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Scar Tissue

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” — Jalaluddin Rumi

On my finger, there is a tiny scar. It’s hardly noticeable really. I got it a few months ago while making dinner. One slip of the knife while cutting corn on the cob, right on the middle knuckle. My minor drama went unnoticed by others in the room, as they were distracted by visiting deer outside the window. Though small, the cut was deep. I quickly dabbed it with antibiotic ointment and wrapped it fairly tight so that I would not absentmindedly bend it and break it open again. The wound throbbed with pain. For several days, I dutifully reapplied ointment and a fresh bandage. It was over a week before I mustered up enough courage to bend it.

Though the scar was tiny, it was tender beneath. Scar tissue formed. I knew if left alone, the tissue would continue to form and harden. In the beginning, scar tissue is necessary. It molds around the wound, keeping all of the parts as they should be. But left unattended, scar tissue begins to bind the very part of the body it was developed to protect. Instead of healing, it becomes a hindrance to movement or growth. The scar tissue must be broken open.

Avoidance is natural, because it hurts the very place we have protected so that it could heal.

To break open scar tissue, we must move it, stretch it, massage it. This causes pain, but a different kind of pain. Initially the pain is sharp, but with continued work, tissue begins to break apart, to open up, to release. Where before we were limited, we are able to move again. We breathe freely now without the worry about reopening the wound. All that is left is a line on the skin, a memory of the pain.

Not all scars are visible. Some are emotional, lying deep beneath. The scar tissue that forms will harden so that it appears to be a natural part of who we are. But it is not natural. Left alone, it will stunt growth. Instead of protecting from pain, it now causes it. Dissolving the tissue does not require us to reopen the wound, but instead to allow ourselves to feel the pain, to grieve it, to release it, until all that is left is the memory of what was. Simple but not easy.

Scars are not ugly parts of us that must be hidden. They remind us that we have faced pain and survived, that we can heal and be whole again. They are beautiful parts of our experience that help to make us who we are. If we allow it, compassion and empathy are born from our wounds. We learn to love more fully ourselves and others. We set healthy boundaries in our lives. We share our experience to help others grow. And in doing so, we become more fully who we are meant to be.

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