Scarred

(Image source – Phoebe Kay – Pinterest)

NOTE:
Just to reassure my readers that I don’t self-harm anymore. Unfortunately, I have scars that will never go away, which I have to live with for the rest of my life. It’s not easy – I carry a lot of shame for them, although I appreciate that was my way of surviving the intensity of the agony at that time. My scars are sadly worse than those in the image. I get judged by strangers who stare sometimes. It makes me want the ground to open up and swallow me. I can’t say I’m never tempted to do it again at times when I’m desperate, but I know that I won’t. I owe it to myself, my children and my ever-curious grandchildren. I have a tattoo across some of my scars – it says, “THIS TOO SHALL PASS,” and I know it will in time.

I want to heal and my writing is my way of beginning that journey. Thank you for bearing with me and supporting me with my recent outpourings of grief.

Tramlines embedded

permanent reminders

in soft, yielding flesh

disguising the pain of existence

~~~

The beginning of the slippery slope

the agonising journey

following tracks

side by side by side by side

~~~

Ensuring her instruments

gleaming in the moonlight

spotless from the flame

as she attacks with ferocity

~~~

Pearls of crimson gathering

on her lily-white skin

offering relief

from the shame and guilt

~~~

Never speaking of his sin

holding it all within

brain freeze

a blade on the skin

~~~

Silenced with threats and blame

memories, flashbacks abound

cutting the evil and torture out

of the time when cries went unheard

