I am not ashamed of my scars. I refuse to be. Most are discreet, but sometimes they get noticed. In the early years, when there were fresh ones in various states of healing, I would scoff when someone asked, “What happened?” My responses varied from the barely believable “I was attacked by a cat” to “It’s a long story.” It frustrated me how many people seemed oblivious to the epidemic of self-harm. Are that many people truly ignorant or is it just more comfortable to accept what is an obvious lie and move on?
There’s a lyric that goes: “My scars remind me/ that the past is real.” My scars tell a story. Each one represents a journey, an emotion, a torment attached. Each one is a piece of my life, a piece of me. Some people think of scars as memories they want erased, events they wish hadn’t occurred. Seeing them brings back memories too painful to live with. But seeing mine doesn’t cause me distress. I don’t stare in agony, berating myself for how I have permanently marred my skin. My scars don’t renew the pain I struggled with back then. They exist purely as fact, written on my skin. They are what they are and nothing more. I remain unapologetic.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I am proud of them. At times I see the scars and I feel angry. Angry at the past, angry at the help I needed, angry that things went so far. Yet there is an element of pride knowing I am conquering the battle of self-injury. But that doesn’t equate to being proud of the permanence of these scars. Sometimes I feel afraid of them. I feel afraid that I’ll want to go back. I feel afraid of the capacity I have for self-destruction.
Please don’t be afraid of the marks that you see. It is OK to ask for my story. It’s OK to acknowledge you see what is going on. I don’t mind. Please don’t look away with embarrassment or discomfort. Only through honesty and openness can we beat the stigma of this disease. This is an illness of great shame and secrecy. Please don’t continue to let it exist in silence. It is OK that this has happened to me. Don’t fret that you wish you could “take this away” from me.
I am never ashamed of the scars that remain; they are part of my identity. This journey I have been on has shaped every bit of who I am. That journey included the pain and suffering that led to each one of the scars. I will not live in the past, but I will never forget where I have been. I am fiercely proud to be alive today. Don’t look at my scars with pity. Be proud I am standing in front of you today.
Insightful, honest, courageous. You are rising strong, to quote Brene Brown. All you write here is true for all scars – physical, psychological, and emotional. Sometimes the unseen scar is even harder to admit, confront, and overcome. Thanks for sharing; it will inspire and encourage others.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I never could have explained these feelings so clearly and beautifully.
Rev. Betsy Bruaw
Thank you! As the mom of one with scars, it is so humbling to see truth in print. As a pastor who strives to see, acknowledge and support healing from brokenness, my prayers are with you.
Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life. I recently got a tattoo to sort of coverup a scar, not to hide it so much, but to transform it. It’s a part of me and a reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. It speaks volumes that we have these “reminders” and yes, we are still here. Hugs to you my friend.
I just wanted to say THANK YOU!
Thank you for sharing just the tiniest part of your story. I am so conflicted by the continual stigma that surrounds self-harm and wish that more people would ask so that I may be able to share. But, the truth still exists that many don’t want to know, and many don’t care. Thank you for sharing. It brought many emotions with it.
You said everything I wish I could have said, literally took the words out of my mouth. Very well said, and beautifully said.
From someone who has dealt with self-harm for years, and is still dealing with it today, this was perfect. So incredibly well written, it explains everything I’ve wanted to say about my scars but didn’t know how. Thank you for this. It was much needed.
Thank you for such an insightful and well written post. It captures so magnificently the conflict of my emotions on a daily basis when I look at my own scars. I much prefer the days when I am not ashamed of them x
I really like what you say here and I agree with you. Yes I am a little ashamed of my past and what happened but I am also proud to tell my story and I absolutely hate it when people look at my arms then look sad or upset and they don’t even say anything to me, like if they say something it will be wrong and make me want to cut or something.
Thanks for this. Its basically what I’ve been trying to say all along
Thank-you for writing this. I struggled with self-harm quite severely from the ages of 14-19, and my scars cover my entire body. The first summer was hard. People still ask questions and people still stare, and it took me so long to get to the point where you are. It’s an awful thing, and more people definitely need to be brought to light about these issues that so frequently exist in the realm of secrecy and shame. Thank you for letting us all know that it is, in fact, OK to have scars and OK to not be ashamed of them any longer. Hope you are doing well.
