Loving My Scars

 DSCN6944“Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.”  ~Unknown

 

 

 

I have lived my life with many scars.  Those visible childhood scars from when I fell off my bike.  Or the time my hand went through the plate-glass storm door…ouch and long story.  And then my first serious car accident where I hit the steering wheel (before seat belts-yes I am that old), and my teeth went through my chin…lots of stitches.

 

 

DSCN6215And there are the not so visible scars…I don’t mean the ones from surgery….mine from last year is still healing nicely, thanks for asking.  No, I mean those scars we hide inside.  When we were deeply hurt for the first time.  Mine was a Kindergarten teacher on my first day in a new school and she crushed my spirit...a scar that stayed with me, unseen even by me until a few years ago.  When it came bubbling up to the surface, I realized that this scar had led to some self-defeating ideas I had been harboring for almost 50 years.  WOW!

 

 

And the scars that built on that first one….the stories I believed about how I was not artistic, or creative, and yes Mr. Driver’s Ed teacher who said I would never learn to drive.  OK there are some who may have agreed with him (and secretly still do).  And my thesis team…those professors I had to convince I was worthy of passing by successfully defending my Master’s thesis….those who took pride and pleasure in trying to make me look not so smart or accomplished.

 

 

DSCN6957Yes, I could go on with the ruminations from when I started work….it is an endless reel of tape that sometimes plays in my head.  But at some point these scars tend to heal over only opening again when someone close to me, personally or professionally, would say something nasty.  And over the years I built up a thick skin around those scars so as not to feel them there.

 

 

But they are there.  I even built a high wall from all the bricks thrown at me over the years.  In fact, the wall became so high I began to feel suffocated, claustrophobic and isolated.  So I finally burst through the wall.  And instead of viewing my scars as something to keep hidden, I have brought them out to the light of day where I can see them, and they can heal.

 

 

I now view my scars as gifts….gifts that have led me down my path…the path where I am DSCN7502meant to go.  They are my strength.  They showcase my resilience.  And I am darn proud of them.  Sometimes I write about my scars here….it helps me to heal them, and sometimes it helps others.  I am not depressed or upset about them or the lessons they are teaching me….actually it makes me happier when I can talk about them, and then let them go.

 

 

So you see I really do love my scars.  Those that show the physical or emotional pain of my life….they are me…an important part of me.  They help me to continue to embrace my vulnerabilities.  Without them, I would never have been able to truly love my whole self, scars and all.  They have become a kind of Superpower that assures me that whatever is happening, I will have the strength to get through it.

 

 

DSCN7270I am still figuring out the “get through it” part.  For me, it is like putting on a soothing balm to heal the wounds and scars.  But it is an individual journey…we all process let downs, disappointments, and grief in our own unique way.  Sometimes I surrender and let go….sometimes I decide to walk away and not engage….and sometimes I fight head-on into the fire coming out a little scraped and bruised, but again wiser, stronger, and oh so much happier.

 

 

 

Note:   In the Language of Flowers, daffodils represent self-love.  And I chose white daffodils, as white represents light, goodness and safety.

 

 

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I leave you with another thought about self-love.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

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All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.

Seeking Vunerability

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 “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brené Brown 

 

The day my father died, I closed up my heart, shut out the world and the light….and plunged into darkness.  I was 40, had just been married (my dad could not attend due to his health), and now a pain, a loss too great to bear, had seared my heart.

 

But this covering up of my light actually happened 15 years before his death.  The day the doctors told us that our father had Alzheimer’s started me down that path of darkness.  And I could not bear to talk about it.  And who would or could talk to me?  Not my family.  If we didn’t speak about it, then maybe it would go away.  So we never did speak.  We still have not spoken about any of this even 16 years after his death, that is how painful it is to each of us.

 

I said my goodbyes six months before he died, when hospice was called in.  I flew from NY to AZ numb, so much uncertainty I just could not bear it.  We did not know how much time he had left so I wanted to see him even though he did not know who I was.  Do you have any idea how rip-out-your-heart awful it is to have your father not know you?  Not be able to talk to you even though he is sitting right in front of you.  It is a special kind of torture.  But that last time I spoke to him, he seemed to know me for just a minute or two…you could see the cloud lift from his eyes and the sparkle of life return.  I told him of the upcoming wedding, and he answered that was good…..which was code for I am glad you have finally found someone special.  And while his moment of recognition buoyed me, soon after I was plunged into a deep despair again knowing he would not be with me on my wedding day.

 

These deep rooted agonizing feelings have been with me too long now.  I have built up great pain avoidance so as not to deal with them…keeping them at arm’s length.  And with so much pain avoided, there was a lot of time wasted in my life.  Time where I just existed, but did not really live.  You see when I shut myself up, I avoided the world and all other feelings.  And that included joy, especially joy.  And while this is all natural you may say, I think it is the worst thing I could have done….because once started it is hard to stop the avoidance.

 

DSCN6056But even though the road has been slow and it took 16 years to work through, I have learned from these dark times.  I don’t avoid pain anymore.  Instead I embrace the pain and other discomforting feelings because they are an important part of me, and must be dealt with.  They do not go away if we avoid them.  They stay like a fog blocking the light from every part of our life.  And I have to say, I was pretty darned tired of the darkness surrounding my heart.  The high walls and shields built around me.

 

I no longer run from these vulnerabilities as they are sometimes called.  Please don’t call them weaknesses….being vulnerable is not being weak.  Being vulnerable is allowing your strength and courage to shine through as you embrace your weaknesses, your pain and sorrow.  Vulnerability is facing pieces of life that cannot be cast aside.  So how did I face mine.  I learned how to identify my comforts…what brought me to calm.  I learned to play more.  But I think my breakthrough came when I got to know my Superpower.  What is a Superpower, you ask?

 

In a course I took about vulnerability from Brené Brown, we were taught to look for this Superpower; our higher purpose, that which inspires us.  This was a life changer for me because now I could identify where my life flowed from…where my center could be found.  I found my Superpower was and is communication.  And this blog is part of that Superpower.  It all clicked for me one day, and I knew where I needed to head next in my life.  Where I had found my greatest joys previously when I was connected to this center….writing!  So now I write as therapy.  I write to stay in touch with feelings, good and bad.  I write to plumb the depths of my despair so I can shine a light on it finally…for when the light is there, darkness cannot stay.

 

And while the pain is still great when I think of my dad’s disease and death, I can talk about it now.  I hope to write about it in greater detail one day.  Without the darkness, my heart is open.  And life is renewed.  I am still feeling my way along the path as it is a bit rocky some days, but now I am walking down the road of life again.  Embracing all the uncertainties, seeking out those things I previously hid from…those vulnerabilities that now bring me the greatest joys in my life.

 

 

Note:  The Hepatica here represents Confidence in the Language of Flowers.

 

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I leave you with another thought about vulnerability and strength.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

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All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.