Still hurting at 62

I was born with partial sight in right eye and a twisted face. I looked as though I'd had a stroke. For 62 years I have suffered bullying, teasing and prejudice but have never let it stop me from living life although it left me with poor self confidence and self esteem issues. Now I am 62, retired and am dreading my three grandchildren asking me the same questions I have been asked all my life. Already my three year old granddaughter cannot understand why I can't close my right eye properly and I am dreading the fact that they may notice people staring at me. My dream is to have enough money to have surgery to straighten my face out a little and maybe have a glass eye fitted as I am always getting ulcers in my eye. I was born the 13th child and all my siblings are beautiful or handsome people yet I have never asked 'why me'. As difficult as it has been to live with I am just very grateful that my grandchildren are all beautiful.

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  • Hi Jayne. I was bitten by a family dog before I was 2, leaving one side of my face scarred, and unable to smile on that side from nerve damage - damage that is still evident 40 years later. I remember the first time my young son asked me why my mark (his word) didn't wash off, and his disbelief when I told him, followed by a year of having to cross the street so he could protect me from oncoming dogs. In his way, he cared deeply, and I know now that he still cares. He has explained to his little sister what happened. I understand some of your pain, but I know that my family and friends know me as I am, not what I am not. Please don't wish your life away, enjoy the little ones, and if they ask, it's because they care and want to know. Try to be honest without too much detail (that can be scary). There are examples you can give, even to small children, like the beautiful Cerrie on CBBeebies, you know, sometimes everything isn't quite perfect...

  • Hi Jayne,

    Alison is spot on, when talking to your grandchildren it is a good idea to use honest and simple explanations. By being open and matter-of-fact you will be instilling the belief in your grandchildren that 'difference' is okay.

    Having a condition or injury that impacts your appearance can make you feel very self-conscious, and people often tell us that they have been subjected to staring and intrusive questions. If you would like some advice or support please do feel free to call us on 0300 0120 275.

  • Hi Jayne,

    I also agreed that Alison is spot on. I was born with a double hare-lip and cleft palate, plus some other issues. So I can relate in some ways to the stares, bullying you mention. However, when it comes to my 6 year old Niece and 3 year old Nephew, they are at the asking 'what happened age/stage'. I am just honest with what happened, but say it in a way that helps them to understand, but not scare them. They've asked me more than once about what happened. I just say more or less the same thimg each time. It's becoming less that they ask me each time I see them now. I was nervous about how they would react, but too be honest, they're just curious and need to know what happened in order to process the information themselves.

    Alison is right when she says it's her family and friends that know who she is and not what she's not. I agree with this too. I feel as long as the people who really know me for who I am, accept me and like me, then does it really matter if people who don't really know me, assume what is often not true? I am not sure if what I have said makes any sense to you, but hope you make the right choice(s) for YOU and no-one else. PLEASE DON'T change who you are xx

  • Hi jayneturbo,

    me too I've passed by constant staring, the SCARED reactions people we encounter have ( Staring, Curiosity, Anguish, Recoil, Embarassment, Dread ); and sometimes it makes me sad when I looks at people that has a life fullfilled of joy and well surrounded;

    but i'm still happy to be unique and of what this disfigurement brings me - a better person with a different way to see the life -.

    I wish you the best my friend. may you find peace and love in what you go through.

  • Hi Jayne,

    You sound like a wonderful person. You have obviously had to deal with a lot during your life yet you seem like a truly sensitive soul.

    I too have granddaughters and they ask me " Nanna, why do you have to have that mark? (I have a large facial portwine stain).

    I tell them the truth, that sometimes babies are born with these marks, a bit like someone is born with rosy cheeks. My eldest granddaughter asked me if my rosy cheek "could be washed off?" (if only!) ;-)

    All in all they are just extremely curious, as all little children of this age are. However it gives me a chance to have conversations about "differences" in people which, I hope, will stand them in good stead as they grow up.

    Don't dread your grandchildren's questions! It's a unique opportunity for you to tell them EXACTLY how people like yourself feel and deal with your "uniqueness"!

    My granddaughters take me as I am, "rosy cheek" and all!".

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