This story is about scars: the ones we have on our skin for others to see and the ones we all have inside and around which we build a barrier to try and keep them to us. 

I grew up very conscious of my body: I was the tall (I’m a bit taller than the average Portuguese man), skinny guy who was bullied and called “skeleton”, “anorexic”, amongst others. Adding to that, the acne, the glasses and the fact that I was always drawn in between more “masculine” and “feminine” things I went through puberty and high school as the effeminate strange kid. At the time my protection shield manifested as letting my hair grow, always dress in black clothes and turning into an introvert who preferred spending time by himself than with other people. 

As I went to college and got more into an “adult”, I tried to slowly put myself out of my comfort zone: I became more outspoken, developed a sense of humor that makes people around laugh with joy and tried to be more social. Of course I still went by being called a “fag” and “skinny”, but now I had the wit to clap back and let it bounce away from me.

The changes on my body only started when I started working and living by myself: started to eat differently, went to the gym almost daily and the difference it made was becoming more visible day to day. I was finally feeling more comfortable inside my skin.

Then 3 years ago everything changed without any notice. What seemed a normal day would change my view on life forever. On that may night my body started to get into shock: all my organs started one by one to shut down – my kidneys, spleen, liver, lungs were giving up on me. The feeling was like drowning in dry land and losing control of your body. The doctors took hours to discover what was causing the problem: from thinking I was overdosing to having severe pneumonia they only came to the conclusion of the root of the   problem when getting ready to induce my coma. So the last words I remember from that night are: “it’s nowhere close to what we were thinking, it’s his heart”. My parents were advised to be ready for the worst, having an emergency heart transplant was on the table and for what I know I had to be brought to life by one of the doctors. 

I stayed in coma for 12h and in the hospital for 21 days. It was a slow recovery full of meds, rest, medical examinations and eventually the need of a pacemaker for my security. And here I found myself again in a situation where I was afraid of getting conscious of my body and afraid of having a scar that draw attention to me and making me have to explain my situation. 

I am now at a point where I can say I have my situation under control and my scars are in a constant fight: the inside one which sometimes tries to tell me I’m not good enough and the outside one which assures me I’m not going down easy.