Scars Speak

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What comes to mind when you read the word SCAR?

A scar can be left over from a surgery or a “trophy” on a veteran of war. It can be a reminder of a painful accident or a traumatic physical assault. And not all scars are visible to the eye. Sometimes we carry internal scars caused by wounds from a verbal assault, emotional or psychological damage.

“We’re stronger in the places we’ve been broken.” – Ernest Hemingway

One thing all scars have in common is they tell us that at some point in time, trauma occurred. They also tell us by their nature, the incident that caused the trauma happened in the past. The hurt may or may not remain, but the scar always does.

Some may look at their scars and be unaffected or even laugh because they don’t have any recollection of the actual incident. They may have had surgery and been under anesthesia. Or, they may have received their wound in an accident but their memory of the event has been erased.

There are some people, however, who have to look in the mirror and live with negative memories associated with their scars every day. They are the ones I’m writing about today. Scars caused by abuse, neglect or violence. Their scars are a constant and merciless reminder of pain. The relentless pain of hatred, rejection or violence against their person or spirit. Those memories summon our worst nightmares and haunt us with torment. Sometimes the scars taunt as if to say, “You deserved what you got” or “You’ll never be good enough. You’ve got the scars to prove it”. They are reminders of the powerlessness in abusive encounters. To some, a permanent warning sign to stay inside an imposed boundary. And they can’t be erased. The most we can do is cover them so the world can’t see. Because if the world sees them, they will wonder how our scars came to be, and we can’t bare to reveal or re-live the trauma.

Donita’s mother burned her with cigarettes and left scars from beatings with an iron hanger. Veronica’s uncle sexually assaulted her and her sister leaving a different set of scars. The pain of shame on top of sexual assault with the pressure of keeping a secret no girl should have to bare. Morgan’s arm is scarred with needle marks from a life she desperately wants to forget from her drug-addicted past. As beautiful as she is, Chandler wears scars under her clothes from cutting. No one knows because she masks it with a fake smile. Shauna wears long sleeved blouses and lots of bracelets to cover her wrists after attempting suicide. Makeup and jewelry cannot completely hide years of abuse to Trina’s face and neck at the hands of an abusive husband. Women and girls with faces and bodies acid-burned by their own husbands, fathers, brothers and family members–people they should’ve been able to trust to love and protect them. Every single scar from abuse cries out, “Why me?” Our faces, our bodies, our minds and our spirits are such a deep part of our identity. When we are assaulted in any way that is meant to inflict injury and pain by another, visible or not, it is inexcusable. When it is self-inflicted pain or abuse, we hurt and scar the same.

Thankfully, as the saying goes, beauty truly can come from “ashes”. We can rise to a better place. The other thing that all scars have in common is they Tell a Story. Your story. A very personal story. A painful story. A pain-filled story. But yours, nonetheless. So what’s so great about having a personal painful story? Nothing. That is, nothing in and of itself. But your scars, our scars, tell us and the world, “I am here!” They say without speaking a word, “I lived through it!” THAT is the story. THAT is the grace. It is your badge of courage. It says you are a fighter, a victor.

The truth is, the scars are proof that you made it through. You are meant to be here. And maybe one day, you will come to understand that you lived (or made it through the pain) to tell your story so that others can learn from it. And in so doing, what someone tried to take away from you, (your confidence, self-worth, freedom, identity, voice) ended up positioning you to give strength (and courage and hope) to another. And in the process, gave you back the voice no one could ever truly take.

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Deeply Hidden Memories

Many deeply hidden memories have come flooding back. The important message here though is that it is possible to heal and survive. Everyone has survived their own kind of emotional or mental trauma. We all have our inner fears and misplaced feelings of guilt. -Lynette Gould, Heart of Darkness: How I Triumphed Over a Childhood of Abuse

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15 Quotes about Suicide

Life ebbs and flows, and is forever changing. When darkness, pain, or despair feel like permanent companions, it’s important to remember, nothing ever remains the same forever. Darkness can lift. We can find relief from pain and sadness. And hope, though it may seem buried and no longer within reach, is still very much alive whether we feel it or not. Hold on because there are people that love you, dreams to chase, experiences and joys yet to be discovered, and most of all, because your life is a gift to you and the world, and it really does matter. Take courage… Choose life.

People never forget a friend or loved one who has succeeded in suicide. We carry it every day, not in the back of our minds, but in the center of our broken hearts. -Candace

Suicide is a desperate attempt to get out of what seems to be an intolerable situation. It appears to be a way of escape from the pain of living. -June Hunt

No one teaches you how to do this. How do you let go of someone who you love so much? -Kathy

When people kill themselves, they think they’re ending the pain, but all they’re doing is passing it on to those they leave behind. -Jeanette Walls

But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself. -Albert Camus

I feel as though the carpet had been ripped right out from under me, and I have been left to pick up the pieces of a dream that would never be fulfilled. -Katrina

Sometimes even to live, is an act of courage. -Seneca

It’s hell. But it is survivable. You have to understand that and take ownership of it: suicidal feelings and behavior are survivable. -Suicide Survivor

To have him gone forever is a pain that will never go away. -Bethany

Those struggling with life-threatening thoughts do not feel connected to others. They feel all alone— even alone in the midst of a crowd. -June Hunt

I’m the girl nobody knows until she commits suicide. Then suddenly everyone had a class with her. -Tom Leveen

Did you really want to die?
No one commits suicide because they want to die.
Then why do they do it?
Because they want to stop the pain.
-Tiffanie DeBartolo

She will never know how much she is loved. -Desiree

When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown’. -Kay Redfield Jamison

At the split second I hit freefall, I didn’t want to die. What did I just do? The voices were gone. I was right there, facing ultimate death… I said God, please let me live. –Kevin Hines

Psychologist, Dr. Sheldon Solomon says: We all have the capacity to create meaning and to lead rich lives. This is a possibility that defies nationality, class, and culture. We can all get through dark times; we can choose life, and we can come out stronger in the process.

