I have a very large scar on my chest from my surgery in December. It starts in the center of my chest and runs down just to the end of my bra – about eight inches total. It is slightly crooked at the bottom. The top of the scar bubbles out into a red circle about the size of a quarter. This section appears differently because it didn’t heal like the rest of the scar.
I have exactly one piece of clothing [not counting scarves] that will cover the scar. In other words, every single day I take my scar out into the big, bad world.
I haven’t accepted it as part of me yet.
People stare a lot and sometimes they ask questions. The questions range from morbid curiosity to concern to looking for a connection. Only the curiosity questions really bother me much. For a while I had a large Band-Aid at the top of the scar covering the part that was still healing. Nothing says, “Look at me! Something happened!,” like a big Band-Aid in the middle of your chest.
The main problem with my scar however, is not the staring or questions. It is my perception of the staring. The actual number of people who become preoccupied with my scar is relatively small, but I continuously inflate this number in mind. When I’m talking to people – strangers, acquaintances, friends, etc. – I can’t help but wonder if they are paying attention to me or thinking about my scar. This is particularly bad when I’m in a professional setting.
This is not helpful. For someone who tends to pull away from social situations anyway, it is starting to become a pretty big hindrance. It allows me to fall right back into my typical routine, to justify my tendency to withdraw and avoid. A little bit of research confirms that I am not alone in this feeling – countless studies have verified that people with some sort of visible “issue” tend to project awkward feelings into their interactions.
I wish I had some sort of uplifting end to this blog post. Some solution or grand plan. But I don’t. I’m sure the first step is finding a way to accept the scar in my own mind, but that seems pretty damn impossible right now.