By Alan D.D.
People who self-harm often have the problem of dealing with those looks from others when their scars are visible. We’re in a world where mental health is seen as a lie, as a call for attention, and anything other than a serious problem that kills people every single day. So to let strangers know about your past, maybe your present, is uncomfortable.
A prison in the flesh
However, you’re not supposed to be a prisoner of your clothes, have long sleeves 24/7 and forbid yourself beaches, pools and similar situations. My knees have little scars, and people will see them someday. But when the cuts were still open, I found myself begging the universe that I wouldn’t need to show them. Even after they healed, it still made me feel sick to think about showing my knees.
I cut my hands when I was in senior year because of the stress I lived with. One night, I destroyed my left hand. It’s scar-free thanks to the way I cared for the wound. But the next day… what the eff was I supposed to do?
My rebellious mind told me something that I still practice: Let them know, it is your problem, not theirs. You went through it and survived, lived to tell the tale, even though it was the worst way to deal with it all.
But it is done, there’s nothing we can do about it but to face it, to take our deepest breath before going out and playing as though we don’t notice if someone makes a face at us. Our bodies are our own, and are only ours, with or without scars.
Eyes to the front
If someone doesn’t like our scars, don’t pay attention. It’s hard, but nothing that a pair of headphones cannot help you with. When I walked to the entrance door that morning, about to face my classmates, I put them on and selected a song I loved. I kept my eyes right to the front, and lied a hundred times to myself saying that I didn’t care. At last I believed it, and so the lie lost its nature. They were watching me, I showed my wounds, still bleeding, and cared nothing at all.
People can judge, can complain, can say anything they like, but if you want to use a short-sleeve t-shirt or dress; if you don’t want to use wristbands, or choose just to forget about the scars, why shouldn’t you? Your past doesn’t define your present, and to have marks in your skin tells absolutely nothing about the kind of person you are now. It tells even less about the one you’ll be in the future.
There’s no shame in being strong, keep that in mind. If anyone tells you otherwise, tries to make a joke about the theme or makes a face at you, you have three options: a. feel bad about it; b. give them a middle finger to sit on; or c. pay no attention. I’m a believer of the last one, but will have no shame in using the second if I need to. Nobody has the right to tell me who I am because of what I’ve been through.