I saw a dear friend the other day. One of those visits where there is so much to catch up on that you don’t even know where to start and you end up effervescently meandering from one thing to the next in a serendipitous dance. Among the many topics we explored was his journey leaving a toxic relationship the year before. Amidst his reflections, the things he’d learned, the decisions he’d rethought, the feelings that still come up for him, he mentioned he’d finally started to heal. It got me thinking… What does it mean to heal?
Do you ever heal? All the way? Or is there always going to be at least a faint scar? Maybe even invisible, yet, still now forever part of the fabric of your person?
When you heal from heartache, illness or injury, are you ever intact exactly as you were before? Or is part of you forever changed in some way? Is there always a part of you that’s a little raw? Harder or softer than before? Perhaps numb until you touch that part of you again, however many years later?
I thought about that when Taylor Swift recently performed a re-recorded break-up ballad many years after it was written and initially recorded. She didn’t simply record it again. She added new lyrics. And she sang with such intensity, as if she were going through it all now. In this very moment. But, of course, she was not. Or, perhaps, was she in some small way? Was she touching her scar and, in doing so, living it all again?
When I had my recent thyroid surgery, my doctor told me “There’s no way to do this without leaving a scar.” Maybe that’s true of life in general. And maybe that’s okay.
My newest scar links my clavicles. Exactly the place a delicate necklace would grace or an elegant neckline would highlight. I am not proud to admit that one of my first fears that arose following my diagnosis was one of vanity. Now, though, on the other side of the journey I’ve been on this past year, I will forever see this scar as a reminder of my gratitude for this life. And a reminder to live and speak my truth while I am lucky enough to be here.
My son, too. He recently broke his elbow right on the growth plate. After surgery and many long weeks in a cast, he now proudly showcases his scars. Removing the pins was the scariest part and, now, it’s the part he can’t say enough about. Where there once was fear and pain, I now see the glow of awe, pride and compassion.
Maybe the scars, the raw parts, are evidence we’ve healed. And lived. At least the best we can. Maybe they are like tattoos or badges of honor. Things that remind you that you are a warrior. You can be brave. They remind you of a time you survived. You have always survived.