By Shannon Blankenship
Everyone has a story. It may be a story of overcoming the odds, dealing with insurmountable circumstances, or loss. Many people carry scars as their stories. Whatever the story, it likely leaves scars. Scars both visible and invisible. The battle they faced on the inside is the story the outside of their bodies tell.
20-year-old Taylor Heckel is one of those with visible scars.
“My scars came from self-harm I inflicted on myself when I was the ages 11-13,” Heckel said. “My perspective has changed on scars tremendously. I used to feel ashamed and also embarrassed that I would ever do that to myself but at that point in my life it was the only way I knew how to cope with my feelings without taking my life away,” Heckel said.
Heckel’s thighs and wrists tell her story.
Heckel had to grow up at an early age. Helping raise her brother, working, being a student-athlete; Heckel’s built up emotions were released. Using a thumb tac, the marks she made on her body were deep enough to mask the pain but light enough to disguise.
Now, almost a decade later, Heckel’s perspective has changed.
“I honestly don’t ever feel self-conscious about my body because through that time of healing and learning to finally love myself I developed the skills to love all of me even in the past,” Heckel said. “My mentality has improved tremendously and I feel like I can’t even get to that point again because when I am sad or feeling angry or get in a state of depression I remind myself how far I have come and how much I accomplished and how much I will accomplish. If I can’t get out of whatever I’m going through myself I learned how to talk it out and get another perspective,” Heckel said.
Although Heckel’s scars were visible, people’s whose scars are invisible face a similar journey.
51-year-old Sonya Vezmar’s scars are hidden. Needing surgery, Vezmar had no choice but to accept the journey she would undergo.
“There were times after my surgery when I would visit the beach and I would only wear a one piece bathing suit so that my scars would stay covered because I was self-conscious about the changes that had happened to my body and how people might perceive me,” Vezmar said.
After a few years, she too began developing the love and confidence her body needed.
“With each year that passed, I realized that my body is amazing not just in how it looks but instead what it’s capable of and that helped me to put things into perspective for me,” Vezmar said. “If I were to give any advice, it would be to put things into perspective when it comes to your body- scars or no scars. I saw myself as beautiful on the inside as I did the outside and with that came confidence to not let what others think about my body matter to me. They don’t live in it, I do, Vezmar said.”
There are those who openly talk about where they come from and its effect on them and those who hide their scars because they are ashamed of their story.
These scars cut deeper than their skin. Their moment in time did not define who they were, it showed them who they were capable of becoming.