How to Come to Peace with Your Scars

How to Come to Peace with Your Scars

We all have scars.

Some scars are visible, formed as a result of an unplanned encounter with the pavement. Some are invisible, originating after enduring a painful breakup. Everyone has them, whether they admit to possessing them or not, whether they choose to see them or not.

How do you come to peace with your scars?

If we were standing across from each other, you would notice the red scars dotting my face, similar to a child suffering from a severe case of the chicken pox. My scars formed after a glass jar of sulfuric acid accidentally exploded. I was forced to learn how to live with these marks, as I came to understand that nothing could ever fully eradicate them from my existence. This was the new normal. My facial scars serve to symbolize the new me.

In the beginning, I struggled greatly with my newfound appearance. I felt the weight of the looks and the stares, the unwanted comments received from well-intentioned bystanders. I longed to have my old life back, wanting desperately to reverse the course I had been thrust upon after that fateful day. Until I realized that the scars formed within my inner being could be conquered. It took time to discover my own voice, implementing a set of tools to combat the battle waging within me.

The changes necessary were often quite simple. It involved adopting a higher sense of self, focusing on the words I myself used and the effect they had on my daily existence.

Practice Makes Perfect

The scars we carry can dictate the way we live, even in subtle ways. They can flare up in certain situations, revealing a sensitivity to a certain behavior carried out by a significant other or a friend. Sometimes, we un-intentionally internalize the injuries sustained, whether physical or emotional.

Unfortunately, this can lead to eventually blaming ourselves for the pain experienced, whether or not we were truly at fault. This can cause us to refrain from placing full trust in our ability to detect danger lurking just around the corner. Ultimately, negative thoughts and feelings weigh us down, preventing us from achieving our dreams.

Letting go of negative self-talk can be an important step towards living a happier life. Beating yourself up will never lead to a fulfilling life. Instead, this type of behavior effectively erects a prison around your existence, preventing you from getting outside of your own experience in order to lend a helping hand to someone further back along the road towards recovery.

Asking yourself, “What can I do to help someone else today?” goes a much farther way than focusing on the negatives inherent in your own set of circumstances. Making a list of accomplishments at the end of a week, no matter how small they may seem, will allow you to see yourself as more than the scars you carry, more than the failures naturally generated as a result of our imperfections. Choosing gratefulness over self-pity frees us to lead the life that sometimes feels just out of reach.

Feeling Less than Whole

The journey I have traveled over the last several years encompassed so much more than simply the accident itself. In the weeks and months preceding the day my life changed forever, my face required the perpetual application of moisturizers in order to optimize healing. I felt like a fish submerged underwater, constantly having to apply creams, take pills, and attend doctor’s appointments. The sole focus of my life shifted towards making a full and complete recovery.

The journey continued once my scars took shape. The need for plastic surgery ensured that the next several years would be consumed with semi-regular visits to the hospital. Anesthesia became a necessary part of my experience, striking fear into my bones each and every time I was presented with the prospect of losing consciousness so that a doctor could perform on my face.

During those trying years, friends and extended family members alike offered rather prosaic, unsolicited comments in response to the new realities surrounding my existence. “It could have been worse,” they would tell me. Some lectured me on the importance of being grateful that my life had been preserved on that fateful day. As if somehow, I was supposed to express thankfulness over the fact that my life had fallen apart.

A feeling of gratefulness failed to sweep over me during my visits to the doctor’s office or in the aftermath of a painful surgery. Feeling lucky that things had not been worse seemed borderline masochistic. How could I be happy that my face had been forever lost?

Espousing an Attitude of Gratefulness

Sometimes one must look for things to be grateful for, going against the automatic response of feeling sorry for oneself. Even in my darkest moments, I had so very much for which to be thankful. A loving family – parents and siblings willing to support me as I traveled the unknown. The gift that is insurance coverage, allowing me to receive expert medical care that would have been unavailable in other parts of the world.