You have summed my feelings towards my own scars perfectly and for that I thank you. I am proud you’re here today and i thank you for sharing this.
It’s hard that now that I work as a professional in the healthcare field, in addition to working with children. They always ask why I wear a jacket in the summer. They’re curious and ask if a scar is accidentally exposed and I need to make an excuse. It makes it difficult when I have to acknowledge them when the nurse practitioner for pre-employment asks about them, how old they are, if it was an attempt at suicide, and if I still self-harm. I was worried that I wouldn’t be hired because of my past, but everyone has a past and struggles with things, I just have the evidence on my skin. It does remind me of the times when I wasnt able to stop from harming myself and not that I regret what I’ve done or went through, but that I didn’t have the initiative to reach out to those that would have been there to help me.
Kenzi – Thank you for speaking up. I’m especially moved by your comment “Don’t fret that you wish you could ‘take this away’ from me.” What a strong and powerful statement! If we can acknowledge the fires we’ve been through and accept them for the strength moving through them has given us, rather than the pain that is now in the past, how much brighter our future can be. So glad you’ve made it through! Stay strong and keep moving forward!
“I am fiercely proud to be alive today” – me too, girl. Thanks for sharing your story.
Thank you so much for this. I NEEDED this today. My scars made me angry today. Made me sad. I see them and want to do it again but then I remember that it will only be a temporary solution. Again thank you.
Beautifully written. My daughter has struggled with self-harm and she has expresses similiar sentiments.
I’ve struggled with self-injury for over a decade. I no longer self-injure but still some days there are urges. And of course the scars still remain.
Your story is beautiful and powerful, thank you so much for sharing. I could have written these words myself; thank you for having the courage to write them for me and for so many others.
This is amazing. It’s almost as if I wrote it myself; our stories and feelings are so incredibly aligned. Thank you for sharing and I’m so proud of you for getting to a place where you can feel this way about your scars; it sure as hell isn’t easy.
Thank you! I have scars everywhere and every time I go to apply for a job or an interview they see those scars and immediately assume that I am unstable and incapable of normal working standards. But I love being able to know that I conquered and overcame. But I hate the stigma that comes with it. I hope people will read this and know that just because you have scars that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you.
I absolutely agree with this, I feel you 100%.
Dad of one with scars
i cried the first time I saw the cuts. And every time after. And as time passed the scars became faded and the illness won less often. And what remained was the journey we shared. I see her now, no longer needing my protection and I am proud. And so grateful. And for each of you battling, there is someone so grateful for you. Thank you for sharing your story.
You nailed it …every scar reminds me of how I got to where I am right now….and some remind me that I’m still alive to keep fighting each day to get where I want and need to be…god bless
I wish I could get to the point you are at. Seeing your scars and not being so angry. I agree with you that people easily dismiss and ignore such obvious marks that show pain, and it hurts. But hearing your story, gives me hope that I too can look back and be proud that I made it through. Thank you.
Incredible how real this is though.. Need to meet others who struggled through the same thing I did.
I didn’t know I needed this till I saw it. I’m not proud of my scars but I’m not ashamed either and I really needed to know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Thanks so much!
Thank you for writing this.
I think it’s do important to raise awareness of self injury….for people to know that it is a mental illness and not something done for fun. That for me my scars are proof that ive fought a battle for my life and won. I don’t want people to pity or judge me.
Thank you so much. I feel exactly the way you do about your scars as I do mine. The part where you said you were afraid of the capacity we have for self destruction could not be more true. Even though I haven’t self harmed since August 7th, 2007 I still find myself contemplating it when I’m sad and I am not sure that will ever go away but I know now how to combat this illness just as you have and couldn’t have done it without twloha in my life. Silence is the last thing we want to do when we want to self harm. Talk about it with anybody who will listen. I have even talked to my dog when I wanted to hurt myself and was able to avoid the act. Anyways thanks again and I’m sure glad you’re better now
Most days I can look at my scars with the pride of knowing how far I’ve come and how hard I fought. Other days, it’s more difficult to push back against shame. But thinking back to when I was in the thick of it- my WORST FEAR was for someone to notice and ask me about the scars. And perhaps that would have been one of those painful but necessary things, but the idea of talking about my self harm was the scariest thing I could have imagined then. I’m now over a year and a half clean, and I am able to talk about it. But 2 years ago, nothing would have scared me more.
