Grieving My Scars

I’m grieving my scars
Both inside and out
I’m grieving the losses
That created self doubt 

Will I ever be beautiful?
Will I ever be sane?
Will I ever be happy?
Will I ever be free? 

Free of my cosmetic deformities
Of my mental catastrophes
Of my relational disasters
I want to be free.
And be me. 

I’m grieving my scars
Both inside and out
I’m grieving the losses
That created self doubt 

Will I ever get past the past
That haunts me?
Will I ever evolve to
A time where disaster ends
And my life begins?
Will I ever stand before a
360 degree mirror in
Awe of life’s beauty ?
Will I ever embrace the
scars that remain from
the traumas of physical and
emotional pain? 

Embrace my husband
My son
My learnings from
Yearning so long
My Self
Who I am.
Regardless of who I was. 

I’m grieving my scars
Both inside and out
I’m grieving the losses
That created self doubt

I look in the mirror and see the seven-inch long thick, stiff scars where the knife sliced through my abdomen. Twice to save my life, once to repair the damage that was done. I take a deep breath through my nose and concentrate on letting it slowly out through my mouth as I think about adding one more scare to the landscape in front of me. An abdomen that was once toned and taught from miles of running. An abdomen that is now full of bumps and sags and deep divots. 

Another surgery. Another scar. A hernia that crept up above the incision. Just like the first surgery and the second and the third, I wonder what I did wrong. What did I neglect? What did I do too much of or too little of to have caused this medical nightmare that, in the beginning, almost killed me?

I think back to four, five, even six years ago when I so desperately longed for a child that I stayed up at night crying. Watching other people, much younger than I, introduce sonogram images, invitations to baby showers, videos of wiggly babies, family vacations. Finally. Finally. My husband agreed that it was time. Early miscarriage. I hadn’t even gotten to tell anyone. I was alone. A month later, the pregnancy test glowed with two lines. I took another – the expensive one – just to make sure. Four years of longing for a child and it was finally coming. I wept. I danced. I gasped. I was frightened. I was elated.

Nine horrible months of happiness. Nine exhausting months of not morning – all day – sickness, and tiredness, weakness, uncomfortable tightness, and the ER doctor at 32 weeks saying, “You need to stop doing so much.” Pregnancy may be a breeze for some women, but mine was worse than labor. One day late and 7 ½ hours of labor later, out of the water in a sweet birthing center with the gentlest, strongest midwife hanging over the side of the tub came my little boy. My husband behind me and my baby before me. I wept. I dance. I gasped. I was frightened. I was elated. 

Four days later the ambulance pulled up to the curb of the urgent care where my husband and I sought care for what seemed like some sort of stomach infection. I had left my helpless newborn baby in the confident care of my mother-in-law, so sick that I hadn’t another thought. I didn’t even kiss him goodbye. I didn’t even kiss him goodbye.   

Doctors and nurses crowded my tiny triage room. Hovered over me. Needles, tubes, scans, serious voices. Sepsis. Emergency surgery. I wasn’t even scared. I just was. The last thing I remember is laying on a gurney in a hallway, my husband holding my hand, before they rolled me away. 

A week of hazy memories in the ICU, then two more weeks of constant care, nightly blood draws from my swollen arms and hands, injections in my side, trips to the CT scans, another surgery, walking shakily down the hall twice a day, and not getting to be a mother to the baby for whom I prayed for so many nights. 

Finally, I get home. Two years of recovery, another major surgery. I fought to get my life back. To enjoy my family, my beautiful child, my ever patient husband, through the pain and post traumatic stress. 

A corner was turning. I was getting my life back. Then family business challenges which nearly caused us to close up shop. A water pipe flooded our house. Another stressful business challenge. Our only employee walked out with no notice. A family friend lied, cheated, and stole from us. He bullied me. As an adult, I was still getting bullied. Still. A good friend turned her back. Another loss. Another trauma. When will it end?

Not yet. Mental illness. It builds and builds, sneaking up on you like a cat to its favorite toy. A lion to its prey. A diagnosis. Bipolar. Manic-Depression. It’s been a year now, of trying to find the right medications, therapies, family balance. 

Were there good times mixed in with all the traumas? Of course. Having a devoted husband and loving son. Parents on both sides who still love each other and devote themselves to their children. A community who was there to pick up the pieces. There was good amidst the trauma. Sure.

But when you are entrenched in trauma after trauma, disaster after disaster, survival doesn’t leave much room for smelling roses. When you are fighting to hold onto the life raft, you don’t admire the pretty bird perched on the telephone pole holding strong in the gusting wind. When you are working through the pain of long, thick, stiff scars, it’s hard to see the children dancing before you. 

I fight on a daily basis to keep my eyes on my Savior. I claw through the garbage every moment so as not to miss the blessings before me. The husband. The son. The family. The community. 

There’s a story in the gospels. A lame man was brought on a mat by friends to the house where Jesus was teaching. It was crowded inside and out – no way to get into the door. He needed Jesus badly. Now. They lifted him up onto the roof, opened up a hole, and lowered him down to Jesus’ feet. 

And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you. … I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.”  And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what had carried and went home, glorifying God.  And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

-Luke 5:21, 25-16

I cannot count the amount of people who have brought me to the foot of Jesus in my lifetime. Most of these people have done so in the last ten years. And they will have to keep bringing me back. And bringing me back. And bringing me back. 

Because I am broken
I am grieving
I am filled with
Long, thick, stiff scars