• Dawn Elgin

Inventory of scars

There is an overwhelming nauseous feeling as I read the title I of written. Not that all my physical scars are bad, but I make a point of rarely looking backward. I sit and contemplate what I'm about to do. Our writing workshop teacher has set the cue, an inventory of our scars. I breathe deeply in and out, lengthening my breath as I prepare.



I begin at my toes, then feet, ankles, left leg then right. I see the first scar, on my right lower leg. I was hit by a car and spent 10 days in the hospital at 12 years old. I don't pay much attention to it anymore; it's indented and thick, about 2 inches long. There are three small scars from orthoscopic surgery years later around my knee. I remember the years of insecurity over such a little thing, as well as the rehab which led to my bodybuilding and the beauty I found in muscular strength. Up, up, up I scan. A thin long scar on the right inner thigh from a kitten's claw when it wiggled out of my arms, catching my leg on the way down.


I see my lower abdomen, layers of scars, one over another over another. So many incisions. The first from a tubal pregnancy, then a cyst that grew wild, a reconstructive surgery so that I could have my son, and finally a hysterectomy. From left to right it is 5 inches long, heavy scar tissue causes it to pucker and dent in; I still hate bathing suits and tight dresses. Will I outgrow this obstacle of my ego? I hope sooner rather than later.


Nothing else on my torso so I move to my left arm, clear but for the vaccine shot scar, how weird I had no longer noticed it. On my left hand there is a small scar between my thumb and pointer, the mark of a squabble over a spray bottle a boy had yanked out of my hand long ago. I turn over my hand and see the burn on my forearm; it's from an airbag that caused my fleece sweater to melt from the friction. I remember the smell, and a student doctor scrubbing it with a bristle brush.


Over to the right, clear until my wrist. A burn from a hot ash, little scars on my hand I can't remember, one on my thumb from peeling carrots at summer camp; man that camp cook was miserable!


I look at my neck and face in the mirror, going over every inch. I notice how much the skin has changed; a little looser, thinner, more lines and spots. No scars, but change and time evident. I look into my eyes and I think of the scars inside. Hundreds of stitches if not thousands, from surgeons I am grateful for. What about the emotional scars? I look closer, deeper into my own eyes. I see healing, and love, and courage, and vulnerability. I see growth and quiet strength as my heart expands, it's beat strong. All the scars, reminders of a life gone by; all the light and sparkle of a life to be lived.


No tears have been shed, just quiet contemplation as the sun beams through the window and I breathe, long and deep and thankful.


I am.

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