I have a few scars on my body, they are little reminders, each time I look at them, of something that I have gone through, painful moments in time now healed. Some of our best stories come from the story behind the scar. They are an invitation for others to ask, "What happened" as they point at the little reminder left on our skin, and this gives us the opportunity to share something about ourselves. But, what about the scars on the inside? What about the emotional scars that the world doesn't see? Do we wish others could see the scars of the deep battles we've fought, challenges we've overcome, and perhaps, those traumas we are still working on healing?
The first time I thought about the comparison between the two was many years ago while having a conversation with an acquaintance. She was a Woman that I had unfortunately had some unpleasant interactions with. I had seen her do some harmful things to others, as well as experienced some of them myself. So, when I found myself in a position to have to spend a bit of time with her one on one, through a volunteer position, let's just say that I was less than happy. When I realized that I was not getting out of this situation, I decided to make the best of it. We had lunch together during a break in the day, which felt a bit like eating with the enemy, so I took a few moments in my mind and just asked myself to be open and compassionate. I asked for guidance, trusting that there was a reason that I was being placed in this situation, and asked that I would be fully open to receiving any lessons or teachings that might be here for me, as well as being an instrument of peace in whatever capacity was possible.
Soon after sitting down with her, getting past the small talk and then ordering food and drinks, the conversation turned to her past. She was sharing of some of the traumatic incidents in her childhood, and I could still feel her anger and hurt as she poured her stories out, as if the lid had been lifted from a steaming kettle, and the pain needed to be released. I listened, nodded and added "I'm sorry" and other words of condolence from time to time. At some point she said, "You know, it's just not fair". I asked her what she meant, what was not fair? She answered, "Well, when people get hurt on the outside, they have scars or marks, and people feel bad for them and want to help them. No one sees my scars on the inside, no one sees how much I was hurt, no on asks or cares about all that I went through". I have to say, I was surprised and had to really take in all that she was sharing, the surface meaning and the deeper layers beneath it.
Did I wish people saw my inner scars? I remember at that time telling her that I related to many parts of her story, as they paralleled some of my own trauma and hurt. But, we differed in that I hadn't thought about wanting my hurts to be seen, because my way had been to just move through it all, almost as if it hadn't happened. I had learned that this was strong, that this was how to cope, all very subconsciously of course. I also could tell how uncomfortable it made others to talk about the pain I had gone through, so it became more important that they feel good, and my pain found its way deeper into the abyss of unhealed wounds. I didn't want people to feel sorry for me, I wanted to look like I had it all together, even when there were times I was completely falling apart inside.
Many years later, I could see the flaws in both of our ways of coping, one avoiding or repressing and the other taking her pain out on others, clearly neither of us had been given the tools we needed to heal. Each of us was truly walking around with many invisible pain scars, some that were not healed, and were just waiting for the opportunity to be given the attention they needed and begin the mending process.
I reflect back on my young self, and in hindsight, I now know that I, too, was desperate to feel understood, to be seen, to know that my pain mattered and that people cared. I had just learned the art of burying it really deep and building a really thick armor around myself. When this happens, it becomes a bit like emotional excavation to go back in and do the healing that wasn't done in the beginning. The good news is, it is never too late, and in fact, I believe that sometimes what happens when a wound is so deep, is that it will be placed in safe keeping until we are emotionally ready to dive in.
It has taken me many many years to do the healing work that wasn't done for my former precious little girl that was so wounded, as well as the teenager and young adult too. I made a commitment to myself to go back and heal all aspects of me, that I was worth it. I knew that if I truly wanted to live a brilliant, joyful life and be of service in the world, I had to make this work a priority. Once we understand that when the scar is not healed, all of our life is affected by this invisible wound, pressing against us emotionally until we hear or feel its call. We will always see through the lens of our pain body and it will unknowingly cloud our vision, yearning to be healed.
I find that time has shown me that it is the scars, lines and unique markings on us that have a special kind of beauty. They are the sweet reminders of our strength, perseverance, healing and growth, and even if we were to remove them, they are with us, we remain inner aware of the lessons they have brought us. May we learn to cherish our inner scars as well, to look at each and ask, has it been through the same processes we would have done for our exterior wounds? Have we assessed it and determined what it needs to heal? Have we cleaned the wound by incorporating what is needed to heal? And finally, have we given ourselves the grace, permission and time then for this healing to occur?
It's never too late to heal an inner scar, never. At any time something comes up from our past that still makes us angry, sad, depressed, fearful or triggered, it is not yet healed. Each wound is different and like physical injuries, the bigger the trauma, the longer it can take to heal (but not always). One of my major life traumas surprised me by coming back up in my forties, letting me know that it was so much deeper than I was able to cope with in my twenties. I could see that it was showing back up at a time that I had then developed the tools that allowed me to embrace this past pain and truly do all of the work that was so necessary to fully heal, my inner self knew I was ready.
So be gentle with yourself, be sweet and kind, and if you realize there are some unhealed scars in there, one by one, we can go go into them and ask, "what is it that you need to be healed?" We can say to ourselves, "I see you, I see your strength and courage, your longing to be free from pain, and I'm ready to support you in that journey." The path to healing our wounds can consist of so many things, spiritual support, therapy, friendship and community, alternative healing, mentors and so much more. The beautiful thing is, that once we begin, one step at a time, we find the most beautiful treasures along the way, things we would never have discovered had we not chosen our healing. These are the gifts that are waiting to be claimed by you, they are your rewards and you will know them when you find them.