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Thursday, July 21, 2011

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.


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