The list goes on and on, culminating in the realization that my story can help others as they travel the road towards healing. I can be grateful for the redemption inherent in my story, and the eradication of that feeling of senselessness that pervaded my experience in those early days.

Being grateful allows us to jump outside of ourselves. To see the world as filled with opportunities, rather than simply ways for us to get hurt. A shift in perspective can do much to spur one on towards achieving the goal of healing, even if a change of circumstances cannot be achieved.

The subtle truth? We control our perspective, even when we lack the ability to fully shape the arc of our life’s narrative. We can determine to be grateful even in the depths of mourning, providing a way out of the self-induced malaise that can pervade those who have suffered at the hands of great loss.

Be Unafraid to Ask For Help

More than eight years after hearing the explosion of that glass jar, surgeries remain a part of my existence. Enduring another operation was once almost unthinkable. The pain on the road ahead weighed heavily upon me as I entertained the idea of seeking further treatment. No longer was I concerned about how I looked. The concern generated by the continued collapsing of my nose led me back to the doctor’s office.

The surgery went far better than expected; yet, it was clear I would be unable to care for myself over the next few days. My parents graciously allowed me to move back home, taking care of me during my time of need. I felt vulnerable and completely helpless. It went against a key part of my preconceived narrative – that I could overcome any challenge completely on my own.

So many of us believe the same. We place so much pressure on ourselves, determining to forge ahead without the assistance of others. While the idea of going it alone may have been romanticized by figures such as John Wayne and Chuck Norris, real life plays out far differently than it does on the big screen.

It takes courage to ask for help, to develop a network of both friends and family that are reliable in times of crisis. Admitting our weaknesses is hard and uncomfortable. Yet it can lead to the formation of close ties that can last a lifetime.

A Family’s Love

I grew up in a tight-knit family. We shared dinner together each night, and still see each other on a regular basis. Not a day goes by in which I do not contact at least one or more of my family members, sharing with them in both the challenges and successes encountered in daily life.

My road to recovery brought us even closer together, allowing us to experience a collective level of vulnerability previously unencountered. The circumstances of our new life threatened to pull us apart. Instead, it brought us closer together. We made the choice to remain loyal to each other, closing ranks in order to forge ahead together.

The loyalty they showed as a result of the injuries I sustained will never be forgotten. While my heart grieves to know the pain they experienced as a result of the accident, I am incredibly grateful for the role each chose to play in the incredible story that has unfolded over the last several years.

The author, pictured at bottom, preceded by his brother Noah, father Maurice, mother Kate, and sister Karynna while on vacation in Cancun.
The author, pictured at bottom, preceded by his brother Noah, father Maurice, mother Kate, and sister Karynna while on vacation in Cancun.

So while the going is guaranteed to get tough, I encourage you to dig deep. Establish close ties with those people around you who are worthy of your trust. You may be surprised how much asking for help changes your life for the better.

If More Is Needed

During a particularly challenging period, I decided I needed to up the ante in my efforts to achieve both an emotional and physical recovery. I needed daily reminders of who I was, along with tangible words I could use as armor in the face of the dark battle being waged. Picking up a pen and grabbing a pack of sticky notes, I wrote a few words with the intent of reframing my day.

  • “Samuel Jaymes – A Name of Great Strength”
  • “You have what it takes.”
  • “You will overcome.”

Simply the act of writing gave me the courage needed to face the next day. Instead of focusing on the months of recovery (both emotional and physical) looming large on the horizon, I chose to grab a hold of each day. Deciding to focus on each hour, minute, or even second can lessen any feelings of inadequacy while granting the freedom to live each day to the fullest.

Pretty soon, I discovered that each hour became a day, each day became a month, and each month became a year. The simple choice to make each day count imbued me with a sense of mission, allowing small victories to be lodged along the way. Until cumulatively, they added up to the equivalent of an emotional skyscraper, ensuring that victory was just within reach.

