I have several scars on my face. I was asked about the one on my left temple, right next to my eyebrow, the one above my lip, right in the middle, and the ones on my forehead. Every scar has a story. They are visible. Healed wounds to tell the tale. People would ask about the scar and wanted the story behind it. Why is there are scar over your eyebrow? What happened above your lip? Did you hurt yourself on your forehead?
Nobody ever asked me why I shrugged when I heard the word “love”, for years.
Nobody ever asked me why I sold myself short.
Nobody ever asked me why I cried myself to sleep.
Nobody ever asked me why I acted defensively.
People would ask me why I wouldn’t eat in public.
People would ask me why I got up at 4 in the morning to get ready.
People would ask me why I shaved my eyebrows off.
People would ask me why I was silent.
I analysed people’s intentions when they asked certain questions and their reactions when I would provide them with answers. Often, they don’t even want to know the answer, or don’t care, or just want to make conversation without engaging, or they want you to talk whilst they chew their food, or they are sorry they asked, or they think that they have opened Pandora’s box.
I understood who could stomach answers to questions that nobody would ever ask me, because I could see how they reacted to answers with minor questions. They couldn’t or didn’t want to handle it. They’d rather brush it off quickly, under the table with it, new topic. Questions became antagonistic to me, counterproductive. Or rather where they came from. People can deal with a good scar-story, but they retreat when a story might get under their skin, when the answer is invisible wounds, trauma that you can’t see, can’t touch, can’t idealise and dissolve into thin air.
Paradoxically, they take them less seriously. The wounds that cannot be seen. We need proof. Where is your scar? Then they can’t seem to find the right questions and the right intentions. Could they even deal with the visibility of scars like that? And, what did they actually see when they looked at me properly? Everything internal is discredited. A scar in your face means, you’re over it, it’s healed and sealed, it’s concluded, but what cannot be seen cannot be evaluated and might still be growing, ongoing, spreading even, out of control, actively hurting, and who wants to deal with that?
Don’t ask questions if you don’t want to hear the answer.
Don’t ask questions out of curiosity or because you want a suspicion to be confirmed just so can run away once you’re given the answer.
Don’t ask for answers if you don’t want to deal with them.
I wish people would stop getting stuck on the surface of things and feel comfortable there, asking the right questions is key, and oftentimes they are obvious questions that just take a little observation. Answers can provide answers. Dialogue can be a saviour. Don’t be satisfied with generic answers, there is always more to it, keep your intentions intact and dig deeper.
“Woman with a Harp” by Elizabeth Nourse (1859-1938)