My purpose? I want to be brave, to show one of my sensitivities. I hope sharing a little vulnerability and imperfection will make me stronger. And maybe remind us that everyone has something about which they're self-conscious.
I have this scar. It's called a keloid, and it's borne of a ridiculously stubborn tissue that likes to grow and itch and zing with pain. And grow, did I mention it likes to grow? That's the root problem of a keloid, which forms in ways abnormal from your standard pink, if not cute, scar.
It's on the side of my head, right smack on my earlobe. There for everyone to see, were I to let them; there for people to gross out over.
I wear my hair down, smooth and stage it dozens of times a day, so no one gets an eyeful. I cut my own hair. I offer the other ear to whispered secrets, to the thermometer at the doctor's office. When my hair goes up, for boat rides or yoga class, it's with low pigtails that hide, or a stylish scarf that covers and distracts. Windy days stress me.
It's horrifying. Only my family and a few close friends have seen it.
I've had surgery - deemed medically necessary because of the itching and zing - four times for removal of the ugly. It takes pain and preparation, weeks of steroid shots loaded directly into the toughened site. Ouch. But each of the four times? The keloid has grown back as the surgical incision healed. Because it's scar tissue in itself and of itself. My ear doesn't know how to regenerate the proper way, it would seem.
I've accepted the ugly, by way of my usual tricks and deceptions. And I slather vitamin E and Mederma cream; wear a home-fashioned compression clip I can't quite pass off as Blue Tooth on my ear, which softens the scar so it's bearable. But it's really for naught, since the scar may be part of me and the rest of my life as much as my brown eyes.
Wince now, get it out, because I'm going to show you, quick, before I change my mind. And I want you to know I had to step out of myself to take this picture. This was hard. All I can see is the 1-inch shooter marble that claims my right ear.
So now that I've done it, I've shared and showed what I've always hidden, what? Will you be able to visit me without seeing the keloid scar? Without attention to my vulnerability?
Do you still see me as you did before?
I hope so, oh, I do. And I hope you'll feel less alone with whatever it is for you. I hope you find strength - ugly ear or no - and step out of it. I'll go with you.