Show Us Your Scars

wounded woman

It’s regularly said that “hurt people hurt people,” but this isn’t completely true. Wounded people don’t always injure us — they often inspire us.

This is best evidenced in artistic expression. Pain is important to art.  Great art springs from deep wounds. It seems that the fresher the trauma, the purer the expression. 

Consider Van Gogh or Hemingway or Mozart. Pain inspired, wrote and produced their offerings. 

Unfortunately, many of us try to bury our pain. We gather shovels and coffins, and then set about the task of digging under moonlight. We burrow emphatically until our hands are raw and our backs are sore from the clandestine exercise. 

But we are designed to create, not bury. I wonder when we forgot that.  

Somewhere along the way we began digging with panicked vigor because buried pain, like covered scars, perpetuates the illusion we are perfect.  I’ve never been damaged. I’m not in pain. I’m still lovely.

What an exhausting illusion.


But the artist is different. The artist owns no shovels. 

He uses his pain. He recites it and revels in it. He shamelessly exposes it. Scars are his inspiration. Trauma is his muse. 

And because the artist never thinks to backpedal from pain, we are the beneficiaries. We show up en masse, pointing and marveling and admiring. The beautiful scars of others comfort us . . . even as we hide our own.

I think we could all learn a lesson from the pained virtuoso: Your scars are only ugly to you. To everyone else, they simply remind us that we have scars too. 

Your scars soothe us. Your illness inspires us. Your hurts heal us.

It’s long past time to bury shame instead of pain. Today is a good day to come out of hiding and allow yourself to be loved. What was meant for harm can be turned to good. Embrace your wound. Feel your pain. Showcase your trauma. 

We want to see every part of you. Even your scars.