How The Physical Can Mirror the Emotional: My Scar Story
- Published on: 21 February, 2018
- Last update: 22 February, 2018
This is going to be one of those posts that gets really personal and veers into emotional/spiritual talk (like mentioning the heart chakra and energetic blockages). If that’s not your thing, skip this post. If it is, read on because I felt this was important to share.
Do you ever think about how emotions can manifest physically in our bodies, whether consciously or subconsciously? Some manifestations are more obvious: stomach “butterflies” when you’re worried or excited, the urge to empty your bladder when you’re shocked/scared, or your blood pressure skyrocketing from anger.
And yet other manifestations are much more subtle and complex… starving our bodies of nourishment when we hate what we see in the mirror, or abusing a damaging vice (such as drugs) when emotional pain becomes too much to bear.
When I was 16, I did something strange to my body.
I was always the “good girl” – an overachiever who wanted to be perfect physically, academically, and any other “ly” I could control. I wasn’t interested in tattoos or even a second ear piercing.
And yet one day, I woke up and asked someone to pierce my chest — exactly where you see the scar above.
None of my friends could understand why I wanted or did this. I certainly couldn’t figure it out myself. Now 8 years later, it finally makes sense… but we need to go back a bit further first.
When I was 14, I got into a relationship with an older boy who made me feel extremely special. I thought that feeling was love, but I now understand it was the highs and lows of a game called control. This person hated when I wore certain clothing (even just shorts) to school because “other guys would look at me.” And of course, I was HIS and only his to look at – a bond of ownership that a vulnerable girl with a chaotic home saw as a privilege.
I would often have to send him pictures of my outfit before I left the house, giving away my power over and over again to someone who saw me only as an accessory to his own appeal. He would emphasize the virtue of my virginity and told me that was why he would marry me one day – because he would be my first and only (aka my worth was based on my body and the fact that it was untouched).
I would find phone numbers of male friends deleted from my phone, and I was spending less & less time with the friends I had left.
My first relationship as a young girl taught me that “LOVE” was about ownership. I formed a twisted worldview where my concept of love came with rules and was conditional… meaning I did not inherently ‘deserve’ it.
2 years later, things finally ended and I was devastated. I felt ‘tainted’ because of the way I was taught to think I was now damaged goods. At the tender age of 16, I was convinced that no one else would ever “love” me the way he did. I believe at that point, I subconsciously decided I didn’t want love anymore, especially in terms of loving myself as my self worth was gone. I had already abandoned myself for so long by staying in a relationship that was extremely unhealthy and infringed upon my freedom, especially being a teenager with her whole life ahead of her.
Looking back, self love was at the root of it ALL, because I allowed this situation. I truly believed I had to settle down with this person so young in life because I was lucky to have someone “love” me so much that they wanted me all to themselves – even if that meant losing some autonomy. I also think a huge part of this was me feeling that I *had* to stay with the first person I had sexual contact with for the rest of my life, or else I would be seen as a whore or disappointment. He only reinforced this programming and it was the perfect storm. (To read my post about the realizations I had about shame surrounding sexuality, click here).
AND THEN, THE PIERCING CAME…
A few weeks after the breakup, I stood there with a literal physical hole in my chest pierced by a cold metal rod. The piercing wound would never heal. It became infected over and over again. And it was soon replaced by lumps of scar tissue that mirrored the energetic blockage around my heart.
My heart (which was once so childlike, trusting and open) was hurt not only by this relationship, but by the beliefs surrounding love that this relationship instilled in me.
It may sound crazy, but I believe I was subconsciously sabotaging the flow of energy surrounding my heart chakra/heart meridian the same way this experience closed me off to love. It’s as if I wanted to solidify the break in communication so that nothing could come in or out.
Why am I telling you this now?
Because a few months ago, I became aware that I still carry emotional trauma in that scar when I found myself rubbing it incessantly in the mirror. I was practicing self-care, and one of my favorite ways to do that is self-massage (whether it’s Gua Sha on my face or simply kneading my body with oil).
When I work on my body, my goal is to be present and let my hands be led to the areas that need more love. I started off applying the oil to my upper body, and all of a sudden it’s like I was stuck there in a trance massaging the center of my chest. I didn’t even get to work on anything else; I just stood there going over the scar tissue in endless circles.
At first, I thought there was nothing left to release. Was it really possible that emotions from this almost 10-year-old situation were still stored in that tissue? I didn’t want to believe that it could still be affecting my life in any way. But then, I realized that I never fully processed what happened during that relationship, which took place during some of the most emotionally formative years of my life. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t have the knowledge of self (and psychology!) to understand the depth of how I was being controlled and manipulated.
What I went through taught the youngest, most impressionable version of me how to “love” and what “love” was. Those lessons can carry on far longer than an experience does, and I had to UNLEARN so much of what I internalized about relationships.