Resources:

For help, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) anytime 24/7, to be connected with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area.

Learn More: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Tools that Can Help Save Lives (by Lisa Firestone, ph.D.)

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Sandy Hook: Community Matters

I began writing this post when thinking about the families who have experienced such great loss in the Sandy Hook shootings. We’ve all read and heard stories surrounding the fateful incident, one that has stirred a gamut of thoughts and emotions in all of us. In the midst of this dark time, I’ve been moved by the significance of community. Not just about being stronger together… but about being better together

History is filled with all sorts of accounts about groups of people who banded together and were strengthened by their numbers, but for all the wrong reasons. I want to bear witness to the people who come together for all the right reasons. Because of their intentions and solidarity, they leave an indelible effect in a community, a place, and a time, because they leave it better for having come together.

Over and over we hear testimonies of people in the midst of crisis who have felt pulled to “be there” for one another, and not just family and friends, but complete strangers. That’s just pure goodness and selflessness in a time when “self” has been so prioritized. How refreshing. One man said he got tired of watching the sadness and sorrow on his television set and decided to go down to where the victims’ families were gathering. In his words, he was compelled to go and just “be present” for strangers in his community. What strikes me about these simple gestures is they’re not about some big strategy about how to rush in and save the day, but simply about “being present” and “being there”.  

It’s about showing up when people need us most; and, it’s about showing up with what is in our hand to give at that moment. Sometimes we miss significant opportunities because we withhold or delay until we think we have “enough” to give. You being present, is enough.

We see an outpouring of compassion during the holidays, strangers being more thoughtful of one another, generosity in giving and also in spirit. It’s the one time of year when collectively, the world is a little kinder and a little gentler.  If only we would take hold of that spirit of generosity and thoughtfulness throughout the year.  One woman said, “After feeling so helpless in the wake of that tragedy, our little family of three decided we needed to do something–anything–to help”. It’s that tugging on our heart strings to treat others as we hope they would treat us if the tables were turned.

“Your strength and compassion (have) been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to me and countless others as we work to honor the memory of your precious children and our beloved staff.” (Note posted by Principal Donna Page on the Sandy Hook School’s website)

Again, it is the simplicity of human kindness that is so often what remains in our memories. Never underestimate the healing power of an encouraging word, holding someone’s hand (even if in silence), and heartfelt prayers. A principal who had experienced violence at his school in the past said, “We remember the love and prayers that were sent to us, and in an effort to pay that kindness forward, we wanted to send to you our love, our hope, and our faith, so that you may heal in your own time from this tragedy.”

When others are too weak, we hold them up. When they are numb, we help them feel. When they are cold, we give them some of our warmth. When they can’t speak, we simply allow them space and time.

Randy Caballero, a young boxer, started an event called Just a Little Something. He said, “When we bring this valley together, we can make anything possible.” So many people stepped up to do something over doing nothing. Sure they felt helpless and impotent to make any real difference. What do you say to a mother who has just lost her baby? What words can possibly comfort at a time like that? The point is, sometimes it’s not about words, or doing just the right thing, it’s about showing up, being there, and not letting those who are suffering suffer alone. From stuffed animals to bracelets, handcrafted items to flowers, balloons and memory books to poems and prayers—every little thing came together to form something very powerful, a community that locked arms (and hearts). The clear and indelible message was, “We are here for each other.”  

When victims’ families receive gifts and love notes with hope-filled words from strangers whose eyes fill with tears and hearts swell with empathy for a grieving mother and father—ones they will never meet–that means something. Fire Chief Stephen MacAdam said, “You see from the events this week, it really is a family, not just in one town, but right across the country”.

Whether it’s a mass shooting in an affluent village in the town of Newtown, Connecticut called Sandy Hook, or at Virginia Tech; natural disasters in now-familiar places like Joplin or New Orleans; or mass devastation and human rights atrocities in war-torn regions in the Middle East, Bosnia, or the Congo, the message doesn’t change. When we are “there” for each other, sharing our courage, faith, love, and resources, our communities are stronger, which means our children are stronger, and we are stronger.

“At the end of the day, the equation is in favor of what is good and what is human and what is giving instead of what takes away.” -Veronique Pozner (Mother of the youngest shooting victim)  Read the Article: “Noah Pozner’s Family Remembers and Mourns”.

The cousin of a Sandy Hook shooting victim wears a bracelet that was given out at his cousin’s funeral. It reads, “Ana Grace. Love Wins.” Yes, it does.

Photo by: ValleyIndy/Flickr

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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