My biggest fear with my recovery is having to explain to my son when he is old enough where all my scars came from.
Katelyn- you tell that little boy that his mommy won a battle that was really scary. You tell him that sometimes life is hard and unfair and you have to take care of yourself because you are worth it. . You promise him he will be ok and have you no matter what. That is what I will tell my little boy. Even if he doesn’t understand, he will hear the passion and peace in my words and feel the love and unconditional acceptance from my disclosure. I dream he will be stronger and more gentle with the world as he grows.
I don’t know you, but thank you so much for this awesome words. I have scars too and makes me happy that i am not alone. Thank you.
Thank you, I’ve never read something that I agreed/related to more.
It took a long time for me to accept my scars and be okay with wearing shorts again. But I’m glad I finally broke through the barrier that kept me from being me. People ask and I still don’t give the real story, but I hope that one day soon I will be as strong as you! I hope to be able to open up and share the stories of my struggles and how strong I am for coming through such a difficult time in my life. I look up to you and will am determined to be where you are soon. 🙂
Thank you! <3
Thank you for sharing this. This is where I want to be someday. I am so ashamed of my scars and you really inspired me. Thank you
My daughter used to ____. As I read your blog I heard her voice reading the words to me. Thank you Kenzi for sharing your heart and journey.
What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your story!
Darian Wolf Surigao
I am a president of a TWLOHA UChapter and I was just doing my weekly scrolling through the website and the title of your blog caught my attention. Reading through this left me so incredibly hopeful. I too have scars from self-harm and I am constantly making irrelevant excuses when people ask me how I “got hurt”. When I look at the scars, it makes me so sad and reminds me of the events that took place leading up to the ______. I really appreciate you sharing your experience and opening my eyes to looking at my scars and not being ashamed. I hope that you continue to inspire others with this message!
This is beautiful written, i feel so relatable to this.
thank you for sharing this it means a lot to know there are other people out there I have been a ______ since I was 13 and I am now 25 and still going though it to this very day but I am still alive and shouldn’t be ashamed
I completely understan this post. I had scars in my arms but now the’ve almost disappeared. I was never able to cope with the pain of a more than a superficial ___ and never, thanks god, able to finish the task of commiting suicide the three times I tried. Sometimes I look at the pale lines that I still cover with bracelets and think that if I can’t see them anymore my story will be just a vague memory in my mind, sometimes I even think “was I just victimizing myself?” I suppose I still can’t get over of what happened, it’s difficult fighting against the emotional scars and the remains of anxiety my situation caused and it’s easier telling myself that it wasn’t quite that bad and I’m okay. But other times I come to think properly about it and I feel proud I could get through it, even if at the same time I’m ashamed of how long it took me to stop hurting myself. Even if I there’s a day when can’t see the scars anymore they will still be a part of me, a reminder that I could do it and I can recover completely, meanwhile, they remind me I have to keep fighting.
I don’t know if such a long comment is appropiate, but I needed to share this 🙂 Thanks for posting your blog and giving me the strenght to talk about my own scars.
Beautifully written and so true. I feel the same way about my scars. Especially the line “Sometimes I feel afraid of them. I feel afraid that I’ll want to go back. I feel afraid of the capacity I have for self-destruction.” I haven’t ___ in a year and a half and I still miss it. I’m TERRIFIED of relapse. I hate how ignorant people are about self-harm. I’ve been questioned about my scars before usually the same question,”why?” or simply commenting how fucked up I must have been to do that. Its a nuisance having to explain to people that it was how I coped with my severe depression. And that stopping was EXTREMELY hard to do. People don’t seem to realize how much of an addiction it really is.It’s been 1.5 years and self harm is the first and last thing I think of everyday. If that doesn’t sound like an addiction I don’t know what does. I’m so thankful to TWLOHA for spreading awareness of mental illness and whatnot.
Love this. I agree completely.
Thank you for putting into words what I will never have the courage to say. All the best to you!
I dont find th reason why i suffer with depression, but i got frustrated from day to day , i feel i don’t have to live
We’re sorry to hear that you’re struggling with depression and are frustrated. We’d love to hear from you (and to offer some words of encouragement). Would you mind emailing [email protected]?
This comment could not be shared due to the nature of the message.
Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us.
TWLOHA is not a 24-hour helpline, nor are we trained mental health professionals. TWLOHA hopes to serve as a bridge to help.
