I have a scar.
On the right side of the chest, right where my breast starts I have blush colored pucker of skin. It could be a love bite, but it isn’t. It could be hidden by a slightly higher neckline, but I like to show off my cleavage. So my scar spends its days out in the world, bare for everyone to see and wonder about.
Almost no one asks about it. I’m not ashamed of it. I earned that scar. It is proof of my triumph, of my perseverance, of my badassery.
My scar does, however, symbolize something else. It marks me as ‘other’. It is a gateway into a story of my life that I am comfortable with, but that makes others treat me with kid gloves.
That scar makes me the sick girl.
Never the sick woman, because when you are sick you are automatically child again. Everything else about you becomes secondary to this arbitrary label. Something that happened to you becomes what you are, the thing that defines you to people new in your life.
Particularly to men.
That is when my scar gets complicated. I love men, but I find that they tend to scare very easily. Any indication early on that I might be complicated or have baggage is apparently a giant red flag.
I want to know who gets past their twenties without some baggage? I am open to dating divorcees, men with kids, men who aren’t traditionally employed, all kind of things that I would have scoffed at a few years ago. With age has come a reality check. People have had lives. If I want them to accept mine, I need to accept theirs.
However, this ribbon of flesh means I don’t get to hold back information. I am often forced to disclose some of my most personal history very quickly upon meeting people before they have had any opportunity to get to know me.
Men in life usually pick one of two times to ask about the scar. They are both horrible. The first is during foreplay. Running hands or a mouth across it acting like it is a new discovery and murmuring “What’s this?”. It’s the mark left by Voldemort? Seriously, now? Right now is when you want to talk about this? I try to brush it off by just saying it’s a scar. Some guys push and want to know how I got it.
Sex over. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. You have killed my wettie.
All replies of “that’s not a fun story” or “this really isn’t the time to get into it” or efforts to distract them back to what we were supposed to be in the middle of are ineffective 80% of the time. They want the story.
Then I am the sick girl. No longer a desirable sexual woman, but someone who, at best, needs protection.
The other instance of questioning is worse. It is postcoital. There is nothing quite like lying there in post-orgasm high, reveling in the moment. Splayed naked on the bed in the one brief moment when my mind is quiet only to feel that telltale brush of fingers and hear the question.
I won’t dodge it then. I will explain that I have (not had, because I am not going to lie) an autoimmune disease and over a decade ago I had to go through some pretty harsh treatments for it. Because of that, I needed a port. I had a device placed under my skin, so IV’s and blood draws were much easier, especially on me as my veins were crap.
It’s worse when they ask after because the look on their faces is like I betrayed them. Like I tricked them. Like the sick girl was pretending this whole time.
I’m not the sick girl. I never was. I live with an illness. I was very sick at one point, but it was never who I was.
I would never get into a relationship without explaining this part of my history, but I don’t get the chance to frame it.
I don’t get to choose how to disclose it. I wear my baggage on my skin for the world to see, and I’m not going to hide it. For every man that it scares away, good. They can’t handle the woman I am let alone the sick girl they’re so afraid of.