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On Scars

I just reviewed Svea Vikander’s photos of scars on her blog and, for the first time, saw two pyloric stenosis scars on bellies other than my own!  One of them looked very similar to mine. The other person’s scar was deeper. Underneath her photo was a narrative in which she discussed the fact that, for the most part, she forgets that she has it!  I was so jealous reading this. She said that she’s always thought well of her scar and in fact, it made her feel special. This is such a different experience than I have had! My scar made my body ugly and unacceptable.  

I am thinking now about a photo of me at age three. I am standing in a pool of water in our back yard, and my father sits next to me. I am wearing underpants and my chest and belly are bare. The scar is not that visible–as I recall, the photo is a bit dark because there’s a canopy over the pool, blocking out much of the light–but the expression on my face is what I think of now as a sort of scar. Clearly I am enjoying my time with my father. My shoulders are wide and there is even pride in my stance. I love water and an assortment of pails and bottles surround me. My father is smiling. But my lips are pressed together, suppressing the joy I feel. The result is that my face is filled with bulges, somewhat like the top crust of a plump apple pie. 

After my surgery at three-weeks-old, the surgeon gave this mandate to my parents: If she cries, she dies. Basically, it was their job to keep me from crying or engaging in any kind of behavior, like coughing, that might burst my stitches. Apparently, I had three sets of stitches, one set on the outside and two on the inside, and if the ones inside gave way, there was no doing the operation again. Writing has been one way of dealing with this early teaching, a way of overcoming a deep-seated fear of expressing myself. I’ve worked a lot on these issues over the years. Years ago, with the help of a therapist, I learned to cry again. These days, I am allowing joy into my life more and more, and happily, my face is an expression of this. Click About and check out my photo!

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