Battlescars

In the process of beginning to upload past issues of The Cutting Edge I’ve been looking through the old issues. I’m always touched by the poetry, prose and artwork that people sent over the past 18 years. I’m glad that the newsletters will now be available through the web site (some are already posted, more will follow; each has editorial, contributor, and review sections).
Several different poets sent in poems that they used the same word to title their work. I remembered this when I came across one of them. It is titled “Battlescars.” I have been moved by each of the poems with that name and am reprinting one of them here for you:

BATTLESCARS

I lay my fingers tenderly upon them
some fine and white with age
some tanned brown, smooth and flat
Some raw. Raised. Angry.
Too new to be at peace with being.

I have been asked if I feel shame
over their being.
Shame?
Does the conscripted soldier
feel shame over shrapnel wounds?
Remnants of past savages.

My battle scars!

The undeclared war rages on
At times, the desire to abandon the fight is
Fierce
I am often dizzy from the wrath of the battle
Unsure of which direction leads us upwards
Conscripted to be part of this torment
Rightfully ensnared by the Furies

In the pale lull between skirmishes
I find reassurance in these fine lines and jagged squiggles
which bisect my arms, crosshatch my abdomen
Each one evidence of blood spilled into the swirling spiral
But each, too, evidence of a battle won
not without costs, but not without compensations.

I am.
Bottom line.
I am.

C.L. Davis

This poem makes me think of all the different reactions both I and other people have had to the scars on my body. Mine are still noticeable, though much more faded. I haven’t needed SIV in many years, yet the scars are still visible. Sometimes I’m aware of them and sometimes I’m not. On occasion other people notice them. Some ask questions, others just back away a bit. There are times I’ve answered questions directly, other times I simply lied. I’ve always wondered why some people feel comfortable talking to me about the scars even though I’m a complete stranger to them. It’s an interesting discussion I’d like to have with you. What are your experiences with scars? How do you feel about them? How do you feel about the scars of others? How do you respond to people who look at you or talk to you about scars? Let’s talk.

5 Responses to “Battlescars”

  1. Catherine E. Cook Says:

    Your words are eloquent. Thanks for the exellent workshop June 25th in Falls Church, Virginia. It remind me of a book by Dr. Ann Bowers I’m not ready to die yet. Healing, Catherine E. CookMiDiv, MA, QMHP Thanks for coming to trains us in VA!

  2. Jitter Says:

    Ah, summer; always an interesting time for me and my scars. This year is different, though. All but one are completely white on my arms. Conversely, the scars on my legs became hyperpigmented as they aged.

    Since my job requires a semblance of decorum, I am grateful for 3/4 sleeves – although they don’t cover those further down my arms. I try not to show the inner side. Once, one of the doctors where I work took hold of my (mostly covered) arm and remarked to the rest of the staff, “Look at this poor woman’s arms. She is covered with scars. What happened?” I babbled something like “Long story. It’s hard for me to talk about.” Somewhat mysterious and true.

    In my personal life, I have found exposure to be a little easier the longer it’s been since the SIV. The newer ones, like the circumstances which created them, are still raw, still crying out. This year, I have actually worn short sleeves out in public – but only where I knew no one would have an opportunity to ask. Let them wonder.

    Privately, I like most of my scars, especially the texture of the keloids. It comforts me to touch them. I don’t like the dark ones.

    Sometimes, it seems unfair. People have used other self-destructive coping mechanisms, stopped, and have no unusual visible vestiges. There is no outward evidence to spur outsiders to comment or question. I will always be scarred.

  3. Looking for the light Says:

    I have currently come to the realization that I will suffer from SIV for the remainder of my life. This new realization has scared me to seek counseling in an attempt to find an alternative to cutting or burning myself. I am not sure how many others have attempted to seek counseling and whether they had any success. I am learning it is a very specialised area. My family has either accepted my lies or has come to the realize they don’t want to know what caused my new various scars.

    Of late the desire to do bigger and more painful injury to myself has grown. I try to stiffle the desire but it only seems to increase with time and is more likely to catch me off guard. I have recently began a new relationship and am happy but yet I still look to injure myself. I am unsure of the cause or trigger as it has been to referred in this blog. I suppose that is what has caused my greatest concern; the not knowing the cause, the reason why.

    It is reassuring to know that I am not the only one suffering from SIV. I feel less like a freak of sorts and more like an individual that struggles in and out of herself for the release of pain. I started doing SIV when I was 7 or 8 and have lied most of my life about it. I also suffer from depression and suicidal tendencies. I am begining to realize that I have probably confused the two for years.

    I have recently gotten the depression under control and hope to at least slow down with the SIV. I would love to find other means that are less destructive to myself and yet let those around who love me to know that I am suffering/hurting. Thanks for the website and the information.

  4. Casie Ledin Says:

    I never knew this site existed. I’m so thankful I found this. I wish I would have found it a long time ago. I used to be embarrassed about my scars. But not anymore. Most of the time when someone asks I tell them the truth. Unless it is someone too young to know the truth. And if they choose to make fun of me. Then I know they have something going on inside of them and that is very sad for me. I have done all sorts of SI from cutting and burning to headbanging and swallowing things. And yes there is a difference between self harm and suicide attempts. And the unfortunate thing is some care professionals don’t see this. I have also been institutionalized many times because of my SI and that only makes it worse. And care professionals don’t see this either or there are some that just refuse to see it. But SI is an addiction. It helps me escape emotional pain. But I haven’t given up hope. So whomever reads this PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP.

  5. Deborah Dallalis Says:

    I have many, many battlescars, too. I have SI for over 20 yrs. It hasn’t been that long since I’ve stopped, but I am working a program called SMA to try and put an end to my battle on myself and redirect it. SMA stands for Self-Mutilators Anonoumus. It follows the 12 steps of AA. There are a few places that you can go to a SMA Meeting, or you can go to an on line meeting Mondays, Wednesdays, and/or Fridays. Further information can be found by looking up Self-Mutilators Anonoumus.com . Please, please don’t give up. I am so thankful I found a therapist who cared enough to do research and find this for me. He has also been a big help to me with the steps. I hope that this might help someone as it is helping me. Thank You.

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