Heads up . . . this is a long one BUT a good one you’ll want to read to the end! You won’t regret it and you may relate to my story (or know someone who might).
You know that popular phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"? Well . . . whoever came up with that saying must not have been made fun of in their life. Honestly, words DO hurt and leave a scar. A scar that we pick at from time to time. We sometimes forget it’s there because it becomes part of our identity yet every now and then its ugly presence creeps up on us, bringing back hurtful memories.
I get it though . . . I know words do not define me. I recognize that beauty is skin deep despite what media defines as the ideal image. And I have the power to decide how something affects my life. I was beautifully and wonderfully made in all my self-imposed flaws that God calls a perfect masterpiece.
I've actually worked through a lot of the pain but every once-in-a-blue-moon (like the picture on the right from 1.4.16), it slaps me in the face, trying to break me down into a thousand little pieces that need to be swept off the floor. In fact, I hesitated posting that picture because for some odd reason, the names I hadn’t heard or thought of in many years suddenly flooded my mind. Posting the picture was my fight back to counteract past hurt.
Here's me being vulnerable (#keepinitreal) . . . my painful story that started 25 years ago in good-ole 6th grade.
It only happened a handful of times. Not every day. Not even every week. But each time I heard the name “monkey” or “Spock”, it cut a wound deeper and deeper until it seemed unrepairable. Especially at the impressionable, adolescent age of 12, I hadn’t yet learned how to brush off comments. I kept these hard moments mostly to myself. And I started to hide behind my hair.
I played a little basketball, many years of volleyball and was even a cheerleader. So, it made it challenging (and rather hot, I might add) to continually hide behind my hair . . . never pulling it up in a ponytail to cool off in fear someone would see my ears. I even went as far as to never wear a hat unless it held my ears inside its rim. I felt trapped inside a self-made prison yet God had already given me the key to break free.
I was made fun of by a small group of boys at school and by a boy in the neighborhood. They never treated me poorly other than those names. I truly don’t think they ever meant to hurt me. Oh kids will be kids . . . yep! That never excuses tearing someone down with words or actions . . . they are meant to build up. Modeling good behavior starts in our homes and having a filter isn't a bad thing despite what the media portrays. Remember, kids come in all sizes (and ages!).
In 1999, I had reconstructive surgery to have my ears pinned back. All services were donated and bills paid for through an incredibly sacrificial act (story for another blog post). But surgery didn't erase the pain. It only made it easier to forget. There are still moments when I pause. When I hear the name calling. When I have to remember where I find my true value.
When the lies become belief we let the hurt win.
This is my story that I’ve carried with me for many years . . . 25 to be exact. At times, it seems frivolous of me to even mention these two small protruding body parts on the side of my face when others confront drastic physical scars and wounds from fires, accidents and war. But, this is my personal thorn in my flesh and daily reminder to keep my eyes focused above where I find true beauty. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but am thankful for the experiences because it’s made me stronger and gives me the opportunity to understand someone else's pain, teach other's the power words hold, and encourage people by sharing they can escape their past.
The day after that vulnerable Facebook picture post above, I drove to Chicago for an overnight photo shoot for an airline at O’Hare International Airport. An experience and honor I was thrilled from head to toe about as soon as I got the news from my agent. The wardrobe specialist was flown in from LA and was amazing . . . it’s not every day you get paid to wear designer clothing and accessories. The crew and other talent were incredibly kind and professional. And the hair and make-up artist (Ruthie) was a delight. I had to laugh, though, because from 8:00 p.m. until 3:30 a.m., they pulled my hair back. No strands of hair covering my ears. What irony to face past demons 24 hours earlier yet be reminded that it’s going to be okay. (And yes, I got a down-due for the last scene with my on-camera husband.)
I choose to forgive. I choose to be free. I choose to speak in love. I accept the scars as part of my beautiful story.
You are worth more than words. You hold the power to allow or NOT allow them to affect your life. You are truly . . . beautiful!