Personal development

My scars say I’m still alive


A minor accident over the New Year period made Michaela van Nierop think about how internal scars are far more difficult to speak about and overcome than the ones we bear on the outside. Despite this, she explains that the internal and external marks shape who we are and become, but they are also a sign that we still alive and that life holds many more opportunities.

Now that we have stepped into a new decade, things should be different. Another opportunity to try again. People are calling it the “2020 vision”.

On New Year’s Eve, I fainted and hit my head on the side of a fireplace, cracking my head over my right eyebrow. I am guaranteed to have a scar there.

It got me thinking about scars. I am going into the new decade, with a slightly changed face. I am so used to internal scars; this one was a shock.

Several people asked what had happened. I probably needed a stitch or two, but naturally by that point it was too late. It fascinated me that the people who tended to notice first were mothers.

Unlike my internal scars, I couldn’t shrug this one off and act as though it hadn’t happened. It is on my face. I don’t think that is untrue of my other scars, but I think it just takes a more practised eye to see it and a more practised ear to hear what I am really saying.

During my various states of depression over the past few years, I always struggled to lie. Sometimes the hardest questions to answer were “How are you?” and “How was your week?” I don’t want to always be negative. I don’t always want to have the conversation circling around me. But I cannot lie. Well, I can, but very badly. And I also don’t want to. So instead I learnt tricks. I learnt how to tell the truth without actually revealing anything.

I learnt how to tell the truth without actually revealing anything.

I learnt how to tell real stories where I think most people thought I was exaggerating and thus found it humorous. I found ways to tell people how much I was hurting that seemed harmless. Only people suffering from mental illness or who had been raped saw through what I was saying.

These are the people who see the internal scars that you hide. Everyone has them for different reasons. But you can never compare one journey to another. You can never compare one story to another.

The weird thing about gaining a scar right before a decade changes, is that initially I felt like a changed woman, because my appearance had changed slightly.

But I came to realise it would so quickly become a part of me, just like my other scars. It would be there, telling a story, reminding me that I am still alive.

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* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.


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My scars say I’m still alive