I used to try and think of fun, interesting and exciting stories to go with my scars.
“I was bitten by a shark in Hawaii.”
“I was wrestling with a baby lion in South Africa.”
I thought these obviously untrue stories would bring some levity to my scars and what they really represented. Make me seem more comfortable with them, less embarrassed by the way they not so gracefully sculpted my torso.
I have a lot of scars. Some of them are old, bending and growing with me. Others are new and have been doused with serums, lotions and potions to help them heal. I have Cystic Fibrosis, and a year and a half ago I had a life-saving double lung transplant. I grew up in and out of the hospital, with surgeries tearing my skin up, but holding my body together. Cystic Fibrosis (more commonly known as CF) is an invisible illness, and when I was a kid, and a clueless teenager, this suited me. I didn’t want to be different, I didn’t want to look different. But my scars revealed that my body was not working as well as everyone else’s around me.
I resented my body for failing me so often and struggled to see how hard it was actually working to keep me alive. To me, my scars represented my body's secret failure. A failure to run, play and keep up with other kids. A failure to be able to do and wear all the things my peers were doing and wearing. I tried to keep them hidden, posing in front of my mirror with my hands strategically placed to see what I’d look like without them. I wore swimwear and clothes that wouldn’t show them and was thrilled when high waisted jeans became trendy, less so with crop tops.
But really, most of us have scars. What I’ve learnt is that they really aren’t a failure stitched across your skin. In fact, they’re the opposite. They are all the times my body has decided to fight, to hang on a lil’ longer, and I’m so thankful for that. Instead of labelling my scars as insecurities, I remind myself of what they really mean. It can be difficult to remember to do this sometimes, but I’m a work in progress. I’m likely to gain some more scars but I love my body and how hard it has worked for me. My newest and pinkest scars mean the most to me. They’re the scars from my double lung transplant. A family made a huge decision at a tragic time in their lives, and I’m forever grateful for that, in a way that I can’t express in words. These scars remind me of them and represent so much more than just me.
I’m still not entirely okay with all of them (and dread the low-rise jeans trend coming back around), but now I’m comfortable with what they represent. The bumpy, messy, important, life-saving, illustration of my life (so far).
Your skin works so hard for you. It holds your body together, it bruises, grazes, scars, and heals for us. It’s a beautiful roadmap of your life. Look after it! SPF the heck out of it, nourish it, care for it, and be kind to it, and yourself.
A little about the author:
Hello! Hi! I’m Ailish, and I’m one of the Community Coordinators here at Go-To. You can catch me chatting away in our Facebook Group, our Instagram account, or the website Live Chat. When I’m not talking all things skin care, I’m busy updating my dog’s Instagram and TikTok account, @dustinpup. (Very important and very cute.) Oh! I also have Cystic Fibrosis and had a double lung transplant in 2019. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever been through, but also the most rewarding, making me the healthiest I’ve ever been.