Scars, Stigma and Sadness

Today was sad. I had a beautician appointment with a new clinician. I hate those sorts of appointments, they bring up their own triggers and vulnerabilities every time. But this beautician in particular made things even trickier to manage.

I have scars over various areas of my body, and they were exposed. She made a handful of inappropriate (and highly unprofessional) comments. I will give a few examples of the things she said:

“Why do you do this to yourself? You are so beautiful and young”

“Aren’t you upset with yourself? Look at what you’ve done”

“You should really consider getting them covered with tattoos, then people won’t ask questions”

“But what will your boyfriends/ future husband think!?”  [This assumption is honestly the worst, I can’t stand such heteronormativity – UGH!]

“If you do it again, I’ll tell your Mum and she can sort you out”

“Oh babe, you’re crazy”

She kept on making comments, and we kept on going around in circles. I envisioned having a conversation with my therapist and her coaching me through the interaction. But even though I knew the interpersonal skills I needed to use, I was far from being able to implement them.

I left the appointment feeling a ton of mixed messy feelings. Her comments and attitude made me feel even more uncomfortable (quite literally) in my own skin than I already was. Everything she said highlighted and reiterated to me all the fears and self-judgments I have about myself. There I was, being told in so many words, just how unacceptable I am. It hurt.

The worst thing is, the woman was trying to be nice. She genuinely thought that she was being considerate and helping me with her oh so fucking fabulous words of wisdom. She had no idea about the impact of what she was saying. She had no idea how unaware and insensitive she was being. And I remained stuck, frozen, unable to stand up for myself. As always.

Nevertheless, ironically, all those feelings turned in on myself. Self-disgust. Self-hatred. “YOU ARE SO WEAK – why didn’t you DO something?”. Self-blame. Familiar feelings of inaction and paralysis. A spiral of shame. A desire to hide, to hurt myself, to destroy the unacceptable.

I am trying to remind myself that this is just the opinion of one woman. One woman who doesn’t know the first thing about mental illness, who lives in a world very different to my own, who is irrelevant to my life except for one hour every 6 weeks.

But I guess the truth in all of this is that I am sad. I am sad because my scars are a result of the things I have been through. It doesn’t matter what schtick I get for them, they do not exist for no reason. I am also sad because as much as they are a part of me, and as much as they interfere with my life, the only reason they do interfere is because of people like her. Inherently, I don’t hate my scars. I don’t see them as bad. They are mine and they are a part of my experience as a human being. I have come to accept them as a part of me – just one of many parts. But when others fail to see beyond that – when they judge my past, my present and my future on the physical marks etched onto my skin and fail to see beyond that – it is hard to not slip into judging myself in much the same way.

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15 thoughts on “Scars, Stigma and Sadness

  1. This may make me awful but I wanted you to just punch her in the face! I want to punch her. What a terrible insensitive human being! She didnt deserve to be in your presence. How dare she make those comments!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is so f*cking awful, I think people who are that ignorant/poorly trained/misinformed/insensitive should not be allowed to work “front of house” roles dealing face to face with clients or the general public.

    I’ve been humiliated so many times by bar staff, waiters, retail reps asking me why I’m shaking or have tears in my eyes or am sweating, and often laughing or mocking me, calling me silly or crazy or a nutcase. I always end up in tears and it makes me never step foot in the place again. It’s not that they’re necessarily malicious or being horrible or meaning to upset me but it’s just so insensitive and frightening and they have no idea of the breakdown that I have after their comments or how I will associate their bar/restaurant/shop/salon/office as a trigger forevermore.

    Be strong sweetie xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • This. So much.
      I’m so sorry you’ve experienced similar. It really does chip away at our insides especially when trying so hard to fight against and challenge all the negative beliefs we have going on inside!
      You are not silly not crazy nor a nutcase. You are sensitive and you are hurting and you are brave. You are a beautiful human being and those who cannot see the truth within us are blind. It is them who are at fault, not us. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am sad to read this, what an incredibly insensitive individual. She obviously lacks standard social filters, and probably genuinely thought she was being helpful. Which is actually even more disturbing. I no longer get triggered by comments about my scars, and feel incredibly empowered when I say they’re self harm marks from a time when I was mentally unhealthy. However I remember what it was like when I did still get upset about comments like that woman’s, and I hope to not forget, because it helps me stay mindful of other people’s emotional needs. It was awful. It can feel isolating, and almost like an attack! I hope you’re able to move forward into the week with more positive experiences and soon forget all about her 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This made me so sad to read the comments you were on the receiving end of. It makes me sad that people feel they can give out their ‘well meaning advice’ when it is not their place. You did not go their to receive her unsolicited advice!

    I have had similar. Not on her scale though and it’s a reason why I pick and choose if I ever go into a salon, I have to psych myself up.

    But I just wanted to share a positive that I experienced one time…, a long while back now, I did go for a massage at a local college salon. The young girl was very quiet, only really speaking when necessary, I think due to nerves, she was a student and I was her first member of public she had practiced on. But when she first came across my scars, instead of panicking or recoiling in horror, she asked me if it was ok for her to touch them or did I want her to avoid those areas. This remains one of the kindest acts I’ve ever been on the receiving end of. She may have had an understanding on a personal level, this did cross my mind, but the kindness and sensitivity she showed me that day was beautiful.💜

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow that sounds like a really profound experience – very respectful and sensitive of her. And definitely on the more rare end of the spectrum as I’ve never had that before. So glad you received that kindness from her 🙂 the world needs to be more aware of how to relate and interact with people of all different types. We are all worth that level of respect.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It shouldn’t be a rarity for human beings to show kindness to other human beings should it. Please don’t listen to that silly woman and her I’ll thought out words. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Your last paragraph really struck me. I appreciate that perspective and strive for that myself. Good work.

    These situations send me spinning, not even wanting to go back to the salon (or whatever). I’ve done it before: just abandon places and things I love because of these kinds of interactions. I work on that all the time… sucks.

    I’m glad that you are able to find supportive perspectives within you even when the negative thoughts make that so, so hard. When I have those moments of clarity, I think they’re gold but soon forget them when I get pulled into my delusions again.

    Like

    • Thank you, you are very kind. Usually the moments of clarity only come much later, or if I purposefully try to look for them. And I agree, they fade too, when the emotions of the next situations hit hard.

      Like

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