I carry a scar with me that I received when I was about 17 or 18 years old. It's on my head, and it's mildly visible. However, further back is a bald section where my hair will never grow again. At 42, there are times when I stop and stare at myself in the mirror, and the scar sings out to me. Although I have learned how to cleverly disguise it, one glance reminds me that it will always remain. It hasn't changed at all over the years. I've just adjusted to it being there, and I've learned to live with it.
It's permanent. It's a part of who I am.
I wish I could say that it doesn't still make me emotional after all this time, but it does. It takes me to a place where I was a victim of abuse. I was being attacked when someone I loved accidentally crashed into a parked car, sending my head through the windshield. I can still remember being mostly concerned about what people at school would think. They all assumed he loved me so much. They would not believe that he was punching me in the face and not watching the road, and that's what caused this accident. So, I left college.
The scar didn't just leave a spot on my head for me to try to figure out interesting ways to cover it. It itself is symbolic. It is a testament to my past. After I left school, I never went back. It was this incident that kept me from completing my education. The scar reminds me that I gave up on something that was important to my life. It represents sacrifice. I made a huge sacrifice of my own peace, happiness and wholeness so that I could be in a relationship with someone who I thought made me feel loved. Of course, now that I know what real love is, I know that back then, it wasn't love at all. It was a need. I needed to be accepted. I needed to belong to someone.
I'm thankful to have this scar now. While it isn't pretty, it is powerful, and it feeds my soul when I need to be reminded just how strong and worthwhile I am. When I need affirmation, I can look in the mirror and give it to myself. I don't have to accept anything that doesn't feel like real love, real respect and real honor. I don't have to make excuses anymore for a man beating me, cheating on me, neglecting me or mistreating me in any way.
See, sisters, sometimes we get caught up in our men (or women), and we forget that we are first. We forget that our allegiance is to ourselves. You can't look for someone else to deliver happiness to you. You have to birth your own happiness. You have to know that you are worth it. You don't have to take it for the children's sake. You don't have to turn the other cheek because he's always been like this, or he pays all the bills. I don't give a dam if the house and the car are in his name. If that man is treating you like you are merely a piece of trash, he's the trash—not you. But as long as you let him treat you like that, he will.
That's not what life is. That's not what love is. You are love, and you are life, but you have to live it by your own terms. Not terms from someone who doesn't really understand what life is about and that women should be treasured and lifted. If he can't offer you that, what exactly is his purpose?
We all have scars. I know mine is a physical scar, and others' might be mental, but it's there. My scar is a source of strength, power and love of self. I defined my scar. What's your scar, and what does it give you? What does it teach you about who you are? Let your scar be your strength and your power. If you've given it away to someone else, take it back. It's yours. It belongs to you, and no one has the right to take your scar—your peace, your happiness, your power—from you.
Funmi "Queen" Franklin is a word lover, poet, a truth yeller and community activist. She is the founder of an organization that promotes self-love, awareness and sisterhood. Plus, she has a wicked addiction to lemonheads.