Why the need to ask?

I don’t quite get why people feel the need to ask the who/what/when/why of scars. Especially when there are a number of them, and let’s face it, aren’t my most attractive feature. I mean, I can kinda understand when there’s one recent wound, and people ask as a curiosity/sympathy/”are you okay” type thing. But when there’s a number of old scars…

A couple of OT friends noticed the scars on my legs and asked how I got them. I shrugged, said “I don’t know” and looked away. We then had a Counselling and Group Work tutorial in which our tutor briefly spoke about self harm, how it’s a way to cope and is not necessarily a suicide attempt. Straight after our tutorial one of the friends then asked me whether it’s from self harm. I ignored her and said nothing, while the other friend laughed and joked “We just had the tutorial so now you’re asking about self harm.”

Later on in the day my friend then took it upon herself to ask again, remarking that she doesn’t understand how I don’t know how I got them, that even if she fell, a person wouldn’t get that many scars. “Oh my gosh, why do you keep asking?” I asked in a light-heartedly exasperated way.

That night I received a text from my other friend which said that she thought it was quite immature for our two other friends to be joking about self harm like that, she noticed I looked uncomfortable and she was sorry I had to experience that. This is a friend who knows I have mental health issues so she could probably infer the scars are actually from self harm. I texted back that I appreciated her message and that I imagined our two friends joked about it because they didn’t realise what they were joking about was actually the truth.

Many of my scars have faded over the years and I’ve had a lot of time to get used to them so their questions about it don’t really bother me all that much as I just brush it off. I’m at the stage where though it’s not something I want to announce to everyone I know, it’s also not something I go to great lengths to hide any more. What I don’t understand though is why people are insistent on knowing how someone got their scars. I know what may seem obvious to me and others who have or know someone who has self harmed isn’t so obvious to them. But even if the scars aren’t from self harm, why do they probe so much curiosity? To me they’re just scars and not a big deal.

7 thoughts on “Why the need to ask?

  1. Throughout your life I think you will find that some people are just clueless and incredibily thoughtless. People ask about your scars are in the same bucket with those who ask why I don’t have any children, or keep pressing it until I tell them about the death of my child. Like I said…clueless. Once I asked when someone was due…she wasn’t pregnant. I was 18 when that happened….I never did that again. Some people learn, others are clueless until they are old and grey…have pity on them.

  2. I like the fact that even though you may say dont ask ,,,,,,but I see you do explain and you are here to talk,,,,,,,sooo talk on and we will listen,,,,,,I mean isnt that why we are here,,,,, because we trust each other more than the Doctors,,,,,,,and BTW everyone it is now 65 days off the Pristiq and I am on a beta blocker to control the anxiety attacks and in week 3 of theropy ,,,,,,,,yea feeling soooo much better,,,,,,,,dont worry I wont leave you alll

  3. People are curious, and people are concerned. But I think the problem here was that your friend kept on asking even when you clearly didn’t want to talk about your scars, and that’s inappropriate. I’m not sure why she didn’t take the hint. That’s just poor social skills.

    It’s nice to see you write a post! I’ve come back after a long absence, but I want you to know that I’m still trying to keep up with you and our other friends!

    Be well,

  4. I know the feeling! If anyone asks I respond depending on my mood at the time and who is doing the asking – so responses vary from “I used to self-harm” to “they’re just old scars” to “fight with a tiger” and then try to move topic of conversation on. Sometimes it’s incredible how rude and nosey complete strangers can be, let alone inconsiderate tho ignorant friends.

    Sounds like you handled it well though.

  5. After reading this post and it’s comments I feel I can add mine as well.
    I have no scars that were caused by self harm, all were due to accidents/surgeries and some are quite hideous. I also don’t like it when people look at me like I am a freak or something. Some people ask politely and I may explain when I feel like it. Sometimes I don’t like the way they look/ask and just ignore. But people are indeed either polite or nosey. But if no one would notice, would I feel unimportant because people don’t pay any attention?
    I think it is a mix. And being diagnosed with AS, I also know that some people are trying to be polite but just don’t know how due to a lack of good social skills.
    The friend who did not get your hint might have been too nosey without realizing you weren’t open to discuss it. It is hard to comment on the situation. I can only write that I hope your friend will realize what happened and will take your feelings into consideration next time a topic is discussed.
    Much strength and hope your friends will learn from their obvious social mistakes.
    All the best, LW

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