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Bruce, Caroline

LJ Idol Week 9: Taking Ownership of the Scars We Leave

We live in a society of victims. What did this person do to me? How did that person hurt me? What has the other group done to harm me? It's easy to blame, it comes naturally to us, and has since the Garden of Eden: Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, both blamed God. History is full of blaming, and we are still blaming as much as ever, right to this very day.

But what of the scars we leave? Are we willing to take ownership of them? Are we willing to say, "I did some damage to this person, this group; the damage is permanent, I must live with that, and I take responsibility for what I've done?"

I think of the Nazis in World War II. Granted, many never did repent and come to realize the hideousness of what they did, but what if some did? What if some came to understand the scope of the atrocities they personally were responsible for, and truly regretted what they'd done? What must life have been like for these people, repentant but powerless to reverse the horrors, the torture, the murder, which could be attributed to them? What's it like to sincerely take responsibility for your part in a holocaust?

Another story that comes to mind was on the radio some years back. A woman had been raped. She identified a man in a line as the rapist, and he spent years behind bars for this crime. One day she discovered that she had, in fact, incriminated an innocent man: the person she had pointed out had not, in fact, raped her. She could have claimed any number of justifications in her defense, and they would have been understandable. But instead she took responsibility for what she had done, talked to the man she had falsely accused, apologized and made friends with him, and then went on a speaking tour, where she talked about the dangers and the horrors of false accusation. I admired this woman so incredibly much for the courage and integrity she showed, when she would have been very justified in not doing so. She couldn't erase the scars she'd left, but she took responsibility for them.

And what of me? Am I so naïve, so arrogant as to think that I haven't left scars on people? A stupid word, a discourteous comment, a broken promise ... These things and more are things of which I know I am guilty. Did they leave scars? No doubt they did. Can I erase these scars? Yes, sometimes I can, thank God. But all too often, I have to live with the consequences of my actions. The things I say or do today can often come right back to me tomorrow. My faith tells me I have forgiveness, but it doesn't wipe out the consequences.

It's very easy to talk about the scars given to us as "our scars", and we should. But we really show what kind of stuff we're made of when we look at what we've done to others and take ownership of the scars we made. In many ways that, I believe, is the measure of a human being.
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nice job

Nice job on a very sensitive topic! [hugs]
Hmm. Interesting way to look at the topic. Personally, I like it better than your original idea. SMILE!
Yes, I do too. The other one was too cute. *HUGS*
Interesting twist on the topic at hand.

You are right we tend to dwell on our scars rather than the ones that we inflicted.
Very brave, and so true. It's difficult to admit wrong-doing and negative impacts on others, and I think it's partially because you're afraid you will not be forgiven, your sincerity won't be recognized, and you will then become a victim worth being victimized.

Excellent post, very thought-provoking.
Very much in line with the questions I'm asking myself. Excellent piece.
Excellent post... pertinent and wise points... Love the angle from which it is written... And being a firm believer in ownership of both good and bad personal aspects and actions, I loved the take on it!
"Am I so naïve, so arrogant as to think that I haven't left scars on people?"

this gives me a different perspective i haven't thought about for a while. Thanks for that.

I'm naive enough to never have thought about the damage I've done to other people.

I hadn't ever thought of that ever. Outside of having my depression tell me ambiguious things when I was under its spell (stuff like n one wants me around, I get in people's way, I'm the cause of all their pain/unhappiness, I bother them, ect. things thoughts that have no concrete moment/action to attach themselves to).

It honestly hadn't occurred to me to look at concrete evidence of scars I may have left on people.

I know I've scarred my father when I self-injured. The look of sheer...dejection? (I want to say failure, but I'm sure that's what he was feeling, and not the look on his face) on his face will haunt me forever. I can't imagine how awful, useless and helpless he felt then (though I do wonder if it could've compared to my own feelings at the time; feelings that mirrored his. I hope to never find out).

