Facebook can be a bane at times, but there are times when it’s a blessing. Tonight in browsing through its varied offerings, I came across a link to an article about an artist whose name, unfortunately, I’ve forgotten, and I’m far too tired to look it up. But the article was striking because he paints people’s scars. Physical, ugly scars, of injury or surgery. Literally, he paints them. Usually in pretty colours chosen by the subject. Then he uses the paper to imprint the scar onto canvas. Then he takes a photograph of the person, together with their scar.
Of course, it made me think. I have a scar. Only one scar, a knife scar. I’m ashamed of it. I want to hide it, because it’s ugly and its reflection of a past I’d rather leave behind – but I’m not going to hide it, because it’s part of my past, a part of my past I’m determinedly, and with varying degrees of success, trying not to be ashamed of. Trying not to hide away like some dirty little secret, something I’m pretending never happened. I still don’t like talking about it. I probably never will. But I refuse to be ashamed of it.
Still, I don’t know how I’d go with the concept of making it pretty. Turning this ugly relic of my past into art. Celebrating it as beautiful. Celebrating it as reflective of healing and of strength. Celebrating those scars that aren’t on my body – the scars that exist in my mind and in my soul. The scars which go a little bit of the way to making me who I am. Which show that I am capable of healing. That my body and mind have sought to protect me.
We’re not good at viewing scars. I’m certainly not good at viewing my own. I’m still not good at saying “This has happened to me”. Not good at sharing my story, other than nice and safely from behind the anonymity of a computer screen. But I think I need to. Because that story is clamouring to be told. Rising to the surface like psychic shrapnel (thanks to Laurie King for the wonderful metaphor). And there’s integrity in refusing to hide the scars. Even if they’re not pretty. Maybe, in time, like this artist, I will learn to see their beauty.