The most intimate part of my body is my back and my stories about living with Scoliosis: the awareness, the appointments, braces, surgeries, healing, and self esteem.
I’ve been hiding my back for years. I purchase clothing that covers my body. It one of the reasons I hate wearing bathing suits, I’ve never worn a backless dress and I prefer tops that are loose. I’d do anything to blend in and avoid the worried look on peoples faces. ⠀
Sometimes when my Dad sees my neck and back, he rubs and kisses it saying, I wish I could take the pain away, I wish I could of had those surgeries for you.
I remember hanging out with a close male friend, I admired. My blouse slid ever so slightly and exposed my pertruding verterbrae and scars. I saw his eyes fall and scan my body. His eyes opened wide like surveying an intergallactic creature. Whoa, what happened? As if I’ve been through a traggic accident. His expression looked so sad and pitiful. I’m fine (I assured him and soothed myself). I am thankful, I am mobile and independent, without dissability.⠀
I don’t talk about it… and so it is a missed opportunity to be an advocate. So it begins: I have scoliosis, my spine is curved, I’ve worn braces for years (through elementary and middle school) until I couldn’t. Then I had 1 mandatory surgery at age 12 and another surgery around 16 to lessen the hump so I can sit and lay down comfortably. Imagine sitting sideways at a desk in school, not at all comfortable or confidence building. Even after 2 surgeries to correct my spine, I still struggle with my body image and the words I repeat to myself. I remember at 12 yrs old, during the healing process of my first surgery, I imagined that I’d look into the mirror and see a perfectly smooth back with no hump. I grew 4 inches taller and the hump on my back still remained, I thought God would fix me completely and perfectly. I felt robbed.
So if you didn’t know, scolosis looks different for everyone. Some people are bent over, I know a girl in HS who had over 10 surgeries. Some people have a small curve, some in wheel chairs, some stand tilted and others have endured many surgeries and are left with a small scar. My Father has it and my grandmother the late Beryl John had it. ⠀
Through it all, I am grateful. Because maybe if God made my body without these dangerous curves and pains, I’d be a stripper or walk about this planet without clothing. HA!
Today, I’m slightly tilted, my balance wavers and one of the most intimate moments for me is: sharing with someone my scars and my protruding vertebrae. I’m sharing with you today that even when you struggle, even when your self esteems wavers, you can still be resilient, you can still hold your head up high and let your light shine.
Right now I’m learning to talk it about more, so one day I will wear clothing because I like the item, not because it covers and hides my insecurities.
While exploring Etsy, I found a collection by the artist Sam Eldridge. I had a quick chat on Etsy with Sam and she responded to my compliment with these words “So I know how it feels to try to love something beautifully scarred and not ever fully “curable” part of your body, even if it’s painful and difficult.”
The image below inspires me to love myself:
This is me. This is my package. I’m not always neatly arranged, still, I am precious. I am loved.