…the making of scars

Photo by Matthias Cooper on Pexels.com

As you lie in bed waiting for sleep to come, you find yourself running your finger over the scar at the top of your nose, midway between your eyebrows. Every time you remember this scar you remember its acquisition, and how the faintly crooked line is the imprint of your sister’s teeth.

You are ten years old and immersed in a chlorine-heavy swimming pool, your lithe body able to do somersaults or backflips beneath the surface, feeling the joy of buoyancy and a ticklish gush of bubbles in the momentum of your resurfacing.

But at the time of the scar-making, your sister is standing close by and laughing, her mouth wide open and joyous, and when you come surging to the surface your nose connects with that laugh, with her front teeth, and the pain is sharp and shocking. When you put your hand to your face the wetness is water and blood.

You can still feel the fury you felt, as though she’d done this to you on purpose, and you climb out of the pool, stomping off to the changing room to staunch the flow, of blood and of anger.

Now, as you lie here and feel that silvery line, you are struck by how long it is since you revisited this memory. Surely you look at this scar every day in the mirror? And yet you don’t see it, this evidence of your past life that is fully part of you, one of the many things on your body (birthmark on your left leg; a collection of fillings and crowns in your teeth; scars on you left knee, left arm, inside your lower lip; ten swirling fingertips and toetips), all identifying you as you.

The only evidence you currently identify is your pain. You cannot see it, not in a mirror, not if you look down at the parts of you that raise questions with their tingling stabbing grumble. No-one else can see it either, but you have become accustomed to looks of doubt. You know all too well that just because you cannot see something, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. The undeniable electrical current of your body.

And you remember this pain every day. There is rarely a moment when you don’t think about it. When you are asleep, yes; if you’re in a softly-cushioned seat, sometimes yes; if you are distracted by eating a delicious meal, yes. And even in these moments you have an awareness that it will return, a fear that often manifests the pain back into you, like ushering a familiar but furious friend back into your house.

You realise all this as you lie here feeling the scar on your nose, and you make a promise to yourself.

You will notice the pain-free moments, even the merely low-pain moments. You will notice them as vividly as you remember the others. Notice. Let go of the feeling of fear and dread and instead hold the feeling of ease, of comfort, really listen as your body tells you yes, right now this is all good.

And then, when there is a shift, a movement to a sharper kind of noticing, close your eyes and remember. Your body knows how both these things feel, and she feels them equally and without judgement.

Allow your body to trust this feeling of equality, and how the release of ease is generous and kind and abundant, and it will return again soon.

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