posted in: Life, Life’s Lessons 90 comments

The little bump on my left middle finger is a result of 10-year old me playing with a knife at my grandmother’s house. It was a curved blade, like a mini scythe and the scar is round, just like the injury.

My left thumbprint shows a distinct line in the middle. Stupid art class. We were carving patterns into potatoes, which would then be dipped in paint, and voila, stamp art! Instead, I nearlyΒ sliced my thumb in half (or at least, it felt that way at the time). I remember being strangely fascinated with the developing scar, it was crusted over with blood and pus for weeks.

Knives and I are not friends. I was 23 and cutting something up for dinner (for some reason, this memory eludes me a little), the brand-new sparkly knife slipped and went through my second finger on my left hand, right into the nail bed. My then-boyfriend poured vodka on it to keep the wound clean. One needs to be resourceful, yes?

(It must be a scientific fact that right handers have more scars on their left hand than their right, and the opposite is true of lefties.)

The faded ridge that look like deep scratches on my right knee is a reminder of my recklessness at 12. I was cycling far too fast, and skidded on gravel as I turned the corner, a few feet from my house. Years later, I would trip and fall on a road in England, tear my jeans and break open that same spot on my knee. Scar over scar.

The white lines in the middle of my right shin is courtesy of the time I fell into a deep storm drain.

One of the oldest scars on my body is 31 years old. On my right temple. Right where my head met the wall as I ran away from my brother, who thought chasing his 6 year old sister around the house, a fun activity. Lesson: look ahead when running.

A lesson I remembered as I acquired another scar when I was 15. The cross-like scar on my second toe on the right foot reminds me of the time I scraped my toes against the street, my flip flops failing me, as I ran away from a dog who ran after me for sport. Asshole.

The newest scar is two inches long, slightly raised, and a faded red, inches above my right hip. An appendectomy at 36, who’d have thought?

The deepest scars are invisible. They are life lessons, inevitable as a young girl navigating life. A broken heart, a messed up mind, a fragile ego.

All back in one imperfect piece.

Scars quote

What’s the story behind your scars?

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • April 22, 2013 MomWithaDot

    Such a casual narrative ending in one profound statement. Phew!! Deep.
    MomWithaDot recently wrote…Towards that light ……..My Profile

    • April 23, 2013 Alison

      The funny thing is, when I started writing this, I had no idea it would end the way it did. πŸ™‚

  • April 22, 2013 Alexa (katbiggie)

    So very, very true. Those little scars can tell such big stories sometimes, can’t they? But I would agree, it’s the scars that no one else can see that scream the loudest! One of these days I’m going to get brave enough to set them free.
    Alexa (katbiggie) recently wrote…Oh to Be a Better Blogger!My Profile

    • April 23, 2013 Alison

      I don’t think I’m brave enough to set them all free just yet. Writing about some of them does help. Even if I don’t publish them. πŸ™‚

  • April 22, 2013 The Dose of Reality

    That quotation is so interesting and true! My worst scars are definitely on the inside. But, like the external ones, they have gotten smoother and less prominent over the years. –Lisa
    The Dose of Reality recently wrote…Top 10 Ways We Waste 30 Minutes Every DayMy Profile

    • April 24, 2013 Alison

      Time heals all, yes?

  • April 22, 2013 ilene

    The deepest scares are invisible – aren’t they? And the ones we struggle with the most. But those are the ones that have made me the strongest. I look at them differently than I used to.

    • April 25, 2013 Alison

      You’re right, we are made stronger by what we survive.

  • April 22, 2013 Kimberly

    run after me for sport…and the dish ran away with the spoon (I couldn’t resist)
    I think that you’re one of the elite in the club of boo boos.
    I’m the president.
    I’ll make you the VP
    Kimberly recently wrote…Maybe Tomorrow?My Profile

    • April 25, 2013 Alison

      Hah! Clever you.
      I’ll take VP. πŸ˜‰

  • April 22, 2013 Eli

    Awesome. And it reminds me that if we regard our emotional scars the same way we do our physical ones – that they can change us, but are repaired as a mechanism to protect us – maybe that can give us a little help in recovering from them. I know I see them a bit differently than before I read this post.
    Eli recently wrote…5 For Friday: Go Ask Daddy About the Periodic Table, Fall Leaves and Naked LadiesMy Profile

    • April 25, 2013 Alison

      That’s very well put, Eli.

