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From The Afterglow

Verses, Tales, Thoughts

By Varsha Panikar

The scars that you can't see

Have you ever taken the time to count your scars, the ones on your body? What about the ones within you—the ones that often hurt the most, the ones seared into your memory forever?

The thing about psychological and emotional scars is that they can't be seen, and some of them run deep—so deep that, at times, we fail to recognize them, and no matter how hard we try, they seem impossible to overcome. This is not to say it's impossible because some do find a way. Sadly, many don't; at least, not in time. Even though the pain rooted in our hearts and minds may pass, more often than not, the scar remains. Deep beneath the surface, it stays.


We all have scars that won't heal and won't stop hurting. Some fade and dull, while others stay bold and sharp. Some are easy to see or share, and some are not. Some scars force a negative emotional reaction or trigger an inability to handle certain events and behaviors. Some break us every day, like a never-ending nightmare. Some hide within us, patiently waiting for us to slip back. Some claw at the walls of our sanity, leaving us exposed. So, what do we do?


We create an exterior made up of lies to keep ourselves safe, while the inner wall continues to crumble a little each day. We try to heal it, or we learn to live with it, or worse, we get good at hiding it—so good that we convince ourselves it isn't even there. Until it regurgitates its poison and once again pulls out its dark, cold, and piercing claws that dig deep and affect our basic functionality and interaction with the world. Yet, we continue to walk through life with all this buried deep within us, without ever truly recovering from it. As a result, these scars get neglected and rarely receive proper understanding or empathy, continuing to destroy us bit by bit along the way. I wonder if this is human resilience or ignorance. You decide.


The point is, we are everywhere. You may have bumped into us on the street, in the gym, in the elevator, at your workplace. We may be someone in your family or your circle of friends. You may have seen us. You may even be us. So what will you do?


I personally have a strange relationship with my scars. Sometimes I see them. Sometimes I don't. Mostly, I just wish they were gone, but they are here to stay. They aren't going anywhere, at least not anytime soon. My scars cast a darkness so thick that I find it hard to find my way. I have no choice but to answer when this darkness calls my name. I may cover and hide, but I can't really escape. Sometimes it creeps up unexpectedly, rearing its ugly head, and I cringe at the sound of it, filling me quickly with dread. So quietly, so softly, it whispers my name and reminds me once more it is time for its sick little game. Old and familiar, the game remains the same. Over and over, the same hurtful exchange. The damage was done years ago in my youth, and I bleed from it now, no matter the truth. Bitter, unforgiving, always venomous and mad, this darkness destroys any sense of self that I have. So what am I going to do?


A part of me says, "Nothing," because it knows that somewhere lurks a new scar, waiting to be born and take its rightful place, and there is nothing I can do about it. I've tried to fight it time and again, but the results are always the same. So what can I really do? I will continue to be strong and carry on anyway, try to be true to myself, try to keep the monster at bay because I know that I must. I will continue to fight because I MUST! Sometimes, I feel that our survival instincts are starting to fail us miserably, but that's a thought for another day. In the meantime, I will write. I'll write the emotions that rage within me. I'll continue to fall and rise from this darkness I nurtured inside of me. I'll slowly learn to let go of these scars that hold and bind me, that sometimes paralyze me. I will let them rip me to shreds and then build myself up from it, again and again, until they lose all control over me. I will open up the wounds that gnaw at me and demand a truce with them before they consume me. I will place my faith in hope and wait until I don't overcome them or learn to embrace them so I can make peace with them. Granted that there is also a possibility that I might never triumph over this darkness, but there is comfort in knowing that the pain does subside a little, each passing day, it does subside.


So while I sit here wading, brooding in the depths of these thoughts, I can't help but wonder, what if these scars were visible? What if they could be seen as they formed? Would people be more cautious? What if our moods could be seen as colors? What color do you think we'd see the most? What if we could see the damage we cause? What if our thoughts could be seen as dark and light? What do you think would happen? Could it make a difference?


You decide.

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