27 Aug Coming To Terms with The Effects of A Scar
“Maybe, even though it was painful, this was meant to happen to teach you and make you better!” Grace, (how appropriate), is a beautiful little girl sitting beside me flying from NYC to LA, and she is absolutely right.
That’s how a child responded to the scar I bear. The snake skin seared on my left forearm that made me hate myself, I mean HATE myself. I could barely look at it, let alone allow others to, showing all I truly am?! YIKES! I was petrified it meant I’d never live up to my destiny, (good one).
At 16, a devastating car accident almost left me an amputee. We flipped, and on impact with the asphalt, 60% of my forearm including bone was shredded off. I’ve had more than 10 surgeries – muscle, bone, skin and tendon grafts, two joint fusions, and a 10-inch titanium plate that prevents movement.
For 11 years, I covered it up. I was disgusted by it, and all it represented. I felt unworthy of love or praise, isolated, disfigured. I saw nothing beyond the pain and imperfection I battled physically, mentally, and emotionally. In intimate situations I wouldn’t even touch a man with it, afraid they’d feel the difference and be turned off. I could hardly have a conversation without negativity or judgment. That’s how I chose to believe people would perceive my colossal flaw, so I projected that to my internal and external environments. I told myself how grotesque it, and therefore I, was.
One fateful Sunday last summer, like most weekends, I went to a pool party, completely unaware it would be the most significant day of my life since the accident. I packed the black cotton sleeve I never left the house without, and ventured off in a sweatshirt (safely hidden). When we arrived, I went to slip on my shield of armor… Panic set in. It wasn’t there. Digging frantically through my bag, “Holy sh**, WHAT am I going to do?” FREAKING OUT, anxiety coursed through my veins like toxic fire. Overwhelmed with terror and emotion, I almost didn’t hear a soft message calmly communicating, “Mia, this is it… Be done now.” I wasn’t conscious of it, but instinctively knew the time had come to be brave. To accept this scar that’s been with me almost as long as it wasn’t. People have always lauded my strength and confidence, if there was ever a moment to truly embody those traits, this was it.
I took three deep breaths, assured my concerned friend we’d stay, and begged for every iota of courage I’d gained living in NYC, Europe, and South America all alone. As we approached the door, tears trickled down my cheeks. They hit a stiff upper lip and I entered the lion’s den of beautiful, perfect people.
I spent the day like always, in a bikini. But was more naked and vulnerable than I’d ever experienced. A few minutes passed, no one asked about my arm. Someone complimented my suit, but didn’t mention my scar. They barely noticed! Mind BLOWN! HOW?! I fabricated a story so horrific I denied myself the power I possessed! I didn’t spontaneously combust! It was ALL in my head.
Funny, I got my first and only tattoo at 21, in Arabic, after teaching English to boys my own age in a maximum security Moroccan prison, “freedom.” I adventured all that summer, dancing nights away, never understanding I was enslaved to fear. Like my scar, it’s forever with me, but it took 6 years to live up to. Now, EVERYTHING has changed. I quit the job I hated, and fell in love with life and myself. Liberated from my imprisonment behind a mask, I found gratitude for my challenge and accepted that this is why I’m here, to heal and inspire! That is freedom.