  • April 22, 2013 Kim

    A terrific reminder that all that glitters is not gold, although you are a delightful treasure, Alison. πŸ™‚

    My point echoes yours, that we all have scars, seen and unseen. When we see others, we tend to overlook the path that brought them to where they are, and may wrongly assume they have perfectly wonderful lives.
    Kim recently wrote…Bear-ly fearlessMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Kim. You said it beautifully!

  • April 22, 2013 Kim

    Love that quote. Our scars tell stories, don’t they? As clumsy as I am, my external scars are numerous. And I, too, have experienced flip flop failure. πŸ™‚
    Kim recently wrote…Musical LifeMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Bah, flip flops!

  • April 22, 2013 Jennifer

    Your post reminded me of one I’ve been meaning to write about my scar from my C-sections. But you’re right, the smallest ones typically have the biggest stories behind them, and the invisible ones are certainly the deepest. I remember my childhood scars: my chicken pox scar on my left temple, so faded now I can barely make it out but the memory remains. Or my oval-shaped white scar left from the time my brother and friends and I were playing with glass Pepsi bottles in our basement and one slipped out of my hands, slicing my right shin. It’ll take time for me to be able to write about those internal ones.
    Jennifer recently wrote…DecisionsMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Jennifer, I hope you do. It’s healing to talk (and write) about them.

  • April 22, 2013 KalleyC

    Very casual, yet so very telling. Scars say a lot about us, they are our reminders that what happened really did happen. A weird, but interesting way to stay connected to our past.
    KalleyC recently wrote…Sunday Prayer: CommunicationMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      It is a little weird, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

  • April 22, 2013 Michelle

    My oldest scar is from a neighbor’s dog that bit me. I also have a mark on my forehead from when I was twirling a pencil in class, threw it up in the air, and it got stuck in my forehead. I have a c-section scar from the birth of my oldest, almost 16 years ago, and a big scar on my shoulder from when I tripped running a few years back and ripped most of the skin off the side of my shoulder. Emotional scars definitely run the deepest though…those are the stories that hurt more than the physical pain of these types of scars.

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      The pencil in the air story made me giggle a little πŸ™‚

  • April 22, 2013 Laura

    Lovely, Alison. I have scars too. Many of which I don’t even remember (maybe I have too many? Or I am good at repressing those memories.) The scars that seem to make the most impact on my life aren’t scars in the fullest sense of the word. They are my broken teeth, continually fixed and re-fixed, but always leaving a line where they were once broken. And the pox marks and stretch marks on my belly and side, from 18 months of stretching and cracking during pregnancy. Then, there is the permanent dimple in my right thigh from an immunization gone wrong as a child.
    Laura recently wrote…Tasting ItalyMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Broken teeth sound painful. Ugh.

  • April 22, 2013 Runnermom-jen

    You fell into a storm drain?! That sounds scary!!

    I have scars upon scars on my knees too…I’m so clumsy.
    This is a beautiful piece, my friend.
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…Three…My Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      I’ve fallen into 2 storm drains, my friend!! I had to be pulled out of one, it was 6 feet deep, but fortunately, it was dry.

  • April 23, 2013 Pam

    I have some scars, but my daughter (now 19) has more. (She was my adventurous one!) My internal scars are deeper than my external ones, but I’ve learned good lessons from them. Yes, the deepest scars are invisible.
    Pam recently wrote…When Momma’s Stressed, Everyone’s StressedMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      They do teach us some lessons!

