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Why I Won’t Apologize for My Self-Harm Scars Anymore

I do not apologize for my scars anymore. I refuse to.

Most of them are small, discreet. Some you would have to look for to find, but I have one set on my arm that is easily spotted by those I come into contact with every day. I have agonized over these small white lines for almost two years.

I was not mentally “present” in my body when I made those marks, yet the first thing I said to my mom was, “I’m sorry.” I tried every possible means to hide them that I could think of from makeup, to different kinds of bandages, to long sleeved clothing.

I hid them out of shame and embarrassment. I hid them out of fear. I was afraid of the negative reactions that would come with having scars on my body. But hiding is difficult. Some days I forgot the Band-Aid, some days they just wouldn’t stick. Slowly, as I grew confident in myself, I began covering my arm less and less.

This is when I really had to learn to fight for myself. I had to be ready to accept negative feedback when it came in. And boy did it come in.

From most people it was just a small look, or maybe a whisper that wasn’t quiet enough. Other times people would take it upon themselves, whether I knew them or not, to tell me their opinion on the matter. As if they had all of the answers I lacked. I look back at certain encounters and wish I could run a do-over with all the information I know today. I wish I could have stayed cool under pressure when I was berated at Walmart by a mom I had never seen before. I wish I could have stood up to the mean girls at camp who spoke not far enough behind my back, or who told me I was going to hell and that I had a devil inside of me. I wish I would have educated and informed, instead of running away. But there is no use dwelling in what could have been.

I prefer to celebrate the now. On June 16, 2017, I will celebrate one year free of self-harm. If I were running the AA program it would be considered my first birthday. So now I do what I could not a year ago and stand unashamed.

Do not misunderstand; I do not condone injuring one’s self in any way. But I will never apologize for my scars.

I view them as a part of me and my story. I have sustained many injuries to my body that cannot be seen, these just happen to be on the outside. They tell the story of the girl I used to be. More importantly, my scars show me the person I am now. They show the healed white lines of an old mark that has been aged with time. They show the battle I fought and survived. They show the girl who has left them behind.

I go through the majority of my days without noticing them anymore. Only sometimes will they catch my eye and I’ll find myself thinking of a world I used to live in. Then I take a breath I remind myself of the strength the healing shows.

There was a time I would have become angry when someone stared a little too long or asked a probing question. But now I am confident in my answer: “They are from another lifetime.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Thinkstock photo via AntonioGuillem