Sunday, August 7, 2016

Emotional Scar Gel

A few months ago my seventeen-year-old daughter fell and had to get stitches on her knee. She now has a sizable scar just below her right kneecap.  We got her scar gel, a topical application which is supposed to "reduce the appearance, color, and texture of scars."  I am so glad that there is a product out there that can mitigate the effects of physical scars.  But what do you do about mental and spiritual scars, which run much deeper and cause much more long-lasting pain?

Emotional scar gel is harder to find because it has to come from within us instead of on a shelf at the drugstore.  It CAN be found within our hearts and our minds however, in the form of things like:

Belief in a better tomorrow.
Opening up yourself to receiving love.
Doing what makes you happy.
Following a passion.
Having faith in something bigger than yourself.
Putting the past behind you once and for all.

Yes, you have every right to be upset, angry, frustrated, indignant, sad, and vengeful about how you were treated and what happened to you.  It was cruel, wrong, unjust, unfair, painful, undeserved and unjustified.  But feeling those feelings every day instead of feeling happy and hopeful about the life you have created for yourself NOW only leaves you flailing around in all of that sadness and despair that was caused (most likely) a long time ago. Or even a short time ago.  By clinging to those scars and what caused them, you have no freedom to pursue love or creativity or true happiness. You are essentially living in the scar, instead of growing healthy tissue around it.

Look at professional surfer Bethany Hamilton.  She lost her entire left arm to a shark attack.  Did she let herself be defined by that immense and incredibly conspicuous physical scar? Not even a little bit. She returned to surfing one month after the attack, kept competing and winning surfing competitions, plus wrote a best selling book, has appeared on multiple television shows, had a major motion picture made about her life, and played herself in a major film.  Along with all of that, she also fell in love, got married, and gave birth to a son in 2015.

If she had given up surfing, given up competing, given up on her once planned-out life, it would have been expected and considered a reasonable reaction to what happened to her. In short, she got a free pass to let her disfigurement define her. But my guess is she would have been unhappy and unfulfilled every day, letting the scar rule her life and make the rest of her life decisions for her, regardless of what her mind and heart desired.

She is the perfect example of someone who moved past her injury to immense success and boundless joy.  Each of us has sustained injuries, both physical and emotional, and if we are able to move past them - administer our own emotional scar gel to ourselves - then we don't allow outside circumstances or occurrences determine our ultimate happiness or well-being.

Scarring is a natural part of the healing process.  And scars can be a good reminder to not put ourselves into harm's way.  But every scar is proof that we can survive whatever life throws at us, and that we are able to truly heal and move on from each one.

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