Before everything that happened, my surgeon told me that I should prepare myself for the differences in my abdomen. We didn’t know the challenges that I’d soon face, that my anatomy would zig when it should have zagged. We didn’t know that there’d be drains and PICC lines and IV poles for weeks. We just knew that my stomach was hurting and we needed to figure out why.

Before everything that happened, I had what my doctor called a “virgin” abdomen. No scar tissue. No incisions. Just the same abdomen I had been born with, unscathed. Scar tissue is a tricky thing, she said. We can’t know how I’ll heal, she said.

Before everything that happened, I could look at my stomach in a mirror. Sure, I never loved what I saw, but my dislike was cosmetic. Over the last year and a half, I’ve grown to appreciate all the parts of my body.  I could handle looking at my stomach in a mirror.

The other day, I was trying on a potential bridesmaid dress in a fitting room. Florescent lights, multiple mirrors, all the things that make dress shopping the worst. And, like always, between dresses, I looked at myself in the mirror.

There are scars. Scars from surgery, scars from a drain here, and here, and here. Bright red, angry, violating scars. Seeing them all, from all angles, invading my skin like several tiny stab wounds, made my heart race. The room tilted and I started to shake.

These scars are haunting, a silent threat of how my body can betray me, how things can just break and life can just change and how I’m not sleeping well because I keep dreaming there’s another tube in my throat.

Someday these scars will be a reminder of how my body can heal, my strength, and the love of the people who saw me through everything. Someday these scars will fade and will become just a bad memory out of which many good things were born.

But for now, these scars scare the hell out of me. So I just won’t look at them for awhile.

This has been a post.

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