Kevin said something to me this week that I haven't been able to stop thinking about. It was Tuesday, and we're both lucky to have off bank holidays so we spent this Veteran's Day bopping around town, exploring, having drinks at fun breweries and just enjoying each other and the downtime. During a conversation about how far we've come since my first surgery, we started talking about scars. I was reminiscing about how nervous I was to go on vacation this summer because even just being with our closest friends, I was scared to have my scars so close to the surface. Kevin simply and genuinely said, "You shouldn't worry about your scars anymore. At all." And then the deeper thoughts set in. What scars am I still so scared of? What scars do I still try to hide? And the kicker of them all: where do I hide my scars? If the one person closest to me, that's gone through it all right by my side, isn't worried about my scars, why still am I?
I have my fair share of physical scars. Heck, I have scars under both arms just from the drains I had in for 7 days. Nonetheless the unspoken inch and a half across both sides of my chest. Physically, they've gotten so much better. There's no physical pain associated with them, they physically look less scary and to be quite honest, I'm pretty used to them now. But emotionally, I'm still scared of them sometimes. Not in a "what do people think of me" kind of way, but in regards to my future and my future family. A lot of people, including myself, choose to focus on the positive outcomes of a preventative surgery like mine. And that's what I strive to do each and every day. But through my journey, I think it's important to point out that every day isn't always easy. There are still times when I'm self-conscious, and there are absolutely still times that I'm sad I had to deal with the whole thing in general.
My scars don't define me. I truly believe that. But I want other young women to know that it's okay to be sad, it's okay to be worried and more importantly it's okay to admit your scars can scare you every now and then.
Aside from physical scars, I still very much hide the scars of grief from time to time. I don't think I'll ever have a day where I don't think about my dad and how much I miss him. Losing him was by far the worst and hardest thing I've ever had to deal with in my life. It was a whirlwind of three really hard years of him struggling, and has been another extremely hard three years since losing him. Grief is funny sometimes in that we can so easily hide and disguise it with the happy memories we have from the past, but the truth is it's still there.
I think the word "hide" tends to have a negative connotation, but for me, sometimes the act of "hiding" has been a positive resource. These days, I hide my scars of grief behind my journey to promote the knowledge of preventative health and use what my dad gave me as an outlet for my grief. It helps me to know that I can hide some of my pain in order to help possibly save someone else's life by telling my story. It may not be right in everyone's eyes, but it's right for me right now.
Most importantly, I hide my scars of the last six months behind my writing. In high school I thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher so that I could help students become better at something I was passionate about from such a young age. In college, I chose journalism, even more fine-tuning my writing skills. But it wasn't until right now, at this very time in my life when I realized this skill and hobby I've had for so many years would be what would save me. It's given me an outlet that's brought pride to what could have seemingly been the most painful time of my life, and if not for anyone else, I write for myself. To make myself feel better and in hopes I'll touch just one person. And just for that reason, I'm okay with hiding.
I hide behind my scars because it's what allows me to be brave and move forward. Hiding isn't always cowardly. Sometimes it's just what you have to do to move forward.