~~~

Child of her child’s curiosity

she tells of a fall on broken glass

submerging her truths

hoping the child’s thoughts will pass

~~~

No surrender of life or sanity

She needs no permission to write

expressing her pain in words

she’s not giving up on the fight.


32 thoughts on “Scarred

    1. Thank you for your much-appreciated encouragement to keep writing, Devang. It truly does help me. The WordPress community have been wonderful, but I do fear they will get tired of me pouring my heart and soul out as I do x 😘

  1. You be you and let it out, but allow yourself the dignity to heal. What you have been through is personal and traumatic, so use that energy to rise and let the light overcome the darkness. We all have value. We all matter. We must find our verve to sing our inner song of spirit and triumph. The rest will follow.

  2. Please, Ellie, never be ashamed of your battle scars. Each scar is a record of a battle fought — and won. Instead, respect yourself for having survived, no matter how you had to do it. You are still here with us, and we your readers respect you for that. We respect that you are still fighting, still battling, and coming closer to winning the war that is Ellie Thompson against the world.
    You are not alone, your family, your friends, and your readers are your allies. There is no shame in fighting.
    You are not responsible for what happened to you. That guilt belongs to others, you know that. You have taken command of your life, and every day you are learning more about how to win.

    I will offer you a few lines from a poem I wrote about a man who was continually put down by those around him. Maybe they will mean something to you:
    Leadbelly was the man
    The Man him tried to kill
    To kill him dead
    But he broke lose all their chains
    And died alive.

    1. Oh, J, thank you so much for your warmth and reassurance. I can’t tell you how much your words always mean when you comment on my writing. I agree with you about having battle scars – thank you for understanding that – I wish more people in my ‘real’ life would do the same. My friends, family and readers are very kind; it’s strangers who can be so judgemental. Some of them, perhaps, haven’t experienced any mental health issues or trauma in their lives, and I’ve been accused in the past of attention seeking!! That couldn’t be further from my thoughts or my truth. I do know that I’m not the guilty one, although it’s difficult to remember at times, having had the blame laid at my feet when I was young. I am and intend to continue trying to heal. I know I’ll get there – as my tattoo quote says, ‘This too shall pass.’ I love those lines from your poem, too; they are perfect. Thanks so much again, J. πŸ’œ

  3. It seems like such an agonising journey that you have had. Self harm is never easy, there are so many people that do or consider it especially when we are young and so emotional, so incredibly hard to deal with emotions, I love how you use a tatoo to cover or hide it, and children are so innocent, I have my own scars but they are mostly faded fortunately. Don’t worry what other people think, you may never see them again, we are beautiful in everyway, scars included, who ever made a journey without blood sweat and tears

    1. Thanks for your comment, Phil. it’s appreciated as always. I was a ‘late starter’ with self-harming. It was only when I began to remember my abuse that emotions and feelings were so intense I couldn’t find any other way to get some relief from the internal agony. I don’t hurt myself anymore (I haven’t done for many years now), but, as you know, scars are with you for life. I’m glad yours have faded now. I am trying to think of my scars as battle scars and separate them from the guilt I’ve been feeling. My granddaughter was only six when she first noticed my scars. She seemed to accept them as scratches at the time. Currently, she is nine and much wiser and more inquisitive. As my poem said, I’ve told her I fell on some glass. She will come to understand as she gets older, I guess. My tattoo (which covers a few of my scars) says, ‘this too shall pass’, and I’m learning that slowly. I have to believe those words – they keep me going when my world seems too harsh.

  4. Now that I’m getting old(er) age spots are mottling my skin and nicely camouflage the decades old burns I put on the back of my hand. I think self harm is really hard for someone to fathom if they haven’t ever used it to mask psychological pain. Other than my mom, no one ever called me out on burning myself and the various other ways I injured myself. While I’m sure people noticed the scars, I never noticed them noticing so I’ve been mostly saved by that embarrassed feeling you’ve had. It’s hard sometimes for me to draw a line between my tattoos and scars. Sometimes I think they are saying the same thing, and I wonder if the tattoos are a healthy way of expressing myself. My last episode of desire for self harm was about 7 or 8 years ago, my OCD was raging and I seriously was considering branding my neck. I talked with my therapist about it and she really didn’t get it. She just dismissed it as an intrusive thought. I look back now, properly medicated and wonder WTF I was thinking. I’m glad writing is serving as an outlet for you and hopefully lessening the desire. If you ever feel like you’re heading that way again, reach out to me. I never know the right thing to say to people but at least I understand.

    1. Hi Jeff. I’ve been surprised how many people have gotten back to me on this post to share their self-harm experiences, too. It’s more prevalent than people realise. I agree that those who have never self-harmed find it difficult to understand why we do or have done it. That can even apply to some psychiatrists and support workers, in my experience. Many assume we do it to seek attention, which couldn’t be further from the truth in my case. Mind you, when I used to cut, I had to dress my arms with gauze, tape and bandages, so it was very obvious what I was doing. When I was doing it, I didn’t give a thought to what people might think – I was just desperate to escape my reality and my feelings. Now, my scars are still deep and very obvious. I used to wear long sleeves even in the summer to cover them up, but now I’ll wear t-shirts, although I’m still very self-conscious.

      I’m sorry to hear that you’ve experienced self-harm, too, and I’m glad you weren’t pulled up on it by many people, just your mom. She must have been very concerned about you at the time. I’m also very glad you don’t feel the need to do this anymore. I, too, look back, and although I understand why I did it, I’ll always feel regret and a certain amount of shame.

      I tend to think the same about tattoos v self-harm. I didn’t have my first tattoo till I was in my forties, believe it or not. I don’t have any large ones, my biggest being about four inches on my forearm. It’s a beautiful kingfisher with the words, “This too shall pass”, as I’ve said. It’s my favourite. I think I have about seven altogether. I know when I had my first two, I sort of liked the pain, strange though that may sound. Perhaps, you understand that, although I don’t know if you felt the same. Maybe, it was just another form of self-harm but a more acceptable way of doing it. I was self-harming while drinking and using drugs, neither of which I touch now, as you’ll know. I can’t say I’m not tempted sometimes, but there’s no way I want to be back in that hole again. Thank you so much for your offer to reach out to you if I’m tempted again. That’s incredibly kind and generous of you. I’m still on medication, too, and will no doubt be for the rest of my life, not that it bothers me. Sorry, my reply is a mile long – lots to share. Thanks again, my friend x πŸ€—

