For my whole life, I was ashamed of the fat, ugly scars left on the back of my leg my mother’s switch. People noticed them, and often asked about them. I told the stock story my mother told everyone. It is too ridiculous to take up space on this page. I’ve always been ashamed of them. Every lover I had at some point ran their hands over them, and a couple quickly stop touching me there, doing wonders for my already fucked body image. I carried those scars in shame. Yes, I know it is her shame, not mine, but I was the one with the scars on my body, not her. Two years ago, I decided to turn the shame of the scars into something beautiful. A friend sent me a picture of the colorful songbird I chose as my tattoo. I was in love with that tattoo. The pain of the needle cutting through scar tissue was worth the empowerment I felt, and for weeks I felt beautiful and strong every time I looked at it in the mirror. Until a (now ex) lover ran his hand over that area and immediately stopped touching me there. After that, and every day since, I’ve run my hand over those scars, under pretty colors, but they are there. Ugly and prominent to anyone who gets close enough to really see them and touch them.
I suppose the tattoo I got could be called prissy. I always have been, no matter how much I was made fun of, by my mother, and kids at school, I always loved pretty, colorful, frilly things, and loved wearing pretty dresses. I didn’t have many pretty things, so I would wrap old lace curtains around me when I was a little girl. I think I just needed something pretty to hide behind.
Long before I was aware of the long white corridor where all the little girls in white are, I was aware of a much darker place inside me. One side holds what is left of the innocence and loveliness of little girls hurt by the people who were supposed to love them. The other side is where the shame lives. People will read this and roll their eyes, I know. It is easy to say that the shame is someone else’s and that I just need to let it go. I am not what they did to me, and yes, on a cognitive level I get that. But the shame, raw, hot, visceral, layered upon layer…that belongs to me. It doesn’t matter who it should belong to. The fact is, It lives there, in me, and the people who chide me for “wallowing” in it cannot possibly understand what it takes to chink away at it, bit by bit, with all my might, and there are days that I simply do not have the energy.
No, I am not what they did to me, but the things that they did to me are there inside me, like wounds that never heal, the things I can barely whisper about to trusted counselors. Because I am so afraid that those things have made some places inside me so ugly and gnarled and dark that people will sense it, or catch a glimpse of it and I cannot live with that.
And so, I do everything I can to try to cover it, but like underneath the tattoo, the scars are still there. All I can do, really, is keep walking through my stories, feeling and seeing it all, and trying to accept the scars as the battle wounds they are, and see them as proof that I survived…me, this prissy, girly girl who doesn’t always think she can take one more step, but for now, is fighting with everything she’s got, more tired than she has ever been in her life.