I have scars on my left hand. They don’t fall into the category of disfiguring or get gasps of “oh goodness, what happened?!?” But they’re a medium purple against my pale white skin and I notice them several times a day.¬†Each time I catch sight of my hand, they yank my attention away from whatever I’m doing, flood my field of vision like a light shined into my eyes.

The scars are from a bicycle accident I was in about two years ago. I have others, dotted along my other hand, and a thin white line underneath the ridge of my chin where it was stitched back together. They don’t bother me as much because they’re less noticeable – I don’t catch sight of them nearly as often.

But my left hand, it’s a constant source of sighing. Each time I look down, I’m reminded of feeling weak and hurt and exposed. I’m reminded of how the smooth white skin that was once there will never be that way again, that part of me is damaged forever now – that I am wearing the damage.

It’s the same with internal scars. They’re not as obvious, but occasionally a dim corner of my past is illuminated and I’m reminded of my weaknesses in prior relationships, the hurts I carried around, the excruciating imbalance of being vulnerable and exposed in front of someone who is cloaked in indifference or apathy or plain old selfishness.

The thing about scars is that they patch a spot that won’t fully heal. There is always a discoloration, a point of tenderness that will ache if touched just so, a snag in the fabric of that layer of protection – whether it be skin or soul.

Scars become part of our being. Some we wear as badges of honor, proof of our endurance and survival. Others we try to disguise with makeup or light humor. The worst kinds are the ones that get neatly packed away in a closet somewhere, gradually forgotten as other accumulations are stacked upon them until one day that tower of dusty past is bumped or rattled and it all shakes loose.

Most scars aren’t suited for proud display – fear and failure aren’t more attractive or appealing when magnified. And it seems awkward to try to disguise things that can never be fully hidden; they become dull and dingy, like a t-shirt that has been bleached and rebleached to hide the stains. But it’s hard to learn to live with them, to just accept that who we were, and who we loved or lost or let down, are built into the bricks of who we are now.

By the end of this life, we will be amalgamations of many different kinds of scars; we will be patchworks of our falterings – and the falterings of others. We can’t work with erasers, only with brooms or, perhaps, glue.

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