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I Am Not Ready to Show My Scars and Tubes at the Beach, and That's OK

So here’s the thing.

My body is constantly changing and being modified in some way in order to survive. We add some extra parts, we take out the extra ones, we exchange those that are faulty.

With each change, I have to reconnect myself to my body and remember it as my own again. That part never gets easier. Right now, I am at a halfway point.

I do not have the confidence to go out in public to the beach or anywhere similar with my scars, tubes and devices exposed. But this does not mean I am afraid or ashamed to show them. Quite the opposite — I am proud of all that I have overcome and every odd I have defied.

Right now, what I am not ready for is to see your reaction. I cannot show these things out in the world where I can watch the faces of those who are analyzing me. I am not ready. I will be judged no matter what, and everyone has the right to think what they want about the choices I have made for my body, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to hear what they have to say about them, or worse, see on their faces what they will not say to me.

I can show you this here because you all are reading this for a reason. You all have agreed to be a part of my story, which means all of it. The people I pass on the beach or at a pool did not sign up to try and understand me, and I don’t want to ask them to. It isn’t for everybody, and I completely understand that. So if you are reading this, I’m going to assume that is because you are willing to understand that I make the choices that are best for my body and I do so very carefully, and while I didn’t ask for any of these things to happen, I know they did and I cannot pretend they haven’t.

I am not ready nor am I willing to watch the faces of people on the beach. Watch parents decide if they want their kids to look away or if they want them to ask questions and learn. I cannot tell someone how to react. I cannot expect everyone I come across to think the way I do or to immediately accept who I am.

So for now, I will go about my public life trying to appear as “typical” as I can. Because my life as a whole really is not all that different from yours, and I don’t want it to seem that way.

Only when people come to me wanting to learn and understand will I show the more personal side of my life in my body. These are the people I want to reach. I want to educate those who seek to know more, not force myself upon those who are not yet open or willing to understand. I don’t think it’s fair to them or to me.

So I will wait until I am ready,

And I will do it at my own pace.

This is where I am at right now,

And I’m quite OK with that.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us one thing your loved ones might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. What would you say to teach them? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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