“I am going through a real battle within myself, and I wonder if perhaps you would be able to give me some comfort. I found some comforting words written by you for the people going through the same situation as I have been going through lately.
“I am a 35-year-old Asian woman and, after an accident 15 years ago, I have burn scars on my hand and on my chin. I always try to cover them as much as possible, as I don’t want anyone to see them or talk about them – I just don’t feel comfortable talking about what happened.
“As we went into lockdown last year, I met an old school friend via social media, who I had not seen since my accident. He is a nice man, and he lives in Australia. We Facetime every day and both feel comfortable talking and sharing our feelings. He says he likes me very much and wants to marry me.
“We originally planned to meet in December, but could not travel because of this pandemic. I like him too, but I have no confidence because of my scars. I once mentioned them, and he asked me where they were, but I told him I don’t feel comfortable showing them on video call and that I will show them when we meet.
“After that, we haven’t talked about it, but the scar that bothers me the most is on my chin. It’s a long burn scar which I cover with make-up most of the time, but I feel guilty for not telling him. The truth is, I am worried and can’t stop thinking what I’m going to tell him about the scars I’ve been hiding for ages.
“I was thinking I could write him a nice letter explaining everything, but I’ve got no idea what to write. Please help me with what I should do?”
“Whatever your scars look like, I’m almost certain they seem worse to you than they do to others. There are people with horrendous scarring, who have loving relationships with partners who see past any external disfiguration to the person inside. If this man really cares for you, that’s what he’ll be able to do.
“But, perhaps also important here is how you feel about yourself. You are so much more than your scars. So much of how people see you is how you present yourself, and the more comfortable you are with yourself, the more comfortable you will be with the idea of allowing yourself to be loved by another person.
“The fact you can cover the scars sufficiently to be able to conduct video calls with him and not have him notice, probably means you’re normally quite confident in your appearance. I suspect that what’s worrying you is the thought of him seeing you without your make-up? What you’re asking for now though, is how you tell him.
“You’ve suggested you could write him a letter, but I think this is only going to raise more questions – what you really need to know is if he accepts you as you are. Why not revisit the conversation you had with him, where you said you would show him your scars when you met?
“You could tell him you’re concerned how he might react to your facial scars, and that you want to know if he can accept you as you are before he comes all the way from Australia. You could show him a photo of your scar, without make-up, or you could tell him that the next time he calls, you are not going to be hiding your scar.
“If he rejects you as a result of showing him how you look without make-up, it is going to hurt. But if he comes all the way from Australia to see you and then rejects you, I think you would feel even worse. So, if you are serious about this relationship, then I think you need to be open with this man before he travels all that way to see you.”
If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.