If this is an emergency or if you need immediate help, please call and talk to someone at 1-800-273-TALK or reach out to the LifeLine Crisis Chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx“. We also have a list of local resources and support groups on our FIND HELP page. Please know that we also respond to every email we receive at [email protected].
I love this soo much i just have been so ashamed Because i have a lot of deep scars and ppl ask what its from and its hard to respond
You have helped me so much you don’t know how much I was in a state of depression and I decided I will not be held down by my pain,but I will try my hardest to fight my suicidal thoughts. Thank you
You have helped me so much,I was in a state of depression and I decided I will not be held down by my pain,but I will try my hardest to fight my suicidal thoughts. Thank you
Next time I see you, hope it is soon , I will plant 100 kisses on your beautiful lil face.
Emily Elizabeth Morrison
My MANY scars are my proof; of survival. Of mended brokenness. Of a re-constructed life and a re-designed future.
I am alive.
I am breathing.
I am 19 days clean of self-injury.
I survived HELL and I am still standing here today.
And maybe that’s not perfect, since I still have MANY scars, urges for self-injury, and (although I was never addicted, just drank a lot) cravings for alcohol.
But it’s something, and maybe for now, and for this stage of my life, that is enough.
I love this. I feel 100% the same way. I’d rather people ask instead of speculate. I’m comfortable telling my story, especially if it can help someone. I’ve gotten several large tattoos on my arms over the past few years to disguise the worst of them. I think of it as turning them into something beautiful. I’m not ashamed anymore. I survived it. Thanks for taking my feelings and putting them into such beautiful words.
Sometimes I feel afraid of them. I feel afraid that I’ll want to go back. I feel afraid of the capacity I have for self-destruction. That comment i can relate to so well as i reach my 2 years in recovery still feel. Fearful of going back to the self destuction im still trying to be okay with getting. Help im still trying not to let the shame take over me im trying and right now thats all i can do
I have many scars from self mutilation, all over my body. With two of them, i decided to incorporate them into tattoo art. One scar is surounded by a scripture in the Bible that says: “I am a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.” Its symbolic of who i was then and who i am now. The other one is untegrated into a ring of coloful stars. I am not ashamed of my scars. But i enjoy reminding myself that they are a part of me and i have the choice to turn something ugly into something beautiful.
I love this. This is exactly how i feel sometime i see my scars and it makes me think of all that ive been threw. I love reading these
Love This!! So inspiring!!
Enjoy reading your blog. Very well said and true.
Thank you for writing this. I’m an advocate with the CASA and one of my girls has a history of self-harm. I have been reading and talking to people to better understand the disease and support her. It is a disease that needs to be in more in the open so we can get better treatment faster. Bless you and good luck!
Beautiful, true,and Thank You.
I love your scars for they create who you are today!
Your story really hit home. I started self harming when I was 16 in January of 2013, because of all the bullying I had been through from 7th through 10th grade. I am 19 now and still struggle with it. But the you are right I can’t change the past I can only look at what each one represents and move forward. Thank you for writing this article. It really put things in to pres perspective and I know it is going to help a lot of people!!!
Do you know where I can send in my story of self-harm? I can proudly say I’ve made it almost 4 years clean of my self-harm addiction. 🙂 I want to help other self-harmers. I said if I was clean 5 years I would be ready to help others. I feel I’m ready to do that. She writes Love on Her Arms. I’m getting this tattoo this month. I’m way excited because I did it!! I got this and don’t think about it anymore. I’ve gotten through so many bad times in the last 3 years. But I did it. Addiction is an addiction and self-harming is an addiction,
You are welcome to send in your story as a blog submission by emailing your 500-800 word document to [email protected]. If you would simply like to share your story with our team, you can send it to [email protected]. We are proud of you and the progress you have made. We are inspired by your strength and we know that your story will encourage those around you. We are so proud of you, friend.
I felt the same way; i wasnt proud of my scars but i didnt want them gone and i refused to be ashamed of them. The embarrassment and shame were just things that never crossed my mind.
But that was after my first fight with self harm; when the scars were minimal and over a smaller surface area.
Now, after being a month and a half clean, i worry so much about letting these mew scars be seen. They contrast so much and theres more of them. I havent worn a short sleeve shirt even when im alone since before i relapsed. This time the shame is the FIRST thing to come in my mind.
