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From Scar to Story

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This past weekend I was happily sewing up a pair of linen shorts. It was my second time making the pattern so progress was quick. Sewing requires a lot of tools to be within reach at all times. My ironing mat, scissors, iron, chalk, and pins… SO MANY THINGS! I had spread these items across a long table in a somewhat disorganized manner. My adorable pink rolling cart is always on standby to help with the lack of table space.

A continuously utilized tool while sewing is my iron. The iron presses each sewn seam. Again and again, I am constantly picking up the iron and putting it down. Unknown to me, my carelessness with the cord was causing it to tangle on my rolling cart. At some point, I pushed the cart out of the way, sending my iron flying.

Much like the “Wet Bandit” Marv from Home Alone, I froze as I watched the hot iron fall. I knew not to grab it with my hands and risk burning them. Gravity cruelly laughed at my lack of interference and danced the iron toward my exposed leg before falling to the ground. A Dorito chip-shaped brand began to form on my thigh.

My iron was ten years old, and the fall was not kind. The plastic handle cracked and shattered in places that made it impossible to hold without the pain of ten thousand Lego bricks smashing against my hand. I would only be able to sew once I got a new iron. And, oh yeah, my leg was in searing pain. The mark immediately turned white as I ran for ice to cool it down.

While smothering my burn with an icepack, I sat down to figure out my next move. My first line of defense, the internet, was a mixed bag of opinions. Some said to wrap the burn; others said to let it breathe. Several sites had the worst prognosis; others provided humor and hope. My second line of defense was sending my mom a photo of my now “Flamin’ Hot” tortilla mark. She IMMEDIATELY called to unload her predictions. Ultimately, I decided to keep the accidental injury wrapped up until Monday.

Unfortunately, the giant, 2-inch bandage wrap I had chosen drew MORE attention to my leg. I couldn’t leave the house for groceries without my neighbor stopping me to ask what happened. After my explanation, she recounted an ancient tale of burning her ear with a curling iron, an accident leaving a lasting scar.

Accidental, non-life-threatening injuries never seem to happen while doing something extraordinary. Unintentional cuts, scrapes, and other healed-up spots brandishing my body are exclusively from benign mishaps. Adventurous tales accompanying scars seem reserved for my youth. The last moderately exciting-sounding scar happened while riding my bike. At the time, I wasn’t even physically riding my bike. I stumbled over the textured pedals while walking WITH my bike across a crosswalk, leaving a mark on my shin that, although faded, remains today.

My doctor was able to see me Monday afternoon. The suspense of what would happen to the mark on my leg was real. The first thing I blurted out was, “will it scar?” My doctor assured me it indeed…would. Bummer.

She must have noticed my look of internal screaming and followed up with kindness and understanding. My doctor revealed a personal battle wound to me. “This is from hot water,” she said, pointing to her arm. The marks were incredibly light, practically unnoticeable. She explained hot water spilled and splashed her arm while pulling a bowl of boiled potatoes from the microwave. Even my doctor had a harrowing tale of accidental horror thanks to carelessness around hot objects!

Tales of conflict aside, what she said next really changed my perspective. My doctor shared her theory about her scars. According to her, these unsightly marks are also heroic signs of wisdom. Past errors we will no longer repeat. Even the most minor accidents facilitate our growth by preventing us from making the same mistakes in the future.

My accident with the iron was embarrassing, painful, and on track to leave an everlasting mark. Scars are permanent, no matter how silly they are obtained. That part stinks. On the other hand, the permanence of our scars keeps us unique and signifies our journeys. We learn from them; they become indicators of strength and resilience, even if shaped like a Dorito.


Penny is an artist who uses her creative side and imagination to express herself. She’s now using this opportunity with ASDNext to not only do that through art, but also blogging. For much of her life, she felt like the “quirky sidekick” stereotype in a movie, always doing what others expected of her. When she was diagnosed with autism later in life, that all began to change. This news was life changing and she knew it was time to rewrite her story. She’s no longer on the sidelines of this so-called movie that is her life, she’s the director, leading-lady, or whatever other part she needs to play to figure out who she REALLY is! Every small step toward authenticity is now a victory for her in this new stage of life.

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