  • April 23, 2013 greta

    For the longest time, I had a scar on my knee from shaving, but as I grew, it shifted, and finally disappeared. I also have a scar on my wrist from surgery after having my third… the tendinitis I got during pregnancy never went away. And one scar that has evolved through three c-sections. Perfection is overrated. πŸ™‚
    greta recently wrote…A Sunday Treat: Minted #GiveawayMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      It makes us, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚

  • April 23, 2013 Tamara

    I have one on my forehead from tumbling down some porch stairs when I was three. I can’t imagine not having it but it only shows when I smile. I didn’t cut myself to the point of stitches until two years ago at 30! Cutting an avocado. Not cool. My daughter has a scar on her right cheek that most people don’t notice but is probably always going to be seen by my husband and me. It doesn’t take away anything from her character and her smile, and will probably only add to them. They’re usually not fun to get but scars are stories of life.
    Tamara recently wrote…Chickpeas and Jerry Garcia.My Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Stories of life, I like that!

  • April 23, 2013 Elaine A.

    Oh that quote is SO true!

    I have a Chicken Pox scar above my left eye, a burn scar that finally faded on my left arm from a cookie pan, a scar on one knee from a dog bite and the other knee from a bad fall off my bike. And yes, a decent one on my left thumb for a cut while chopping up something.

    Oh and then there’s that one below my belly,,, where two babies came out. πŸ˜‰

    Scars, or as I like to call them “war wounds”. πŸ˜‰
    Elaine A. recently wrote…Living Up To My NameMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Oh yes, definitely war wounds.

  • Most important scars : a little one cresent shaped one right under the right corner of my lip (a fall), a few scars on my arms where I had birthmarks removed in skincancer shaped paranoia and a trident shaped one on my left knee (feel in a creek on some sharp rocks). The last one is pretty cool actually.
    My grandmother used to say that you can see scars to the soul in a person’s eyes.
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…A special Sunday afternoon for twoMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      That’s such an interesting saying!

  • April 23, 2013 Kerry

    I have so many physical scars – I guess you can say “grace” is not one of my traits. But you’re right, the invisible scars run the deepest. There are still a few that take me back to painful moments. I don’t want to hold grudges, but sometimes it’s hard to let go.
    Kerry recently wrote…10 Ways to Spend 30 MinutesMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      I’m still kinda pissed at that stupid dog for chasing me. πŸ™‚

  • April 23, 2013 karen

    great post…yes the scars you can’t see are the ones that hurt me the most. The one of my years of infertility is invisible, but will forever haunt me. the one scar I do LOVE is my c-section scar…it gave me my miracle and I am forever grateful.
    karen recently wrote…Listicles: Thirty Minutes just for me?My Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      I love your perspective!

  • April 23, 2013 Maureen

    Beautiful oh so very deep, Alison! Love how you take us to the oh so true conclusion through your physical scars. This post reminds me of my own scars πŸ™‚
    Maureen recently wrote…Believe in WordsMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Thank you Maureen!

  • April 23, 2013 Leslie

    I life filled with scars is a life filled with memories. It sounds like you have never been afraid to live life to the fullest…even if that meant getting a little scraped up.
    Leslie recently wrote…{Monday Listicles} 30 Minutes of Your Very OwnMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      I most certainly tried πŸ™‚

  • April 23, 2013 keely

    OH, sister…so many scars. Multiple surgeries, multiple accident-prone thingies, the list is too numerous to, well, list. Glad for you overcoming those scars. For seriously.

    And wicked apologies for not commenting a ton as of late. I’ve been a little underwater these past few weeks- and sadly, there’s no visible anything for that.
    keely recently wrote…April Date: Folk Music And Empanadas And No Falling Asleep.My Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      You’re still pretty and pretty awesome, babe!

  • April 23, 2013 Kimberly

    Those invisible scars….they are the ones that hold me back. I must let them heal in order to move forward. Beautiful post…took me where I didn’t expect to go!
    Kimberly recently wrote…Instructions for Life – Be gentle with the EarthMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Kimberly!

  • April 23, 2013 Julia

    Oh my goodness, I love this; your story, that quote, that question. I find that my deepest scars are the most invisible and the most real.
    Julia recently wrote…PerspectiveMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Thank you, Julia!

