A Stretch Marked Heart

I’ve always found other people’s scars interesting but even more so now. Scars are a visible clue into someone’s  riveting backstory. I’m not the only one who is intrigued by these markings, Brene Brown has said, “I found the work of people whose hearts are stretch marked and scarred to be far more profound than clean shiny new hearts.” Three years ago I would have rejected this quote as just another way of writing off youth and innocence for experience and pain. Back then I empathized only with the shiny new heart since I didn’t yet have any carvings of my own. I hadn’t yet experienced being diagnosed with cancer at 27 years old, finding out I would become infertile from treatments, and then living through two surrogate enabled miscarriages.

Initially, these traumas felt like a stranglehold leaving me gasping for breath. These fresh wounds consumed my physiologic functioning leaving me in constant pain. They halted regular programming in my mind and directed all thoughts towards loss and sadness. My willpower drained completely leaving me envious of an empty bucket. These wounds enveloped me in vulnerability. I cried at the slightest trigger like entering a doctor’s office, reading a friend’s pregnancy announcement, or looking into the pitying eyes of a well-meaning person.

Yet I knew I couldn’t walk away from these stories even if I wanted to because they are forever etched into me. While wholeheartedly rejecting these trials I had to simultaneously embrace them and in doing so, to heal.

It is only now, with some time past that I can peek back in at those scars living deep within my chest. They may not be visible to the naked eye but I feel them persisting with every beat. As these scars settle in for the long haul they become less overpowering and more thought-provoking. I am able to see them for what they really are, intersecting lines dancing along a pounding surface. Lines that create intricate designs on my tenacious heart.  According to Brene Brown, “to grieve and to have a hard time… is just part of daring greatly.” Each day I witness my story with less sadness and more intrigue. While there are still days when I feel restricted by the grip of the lines the other days I marvel at their detailed designs.

Visible or not, I would never wish for scars or stretch marks but if they must arrive I choose to use them as a jumping off point rather than an ending. To forge a powerful story around their creation and to embrace being the mysteriously marked person.

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