How do you get past that?…
First, thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us. We are so glad to hear that you have been free from self-harm for a month and a half now! That’s amazing.
Second, we want you to know that your scars do not make you any less beautiful or valuable or worthy of love and respect. We know it may be hard to let others see them, but they are not anything to be ashamed of.
Your story made me cry with a smile on my eyes.
I remember every mark on my body and not exactly ashamed, I’m scared. scary that everything will be as before. I have been harming myself since I was 14 years old. I did not hurt. but with the same marks I prayed for the help of those who saw them. no one has helped me to this day … I just want to say that your story made me remember not only about weakness, but also the strength that I had over myself. I want to say thank you. because until recently I was afraid that no one would understand me. but you understand … and it inspires hope … thank you …
We are truly glad that these words resonated with you. You do have the strength to overcome, but in no way do you have to go through this on your own. We are here to support and encourage you as best we can. There are counselors who can and want to help you, too.
Would you email us at [email protected] so we can learn more about your story and struggles, and offer you some resources?
WILLIAM F HAYS
my scars are of self defence being taking advantage of be cause of my gifts of being able to notice things out of place or not in the right order like animals in an open field or ants that build to close to the water I understand u and your heart my scars are a map of a path that leads to three crosses and every time I appear no ones hanging on them .I KNOW THE MORNING OF THE SCARS AND THE NEXT DAYS AFTER . UNTIL THE NEXT SCAR APPEARS. LIKE THORNS FROM A CROWN OR A WHIP OR SWARD I KNOW THE HEART.
I went to the basma Hameed clinic to get my leg scar treated and the outcome is just amazing. I can barely see the scar now and im just so happy with the results. 100% recommend this clinic!!!!
That hit me hard… All I have to say is you are a very stronge… And I am really proud of you… And your stories from you and other ppl are helping me today….
Wow. You are incredible your story your scars.. so inspirational. I self harm to and I’m trying to stop but your amazing. Great job!😘
That really helps, but I still feel so sad, so embarrassed that I cut myself; and I still feel the need to do it.
Please try to show yourself grace and forgiveness. Your struggles are valid and it’s okay that you are experiencing the urge to harm, you’re not alone in that. Even more so, we hope you know that there is help and you deserve to reach out for it. Would you email our team at [email protected] so we can learn more about your story, give you some encouragement, and connect you to help?
We hope to hear from you soon.
0.o YOUR STORIES ARE SO COOL!
good it is help full
i’m literally sobbing at this,, i have so many scars this means so much to me even seeing someone say soemthing like so relatable and true about it helps. i love that song by papa roach. he’s right they do remind me that the past is real but also that i got through it. even tho i’m still fighting my self injury battle 3 years after starting i’m still trying everyday
this shit sucks
Carrie Lynne Colvin
Thank you so much for sharing. I can see your perspective perfectly. 🥰
Mary Jane P Pasionela
I like that story
That was so beautifully written. My daughter is suffering now. She’s in the thick of it still. Can’t see an end to this. Am by her side every step of the way and yes am proud that she still stands in front of me. I did see the day when she nearly wasn’t. So close. Too close. I hope I never see that day again. I need strength sometimes. But I know she needs my strength more. So I continue. I will always continue …………
We are so incredibly grateful that your daughter has you to confide in, Jackie. That is a display of immense bravery and trust, two things we imagine she got in part from you. If we can be of any help, please reach out to us at [email protected]. We also hope that you are caring for yourself just as you are caring for your daughter.
I feel too good reading this! It just feels like I am reading my thoughts which I had never been able to jot down or never got enough time to turn those thoughts to something beautiful like this!
this was so fucking touching
This has touched my heart for the shear fact of not feeling alone in this. Always keep being strong. Love every day for every moment as it comes ❤️
I am currently struggling. Over 10 years now. Battling this insane addiction too pain.
I strive to be better and heal. hearing others stories makes me feel stronger. Recovery is possible. Being healthy and happy is attainable ❤️ Just a lot of hard work ❤️ Thank you for your words.Good Evening ❤️
Thank you for sharing this. The first paragraph hit hard – this has happened to me more times than I can count and it’s frustrating when people act oblivious to what’s going on, when it’s clear that it’s more than just a cut on the skin. It hurts when you feel the need to lie about them, even though you know how obvious it is what happened, and yet people accept the lie. Thank you again for sharing.
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