I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about scars and the “events” that cause them. Some scars might make you shake your head a bit. I have a few those “self-induced because I’m a clutz” scars. More than a few if I’m honest. As a mom, I have one scar that I actually cherish. No, I’m not weird. All four of my ducklings were delivered via C-section so that scar is actually kind of a badge of honor in my mind. Scraped knees, a serious cut that needed stitches . . . the adventures of our lives sometimes leave marks behind.
Sometimes those adventures hurt only a little and sometimes . . . well, sometimes we are not sure what will be left when all is said and done. Sometimes the pain is so intense that you are not convinced you will survive. And that old childhood rhyme that starts with “sticks and stones may break my bones . . . “? Yeah, that’s a big fat lie. Words sometimes leave scars so deep and painful that they never seem to fully heal.
I’m not stuck in some sort of morose mood. I’m working through – or trying to work through – a specific thing from my past. A relationship that went very sour very early on and no one knew. No, I wasn’t raped or anything like that. But he did insist on putting his hands places I wasn’t comfortable having them. If I pushed his hands away or told him no, there would be pain. Pulled hair, his hand around my throat, you get the idea. There was a moment where I got up enough courage to tell him that if he didn’t stop what he was doing I would talk to my parents. He backed off at that moment and I thought I’d won. Soon after that, he went with my parents, my siblings and I to visit my grandparents. As we were leaving for church, I hiked my skirt up to just above my knee to adjust my pantyhose. He gasped and covered his eyes as though I was being immodest. My mother was beside herself – her daughter was dating such a modest, morally upright young man! He just smiled at me and as we walked to the car he leaned in and whispered “Who do you think your mother will blame?” and I knew I was stuck.
He was considered one of the leaders in our youth group. His parents were great people. He . . . he made me feel like the only value that I had to offer was my body. Years later, he wrote me a letter owning his wrong and apologizing profusely. I had so blocked the whole thing out that I just tucked it away and never thought about it again. For some strange reason, it survived all these years (and I mean like 30!) and I found it tucked away in a music book when I was doing some purging recently. I re-read the letter and it all came flooding back. The bruises from the pinching, the choking me when I wouldn’t let him do what he wanted . . . all of it. I hate to put a label on what happened to me because “it wasn’t really that bad”. I have had people I care about deeply who have had to recover from rape or years of sexual assault at the hands of a family member. This was a few months of complete misery. It could have been so much worse!
But it was bad enough. It was my freshman year in high school which was just a miserable year in so many ways and the thought of just ending it all crossed my mind more times than I care to count. So I “forgot” it all. I just pretended like it didn’t happen. He eventually broke it off – thank God! – and I moved on. (Part of me wonders if I was no longer attractive because I just stopped fighting back!).
I have no clue where to go from here. I still don’t even know how to describe what happened because the terms I can think of all sound far too severe for what I suffered.
There’s a thing about scars – they are reminders. Not of what you have suffered but what you have overcome. And I promise you, I WILL come out of this stronger on the other side.