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Reflections About Scars

Almost 3 years ago, I was cutting a piece of metal very routinely, when the sawblade grabbed it, threw it, and left me with a nasty cut on my thumb. I didn’t ask to get hurt. I didn’t think what I was doing would hurt me. I had done it before, I thought I knew what I was doing, but that time it went wrong.

After the racket, everyone around looked up to see what happened and if I was okay. I shouted out that I was fine, then wrapped my thumb in a paper towel and ran away before anyone could see me bleeding.

The first thing I did when I got to the first aid station was drown it in alcohol, apply medicine, wrap it in a band-aid, and go about my day like everything was okay. I knew things weren’t okay when I started bleeding through the band-aid, but I just put another one on and went about my business.

By the time I got home, my cut really hurt. I wouldn’t tell the world, but it was getting harder to do basic things like hold the steering wheel or turn a doorknob. I wrapped my cut in gauze, knowing that I needed to care for it, but I tried my best to hide it because I didn’t want anyone thinking I was being dramatic, lecturing me about getting hurt, or worrying needlessly.

I should have gotten professional help. I should have gone and gotten stitches, even though it would have been unpleasant. I knew that then as well as I know that now, but I denied it and ignored it and kept applying band-aids and medicine and alcohol in hopes that my cut would go away.

It did heal. It healed slowly, but it got there. Slowly it quit hurting quite so much, slowly I was able to go back to doing things like normal. However, it left a scar. The scar isn’t long, it doesn’t look gruesome, but it runs deep. The scar tissue is tough, much tougher than the skin around it. I can’t feel anything where the scar is, but I can feel the dead space where I quit feeling. From time to time, the tissue around the scar hurts, just enough to remind me that it’s there, and that it will always be there. Bending my thumb feels a little different than it used to. It works just fine, but it will never feel quite the same as before.

One day, the scar tissue may build up so much that it causes problems. If that happens, I’ll need surgery to remove the scar tissue. That could have been avoided if I had sought professional help and gotten stitches when the cut was fresh. If I had done that, the scar would have been much smaller, and in time I might have forgotten all about it. That ship sailed though. The scar is a part of me. It doesn’t bother me much, but I definitely know it’s there.

Some of my coworkers said they had also gotten hurt trying to cut that same piece of metal, and that I was lucky I wasn’t hurt more seriously. One guy broke his finger doing exactly what I was doing. I felt silly for not knowing any better, but there was some comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had gotten hurt like that. I was ashamed every time they saw my thumb, but they didn’t judge me for it. They wouldn’t have wanted it to happen to me, but they understood exactly what happened. They were glad to hear I was okay, even if they didn’t know just how deep the cut was.

What did I take away from all of this? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t hesitate to seek medical help when you’re hurt. Sometimes keeping things managed with temporary fixes just prolongs the suffering and causes rough healing. You may need painful intervention later if your scars cause more damage under the surface. Healed scars can be tougher than skin, but they still stand apart from your skin as permanent reminders of the trauma you went through. Scars can go far deeper than they appear on the surface, and affect the way you feel in ways you only barely notice. Don’t hide your hurts. People are surprisingly understanding, and may have gone through the same thing. It’s not your fault you got hurt.

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can i share the absolutely weird but maybe funny thing that came to mind when I Saw that pic? SheetMetalThumb hehe :smiley:

I LOVE this post so much, this is like an old fable chuck full of deep meaning.
I’m sorry that there was so much pain associated with it, and I genuinely thank you for sharing it here. It reminded me of this other story I read, if I may be permitted to share it here?

I hope others benefit from this awesome post!

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That’s a great story about the broken window, and it’s absolutely true. I have figured out how to “selectively procrastinate.” For some things, I lack motivation until a deadline pressures me into moving. For other things, even though I know I’m setting myself up for needing to make greater effort as a result of fascinating, yet I procrastinate anyway. It reminds me to be humble, and laugh at myself sometimes. It feels as though if I allow something “procrastinate-able” to be put off, it somehow satisfies the need to procrastinate, and I’m more likely to address the issues that should not be put off.

