currently: listening to 'To The Top' by Twin Shadows
Day 2 - Fading scars
For as young as I can remember, I suffered from eczema. Which may not seem like a big deal for some people but to me it was a constant pain to my body. It hurt my skin, it hurt to shower or move, it made nights uncomfortable to sleep, and it left me with so many scars. I'd always wear long sleeves, or longer shorts or skirts just so no one could spot the self-inflicted wounds on my body.
It wasn't because it looked bad that made me feel ashamed. It was the fact I had lost my own sense of control over my own body and it showed on my skin.
My last two severe eczema cases were when I was 17 and when I was 20. Both were stress related. And both eczema moments only caused more stress in me. Here I was, basically an adult, and I had scratched my skin raw across my legs, my arms, my neck, my hand and my body. Scratching was so satisfying at the time - but it hurt so much after, both physically and mentally.
My family doctor always had the same questions for me. Had I taken my medication? Had I been applying my creams? Had I been eating well, drinking water, been near dust, using harsh soap, spent too much time around grass or pollen, or had too many hot showers? I had been asked the same questions from 7-17. By then all I wanted to do was hide away from the world.
I've had very few days in my life where I'd actually feel "pretty". Most days in front of the mirror were spent wondering how much of my body I'd have to strategically cover up so no one could spot my embarrassing secret. Occasionally there would be days that I'd look better than normal - or rather my eczema would be "playing nice" and didn't hurt or look as bad. Those days were rare.
But in the past few years, my skin has slowly improved, and it was at a recent doctor's appointment that I realised how far I had come.
For one - it was the first trip I had made to the doctors without needing to worry about my skin (it was actually for my back pain but we can't all be perfect).
And two - the doctor herself commented how far I had come, telling me she was amazed at the condition of my skin from what it used to be.
My appearance affected the confidence I had in myself to face the world. But knowing that my scars had faded and the fear and shame weren't imprinted on my body filled me with pride.
So I celebrated. For the first time, while I was on holiday in Australia, I bought shorts that were actually shorts. I didn't need to hide the rest of my legs with pantyhose or tights or long tops. I know 16-year-olds have been dressing like that for years and years, and I'm not model stick thin or have the face of Jennifer Lawrence - but I've actually come to a place where I am happy with my own body. And the feeling is liberating.
Time heal all wounds. It's a long and painful process but I'm more thankful of how far I've come because of it.
For the month of January 2016, I'm writing 31 personal stories about things in my life I'm thankful for. See all my posts during my month of thankfulness here.