  • Oh, yes. I have some scars too, both internal and external. A family friend gave me a hug about 15 years ago, and his fingernail scraped my hand by mistake. I still have that scar and it reminds me of this man, whom I never really liked anyway. πŸ™‚ I also have a burn scar I got while I was pregnant, and that reminds me of some very happy and exciting times!
    Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli) recently wrote…Simple acts of kindnessMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      That must have been a very long and sharp fingernail πŸ™‚

  • April 23, 2013 Bridget

    I have a running in flip-flops scar on my right foot. And many more, mostly that no one can see.
    Bridget recently wrote…HGTV Gives Me Unrealistic ExpectationsMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Flip flops are not made for running, are they?

  • April 23, 2013 Natalie

    Wow I really enjoyed this post Alison…great writing!
    Natalie recently wrote…My Boy at 2 1/2…My Profile

  • April 23, 2013 Poppy

    I forget about a lot of my physical and emotional scars until someone else points them out and then I have to remember how I got them.
    Poppy recently wrote…Blooms To BrewsMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      I have a couple I can’t remember the origin of.

  • April 23, 2013 Patty

    Scars do hold a lot of memories. I hadn’t thought about them that way.
    Patty recently wrote…How to Win a Billing/Rebate ConflictMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      It is rather interesting when you look at them that way, yes?

  • April 23, 2013 Alexandra

    I read this, and thought, it’s the ones you don’t see that hurt the most.


    Lovely read, A. Love what you’ve been doing lately.
    Alexandra recently wrote…What Happened To The Meat??My Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      I love that you said that. Thank you. xoxo

  • April 24, 2013 another jennifer

    Luckily, I don’t have too many scars, but I always seem to have bruises on me. And, actually, I did slightly cut myself this morning when I was making my bagel. On my right hand (I am left-handed!). Love how you ended this post!
    another jennifer recently wrote…Environmentally-Friendly Blog Posts to Celebrate Earth DayMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      I get bruises all the time too! Half of them, I don’t even remember getting. πŸ™‚

      • April 27, 2013 ronnie

        I’m totally the same way!!
        I can never remember where I’ve gotten a bruise!!
        ronnie recently wrote…The Surface of the SunMy Profile

  • April 24, 2013 Kristen

    I have way too many scars to even list them. Only a couple are from my own doing. Way too many are from surgeons.
    As for the scars deep inside, some are healing better than others. Some still bother at me at night and others are just a distant thought every once in a blue moon.
    Kristen recently wrote…Sing Your Heart OutMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      I hope the ones that bother you at night go away soon. xo

  • April 24, 2013 sarah

    I don’t have many scars that are visible. Part of me is….frightened?…to tell the story of those. But you’ve got me thinking of them now, in a good way though. I’m glad they’re scars and not still wounds πŸ™‚ xo
    sarah recently wrote…sloppy goodbye to hawthorne ave.My Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      What a difference a change in perspective makes, yes?

  • April 25, 2013 Julia's Math

    My hands and wrists are a testament to my on going and losing battle with the toaster oven.
    Julia’s Math recently wrote…Six On Monday (Again)My Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Damn toaster oven!

  • April 25, 2013 JDaniel4's Mom

    This post draws you and takes you deep. What a wonderful way to write a post.
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently wrote…{Mother’s Day Craft} How to Make Paper FlowersMy Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      Thank you so much.

  • April 25, 2013 Sue

    It’s interesting how I can’t remember what I made for dinner last night {wait…did I make dinner?} but I can sure as heck tell you in painstaking detail the story of each and every flaw on my seriously imperfect body.

