Sometimes, only sometimes, mind you, I take a look at myself in the mirror and I wonder what happened. I have no need of tattoos; I bear involuntary banners on my skin. My right knee. Mashed up one Sunday afternoon when I went out for a family bike ride. Two, tiny lines on my cheek, if you know where to look, tell the tale of when I fell off the wall bars onto the concrete playground, after I had been expressly told not to twirl upside down by my annoyed papa. An old rabbit bite. The long, surgical zip around my rib cage. The silvery trails of child bearing. External markings of a life lived.
I remember the moment I first noticed the stretch marks. It was the day the first-time mother me realised that I could no longer fit into my jeans. I sat on the end of the bed and I cried, because at that moment, I knew that nothing was ever going to be the same again. I had set my feet upon a path, the significance of which had only just hit me with the incontrovertible evidence of bodily change.
The scars don’t hurt. It’s strange, but there is a feeling of numbness when you run your fingers over them. You can feel the texture, the raised nature of the changed skin, but you can’t them feel from the inside. Where sensation ought to be there is … nothing. In the place of all that remembered pain there is, if not an emptiness, an absence.
Sometimes I think that they ought to hurt, the way your heart aches when someone says something, a throwaway comment that touches on an old internal wound. It might be something entirely innocent, innocuous, and yet you turn away, blinded and incapacitated with pain. All those feelings that you thought were gone, all that rage you thought was doused, all those tears you thought were water under the bridge are there. Fresh and raw, as jagged, if not as deep as when they first occurred.
Maybe it’s because the outwards hurts have healed. And the inward ones, they haven’t.