My body seems to like to produce scar tissue. I laugh and say I have always been an over achiever. I’m preparing for another scar revision surgery. My friend comments that the scars as depicted in the painting Susan Singer has done of me are really not as bad as she thought they might be. Certainly the first scars post shooting, glued and stapled, resembled something out of a Frankenstein movie. So yes, they are greatly improved, but still painful both physically and as a constant reminder of not just the shooting, but all I still hold inside.
It wasn’t just the names: slut, whore, bitch; nor the adjectives fat, blind (I wear glasses), stupid, crazy. It was not just the pinching, poking, pushing, hair pulling and occasional physical abuse.
I had a 4-5” long midline hernia surgery scar. I had an emergency procedure, and healed poorly; my first indication I was prolific at scar formation. He always said it looked like I’d fallen on a land mine. Said he hated my ‘yankee’ accent, my high pitched voice, my laugh. He insisted I wear makeup, all the time. Said I was a slob. A lousy lay. Complained about what and how I cooked. That I went to church. Jealous of not just time with my friends, but time with my God. Asked what kind of mother would (fill in the blank – go out with girlfriends, let her kids leave their toys around, leave her family to travel on business and on and on), said I was bi-polar, mentally unbalanced, crazy. He engaged in a daily, systematic effort to destroy me as I knew myself. He was insistent to define who I was, what I was incapable of doing. To further break me, he peppered it all with contradictory statements in the presence of others, which did leave me feeling crazy.
I spent so much energy fighting. Fighting verbally. Fighting emotionally. Fighting to maintain my identity. Defending myself. I was in a war that finally ended the day he shot me. Another fight began that day.
When I wake up in the morning, I have to consciously choose. It doesn’t come automatic like it probably does for you. Every day I make a decision to keep my victory, to not succumb in the darkness to the enormity of it. The scars a bitter reminder of that life, another life, as well as trophies earned for the will to survive, to live a full life, to be happy, content, no matter my circumstance.
I have held the shame in, sharing only small details. I feel blessed to be encouraged by another survivor to tell this in all its ugliness. Like the scars, it is a story incongruous with the cheerful, independent, devil may care girl I knew so long ago. The girl who as a woman is now trying to rediscover herself out of the shadows, in the bright light of day. The woman who lives day to day trying to dispel the words that echo, and reclaim the powerful words of that cheerful girl, that person God created.
“Even though I am here, I know the smallest thing – a song, a sound, a smell – can send me back there. I do not live here. I only visit.” Ann Hood, writer.