While looking at pictures from this past weekend, I finally figured out what was different about myself, what I no longer recognized. Throughout my life, one of my favorite parts of my body – despite having scoliosis – was my back. I loved the beauty marks that adorned it, especially one in particular. There’s a photograph of me taken at a charity event three years ago. In it, I’m wearing a backless Chanel dress, my head turned over my shoulder so you can see the dress in all its resplendent. My skin is glowing from a recent trip to the beach, and I’m confident, happy and carefree. That night didn’t turn out the way I had expected. I remember being stood up and leaving the event later (earlier?) than I had intended, but at that moment I felt beautiful.
Early last year, after a trip to the dermatologist office where they removed my beloved beauty mark for a biopsy, the results were not good. Not only had it been a necessity to get the biopsy, but it became a life and death matter to have the rest of it removed completely. The beauty mark that I had had all of my life had turned on me. Not only was it cancer, but it was the most dangerous kind. Me, the girl who, at twenty-eight (nearly twenty-nine) had never broken a bone, never had stitches, never had a cavity, was about to experience one of those three (more than once), immediately scheduling surgery for the following day. After excruciating pain, a frustratingly slow recovery and many trips to the dermatologist office since, my body has never been the same.
In place of my beauty mark is a two-plus-inch long scar, and this past weekend was the first time that I had a picture taken of me showing off my back since the surgery. It’s not that it was hard to look at the scar, as I’ve been acquainted with it for over a year now, but it was more that the absence of the beauty mark made my back look foreign, as if it belonged to a different person entirely.
In some ways, my scar does belong to someone else. I’m not the same person that I was three years ago or even fifteen months ago. Things have happened in my life that have changed me, as it does all of us. Some scars – like the one on my back – we can see, while others are less visible but can still cause us the same amount of pain or greater. It is the culmination of all of those scars that make us who we are today. Without them, we would be lost in a sea. So, the next time you think that your scars are ugly, remember the opposite. Our scars are beautiful because they remind us that we are alive and show us our hidden strengths, that if we can overcome that, we can get through anything.
Our scars are beautiful; they are unique, as we all are.