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To the People Who Ask About My Scars

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I want to start off by assuring you this isn’t a plea for your silence or sympathy regarding my scars. This is me finally addressing a frequently asked, and frequently evaded, question, “What happened?”

Well, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I didn’t scrape my arm against a thorn bush. I wasn’t in an unfortunate dog walking accident. It is a long story.

To give you the short version, I struggled on and off with depression for about five years. Like many others, I fell into the trap that is self-harm. I began cutting myself as a coping mechanism and as a distraction from what was going on inside me. I started out with my wrists and ended my journey on my thighs. However, in between, I landed on my upper arms, creating a small patch of raised scars that plague my summer social interactions, even though the wounds are a distant memory.

This is an issue many of you have interacted with, whether you realized it at the time or not. Most of you were simply curious and accepted my rushed stammering as English before changing the subject. However, some of you saw through my poor lying skills and offered comments and opinions in the form of arrows, which quickly became lodged in my heart. I would like to take the time to thank you for those careless words. They hurt at the time, but they helped me realize I’m stronger now. Those memories don’t define me unless I let them.

I also want to apologize, to you and myself, for the lies I told. I’m not ashamed of my scars. It’s just been built into this big secret in my head and the idea of telling you the truth has always felt like the scene in the “Wizard of Oz,” where Dorothy looks behind the curtain and sees the great and powerful Wizard as he truly is, a small, scared man who has made some big mistakes.

I now understand it isn’t like that at all. I already know those years of my life don’t define me and they don’t speak for me. Those experiences gave me a stronger voice and a softer heart. I am simply using those new gifts to make something good out of something bad.

So here we are. The curtain has been thrown back and the secret is out. I’m not perfect. I mean, that’s what it really all boils down to. Nobody likes to publicly acknowledge a flaw or mistake, especially when they know it could change how people view them, but I refuse to spend another day worrying about whether or not I should wear that tank top. I will not silence and disguise myself out of fear for your reactions. Those scars helped make me into the person I am today and I can finally, honestly say I am happy with that person.

To the people who ask about my scars, I happened. Depression happened. Life happened. And if you’re not OK with that, then I would like to sincerely say I’m not sorry.

Originally published: July 26, 2016
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