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Learning to Look at My Chronic Illness Scars With Love

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I looked at my body. My fingers methodically tracing the jagged scars on my soft chest. The healed and blanched scar that snakes down the length of my taut belly. They say these are my warrior scars, part of the tapestry of my life. All I can do is say I’m sorry … to the little kid that was born with a perfect child’s body, the one that played in the trees like a spider monkey, built forts of billowing white sheets made for a princess with red auburn curly hair and had tea parties with Bear. She had no idea there was a monster, a thing awaiting inside of her. Quietly given to her by her unknowing parents, a gift of everlasting physical and emotional pain on par with any disaster imagined.

At 13 years of age, it crept forth like an ugly brown thorn suffocating the life out of a beautiful rare peony, but not killing it. Allowing it to live with just enough hope to keep it struggling against the continual scrape of the sharp thorns against its gorgeous pink blossoms as it struggles to grow, never stopping.

As a woman, that little girl is still alive in me, but she is frightened. She is under the protection of the wiser me. Inside, she is still perfect, still curious, still wanting to play, but the outside gates of the warrior woman are up and locked, for I am hurting too much. Lie still little one, your time will come, for we are not safe for now. The scars are still swollen with pain, reddish-purple in color, the physical torrent of pain is still crashing down on my female, petite, strong body.

I grieve for you, that innocent one. The healthy girl I was, the young woman who has had to endure struggle after struggle, with no man brave enough to stand by her in the fire. In that fire, she is alone, becoming who she is through little choice of her own paired with her sinewy fierceness and a vow to never give up.

Sometimes, I am exhausted, weary. And then …

I turn and look again at the scars in the light of day. I touch them and can feel the pulse of power emerge, I feel the survivor in them, the survivor of a battle engaged against my body over and over, and yet, I am still strong. I lived and I am here to continue weaving the tapestry of this life yet undone. I know my power will come from these scars someday. Today, I look at them with love and compassion.

I’ve made it for now, soon I’ll be safe, maybe in the compassing arms of a man who is not afraid of the fire.

Or, maybe not.

Maybe alone in the fire I no longer fear.

Unsplash image by thoughtcatalog

Originally published: April 15, 2021
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