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.