The Dress that Broke my Rules

Rockin' it!

This is the dress that changed it all!

I bought a gown for a wedding that breaks all my self imposed rules. The main rule: thou shalt not show any scars.

Growing up, I had no idea there were others like me. Others who had heart defects. Others with scars. Those scars made me self conscious, coupled with the usual teenage angst – I felt very different.

My biggest scar is horizontal, on the bra line. It’s a blessing, as most open heart surgeries use a vertical cut through the cleavage; not as easy to conceal. However, they had to cut so much of me as a baby, that the scar ended up being pretty obvious on my back. I also have random pockets of skin and small scars all over my torso. So, I just didn’t wear tops that showed these scars for YEARS.
At age 23, I  changed up my wardrobe to hide additional scars after another open heart surgery and a pacemaker implant. No more tube tops, spaghetti straps, or halters. Ironic, by the time I had recovered, I had the rockin’ body to pull all those off.
Now in the era of Facebook, we see social campaigns dedicated to embracing your differences. Whether they’re showing off physical scars or sharing some past pains. It’s great. And I even did one: “Faces of CHD”, but still kept the rules. What made me break my rules? Finding the  perfect dress.
After almost 30 years, I decided to buy a backless, halter dress, with a hole in the middle, effectively showing every scar (back, pacemaker, and tubes).  I had the hole closed; just because I no longer care about my scars doesn’t mean I have to show everything off. Besides, this is a family affair – it didn’t pass the “mom test”.
Before the hole was closed

Before the hole was closed

the back

the back

Ok, so purchasing such a “revealing” dress (I can rock a mini skirt any day, but backless is a big deal) wasn’t an easy decision. In fact it took me 2 tries, a group of friends, and my boyfriend to convince me.  Oh, the blue pumps definitely helped!

hot shoes

hot shoes

Even as I’m writing this I know the scars are really not bad. They don’t even show up in the photos. In fact, I just want to slap myself and say “GET OVER IT!” But, this is a mentality shift, one that will take more than a single dress. Over the years I just spent so much energy covering them up it has become a part of me.  Now, I’m pretty happy with who I am and how I look. But, I won’t lie, I was acutely aware of my back being on display throughout the evening.
As quickly as the thought popped up, I pushed it away – I wasn’t about to miss out on a great party!
showing it off

showing it off at the wedding


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