A Letter to My Skin: How I’m Learning to Accept It, Blemishes and All (TW: self harm)

Dear Skin,

I have tattooed, cut, scarred, pierced, scratched, picked at, peeled, bruised, burned, and dried you out. Some of these I have done in pursuit of happiness and healing, some in pursuit of numbness, and others through mere ignorance.

I have always picked at you on my lips, sometimes my scalp, and now I feel like I must eradicate every little bump or bug bite. Every hangnail I must pull. Every scab I must pick. Instead of accepting each bump and blemish as part of the new—albeit temporary—topography of you, I feel I must get rid of them, even if it means bleeding or pain. I am no longer looking for the pain that created the scars on my shoulder nor the joy that created the holes in my face that I fill with metal, but instead I’m looking to scratch an itch, to feed a compulsion. It is this compulsion I must fight, because you are worth it.

No matter what I have done to you, Skin, you have turned my bones and muscles into a home I can live in. You have protected me from all sorts of damage, taking the brunt of it yourself. You have burned when I stay out too long in the sun and bruised when I fell off my bike and broke my bones. The little scar on my chin a result of that same bike crash, slamming my head into the ground. I remember Band-Aids and casts and green bruising and you scraped raw on my knees, palms, and chin. But you healed, and you kept protecting me. You still keep protecting me.

So this is my vow to you, Skin. I will no longer see my scars as a sign of shame, no matter if I made them myself or by accident. They are proof that I have overcome pain and suffering in the past, and that I will do so in the future. I will no longer try to blot out any bump, bite, scab, or zit, but instead accept them as the temporary topography of you. Those bumps will become a part of me, no matter how short-lived, and no part of me deserves to be scratched or picked out of existence. I will no longer pick at the dry part of you on my scalp, but instead search for a shampoo that makes you happier there. When I am upset, I will resist the urge to damage you. I will instead take care of you, put on scented lotion or merely admire your beauty. I will wear sun screen and put lotion on to keep you from drying out. I will put on chap stick to protect you on my lips from my roving fingers. I will adorn you with beautiful images and words etched in ink onto your lower levels, and I will do this smartly and with much care.

And if I fail to do any of these things, I will forgive myself and start again.

Thank you, Skin, for being my home. It’s time that I take care of my home once again.

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