What’s wrong with your face?” A wide-eyed six year old asked while I waited by the play area for my mother to come back with my happy meal.

“My face?” I timidly replied.

“Yeah! Your lip! What’s wrong with your lip?”

Are all six year olds this confident or did I miss out on something during preschool? Where is your mother anyway and why would she allow you to ask such personal questions?

“I was born with a cleft.” I said as I covered the scar with the tip of my finger.

“Oh. Okay!” The six-year-old stranger disappeared into the jungle gym and I never saw her again. She probably grew up and never remembered our encounter at McDonalds that day, but I remembered. I remember most of the times people asked about the scar on my lip. It was because for years I felt like it was the thing that kept me from being normal. A face is an awfully good place for a first impression, an impression that I tried to hide for years through lipstick and a good cover up stick.

After four surgeries, my lip still holds a crooked scar under the left side of my nose. I believed my scar was the hunchback that would keep me locked up in a bell tower of isolation because I could never truly look like the people around me. Being different, in my young mind, was to be alone.

As people continued to ask the origin of the scar, I began to learn the power of vulnerability. It was a lesson that I was forced to learn because it was written across my face in every conversation. My scar is from the repaired lip I was given after being born with a cleft. The costly surgeries could never quite remove the remnants of the cleft. Perhaps that is the real beauty of scars, they can never fully be removed from their stories. Although most people were satisfied with “I was born with a cleft”, some pushed further. “Do you know what caused it?” “When did your parents find out?” I couldn’t answer any of those questions.

My story begins with an eighteen year old college freshman, nervous that the adoptive family she was giving her baby to wouldn’t love a child with a crooked smile. When my Mom got the call from the adoption agency to say they had a child waiting for her, before they could fully preface that there was a required surgery, my Mom screamed into the phone receiver, “She’s mine.”

My lip serves as a reminder of the story of victory. It it one of the greatest stories I have ever been given to share. Being different allows me to speak into a space that has been forgotten by society and connect with those who feel alone. Our scars bare our deepest stories. As much as my physical scar becomes a part of my character in this story, so do my internal ones—the ones that no one sees. By uncovering those scars, whether they were self-inflicted, caused by others, caused by a weird birth defect, or anything in between, we open ourselves up to the ability to find healing and connection with others who bare scars that are similar to our own.

By contributing your story you can fully taste the sweetness of redemption. Redemption is not starting over, but reclaiming what was already there for good. Although shame as stolen the beauty of your scar, it is time to reclaim the victory of your scars find peace in knowing the words “She’s mine” scars and all.

My scars allow me to see the scars of others. If we started to talk about them, maybe people wouldn’t feel alone with their wounds. We share the hardships in our lives to not only find healing in our own journey, but to tell others that they are never alone in their hurting.

Sometimes, I can’t drink out of water bottles correctly and water splashes down the side of my face. The longer you sit with me at lunch, the more you’ll notice my slurred speech and slight stutter. I think in some way these serve as my battle wounds, but they are no longer what keep me alone—they are what keep me beautiful because they are the unique things that make me who I am. Your scars are the reminder that you made it to today—victorious over shame. Our scars are beautiful. They tell of the wounds that brought us to this moment, and remind us that even the tough stuff we are walking through now will one day heal. Scars tell the stories of our past, to inspire others to find beauty in their wounds.

What’s the story behind your scar? How has sharing it helped you connect to others?

Becky Hartung

Becky is a writer, communicator, and lover of laughter. She turned her love of improv into a passion for research and desires to share the story of others while she continues to figure out her own. You can read more about her journey with depression, comedy, and finding a few friends in between at To Write Love On Her Arms.

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