles made something finally click into place in my head. I was drawn to the damage. I was swimming in the drama. I made myself a tight, close, cozy world of pain. I loved any story I could find that made me feel more normal. I wanted to read about people who were more broken than I was. I wanted to scream out lyrics about damage. All I wanted was more pain. Looking through those books today the difference between who I was and who I am became overwhelmingly clear. Those books full of the struggles of girls who haven’t figured it out have no pull on my mind anymore. When I hear Hate Me today, all I feel is sympathy for the little girl who needed that song so badly. I’m grateful beyond words that I’m not her anymore. I’m so blessed that pain is no longer a security blanket for me. I love that the laughter of my stepson and stepdaughter is the magnet that draws me in now. I love that quiet moments with my boyfriend are what creates my peace. I love that spending time in worship and prayer is where I feel at home now. Pain is attractive when you’re broken. It’s a safe place to go when you’re afraid to be who you really are. But pain is empty. Living in a world of pain only calls more pain. Living in a world of peace is just the same. Peace calls to more peace. Contentment pulls more contentment into your life. I’ve never felt more blessed than I do tonight that I am better.