SCARS CAN HOLD ONTO TRAUMA + EMOTIONS
As I continued massaging the area, I stared at myself in the mirror. I noticed the frown on my face, the tightness in my jaw and the coldness of my expression. My body was stiff and I could physically see how much I’m still hardened and guarded from that time in my life.
I let myself feel the residual guilt and unworthiness I still carry today so that I could finally bring it into my consciousness (and thus, release it. We must be made aware of what we’re feeling before we can move through it and let it go). I then admitted to myself that I may not let others in as much as I’d like to think I do. I often find myself thinking things like “I don’t need any more friends, I can’t trust people unless I grew up with them” and I don’t want to be afraid or closed off to connection any longer.
The very next week, I started seeing a nutritionist who does body and energy work like reiki and Qi Gong.
The first thing he asked me during intake was where I have scars on my body, as pathological scar tissue can create abnormal electrical signaling in the body (like cutting a wire in your home’s electrical system).
Neural Therapy research shows this is especially important when scars land on and cut through acupuncture points or organ meridians. Scars not only hold the negative energetic memories of the events tied to them, but also act as barriers that prevent the natural flow of the body’s energy from going beyond or through that point. The effect is an accumulation or stagnation of energy that can result in new physical problems cropping up in the same general area.
My scar is on the midline of my body, which he said can reflex to pain or dysfunction with any organ on the midline – brain, sinus, thyroid, heart, stomach, bowels, etc. Now I’m thinking back to the bowel and gut issues I had that began around the same time as my piercing, and can’t help but wonder if the two are connected!
RELEASING STAGNANT ENERGY + EMOTIONS FROM SCARS
My nutritionist has been working with me (very slowly and carefully) to release the blocked energy and stagnant emotions that are being held in not only this scar, but other scars on my body as well. I don’t suggest trying this alone, because he muscle tests me each and every time we do it (and he only implements tools that my body is testing for). For the first three months, my body was saying NO to even touching the scar on my chest because I wasn’t ready for the release. We focused on my bellybutton instead (the first “scar” we ever get when the umbilical cord is cut).
To begin, we used sesame oil on my bellybutton one time a week: 3 drops rubbed clockwise to fully massage it in there, then left to work its magic for 3 minutes as you lay there and breathe. Some people who are sensitive have intense emotions come up during this time, while others don’t feel much of anything. This may sound like some witchy BS, but sesame oil has been used as a healing tool in Ayurveda for centuries as it moves energy, calms the nerves, and aids in detoxification. Practitioners that work with releasing scars will muscle test you for either sesame oil or wheat germ oil, whichever your body responds to best as they both help inactivate scars. In my opinion the wheat germ oil is stronger, as I was only able to bring that one in last week (and worked exclusively with sesame oil before that).
We are only now getting to the chest scar, but I’ve been gently working on it at home during my self-massage practice. I use a neutral oil like jojoba and massage not only the piercing scar, but my entire chest and breasts to release emotional tension, lymphatic stagnation, and help open my heart chakra.
There have been times I’ve broken down in tears while doing this… and there have been times where I’ve been in the greatest mood afterwards.
Now that I’m aware of the emotional significance of this scar, my goal is to show as much love as I can to this place on my body that represents a time when I shut myself off to love altogether.
I believe so deeply that we can heal ourselves, and I also believe that half of that battle is healing our emotional trauma. We need to examine who taught us how to love (both ourselves and others), and then take a deep look at how we’re living with those lessons & beliefs. It’s important to go back and process the most difficult points in our lives, so that we can fully grieve and put them behind us rather than allowing them to imprison us. I think the most radical moments of my healing journey have occurred when I wasn’t afraid to stare my darkest moments in the face. Talking about them makes them a lot smaller, as they’re so much bigger weighing on our heads and hearts.
I wanted to share this story for a few reasons…
It helped me understand myself and my actions in the past. I thought I was a stupid kid that wanted a piercing to ‘rebel,’ and have regretted it every day since when I stare at my scar in the mirror. I was able to forgive the younger me and understand her deeply as a hurt child that was trying to protect her heart by any means necessary, even if that meant creating a hefty blockage physically & energetically.
Realizing the above led me deeper into my healing as I was able to go back and validate/comfort that younger version of myself with all I know now. I didn’t realize I still had trauma to heal from that time in my life. Being conscious of those unhealed parts helped me release a lot of unworthiness and guilt, and I can now consciously work to reframe my beliefs about love. (Sometimes we don’t even know our own beliefs until we revisit the experiences that gave them to us!)
But most of all, I wanted to share this for all the women (or men!) out there that have closed their hearts after someone took advantage of their love. We can be completely over someone, moved on from that relationship and living our best lives… yet the pain from an experience where someone used you or controlled you leaves a strong impression.
As women, our nature is to love. And when we get hurt, our nature is to close our hearts and fiercely protect ourselves.
But I want you to know that no matter what you’ve gone through – and no matter how scary it feels to open up your heart again – it is always worth it. And the best way to do that is by giving yourself the love you always needed. <3