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I’m Not Ashamed of My Self-Harm Scars, but Stop Touching Them

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

I spend a lot of time trying to cover up past bad choices I’ve made – the physical and emotional ones. But when you start opening up about the internal ones, it helps you learn to stop hiding away the ones on the outside.

So, why do we feel the need to cover these up? Well, largely shame, I guess. Shame is not an organic feeling, though. It’s when we feel differently to how we are told we are supposed to feel. It’s something unnatural and forced upon us which is what makes it feel so horrible. But I’m realizing I shouldn’t feel ashamed of my illness. It’s something beyond my control that I fight with every day which makes me a fucking strong person.

I guess embarrassment is the other reason. The amount of people who grab at my wrist or ask what my scars are from is ridiculous. When did it become OK to poke at someone else and ask intrusive questions – especially for strangers? I never realized how many people have such little tact until I had something I wanted to hide. It’s just easier, really, to hide than to have to explain when some obtuse person feels the need to ask. But again, I’m learning I don’t have to answer or explain myself to anyone. It’s none of their goddamn business.

Depending on where your scars are, you become a bit of an expert at hiding them. I do the standard tricks — concealer, long-sleeved shirts, watches, bracelets, the usual. After a while, though, I started to think: who can really be bothered with all that? Now, I know some still find it difficult and it is absolutely their choice to keep their scars and struggles private. But, if you are a stubborn, opinionated pain-in-the-ass like me, you get tired of it after a while. So, why should I have to go to the extra effort of covering up something I am not ashamed of?

There is a lot of stigma related to most mental illness topics, but self-harm is a particularly sensitive one. So, sadly, there are those who still feel the need to stare or point them out or chime in with their very unwanted opinions. But that’s life, I guess. There will always be the insensitive and ignorant few who, whether on purpose or not, point out the “flaws” in others. Now, I’m sure we could find some Freudian reasoning as to why, but at the end of the day, all we can control is ourselves. I’m learning to love and appreciate myself, my mind and my body, but no one said you had to.

Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

Originally published: September 11, 2019
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