    Funny how that goes.
    Sue recently wrote…The Blog Workshop: Yes, You Can!My Profile

    • April 26, 2013 Alison

      I know! It’s a sign of old age. πŸ™‚

  • April 27, 2013 Single Mom in the South

    Lots of scars, lots of stories. I have one on my knee where I received stitches when I fell on a family vacation on the north end of a lake. The other, on my right temple, came 15 years later after a water skiing accident on the south end of the same length. If you vacation there, I know how to find all the hospitals! πŸ™‚

    Stopping by from SITS.
    Single Mom in the South recently wrote…Friday Fragments: MuddledMy Profile

    • April 28, 2013 Alison

      So, dangerous lake? πŸ™‚
      Thanks for stopping by.

  • April 27, 2013 Tomekha

    Our scars remind us that we have lived. That we have conquered. That we have the strength to go on.

    Beautiful post.

    • April 28, 2013 Alison

      Beautiful comment, Tomekha!

  • April 27, 2013 Laurie

    Dang, girl, you have a lot of scars! πŸ™‚ I love the last lines: The deepest scars are invisible. They are life lessons, inevitable as a young girl navigating life. A broken heart, a messed up mind, a fragile ego.

    All back in one imperfect piece.
    My kind of blog!
    Laurie recently wrote…Move Over PaulMy Profile

    • April 28, 2013 Alison

      Thank you for your kind words, Laurie!
      (and always a thrill when someone quotes your words back at you)

  • April 28, 2013 Julie Jordan Scott

    The physical scar I am most aware of is the one on my cheek. The one from melanoma surgery this Fall. The one which I will probably need to get “revised” this coming Fall. Today it feels pretty decent. Sometimes the skin there feels completely gone, like it belongs to someone else’s body.

    It is still more difficult to think about than it should be, actually, and on my recent trip complete strangers brought it up, unfortunately negating what my friends have been trying to convince me, “You can’t even see it!” oh, yes, you can. Or maybe it is only strangers who can?
    Julie Jordan Scott recently wrote…Curiosity Fills the Spirit: What do each of these images say to you?My Profile

    • April 28, 2013 Alison

      It sounds like a deep scar – not physically, but mentally and emotionally. Fighting cancer can be soul sucking, but your scar is a reminder that you are strong, that you survived. So strangers noticing it, is like seeing your strength on your face.

  • April 28, 2013 anymommy

    Scars tell so much about a person. And though they are not fun to get, the irony is that the stories involving scars are always the most interesting ones.
    anymommy recently wrote…Magic in the mundaneMy Profile

    • April 28, 2013 Alison

      They are, indeed!!

  • April 28, 2013 Lady Jennie

    I was sure that I responded, but I must have just read on my iphone during my macless state. I really loved this, and it’s true – the deepest scars are the hidden, interior ones. It’s so obvious, but I’m not sure I ever thought about it before.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…She’s Come UnpluggedMy Profile

    • April 28, 2013 Alison

      I think too much, clearly. πŸ™‚
      And thank you.

  • May 1, 2013 Jessica

    I have many scars.

    Most are from my days as a baker.

    Those pans can be dangerous.
    Jessica recently wrote…I Am… A Dealer in WordsMy Profile

    • May 1, 2013 Alison

      Hah! Yes, yes, they can be. But at least you have something to make you feel better after – the baked goods!

  • May 19, 2013 Katie

    How in the crap has it been since April 22 that I read and commented here? sheesh I am a terrible bloggy friend!

    I love this post.

    I have a scar across the toes on my left foot where they got snapped in the windshield wipers of my mom’s car (I was small and washing it by sitting on the top and then sliding down the windshield. bad choice). I have a scar on my left thumb where I whacked it with a hammer. I have a scar near my right shin where part of a wood pallet snapped off and impaled me. I have a mysterious inch-long scar on my lower back that has been there since birth.

    And I have six-inch scar just above my panty-line where two babies came roaring into this world. That scar has some invisible scars behind it as well.
    Katie recently wrote…Project 365 {week 20}My Profile

    • May 20, 2013 Alison

      I read the word ‘impaled’ and shuddered.
      Oh yes, the scars behind the C-sec scars. You’ve moved into and past them so well, my friend. But it IS a constant journey, isn’t it?

      (You are NOT a bad bloggy friend!)

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