He Saw My Scars and Asked if I Owned a Cat

On my way back from Florida, after battling with myself all week about whether I needed to cover my scars or not, this is what happened –

My family and I were in the airport going through security. I was wearing short-sleeves, as I had done (albeit with difficulty) all week, and my scars were visible enough (despite my attempts to cover them up with medical make-up.) I was at the back of our family, lagging 2 suitcases, so the officer at the desk had to wait a little while longer for me to catch up and move forward in the line.

I thanked him and shot him my best smile, as a gesture of appreciation, expecting a “No problem!” or something of similar meaning. However, his response was so unexpected that I had to ask him to repeat himself:

“So do you have pet cats then?”

He asked, nodding towards my arms.

“Pardon?” 

I said. I wasn’t sure if I had heard him correctly…

“I asked if you have pet cats or something?”

He said, rolling his eyes, gesturing again towards my arms. 

I stood there, somewhat in shock. My heart started racing, my cheeks flushed a rosy red, and I felt my body go numb. 

If anyone has seen the film about Walter Mitty, you will remember his vivid imagination and impressive fantasising skills. This is exactly what happened to me right then:

An imaginary scene played out in my head in which I attacked this man, shouting abuse at him for his ignorance, lashing out at him physically, crying and losing all self-control, turning into the hulk, causing a scene in the airport….. and being dragged away by airport security personnel – to a room with white walls and booty-juice – to top it all off.

What actually happened was that my stepmum gestured to me to go over to her for comfort, 19 Year Old Sis gave me her jacket to cover my arms with, and 12 Year Old Sis gave me a cuddle and continued to check up on me for a while. (I am so glad that she knows the truth now, and that she is as accepting and compassionate as she is.)

I looked away from them all, desperately blinking back tears, feeling as though it was the end of the world. I felt like the most shameful piece of shit in existence. I was sure all the hard work I had put into showing my (albeit medical make-up concealed) scars over the holiday was for nothing. I was convinced I was being punished for allowing myself to expose this part of myself. I just wanted to disappear into the face of the Earth. 

Now that it’s in the past, I am calmer and able to mentalise: maybe he genuinely had no clue being from an older generation; maybe he was trying to be nice; maybe he thought I would find it funny; maybe he is socially impaired himself, etc. 

Although, having said that, my anger, sadness and shame at the time was totally legitimate; it was not a pleasant situation to be in at all.

At least I have a plan of revenge generated: One day I’m going to be proud to show the world who I am – imperfections, scars, and all. 

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4 thoughts on “He Saw My Scars and Asked if I Owned a Cat

  1. I’m sorry that his comment upset you. Whenever I go through an airport I cover my arms up as if I have my scars on show I always get drug tested and pulled aside for screening. I have learnt although that anyone my mums age and above is actually oblivious to what has caused the scars. They seriously don’t know. While I worked at KFC I had a few older men ask if I had been through a barb wire fence or something. I’ve learnt that people don’t try to upset you. When I went to Noumea my tour guide asked me in broken English whether I had done a sacrifice. Like k said I find people curious not rude xx

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    • Thank you… Yep I was only able to see this as a possibility once I had calmed down and could mentalise. It just really shocked me and tapped into my insecurities so I reacted quite strongly. Thank you for your perspective though, I’m sure you are correct. It was boiling hot and I was lugging 2 suitcases so didn’t cover up but probably will in the future – as shitty as that is.

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  2. “At least I have a plan of revenge generated: One day I’m going to be proud to show the world who I am – imperfections, scars, and all.”

    This is the best possible revenge ever! It took me years to be able to proudly wear shorts (I always cut my thighs and stomach) and not care if people saw my scars. Honestly, I’ve never been called out the way you were and I’m really sorry that happened to you. You’d done so much to try and cover them and I’m sure you were very self-conscious of them already (as I always am with my scars, even now). This sounds like such a horrible experience and I’m so glad that you were able to make it through and that you have such a supportive family.

    If I can ever be of any assistance or even if you’d just like someone to talk to, I am here.

    Good luck,
    Evan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Evan thank you so much! I really appreciate you validating how icky the experience was for me – and yes, especially as I was feeling self-conscious already and had made such an effort to cover them up with the medical make-up, precisely so that people would NOT make comments such as these!
      It’s great to hear you are able to wear shorts now. It’s not like I’m ever going to flaunt my scars off or anything, but I do think it’s so important for all of us to simply be okay with exposing our flesh, regardless of whether it’s marked or not. Everyone deserves to be and show themselves in every way…. I have to apply this to myself too 😉
      Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

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