There was an occasion when I was maybe 13, my mum reading a short piece I had written for my English class with Jeanette, the big blonde sheitel wearing graduate of Carmel College who was our teacher back then. (Elor – remember?); the writing was in the form of a murder-mystery.

My poor command of English at the time had led me to write that one of the characters had been ‘scared for life’ – I had intended ‘scarred’ but, without Microsoft Word or Google, the fearful version came-out.

This made my mum laugh.

Fast-forward thirty years and I think I have a handle on the meaning and spelling of the words, or, if I don’t the spell-check will soon put me right.


Scared and Scarred.

Is there more to these words than the number of ‘r’s?

Well, I felt it yesterday.

There was a situation where things were going a certain way, I was concerned about the patients and the staff and I expressed my opinion. Quite firmly I think. Removed from my usual modus operandi of sigh, head in hands and move-on.

Now. I said what I thought, and things went OK. Or, at least as far as I can tell.

But, and here is the point, I have just emerged from a scarring experience. Several years of not quite organisational bullying, but at the very least barriers and obstacles that have got in the way of my fulfilment. If anyone is interested, you can read about these in old blogs.

And so, yesterday, I was in a situation of saying ‘No – I don’t agree’ with the consequence of standing in the way of the plans of folk who felt they had things worked-out.

I said No, and I am still alive – that at least is a success (potentially Pyrrhic, but success nevertheless).

The thing is, and this is a hangover from the scarring, is the fear I felt at both my immediate actions and the period afterwards.

You see, from previous experience, had I followed the art of expressing yourself (as Bruce told us to do), in my old life I would now be walking around, or perhaps hobbling from the return blows, covered in the kind of defensive wounds that Alice Roberts or Nikki Alexander talk about in their respective TV programmes.

The scarring left me scared.

When you examine the words in more detail (sorry folks, you can stop reading here if you aren’t in to etymology) – scarred comes from the Norse word ‘sker’ which refers to a rock or promontory – I guess, a landscape scar, like ‘bluff’ and, scared has its origins also in Old Norse, being a derivative of the ‘skjarr’ which is frighten.

So, originally two different words with distinct origins, yet, it is interesting to reflect on the commonality of meaning.

How many of us have been scarred by previous experiences? And, what of the situations where that scarring keeps us fearful, afraid or scared of future events – fire, dog, parrots, confronting The Man?

I don’t want to suggest my mistake was intentional – my being too clever for my own good; I wasn’t – I just could not spell back then. Yet, it is something to consider the next time you are afraid of acting or stepping-out; why are you scared? Is it a consequence of a past trauma? Are things really still as precarious? Are you far enough away to live free of fear?

alice roberts

Dedicated to mum and my memory of laughing until it hurt.



Published by rodkersh1948

Trying to understand the world, one emotion at a time.

One thought on “Scared/Scarred

  1. Rod,

    I’ve been in my new job for just over two months, and I recently learned a phrase – “to push back”. Basically, this means standing up for yourself and telling a person who has said something or who has asked you to do something (normally for them), that no, you disagree, and you have a different opinion. It’s a common expression in my company and I find it weird that I never encountered it before. But it sounds like you have just encountered that experience – you “pushed back”. And, of course, it can have negative implications, as you discovered. You may upset someone. You may make your boss think you’re not a team player. However, as Bruce Lee said, there is no higher goal than being true to yourself, and if more people were able to do this then we might all manage to get along with each other a little better.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: