I’m queen of hiding my scars. To look at me you wouldn’t have a clue anything is “wrong” with me, bar the occasions when I was uncontrollably wailing in public back in the early stages of grieving for Wife. Look closer though on the days where I’m tired. See behind the tailor made suits, the three shades of eye shadow and the lined glossy lips. Start talking to me, start questioning me on a less superficial level, or observe me when I’m doing nothing and am lost in thought. Those scars become noticeable through watery eyes, a quivering lip, a swallow to stop from crying, a sharp intake of breath. They’ll always will be there.
Someone at suicide survivor support group once said we were all damaged. I vehemently disagreed. I was wounded and I’m healing. I’m alive and well. I have spirit within me. I am, however, scarred by being widowed. I regularly remind myself of the fact that I am not damaged, particularly now that I’ve re-entered the dating scene and am constantly terrified that my scars will show, and that my lip will quiver on a first encounter or, God forbid, in bed. I know that when I meet her, the right woman will be allowed to see my scars. She’ll embrace them and accept them as a sign of my resilience and strength, not be scared by the disfigurement. Upon reflection, maybe this is why Boy Widower more than appeals, despite being the wrong gender. He knows my scars are there and isn’t scared.
Just to be even more of a clichéd bipolar person, I’m a self harmer who is physically scarred too. I have been for half my life. My scars are barely visible these days thanks to a lot of Bio Oil and being very careful in the sun. Some of them just look like creases on my wrists. I use the present tense when I describe my self harming because even though I haven’t acted on them for years, I still have urges in those moments of desperation. There’s something about cutting that very quickly soothes. It provides focus, pain, then a rush. One might even describe it as beautiful as you watch the blood trickle and congeal. Hello, friends who have discovered my blog through clever Googling and Twitter and know nothing about my psychiatric history dating back to my teens… I’m more complicated than you realised.
I remember sitting on the sofa that I’m writing from just now a few weeks before my wife died. I was distraught, frustrated, and helpless. I knew things were falling apart, only I thought it was my marriage falling apart, not my wife’s entire existence. There I was with a very expensive set of super sharp Global knives that we’d received as a wedding gift laid out in front of me on our coffee table. Know what stopped me from slashing away at myself? Two things. One – vanity. Two – my dog. Yes, my little baby sausage dog. She looked at me with really concerned eyes, jumped up on the sofa where she wasn’t allowed and lay very, very still and quietly with her little head on my lap. She was sad for me and I was bizarrely self conscious to act on my urges in front of her.
In a warped twist, those are the same knives that I hysterically ran to fetch and used to cut my wife down when I found her dead a couple of weeks later. Now, I use them when cooking. I recognise, to some people, that is utterly fucked up but for me, it’s me reclaiming my space, my things, my control. I also happen to think wife would find it hilarious in her warped way that I’m chopping sweet potatoes and posh Waitrose baby tomatoes with them. I’m pretty sure she’s fucking hacked off (sorry, it’s only upon proof reading that I’ve noticed this pun) that I’ve been shagging girls in my bedroom though.
Basically, in short, I have a shit load of scars. Internal and external. They may appear as a disfigurement to some people, but to me, they are warrior wounds. Clearly, there are forces at play that keep me in control. Friends. Faith in God. Faith in myself. Faith that having a love affair with myself will help me heal inside and out.
What hasn’t killed me is making me stronger than you would ever imagine for a twenty something bipolar lesbian widow. I dare you to find someone else like me.