[Content note: descriptions of violence, stalking, abuse.]
Psoriasis is a curious disease. One of its many glorious features is the ability to reproduce old wounds, over and over again.
There’s a psoriatic patch on the inside of my right forearm in the shape of a burn I got in a kitchen two decades ago. There’s a psoriatic stripe on my finger from a ring I used to wear. There’s a psoriatic pattern on my back in the shape of a long ago sunburn.
This Koebner’s phenomenon, as it’s known, isn’t just limited to the skin. Injuries to bones and tendons are also sites for future psoriatic arthritis. The broken fingers, those foot bones, the damage to my back.
Psoriasis is the healing aspect of the body gone awry. My skin continues to heal itself long after the initial break; my bones do the same. Old wounds manifest themselves time and again, as if to always remind me of things I’d rather forget.
While some of these wounds were self inflicted, there are plenty that weren’t. My hands, thrown up to protect myself, remembered cuts and breaks and punches. My feet, oh god, my feet. I don’t want to remember that. And yet the rest of my body serves to remind me that those old wounds are still here.
Violence against women has been much in the spotlight lately; my story of violence is nothing new, but so it turns out, my body hasn’t forgotten.
I thought I had put all the violence behind me; that I wouldn’t remember that terror any more. I was wrong.
I fled a man who held a knife to my throat and threw me up against a wall. I fled a man who told me he’d kill me if I left, and that I could never hide from him. I fled, and I fled, and I fled. And he followed.
I lived in fear for many years, refusing to be photographed, or to be anyone in public. I excelled at the behind the scenes type gig, hiding my face and my name. I did the internet always under one pseudonym or another. Being online under my own name took a long time. When I was outed, it took a leap of faith to stay.
The old injuries I wear are remade into psoriatic sites of overactive immune system abundance, but also in the scars on my heart. That fear, that betrayal, that despair when love becomes violence is right here, still, all these years later.
My body remembers all the old injuries. But in that remembering, I am no longer afraid, even as I see the scars repeating over and over again on my skin, and in my bones.
I lived in fear for a long time. I hid and ran and left behind that terror – but the scars remain.
But I have to learnt to live with the scar tissue. To live with my fear. To watch the remains of that terror on my body and know that I am brave. Have hope.