Reaching a Place of Acceptance

To say that I have reached a place of “self-actualization” – a reference to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – would be nothing short of an exaggeration. There are days where I still struggle greatly with my appearance, looking in the mirror and longing for full restoration. Sometimes I have to fight the instinct to hide when faced with the prospect of meeting a stranger, worried that they might notice the red scars dotting my face.

Yet at the same time, I know that my scars have come to symbolize something far greater than my own experience. Others have drawn their strength from my scars, reaching deep into my experience in order to procure a few gems to grab ahold. My scars are no longer my own; they belong to the world.

Sharing Your Scars

There are many aspects of my past life that I truly miss; yet, there are parts of my new life that I am not sure I would rather live without. In a world filled with suffering and tragedy, we are forced every day to hold these two feelings in tandem.

To balance feelings of both sadness and joy, choosing to view our troubles through either a more positive or negative lens. We can choose to learn from the scars we have incurred, carrying these lessons forward as we confront new challenges in the future. Or we can hide our scars, clinging to a desire to deny who we have become.

The author pictured a few days after surgery.
The author pictured a few days after surgery.

In the wake of my most recent surgery, I resisted the temptation to cover the areas recently re-opened by the doctor’s knife. Instead of shuddering each time I passed a mirror, I walked closer in an effort to get a better look.

Eager to avoid letting this moment of emotional growth pass me by, I stood behind the lens of a camera in order to forever capture the moment – despite the fact that I looked and felt as if I had been hit by a truck. For I now see my scars as a badge of honor, marks to be proud of rather than to hide.

Embracing your scars is a daily choice, an active decision to celebrate rather than to mourn. We can do both, even at the same time. As long as we refrain from losing sight of the gift of life; and, do all we can to strive towards reaching that ever elusive, wildly nebulous stage of true acceptance.

How did you come to peace with your scars? Leave a comment below and hit the like button if you found this story inspirational. If you have your own story to share, get in touch with us. We can help you bring your story to life through our community.

Samuel Moore-Sobel

Samuel Moore-Sobel is nearing completion of a memoir focusing on his experiences revolving around both trauma and recovery. To learn more about how to embrace your scars and become the person you want to be, subscribe to his free blog today by visiting http://www.holdingontohopetoday.com/

This Post Has 51 Comments

  1. yes i believe that Embracing your scars is a daily choice, might not be physical scars but something else each person according to it’s necessity…. thanks for this mind blowing content

  2. This is a truly motivating peace. And, I am applaud you for your brevity for facing your scars. I wish I had that much courage to live in with my scars.

  3. Thank you for highlighting this, I think society make us think it isn’t the norm to embrace it.

  4. Great article, we all have scars, and I agree we shouldn’t be scared to ask for help when needed!

  5. I have one scar on my legs because my relative throw the glass ashtray accidentally but for me because it’s already 16 years in the past. I just think that this is my part of my childhood life no grudges.

  6. I agree with you. Everyone have scars. Thanks for this amazing guide to come up to peace. It’s really good.

  7. Thanks for such wonderful insights. This was a great read. You have shared something that will come of help to everyone.

  8. I was looking for something similar but not able to find. Lucky me I saw your blog. Thanks.

  9. What a positive take on such a delicate situation. Great job creating that positive mind shift for yourself!

  10. I love this. While my scars aren’t visible, they are real and they stop me from living my best life. It’s important to realize that these scars make us the person we are.

  11. Great piece! I so agree with you on espousing an attitude of gratefulness. Really enjoyed this

  12. Thank you for sharing your experiences. We are sure it will help a lot of people who are not comfortable with the scars they have. Best.. Backpacking Series.

  13. Everyone has scars. It is hard for most to talk about. Thank you for sharing your story. It will help others who are trying to heal from their own scars.

  14. I completely agree that we learn from our mistakes and scars. Great post!

  15. So sorry about the accident with the acid, but I truly believe we all can learn from not focusing on the outer appearance and really seek to find the beauty within.

