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To Anyone Staring at My Scars While I'm Enjoying the Sun

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The scars I have littering my thigh are from a war I fought all on my own. The fact that it’s been over three years since the last wound was made doesn’t weaken the temptations I feel. But the healing scars remind me how strong I’ve become. I marked each wound as a battle I lost. Now I get to show the world I may still be fighting, but this war is so far in my favor.

I gave my mental illness years of my life. I gave away experiences and pretended to be someone I was not. I let the darker parts of myself take control for so long. At 22, I’m finally getting to figure out who I am at my core. 

If the girl I was a few years ago saw me now, she’d be in shock. If the girl I was at eight years old saw me now, she’d be proud I’ve started living in a way to help kids in similar positions as she was. I look back, and everything before I got help has been tainted by the same darkness. It’s as if my memories were all saved on a disc, and the disc got scratched. Even what I used to consider good memories have become distorted. It’s not fair. 

It’s not supposed to be fair, and I have the battle scars to prove it. Self-harm is an ugly part of mental illness. It’s hard to talk about, it’s hard to be honest about and it’s hard to get help. When you have scars from self-harm, you are some what pre-determined to be ashamed of them. At least I know that I am. 

I’m not ashamed that I admitted I had a problem or that I was honest and got help. I’m not ashamed that I lost some small battles because I know for certain I was – and still am – strong. I’m ashamed  there is still a part of me that cares what others think.

I’m still working on not letting other people’s opinions affect me. Yes, there are ways to get rid of or fade the scars. I’ve realized recently, though, that I don’t want my scars to fade. I enjoy looking at my thigh and having a reminder of how strong I am. It took a lot of work and time to get to where I am. In the past, I would see my scars and hate myself. I’ve come a long way, and I like wearing the proof of my own personal war. 

So, to anyone out there who may not want to see my or others’ self-harm scars this summer: get over it. 

These scars are mine, and not yours. The battles that created these scars are mine, and not yours. I have gained comfort with a very dark part of myself. If you can’t handle it, then you’re the one with the problem because I am done concerning myself with the comfort of everyone else. I lived a lie for so long to make others happy; I’m no longer sacrificing my comfort for yours. It would be different if these scars actually affected you, but they do not.  

Do not ask where the scars are from. Just because I’ve worked up the courage and strength to wear the bathing suit doesn’t mean I want to talk about the scars. Please realize and understand it’s hard to wear clothes that show off the scars. It took a long internal debate to get to the point of leaving the house. Don’t point or stare. Just keep living your own life, and I’ll keep living mine.

It’s time I own and accept the body I live in. I hope this summer you can do the same.

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

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally published: May 18, 2016
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