I would like to preface this article with an observation and acknowledgement that I am fortunate to only have the small areas of scarring that I have, and that ultimately, the event that caused them could have taken my life. I am in no way trying to take away from anyone else’s situation, merely sharing and reflecting upon my own experience. -Imy Brighty-Potts
CONTENT WARNING: There is an image in this article of substantial scabbing and bruising, please do not read further if this will be triggering for you.
At two o’clock in the morning (roughly), I walked into a small two metre by two metre bathroom stall, sink, toilet, mirror, all crammed in, one crutch in front of another, ribs aching and eyes struggling to stay open. My mum and dad were in the emergency ward behind the bathroom door, talking in hushed, rushed tones, eager not to disturb sleeping snores, asking the nurse where I would go from here, what would happen tomorrow, and when I could come home. She didn’t know.
It was around then, after struggling down with a rail to assist me, to pee, I then stood back up, pulled my pants up, and looked in the mirror. I have never let out a cry like the one I did in that moment.
Looking in the mirror and seeing someone else looking back at you, is a terrifying, heartbreaking, and genuinely scarring thing. I do not exaggerate the pain I felt at that moment. While every bone in my body hurt, I was exhausted, and terrified, the thing that was hurting me most was none of those things. It was the pure fear and shock I felt looking in the mirror and seeing a grotesque, swollen, purple, bleeding face that did not belong to me, it belonged to a girl who didn’t make it off the side of the road, it belonged in a police file somewhere, not attached to my neck, tears running down her cheeks, mixing into the patch of congealed blood on her chin. Her chin. I was so desperate in that moment to let this person be someone who wasn’t me.
Because surely I wasn’t stupid enough to run out in the road, scare everyone like this, be THAT girl, an idiot, a mess. But then, how selfish of me to be so upset by my bashed up face, and ignore how lucky I was to even be alive. God, how selfish I am, how stupid I am. Or she is. Because the girl in the mirror did not look like the girl feeling all of these things.
Now, after eight months of healing, and progress, and less getting run over and damaging far too much of myself, I still find myself, looking in the mirror and feeling sorry for myself. I’ve never been smitten with my appearance, I’ve never loved my body or the way I look, how I dress or the way my nose sits, or eyes squint, or chin looks soft. But even after my scars have healed and my nose has found a new home further down my face, I am left with marks, reminders, of something that could’ve killed me, and brought me to the absolute worst I have ever felt.
As a feminist, and a preacher of body positivity, and self love, I have found myself at war. Am I not a feminist if I cover my scars because they make me insecure? Does that make me insecure, weak, a conformist of outdated norms of female beauty? No, am I less of a feminist for thinking that and not just doing what I want? Am I allowed to be sad? Am I allowed to let people see these? Am I allowed to hide them? Am I allowed to want to cry when I can’t cover them right, or am I allowed to hit someone when they point them out drunkenly?
POSSIBLE TRIGGER BELOW:
Some days, when I want to look pretty, want to try, I cry. Because I can’t make those reminders of my upset, irresponsibility and fear go away. I am constantly reminded of that pain. And then I realise how selfish and self obsessed an attitude like that is and I shake myself.
I have had men come up to me in bars and ask what’s wrong with my face, why it’s so fucked up, and I cry. I cry when I look at them some days, others I smile with pride, joy and pure luck that I am still alive to experience all the incredible blessings and gifts I get to enjoy.
It took something so shocking, something that broke 8 bones, and my mental state, to make me realise my blessings, how gorgeous life is, and how I should do everything I can to cherish it. But sometimes I also need to remember, that it’s okay to live in the past, in these scars, and to wallow. I ran my fingers over my stitches obsessively, and even though they’re gone, sometimes, I can still feel them there.
I don’t often delve into the emotions I felt over that period, I don’t indulge myself like that. I didn’t cry properly until a week after the accident actually happened, because I was strong, and didn’t feel like I could show just how shaken I was. But we are allowed to feel pity and fear, and let that show us pure happiness and joy. However I feel about the scars on my face, on my body, is completely valid.