  16. Such an inspiring read- something I needed to read today

  17. Great read, thanks for sharing your journey.

  18. they say you must learn to love your flaws and embrace your scars to bring out a better you

  19. This is a very comforting post. Being comfortable in your skin is always the best course of action

  20. experiences that causes the scar is mostly deep when its with our love ones. this article is helpful and can connect. I just stay positive and prevent mending or indulging into such hurtful memories.

  21. Wow! What a powerful post. Thank you for sharing your story so it can help others

  22. This is so inspiring, I loved the fact that you not only emphasized on scars in term of the physical. I am so glad you realized that the scars formed within you can be conquered.

  23. Very inspiring! We can all learn from your approach to dealing with adversity. Thank you for sharing your story.

  24. My scars is when by both brothers passed away trying to save each other and watching it happen. its a scar hard to fade. Yet this is an inspiring post to somewhat deal with it

  25. People out there need more articles like this to stay motivated and always think no matter what happens they are beautiful from inside and out

  26. If we are talking about a literal scar, yeah it is painful at first. But as time it heals, it became part of our system, and our whole life story.

  27. “For now i see my scar as badge of honor, marks to be proud of rather than to hide” i love the courage showed no matter how many times you’re on the brink of collapsed and yet u always find courage to get back up again…….

  28. This is so beautifully written! His ability to share his life and focus on the positives takes such strength.

  29. Such an inspiring story! Me too I have red patches on my face and I’ve realized I’m always hiding from people. Then I started to embrace it I don’t care what other people will say. Sometimes it’s how we deal with the problem. Friends and Families who are always there can lessen the feeling of insecurity. We need to be positive in every aspect of our lives. Thank for you for sharing your story.

  30. “We control our perspective, even when we lack the ability to fully shape the arc of our life’s narrative.” Your quote is literally the key to life. Reminds me of one of my fave books: As a man thinketh.

  31. Thanks for sharing! A family’s love is very important

  32. For me, the scar caused by heartbreaks is the hardest for forget. It leaves no trace but bleeds when it’s all quiet.

  33. Thanks for sharing your personal story. Takes a lot of courage. Your words are inspiring to show one’s scars and come to peace with them.

  34. A great motivational post. Sharing personal experiences help people to get motivated if they have the same problem.

  35. We all have scars. I love mines. It make me me.

  36. Thanks for sharing this. We really shouldn’t be ashamed as they’re part of our journey. It’s difficult to come to terms with it but at least we’re trying!

  37. I agree. I feel that blogging has become a safe place for many of us to share our stories, our scars, and also connect with others who can empathize.

  38. My husband and I have tons of scars between the two of us, neither of us has looked at them as a bad thing. I know some scars can be a lot bigger than others but it shows how strong that person is for surviving through it.

  39. Your writing and photographs are deeply moving. Our scars remind us of what warrior men and women we really are. Thank you for sharing with us.

  40. What an inspiring post. It makes me happy to hear you’ve come so far in your journey and I hope the bad days get further and further apart 🙂

  41. It takes a great deal of strength to be able to live with your scars

  42. So true, and I think it ii is definitely a process that may look different for everyone

  43. Thanks for the inspiring words. I have many mental scars that I’ve had to deal with but believe by working on them, they have made me the person I am today.

  44. We have scars that remind us how strong we are and how long we have travelled

  45. I always hesitate before asking for help – but that’s my own traumas that come to bug me. Thanks for sharing.

  46. I too for many years, was very aware of a huge visible scare I have right in the middle of my legs. Because of it, I would not wear any skirts or dresses…then after awhile I realised how silly I was being, I embraced it, accepted and now it’s just part of me. Very inspirational post. Thanks for sharing

  47. Great post! Having scars or even stretch marks is hard to deal with. It takes a while to finally be at peace with them.

  48. Sometimes we have embarassing scars, but when we learned to make peace with it and its story, we can move on with our lives smoothly.

  49. Emotional scars here cloaked in sunshine.
    Am getting there slowly but surely.

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