Trigger warning: Talks about self-harm and romanticizes and glorifies scars from cutting. It describes scars and cuts in detail. Read the trigger warning page here. Take care of yourself first and foremost. And remember that self-harm is NOT a competition. It’s dead serious.
I remember the summer one and a half years ago. I was visiting with my cousins, and it was so hot. One of my cousins and their kids suggested we go swimming in the lake, and it was a splendid idea. We had all used to go there when we were kids. My siblings and I, and all of my cousins, and we’d have so much fun! … I assume. Because I can’t really remember it well. I just know that the memory comes with the feeling of being content, and safe.
I used to cover up my scars back then. On my arms, but even more so on my legs, and thighs. So a bathing suite was pretty much (read: definitely) out of the question. I used a pair of sports tights and a tank top, hid my arms mostly in the water. And I was so self-conscious about the scars. I hated them. I was afraid of what my cousins would think. Not of what they would say, because they would never say anything. But I worried they’d think, judge, maybe even talk about me behind my back after. Or worst case, not really get why I did it and ASK! They didn’t, and hopefully they didn’t judge or talk about me behind my back. It worked out fine, I guess. I swam in the lake and had a good time, even if all the time I was self-conscious about the tights and about my arms. I kept grieving over my whole skin that I had lost forever. The pale, even skin with nothing but freckles, that now was cut up in too many scars to ever count. But I didn’t wanna let the scars stop me from going swimming on one of the hottest days of the summer! So I didn’t. And with time I’ve learnt to give less of a shit about my scars, and maybe some of that comes from seeing the “zebra girl” there by the lake that day.
On a blanket on the grass by the water two girls sat laughing, eating strawberries. Each one in a bikini. And what caught my attention after the laughing, and the blanket, and the strawberries, and the blissful aura from them, was her scars. Scars, scars, scars. It’s the first time I’ve really seen anyone other than myself in real life with self-harm scars. (I think, at least never anything like this.) And this wasn’t a tiny bit, or a few. They were big, red, thick, long, white, many. Over her entire body. Some scars made it look like it was a miracle she even had her legs fastened to her body. I was intrigued. I could barely catch myself, and look away. I kept sneaking glances, checking her face every so often to see if she could see me staring, checking on my cousins to see that they couldn’t see that I was staring, and if I was in the clear, I stared! My heart was filling with a strange positive feeling from those scars, and I wanted to cut myself. I wanted to have my body just as filled with scars as hers was. I wanted the beauty from her scars. I wanted cuts that probably had taken 25 stitches each. I wanted those red, burning scars that no one could miss to see. I wanted to be as good as her at hurting myself. I felt like mine wasn’t good enough. I wanted her perfectly fucked up skin. They were gruesome, showed several years of tragedy, but here she was on a summers day laughing, and I kinda felt like I fell in love with her scars. I wanted them, and I wanted to hurt myself. I wanted to see blood ooze from my skin, in rectangles and lines, and parallels. I wanted the deep red to pierce the pale pink. And then the ugly scar to turn to bright pink, glowing of the hurt. Glowing with my pain. I both deserved it as punishment, and I deserved it as a token of my pain. Criss, cross, zebra girl.
Truth is, there is nothing beautiful about scars from hurting oneself. It’s misery written in your skin. It’s pain oozing out from within. It’s surviving from wanting to die. And it’s a memory from what I want to forget the most, the most painful days, weeks, months and years of my life. A reminder of the worst part of those days. A reminder of times when nothing else worked. A reminder of a time when all I could do was survive. But still, last summer I wore a bikini to the beach. I know, I know, not with my cousins, and there were only strangers, but still. Because they’re not beautiful, and they’re not something to be proud of, but they’re a sad part of me that I have to live with. And I want to live with them the way she did, laughing, eating strawberries with a friend, on a blanket by the water, for everyone to see. I wanna carry them like the rest of my skin, just there. Not remembering it all the time. Forgetting it because I’m so caught up laughing, because I’m so caught up living, or so caught up loving.
Her scars definitely triggered me, I was intrigued and captivated and somewhat spellbound. My mind put a filter on what I saw and put bright colors on the images and glorified it. I couldn’t help it, it was subconscious. The scars I hated on my body was something I wanted when I saw them on hers. The scars that was ugly, pathetic and signs of weakness was beautiful and daring on hers. And I wanted that. But thinking back on it now, I can’t help but wonder if maybe it wasn’t her scars I wanted, but the laughter, the aliveness, the seemingly blissful moments of joy, despite her scars. And no matter if she triggered me, and made me want to cut, she also made me believe that I could wear my scars like just another piece of regular skin, and not a glowing mark of how useless and worthless I felt. She made me believe I could have them (like I have to for the rest of my life) and still maybe learn how to laugh out loud, and be busy living my life, and not covering and hiding. My scars didn’t have to be all of me, all people saw when they looked at me, or signs that people could judge me by. They could be there, and I could be beautiful. A zebra girl.
Take care, Marie