7/21/2011 9:45 AM
By Kelly Deeny
Issues of body image have plagued me most of my life. Have I put on weight? Why can’t I be just a few inches taller? Why do I look like a cherub when I put my hair in a ponytail? And on and on…one could assume that having a large scar down your chest would affect my opinion of my body. And that it did. But, for the better.
Stretching a few inches from my collarbone to just around my ribs, my scar remains. Like an old friend it’s been with me as I grew. Giving me solace. Providing comfort. A reminder of all that I overcame and the strength I have within. All I have to do when I’m struggling is look down and see the raised incision. Suddenly, my problems don’t seem quite as overwhelming. After all, if I can survive open heart surgery as an infant, then why permit inconsequential misery to keep me down?
I took pride in my wound. It was, in a way, my own battle scar. I fought a war and won. As a result, I held on to tremendous pride. Pride for what I lived through and all the possibilities that lay before me. I felt different, unique and even special. I wasn’t like everyone else. My wound made me separate. Or perhaps that was of my own doing.
In retrospect I’ve realized that I expected too much of my heart. Not in the physical sense but in an emotional one. I sought fulfillment in every aspect of my life but kept others at a close distance. I protected my heart. I never allowed anyone to get close enough to really know me. Don’t even get me started on romantic issues. That’s a post in and of itself!
I’ve learned that my past does not define me. Nor does my scar. How I choose to live my life matters on a much grander scale. While my heart may have been broken, both literally and figuratively, the scars that remain can either keep me down or remind me of all the opportunities yet to come.
A graduate of Temple University's English program, Kelly Deeny recently completed book one in her juvenile fiction series. Using various forms of the creative arts, Kelly seeks to heal the emotional and spiritual scars that remain from her 1979 open heart surgery. While her ventricular septal defect was repaired and no physical limitations remain, she's just recently realized how vital the arts are to her healing process. Visit Kelly’s website by clicking here.
2 comment(s) so far...
By Stephie on
7/23/2011 3:45 PM
Kelly, your story touched my heart. And these words especially:
"I’ve learned that my past does not define me. Nor does my scar. How I choose to live my life matters on a much grander scale."
Thanks, and best wishes on your novel, your work of art!
By Toni Smith on
8/12/2011 12:48 PM
Thank you for sharing your scar story. My first surgery was in 1958. The scar, all 52 stitches, goes under both breasts, curving up slightly under each arm. Strangely enough, I do not remember being upset about it during my youth. I barely thought about it. It wasn't until I had my coarctation of my aorta repiar in 1979 where my scar starts under my left breast and goes up and around my shoulder blade that I started thinking about the fact that I look like someone tried to cut me in half. I remember being very worried that my husband would be revolted at the sight, but it has not been the case. If you haven't already done so, do look at some of the ancient Mayan scenes of human sacrifices in Joseph Campbell's "The Mythic Image". When I look at these pictures, I say, That's Me! I agree, my scars are definitely a part of what makes me who I am. They ARE special. And are part of what defines me...not all, but a part.