Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tree Hugger

When someone has undergone as many surgeries as I have over my lifetime, it's difficult not to look in the mirror and see the resulting scars as imperfections in what used to be a smooth surface.  The idea of anyone seeing my scars, whether it's from wearing a bathing suit that doesn't cover them all or while in the arms of a lover, is enough to cause some insecurities.

I had my first major surgery at 13, during which part of my right kidney was removed. That was before the days of widespread use of laparoscopic techniques rather than open incisions. Instead of a few tiny incisions, I was cut from my back, around my side to my front right side. I recall the first question I asked my surgeon the first day he made rounds.

 "Why didn't you spare yourself some time and effort, and just use a sword?" And to think, those were the days BEFORE my feistiness was flourishing.

Fortunately, I was blessed with several long-term relationships over the years. As I continued to need an operation here, another one there, I started to feel like a tree that had been carved out. When I looked in the mirror, I saw flaws. At that point it was around 2001, and I was still well enough that I was dating and in a few short relationships. I was always self-conscious.

And then 2006 hit, and between then and now, I can't mentally trace my surgical voyage. It's a blur. My body's scars certainly told a tale of medical hardship, but there is unfortunately no timeline carved anywhere. 2006 was the beginning of my unintentional but absolute celibacy. I was too sick, too exhausted and too isolated to even imagine a relationship. It was a lonely but medically active time.

In the last year I have truly started to feel that yearning to get back into the dating scene. Just because I've been faced with my share of medical adversity doesn't make me a sick person. I am not defined by the conditions I have. They are parts of my life, but they are NOT my life. Especially with this most recent surgery, I have hopes for greater healing. My amazing surgeon has remedied issues that were a nightmare to endure. Now the only hindrance is my comfort level with my scar and it's most recent growth.

While I certainly feel modest about it being seen, I am probably more insecure about my weight than I am about my scar. After everything, my carved out tree may not be the prettiest thing, but it sure does carry with it a fair amount of grit and character. A bikini may not flatter me now, but I am proud of my scar and all the bravery and strength it represents. And whoever I am lucky enough to find as a mate will be just as lucky to find me. He'll be more than blessed to hug this tree.