What is the nature of an emotional scar? I believe it is all in how you look at it. You can look at it as an achievement badge, a lesson learned, a mistake to never be made again, a reminder to that moment in your past. I’m sure there are a lot of other things a scar can represent, but I choose to look at emotional trauma in those specific ways…most of the time.
When I talk about an emotional scar, let me first be clear. This is something that has hurt you, caused pain in some way, so as to bring about a genuine transformation in the composition of your very soul, a mark that you will carry for the rest of your life.
I suppose being a guy has a little bit of bearing on being able to look at pain in my past as an achievement badge. Almost a merit badge in a way. Personally, when I encounter somebody in my life, you get a sense through their eyes and how they carry themselves, their reaction to you offering your hand for a handshake or their acknowledgement of your presence, you get the sense of the kind of person they are. Emotional scars change you, from your smile and the way you talk right down to how you hold yourself and how you live your life.
Taken together, this initial snap judgment of a person encompasses all of their past life experiences and how they became the person they are in the present. Without scars, without trauma…what do you have? Even in a 50 year old man, you have a child inside. Not that it is a bad thing…but let me put it to you this way: If a child never burns itself on a stove, how is it to ever know the dangers inherent in getting close to things that are hot? Looking at it that way, the knowledge gained from pain in life, from things that hurt you bad enough to change your physical composition, are indeed badges to proclaim your understanding of the world.
I also view the scars of my life as lessons learned. I’m kind of borderline semantics dancing right now, but I don’t care, deal with it. Is there any sharper teaching instrument than the instrument of pain? There is a reason that torture has been with, and will continue to remain with, our species since the dawn of history. Because teaching a captive the lesson of “if you don’t tell me what I want to know, I will hurt you” is a lesson that is best taught through pain. Can you deny that every time your parents pulled out the belt, or wooden spoon; that you would most certainly remember the pain associated with doing wrong and make it a point of not doing wrong again? Things that hurt, scars, teach you lessons.
My memory is extremely clear when I bring myself back to certain points of pain in my life. Mom, Dad…I specifically remember breaking your master bedroom window in the trailer because I felt kicking the screen would be the best way to secure it. I remember getting in trouble for that was one of the worst punishments I received. I felt I had let you guys down and disappointed you. At that time in my life, that hurt more than any belt ever could. Emotional trauma. Granted, that was a valuable lesson during that time in my life and I believe I am a better man because of it, but it still sucked when it happened.
I think I focus on the lessons learned aspect of emotional pain above any other way I view scars in my life. It doesn’t allow me to wallow in self-misery, because I have lessons that teach me where that gets me. Taken together, you basically do your best to never make the same mistake twice. I feel that if I can live my life in such a way as to never make the same mistake twice, bringing myself back each and every time I encounter a situation similar to one I have already experienced, then I will be better equipped and able to successfully navigate that rough moment in time. I say that if I could never make another mistake of the kind I have already made…I would end up living a damn happy life! Because believe me, I’ve screwed up a time or two.
How do you view the emotional trauma of your life? Do you lament it, moan to the winds of your soul that you do not deserve this pain? Or do you learn from it, letting that pain heal? It leaves a scar, no question about that, but what do you do from there? Do you jab at that scar again in anger or rage or frustration? Or do you gaze at the scar in moments of quiet and remember how it got there, the lessons you took away from it, and work your best to apply those lessons to future moments in your life?