If All Memories Left Visible Scars and How to Overcome Them
Some memories leave behind visible scars and reminders. Others leave only pain that we suffer invisibly. I once fell in an airport when I was just a little girl, about 8 years old. I was running alongside my mother on one of those moving sidewalks, in a hurry to catch a flight, and I fell on my knee. That left a scar that you could see, and you probably have seen it if you know me well.
I have many more scars all over my body. One on my neck from a surgery at a young age. At least five on my stomach from my appendix, my gallbladder, and other various surgeries. I have a nick on my ankle where I cut myself shaving, and if you look close enough, I have tiny horizontal scars on my left wrist, a small reminder of some painful teenage years.
What you cannot see, and you might never suspect if you do not know me well, are the scars that my abusive ex-partner left behind.
My ex husband never left a visible scar. Only temporary injuries grazed my skin, but if scars were left from memories of him, you would see things that might upset you.
You’d see a welt on my 9 month pregnant belly from a reckless and drug induced rage in the car. You’d see a lump on the back of my head where he hit me with his knee brace. You’d see his handprints on my wrists where he held me to the ground to prevent me from calling the police on him. You’d see the blood underneath my fingernails from when he locked me in a bathroom. You’d see a wrist that didn’t look quite normal after being wrenched. You’d see a rug-burned back and a scalp with less hair on it after being dragged up the basement stairs and thrown into the yard. You’d see redness of my face after a backhand. You’d see mascara stained cheeks and hollow eyes that had nothing to look forward to.
Or maybe, just maybe, you’d look away and choose to see nothing at all - because we choose to be unaware as a society.
The trauma and the scars that domestic violence leaves behind are far more concerning than anything visible.
I can’t tell you if they ever go away completely, but what I can tell you, whoever you are out there, whatever you are going through, is that it does get better. I can tell you that there are people out there who TRULY care. I can tell you that even though society has many victim blamers walking our streets, that there are as many if not more survivors out there who are willing and happy to listen to you and believe you.
That’s what you need isn’t it? To be listened to. To be heard and believed without question? I can’t tell you what will heal you because all wounds heal differently. What I can do, is tell you how I am healing.
YES, healing, present tense, because PTSD is a very real thing. What I can do, is tell you that you will heal. You can do this. You are a badass. Look at what you have survived up until this point. You will prevail.
So how did I do it? How am I doing it? First, I found a safe place to live, and safe people to listen. People who really listened. I sought solace, and once I realized I was safe I fell apart. I completely freaked out. You may be reading this thinking, how is that helpful? Just trust me.
Really. Just freak out. Completely lose it. IT’S OK. You are entitled. You are allowed to fall apart. You have been through a trauma. You get a pass on reacting to that trauma. Holding in the pain of that trauma is like ingesting small amounts of poison throughout your life and hoping that it will not kill you in the long run.
I sought solace, I got counseling, and I fell apart. I surrounded myself with people who truly loved me. I was selfish for a while. I focused on myself. I learned how to be alone. I cut ties with people who questioned my decision to leave my husband, and I separated myself day by day from what a very broken and un-kind man would have had me believe about myself.
I’ve built a healthy and beautiful life now. I will be 7 years removed from that situation this year, and sometimes I still break down. It’s as irrational as a panic attack in a parking lot when I smell something that reminds me of him, a man who is in prison and can never touch me again. It’s as weird as the fact that I have to vacuum each room with the door shut and locked and instruct my family and friends not to try and get in because I cannot be snuck up on without losing it completely. It’s as ridiculous as your heart dropping when your spouse enters the bathroom while you’re in the shower even though you are well aware that you are co-habitating with that person and have been for 4 years now.
Build yourself back up alongside people who love you as you are. Surround yourself with friends who expect nothing from you except companionship. Learn to repair the self-image that your partner destroyed. An abuser takes pieces of you slowly, until one day you realize there are so many missing that you’re not sure you’ll ever be whole again. I am here to tell you that that isn’t true.
You may never be the same again, but you can be a beautiful survivor that is lovable, inspirational, and worthy.
You are worthy. Tell yourself that every day, and never accept anything from anyone that doesn’t re-iterate that sentiment. YOU MATTER. If you just keep telling yourself that, I promise you, you will instinctually start to heal all on your own.
Whoever you are, you are not alone, and you will not be defeated by this.
By Kelsey Kay Theriot