I think I've scarred my cat when I used to abuse her when I was between the ages of 8 and 12 or so. If I did, I've been able to heal that scar, thank God. Cats are very forgiving (or, at least, mine is).

I scarred my mother when I was a small child by pointing out how stupid she was. I didn't want to own up to this one, since my mom has a personality disorder, and so I don't fully believe that she felt the scar even a week later, but since this post is about taking responsibility and facing facts, I'll list it all the same.

I left a scar on my grandmother when I turned a brand new photo album into trash by sticking the pages together (it's a bittersweet memory now, because it makes me laugh to think about it, but sad when I remember the stunned look on her face).

I think I left a scar on my grandfather, for not being enough like my mother. For getting fat. For never knowing what to say to him. For not being able to tell him the important parts ("I love you," "Thank you for fighting in the war," "I think you're amazing, the way you put up with grandma for all those years," "I don't mean to fail so much. I wish you could be more proud of me. I'm sorry."), for not being able to ask the right questions, or the questions I want to ask ("What was life like, back when you were a little boy," "What were your siblings like," "Were you close with them?" "Do you miss your parents?"), for not continuing contact with him because that side of the family is full of assholes.

Thanks for the topic, and I'm voting for you =) I think I'm going to go write my grandfather an email now =)

Re: I'm naive enough to never have thought about the damage I've done to other people.

Usually when I think about the scars I've left on people I think about learning something about the experience (and not doing it again for instance, learning something new about the person i've hurt, etc). It's a self defense mechanism-the knowledge that comes immediately afterwards is ameliorated pretty soon after.

This post for me at least was a reminder also about forgiving myself because when I think about how people have hurt me I try hard and usually succeed in forgiving them. At least the hurt eventually disappears when I've forgiven those who have scarred me.

When I've contemplated scars I've left on others, however, I forget about forgiving myself and the peace forgiveness brings. Scars inflicted are a double edged sword. We have to accept responsibility for healing ourselves too. It's naive to think others should be forgiven but we should not be.

I relate to your experiences nvr_brkn, even if you have not yet forgiven yourself for them. i think it's forgivable and every person should strive to find peace. There is no need to forget because we own that which shapes us, there is just a need to forgive.

Re: I'm naive enough to never have thought about the damage I've done to other people.

Very well-said. If we leave a scar and take nothing back with us as a result, then there's nothing to be gained from that scar, no positives at all.
Nice entry. Good take on the topic.
Nice. I assumed almost everyone would talk about their own scars for this topic, because those are the scars most people notice and care about.

I'm glad you didn't. You did well.
This works as a response to the topic.

I have only one tiny bit of feedback... remove the contractions. To me, they take what is a quite noble essay, and make it just a tad folksy.

Now, that might be what you are going for, but I think your writing would be that much stronger if you "did not" instead of "didn't."
I see what you're saying, and I truly appreciate the suggestion. But I don't speak that way, I'm not Commander Data. I try to write, particularly in my OLJ, the way I speak. For me to change that for the sake of LJ Idol would, in my personal opinion, be pretentious. If I am to do well in LJ Idol, it will be as me, not in a styple not my own. Again, I'm not trying to downplay your advice, I do appreciate it, but this is why I'm doing what I'm doing.
an excellent and wise post -- voteworthy, too. The first truly voteworthy post I've read, actually. Good take on things.

I go to think now.
I really like your take on this topic. Thanks for a great and thought-provoking entry.
I came | | this close to writing an entry about the way I scarred a specific person in my past and then I thought, "But that could be more fitting for another entry." It's refreshing to know that people get out of their own heads and think about others.
Great job. I really like your approach to the topic.
WOW.

this entry is incredible. Thanks so much for sharing!
There was a lot of strength in this entry.
A very well written and original take on the subject. You've got my vote!
Great perspective!
Great job- I actually read this quite a while ago- I brought some home printed when I didn't have Internet. I think you're very right about ownership- well said!