Thursday, 11 May 2017

A Map of Me.

'You'll have a bad scar,' the GP says, peering down at my exposed tummy as I lie flat on my back on the nurse's bed. I shift myself a little, tearing the paper towel beneath me, to get another glimpse at my staples and holes. This has been the first re-dressing appointment when I haven't cried – but now I might.
I'm ashamed. Because my first thought upon hearing this was: I can't have another scar! As if I've filled my quota already, aged only 23? As if, indeed. I have a long way to go yet. 

I've gotten to know my body well, in recent years. And it's served me well, in recent years. It's taken the worst trauma and made it the brightest light; it's bounced back, seemingly quickly, but secretly it's been a hundred year fight. You can only just see the evidence – if I let you. The scars, the marks...they're part of me and they tell my story. 


There's the obvious, the dent and strip on my scalp. Hair doesn't grow along that line any more, and I hide it with a fringe. I loved it then, bloody and full of staples, and I love it now, hidden to many but always visible to me. I also have the classic school years scars; chicken pox puckerings on my legs, a BCG button, wriggling lines on my knees from the years falling over in the playground. Silver waves on my inner thighs catch the light and remind me of teen years, of growing pains.  

I have moles and speckles, too. One on the back of my right hand, a pair of twins occupying the same spot on each thigh, and one slightly raised on my arm with a tendency to sprout teeny hairs that I'll diligently pluck. Three make a triangle on my cheek. 

And let's not forget the ink. I have a lot of that, these days. Deliberate inkings that acted as protests and indulgences; me reclaiming my skin and taking back control of my body. The needles stabbed and scratched as they drew on me, I watched the artists frown in concentration and make the beautiful things appear. One artist grew flowers on me, one on my ribs and a bunch up my arm, spreading and blooming most perfectly. I gave another artist some words, in the unique handwriting of my favourite people – they were written upon me within minutes, and will be forever.
When the nurses were washing me, weeks ago, they read some of the words and they asked 'did that hurt?' I showed them some other inkings, bigger, heavier ones, and let them be fascinated. The gasps of amazement and nods of respect were delicious. 'They're worth the pain,' I said. 

My body is a collection of markings and memories. It's a map of me. Some lucky folks will see what's beneath the dresses and tights, the big scarves and heavy silver adornments – and maybe someday one will know the intricacies of the map like the back of their hand, and they'll be well versed in the language my mind speaks. They'll never own it, though. It's all mine, and it's where I belong. 
This scar forming on my abdomen will simply be a reminder of something else - yet another time I was brave, and my body suffered before healing, for me. 

I will someday leave this world, the soul I am will escape the skin, and I will leave behind a form of myself that has been loved, so loved, by myself and others – and it will have been lived in

21 comments

  1. Grace this is so beautiful!!!!! Amazing post well done xxx
    Laura -http://lifebylaurax.com/

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  2. Grace, you and your writing are endlessly beautiful. Thank you for sharing this, I have too many scars to count and some days it's hard to love them. But you've made me see that I need to.

    Sarah
    www.sarahschapter.co.uk

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and being lovely always, you total angel. xxx

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  3. Your writing style is beautiful, and I admire your bravery. Completely agree about tattoos, it feels so freeing to take back control :)

    Em || asmalldistraction.co.uk

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    1. Thank you so so much - it really does feel freeing and so *important* to customise your body and reclaim your skin with some ink! x

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  4. Love it, I love all of my scars and stripes!

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    1. YAY! That's so great to hear, gorgeous x

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  5. I dont find it so easy to be proud of my scars as they remind me of bad experiences that I have had. However I appreciate the fact you are very open about you're body and scars. I'm impressed with you're outlook and enjoyed this read. Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thanks, Mylo. I understand it can be hard to love, or even like, your scars and marks. Maybe someday, but no pressure to now. Thanks so much for reading!

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  6. Oh, Grace. This resonates with me so much! This story could be my story. I also have a terrible appendix scar and, of course, the various adornments that come with being a cancer survivor. I used to resent them, but now they're gloriously mine and a reminder of what a warrior I am! Wishing you a speedy speedy recovery and knowing you'll claim the strength that this experience will give you. You're a darling xxx

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    1. My darling Suzy, we are two peas. You get it. I think there will always be a sad time - almost a mourning period - in the beginning when a new scar appears or a mark emerges. But gradually we all come to accept and then love them. You are the most badass of all the badasses in this land! xxx

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  7. So beautifully written Grace. Your body is a unique story and a bloody brilliant one at that xx

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    1. Thank you so much, gorgeous Katie. Huge love x

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  8. This was beautiful writing, and a beautiful sentiment!! Glad I found your blog! :-)

    - dani, dansy.co.uk

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    1. Oh my goodness, thank you so much - I'm glad you found it, too! Will be checking yours out now, of course ;) x

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  9. This is how I feel about my body. My stretch marks, cancer-related scars, my hair which grew back after chemo... couldn't have put it better. Thanks for writing this, Grace.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading - you are such a hero yourself x

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  10. This...this is absolutely stunning Grace. We all have these different journeys our bodies have taken, and will take, and I think people need to see this post to understand they shouldn't be ashamed for the story our flesh and bones want to tell.

    Meg | Elmpetra

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  11. This is so beautiful. Scars feel like badges of survival to me. My legs are covered in the scars of the meningitis that nearly killed me as a child. I first started trying to cover them, but now I wear my shorts with pride. Because I am the lucky one. The one that beat it and came out with just a few scars. Every scar has a story from the slip in netball on my knee to the failed handstand on my elbow and the operation on my foot. They make me unique.
    Kate xx

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  12. you're writing style is beautiful.

    Beth
    allthebrightplaces.ac.uk x

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