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Scar: What I Couldn't See

Joined: 4/26/2014
Posts: 5
I first met Emma through a mutual friend in 8th grade. We never grew to be more than friendly acquaintances that year, but through other friends I was able to learn about her. She was only a year younger than me, but already she had gone through more in 12 years than most people go through in three decades.

She had lost her mother when she was really young, and her brother suffered from a small mental illness. Her father, although he was loving and tried very hard to support his two children, endured several health problems, sending his family through a series of emotional rollercoasters with his sudden hospitalizations and surgeries. Despite all of this, Emma managed to stay a survivor. She was a quiet girl who loved to express herself through boisterous laughter and art.

Although I saw her here and there, I didn’t talk to Emma until about two years later, where I was privileged to have a class in high school with her. My opportunities to befriend her increased as she started attending my church that same year.

I took it upon myself to take her under my wing. We slowly began to grow closer as friends, and little by little she opened up to me. Most of the time we complained about the class, or told each other funny stories and jokes. Once in a while, Emma would mention something about her home life. A part of me grew concerned about the environment she was growing up in, but she often brushed her problems off like they were nothing. Surely, I thought, she would tell me if something was truly wrong. So I said nothing.

What I didn’t notice was how she always wore a jacket or long sleeves to school, even on blistering hot days. I was too absorbed in my own problems to see the way that her flamboyant words sometimes carried a heavy weight behind them. Sometimes when she came to school she was extra quiet, but I just brushed it off as her having a bad day.

I got a much needed wake-up call the day Emma walked into class without her jacket. At first I was confused, but my stomach clenched and my throat closed up as I realized that the thin, white scars scattered across her pale arms were the result of a deep self-hatred that I couldn’t understand. How I viewed things immediately changed. Not the way I viewed Emma -- my friendship and compassion towards her only strengthened -- but the way that I viewed myself.

It took seeing Emma’s physical scars for me to realized that she was concealing deeper, more painful scars underneath the surface. I made a promise to myself to stop being so blind, and to look past a person’s facade, because although they may seem all right on the outside, we can’t always see the wounds they are harboring on the inside.
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