You never know what those little feet are doing under the water… How often do you wonder what people would think if they could see the strategic mechanisms in place just to enable you to function. ! We all judge each other and maybe, if we think about it, we could do better trying to stop beating ourselves up first.! Nobody knows what horrors that stranger left at home, what insult they might be reeling from, or disorder they are managing or pain that grips them every four hours when their meds are wearing off..
A few years ago I had a big skin cancer removed from my nose. What started as a tiny annoying dot, was underneath my skin a mass of cells doing the salsa to the size of about 10p (they didn’t know that until the forth surgery when the zigzag skin graft operation revealed all.
I’d never thought about my nose before . Or what I looked like really. But other people had. My entire life, I had been on the receiving end of negativity because I was this fairy person, who looked a certain way, and was friendly too (Oh no!! Something MUST be wrong) So I was regularly on the receiving end of barbed comments, jealousy and hostility, which, (it wasn’t until later, I realised, ) was ultimately the cause of my daughter and I to be in a supported accomodation at one point.. …yes.. often it is those closest who are our harshest critics, and stop us growing.
It is so easy to see a seemingly nice thing and want to crush it, name it, change it, question it or judge it. There are many psychological reasons, to want to control our tribe, to name what we don’t understand and to label. People behave instinctively, and we put each other and ourselves into box after box.
I had always considered myself to be a good person, but I was scared. I was insecure probably and I thought deep down perhaps, that the reasons people were unkind was because it was deserved. However.. when I had to literally cut off my nose to spite my face, I can say that it was the start of valuing the person hiding in there..
Leah and I made a short face-book video after one particularly emotional experience. I was on the way to teach children in an Art class at a community Centre. We stopped on the way to buy some cookies. Leah was with me. A man stopped in front of me ( with my stitched up nose ) and said “Oh my God. !! ” He just stared at me, and then walked away . I froze on the spot. I couldn’t move or breathe. He had reacted out of fear and ignorance, but all the bravery I had felt in getting out the door that day, with my scars and stitches.. evaporated… I thought I could do this…. But right there ..I lost power completely.
This story could be about that man, but it was actually about my daughter. She took my hand and the cart and gave me a hug, telling me I had to keep walking. Because she said, you don’t have any choice. The kids are waiting for us, you still look beautiful, and I will help you..
We made the video to say thanks to the friends afterwards who became family, and who continue to be. The kids in the class barely noticed my Frankenstein face! Being vulnerable, physically and emotionally is a tough tough thing, but I liked my face then, I like it now. It’s my face.. what else am I going to do?! I feel more at peace, strangely because I have a less perfect nose. But it is a shame that the at -ease Liz who has scars and disabilities, couldn’t take hold of the young Liz and say.. “YOU are ok right now, and will be later, and will be despite other people’s insecurities. “It took all that to know all that. ( video will be posted on liz at beach hut fb page soon)
Some people look at me now and see one person, with certain clothes or hairstyles some will give me pitying glances and half smiles when they see my eight year old shove me about in the wheelchair on our holidays. Extreme versions of the same me. What I feel like most days is that there is a lot more going on unseen than the tiny part we let others see.
Some days when your limbs don’t work, or your hands get stuck, or the cold paralyses your joints, those are the days where the triumph of just getting being dressed, smiling, or picking up a pencil, that is success . Personally, as someone who expects a lot of myself, despite the limitations… I am mumbling in my own ear here too!
Take a moment to consider the swan, to get where we need to be, to glide through it seemingly without effort, takes a lot of planning, lipstick, tears, tantrums, and support from other people. We are who we are, and our battle scars are our proof of our strength, not our ugliness.
The beautiful but wonky make up on that old lady we dismiss as inappropriate, might have cost all her pension. And the strange thing is, without your voice, yacking on about other people, your head goes quiet. You stop thinking they are doing the same to you. They become potential friends (well, most-…..you should still exercise your instincts !) This post is for a friend who has recently undergone similar cancer treatment and is feeling a little wibbly. M- you are amazing, brave, strong, and beautiful. You are more sparkly with your battle scars and you can do this.
As for me…..You can judge me all you like, but it is a nice thing to know that finally, I won’t be judging myself. !