A few days ago, I had a repair project that I dreaded, and fully expected it to take several exhausting days to complete. The procrastination gremlin kept tapping me on the shoulder and telling me to take a nap, but I decided that my reluctance to do the job would only increase if I put it off. As it turned out, it only took me one exhausting day to complete the work. So now, I’m a little bit proud of myself. :blush:

I’ve had my share of injuries over the years, most of them involving work. Stuff also happened to me in my childhood as well. When I was five years old, add a family gathering, we were at the beach, and someone was grilling on one of those tiny 1 foot off the ground grills. I was walking kind of close to it, and suddenly a bunch of grown-ups turned towards me and started yelling. Since they were all yelling at once, I couldn’t figure out what any of them was trying to say, but it freaked me out, so I started backing up. I backed right into and sat down on the grill! That memory is still pretty vivid. I don’t know why that story came to mind, but I figured it might be entertaining.

I’ve needed stitches a few times. I’ve also needed stitches sometimes and didn’t get them. I lost a fingertip as a child, and my parents didn’t much believe in doctors. They did fabricate a splint that prevented the finger from bumping into things. It healed beautifully, although a bit shorter than it used to be. Conventional wisdom would say my parents were being neglectful by not taking me to the doctor, but I’m pretty sure it doctor would’ve stitched it, and it would not have healed without being distorted and scarred.

Besides injuries that weren’t quite my fault, I’ve also done some stupid things. I fell off a ladder more than once. I crashed through a window when a ladder collapsed. I have both fallen through a roof, and off of a roof. I cut my leg with a chainsaw, and dragged my fingers across a spinning saw blade. I could probably go on all night about cuts and bruises and strains. I even drilled a hole in my wrist once.

My most recent mishap happened about a week ago. We received a new dryer, and the vent needed to be changed from a rear discharge to one coming out the left side. This involved complete disassembly of the dam thing. The insides of it are full of insanely sharp edges, and I ended up with a full thickness slice about 2 inches long on my right forearm. Yeah, I should’ve gotten stitches instead, I just wrapped it and taped it. I’m one of those healthcare providers who often doesn’t follow his own advice. I got away with it though. Within three days, the wound was closed.

With all that said though, my advice will always be, when it comes to physical health, don’t procrastinate in getting your needs met. Actually, the same is true for emotional health.

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goodness, that’s quite a laundry list you have going there of adventures and misadventures! Thanks for sharing, it brought me a chuckle even as I cringed at the thought of you going through and off the roof!

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There’s everything in your reflections about scars here. It is brilliant and very thoughtful. The lessons you have learned from it really speak for themselves too.

I read your post a second time and couldn’t help but thinking about it through the lens of my own traumas, hurt, and depression. Shed tears too.

Not asking for the hurt, the fear of being the center of attention, of being judged, of judging yourself, the solitude and the long, long denial as we hope that the pain will fade away by itself. So many times our first reaction is to push things away as thinking that taking care of it differently would mean that the situation would be really bad, while the waiting and loneliness are what causes the situation to get worse.

I’ve waited for so long before getting to therapy. I’ve waited for so long before saying “I have a depression”. I’ve waited for so long before saying “I was raped”. I’ve waited for so long before accepting to try medications. I’ve waited for so long to set boundaries with my parents. I’ve waiting for so long before telling myself that it wasn’t my fault. I’ve waited for too long before holding my brother’s hand for the first time.

The waiting is not worth it when we are hurt and when silence is kept at our own expense. It prevents love and compassion to be more present in this world, to be expressed in our very own little world.

Just don’t wait. At worst, your situation remains the same. At best, you are welcomed with healing and welcoming arms. The shame, the fears, the guilt, the loneliness - they’re not worth it. They’re never worth you. You don’t want to be in the position of asking yourself if late has become too late.

@SheetMetalHead Love you, friend. I am grateful for the possibility to know you, in the midst of all this randomness and gigantism of life. May all the scars that you’ve been carrying be reminders of how far you’ve come in order to finally meet yourself.

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@SheetMetalHead

This was brilliant and I’m still processing and will probably read it again. I just wanted you to know that. :hrtlegolove:

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I find a lot of humor in my unintentional yet creative approach to learning some things the hard way.

I wish I’d met you 40+ years ago! Thanks for the inspiration!

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I wish I’d met myself 15 years ago :laughing: Then again, I wouldn’t have listened. Now that I have the gifts of hindsight and perspective, I just want to be the person I needed in my own life. That’s how I can apply the lessons I learned the hard way.

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