      1. Regarding the observation that many have commented on their own self harm… I think blogging attracts ‘a type.’ We tend to be highly introspective and self analytical. It seems that a much higher than possible percentage of us live with life altering depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. I think the propensity for self harm is just more prevalent in this population. Personally, I didn’t really even know what self harm was until I read a YA book called cut. I was like ‘hey, that’s me.’ I once wrote a blog post that included an exploration of the connection between tattoos and seeking out pain. That specific tattoo, I later realized, I got in the throes of depression. I’m not sure I would have done anything differently if I wasn’t depressed, but when I emerged from the depression, I was like “Huh!” Because of that, I’ve given myself a moratorium on tattoos (although the cost of a tattoo plays into that as well–not how I should be spending our scarce resources). Interestingly, Susan won’t get another tattoo because of the pain. She absolutely hated it and while she loves her tattoo, she’s simply done.

      2. I think you’re right, Jeff, about bloggers being of a specific ‘type’. Nearly all of us seem to be deep thinkers. Can I ask how old you were when you first started self-harming? Just curious, but guessing it was old enough to have a tattoo? Forgive me if I’m wrong. I didn’t engage with it until my forties, believe it or not. I haven’t self-harmed for about 10 years now, and don’t intend to do it again (she says with her fingers crossed tightly behind her back!). I’d love to read your piece on seeking pain and tattoos. Is there any way you could send me a link? If not, you could send it via my contact me page, which will come straight into my personal email inbox. Tattoos cost a fortune, I know that, and to be honest, I couldn’t afford it either. But perhaps, that’s all part of the deprivation attitude; certainly with me anyway. I was also very anorexic at the time, so that would definitely fit my pattern. I have friends who have only had one tattoo but couldn’t bear the pain. I quite enjoyed it! I hope you’ll be able to send me that link – I’d really love to read it. Thanks for being so open with me, Jeff. I guess you’ve shared your fair share of difficult life situations with alcohol and your Tourette Syndrome (a totally different matter altogether, I know). Do you ever feel the need to share about either of those issues (if you can call them that) these days? How is your Tourette, by the way? You haven’t mentioned it for quite a long time. Take care.

      3. Tourette: Well, this deserves a write up because I’ve pretty much hit the attitude of F— You I have Tourette & I don’t give a crap what you think–something Susan’s been advocating for since my diagnosis. I weakly began to dabble in self harm in high school but I was too afraid of the response from my parents to really be successful. In college, I went all in. The burns, punching things to injure my hand (a tree, a window, a wall, etc) At some point I broke my hand and had trouble with it for a few years. Once, I smashed my head against a sign and wound up in the hospital. I think my parents had an inkling of what was going on but we never talked about it — my mom was quite sick at that point, which probably fueled some of it. And the drugs & alcohol really have to fall into the self harm category. Especially early on. I did some absolutely crazy stuff while drinking. In my mind it was all very punk rock. I know better now.

        That post, I read it this morning and I think I oversold the tattoo part (I wrote it 7 years ago) It’s more about running (big surprise) but I do touch on the aspect of pain and self punishment also in running, which I explored a few times over the years. https://jefftcann.com/2016/10/14/endurance-tattoos-and-pain/ I find it amazing how psychologically healthy I am now. I credit blogging.

    1. Thank you so much, Granny. I’m still very conscious of my scars, but now think of them as my battle scars. I nearly lost my life several times around that time, but somehow I survived and I guess my scars are living proof that I did, and that I’m still here. I’m not sure if it was luck or fate. Whichever it was, I’m glad to still be here even when things are difficult for me. Love you, too, so much, my friend Xxx πŸ’œπŸŒ·πŸ’›

    1. Thank you, Ann. I’m hoping that with all that I’m writing and my therapy, I will soon be on the road to recovery. It’s difficult to say yet, as my feelings and emotions tend to vary almost hour by hour. X

  5. Oh Ellie. This is a beautiful tattoo & poignant poem. “This too shall pass” is another good one. Having tats over scars is almost like turning past struggles into something beautiful. Not covering them or hiding them in shame, but saying “look, I’m still here, something good has come from those dark days”. I’m just sorry you had to go through them, even though perhaps you could say those are part of what made you who you are. I think that about my scars and the things I’ve felt, and still feel. You’re awesome for writing this so thank you for sharing part of your journey with us all. Sending lots of love your way πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

    Caz xxxx

    1. Aww, Caz, thank you so much for your understanding and your beautiful and heartfelt words. I can’t tell you how much they mean to me. I hadn’t thought about my tattoos as something good that has come from all my trauma and pain. It’s a good way of thinking about them. I’ve always thought of them as covering up my guilt and shame in the past. Perhaps, I will have to reframe how I feel about them. I’m sorry that you have scars and difficult and unpleasant feelings, too. You sometimes mention your first surgery; I’m guessing that’s partly where your scars are from, but naturally, I could be wrong, and, in which case, please forgive me for my misunderstanding. Thank you also so much for appreciating my poem; it was very cathartic to write, and I’m hoping it might help someone who is going through similar feelings to feel less alone. My friends on WP have been so supportive of me as I go through this really difficult phase. I’m in therapy, which is helping, although it’s also bringing up all sorts of previously unexplored memories and emotions. As my tattoo says, “This too shall pass”. Sending you so much love, Caz. Hugs coming your way, too … Ellie Xxxx πŸ’œπŸŒΉπŸ’›

      1. I do have surgical scars. I also have scars not from them, if you see what I mean. From a long time ago. On my thighs, deep ones that’ll probably never go away. I’m lucky I did the bad ones where nobody could typically see.
        I really do hope you may be able to reframe the tattoos and what they’re doing for your scars. A little less shame (preferably none!) because it’s not required. You’re doing good, and it’s great therapy is helping a bit even though it sounds mighty uncomfortable. It takes guts to do what you’re doing. I can see that, even if you can’t right now.xxxxx

      2. I’m so glad you found my comment, Caz. I wondered if it had ended up in your junk folder. I’m so sorry I misunderstood you regarding your scars. I do know what you mean, naturally, and I’m very sorry you felt pain deeply enough to do this, as I did, too. I have some on my thighs, although I can easily cover them up with jeans and leggings. The ones on my lower arms are really entrenched like tramlines, as in my poem. I’ve been feeling a lot of shame and guilt lately, although my therapist always reminds me that I have no cause to feel that and that if I could aim those feelings at the perpetrator, I may feel less burdened by them. I’ve got therapy up until Christmas, having been in it for six months already. I’m dreading ending – I’m not great with endings at the best of times. Thank you for seeing in me what I’m unable to see at the moment. It helps. Sending you very much love, Caz Xxxxxx πŸ’–πŸ’•πŸ’

  6. Ellie, you write from such a raw and honest place. I love that you’re able to express your thoughts and feelings in this way. I hope it helps you. I found writing at a time in my life when I needed something, and I think it saved me a few times. You’re beautiful, scars and all. xxx πŸ˜ŠπŸ’•πŸŒΉ

    1. Thank you so much, Creative Chic, for such kind words. I do find it very helpful to write, especially when I’m feeling emotionally and mentally fragile. I would say it was really quite cathartic. I’m glad your writing has been helpful to you at times as well. Xxx πŸ’–πŸ₯°πŸ’•

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words and encouragement, Tangie. My writing does help me and I also write with a view of hoping others to feel less alone in their feelings. Hope you are well, my friend. Xx πŸ’•

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