It's not unusual to meet Cambodian people who have visible scars. I guess this is the legacy three decades of war can leave behind.
FYI Cambodia actually has approximately 40,000 known amputees (that's one of the highest rates in the world.) Hmmmm...
For most of us it's easy to empathise with a person who has visible scars because there's visual evidence of the physical pain that person has been through. It's easy for us to label them as "brave" or "courageous" or "resilient" because we can SEE how they deal with (or have triumphed) over their adversity.
I've been pondering this topic a bit lately... And (without any graphs or statistics to back me up) I've concluded that a large proportion of society seems to prefer all things visible... Oh how "thinking" humans LOVE to gather evidence...
If I've got ya' ummm thinking ... here's more evidence ... You know your sporty/ active mates who always have bruises, grazes or broken bones ... You know they're "courageous" and "resilient" because they have the visible scars to prove it...right? I mean when they fall off their skateboard for the 50th time, get knocked out at footy or sprain an ankle climbing a mountain it's easy to rationalise that they're brave.
...Or what about back in the day when a class mate broke an arm or leg? Remember how they'd get all their mates to sign their cast.? "Oh little Johnny broke his arm, he is so brave. I can't wait to sign his plaster." ..Like seriously... Little Johnny shot to instant stardom the moment he fell outa' that tree and his green faced mum rushed him to the hospital for plaster. I bet he couldn't wait to get to school to show all his mates how brave he was.
Our response to visible scars is obvious... But I'm kinda' interested in how society responds to a person who has invisible scars?
I mean an invisible scar doesn't even have to be anything with a label, like a "mental health issue" ... It may "just" be the invisible scars we humans collect throughout our life time... heart breaks, loss, grief, trauma ...
I've personally been through a few heart breaks in my time and I don't actually remember anyone signing my chest? .... Ummmmm, let me think... nope! Not once in my 40 years on this earth has a person ever signed their name across my heart in acknowledgment of my "invisible" courage and bravery. Oh and "mental health" challenges, now there's an "extreme sports" adventure for the empathic soul ... but nope, no signatures.
That's just me n' my life experience, what about YOU and your friends? I mean honestly, find me a human who doesn't have an invisible scar and I'll find you a pig that flies.
But don't you find societies definitions of courage/ strength/ bravery interesting?
I mean a person can break a bone, heal it, go on to be active again and they're "obviously" "brave" ... Yet a person can break a heart, heal it, go on to love again (which requires OPENING the heart that was once broken) and ummmm *yawn* has anyone got the footy scores?
Having an open heart in a world that attempts to keep us "locked in our heads" consuming crap that we don't need is BRAVE stuff! ...FEELING our way through our experiences is brave stuff.
I truly believe the reason our Head, Heart and Hand volunteers connect so beautifully with our friends in Cambodia is because (deep down) we can ALL relate to the courage it takes to endure "invisible scars." A Head, Heart and Hand volunteer is the sort person who naturally resonates with open-hearted courage!
...Oh my buddha, it's difficult to even contemplate the heart break, loss, grief and trauma our Cambodian friends have endured... and yet they DARE to keep their hearts wide open to love and be loved! ... In my world, this is bloody gutsy, inspirational stuff and I feel SO completely blessed and honoured to call these beautiful people my friends.
With LOADS of open-hearted love,
*FYI I'm by no means discrediting the strength and resilience of those with visible scars.
TIPS FOR HEALING INVISIBLE SCARS (YOURS & OTHERS):
- Be gentle with yourself and others. (Just like a visible wound it takes time to heal.)
- Surround yourself with open-hearted, supportive friends/ or be the open-hearted supportive friend for someone else.
- Pitty doesn't actually help anyone. (Remember the hero kid getting his plaster signed) ...what you or your friend are going through is GUTSY stuff!
- Allowing yourself to feel and experience ALL your emotions is brave / allowing a friend to feel and experience ALL their emotions is a gift to both of you.
- Look for and celebrate the GRACE that is available when a heart breaks OPEN. (Connection doesn't get much more DEEP & REAL than this!)
- If you're going to suffer, roll up your sleeves and suffer like a champion *winkie face* cry, scream, swear, laugh ... let the emotions flow and follow their own path (you don't need to understand them.)
- Appreciate your scar or your friends scar as the beautiful heart-opning gift that it is!
- Service to others is a magical healing tonic for invisible scars.
- Remember "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars."