Three months after our collision, my husband took me to the grocery store in our local community. Only leaving my living room to attend doctors appointments, I was both anxious and excited about this awaited chance to leave the confines of my home. It was my first taste of catching inquisitive yet sympathetic glances from onlookers.
Most would smile, some would cry, others would look away. My life had been spent avoiding center stage at all costs and now I felt the spot light blinding me as I rolled from aisle to aisle.
As summer time approached, the heat increased the edema in my legs to a new level. Socks acted as a tourniquet and if worn invariably created a condition known as "cankles", which then increased my pain and made the overall scene look worse than it already was.
Refusing to lay in my home and miss memories with my family, I traveled as best I could to each activity. Elevating my legs at all times was not a choice, it was a necessity and it put my tragedy on display.
Each surgery added more scars to the plethora I had already obtained from our collision. Some opened four times for reconstruction. Pieces of our car embedded themselves or scraped along my skin, starting at my waist continuing to my toes to create permanent reminders of that evening when I drove down that frozen highway.
Every so often I study them, finding one that I hadn't noticed before or how some have begun to fade slightly. When I am out in public, I see those of you who walk by with your heads straight forward, but your pupils stretched as far to the corner of your eye as physically possible, trying to catch a glimpse without offending me. Trying to see if the rumors are true or exaggerated. But, I see you.
At first, my chest would cave in, tighten and I became insecure with my new self. I knew not a single person meant me harm and that this was an insecurity that I needed to fix within myself.
Everyone is curious about them, but no one asks. It is awkward, I understand and no one wants to cause me any more distress. But when you peer at me from around corners and look away quickly, some of my insecurity returns and there are times that I have felt ashamed. Of how I now look.
Putting myself in your shoes, I hope I comprehend how most of you feel. I want to let you know it is okay to ask questions. I am the best one to ask. I have lived it, recovered from it and can tell you with heart wrenching honesty what each scar represents.
Working on myself for nearly five years has brought to me a sense of pride about my scars. These scars are my story, a story of survival that my family and I have traveled, a road map of recovery.
They are my one of a kind tattoos and most importantly, each one is a valuable lesson that has encouraged me to grow into this new self. A self that I have never been more proud or comfortable with.
So............I see you looking at me............and it's okay.