Today I was driving home when I had a surprising visit with the car that was stopped next to me at a red light. (I say surprising, but in reality, I shouldn't be surprised one bit after a lifetime filled of these "surprising" interactions.)
As I was waiting at the red light, to my left I saw a couple and their child in their car staring at me. Thirty seconds later, I quickly made another glance out of the corner of my eye. They were all still staring.
I've been sick since Thursday night and today I really lacked the patience to deal with this kind of thing. Usually I'll stare back and smile - you know - to try and smoother others and their rudeness in kindness, "winning" in the end...But not today.
Today was a different story, as I eventually made full eye contact with the staring eyes. The wife quickly looked away, yet the husband still stared. I held eye contact for at least a minute, the guy's eyes not budging. (Seriously...This was probably the longest red light of my life.)
He stared. I stared back.
Normally my staring back in response usually does the trick to break other people's stares. But not this time.
I could pretend that I was kind in return to his rudeness, but then I'd be lying. I'd be lying to you by pretending to be a person who always responds in the correct and proper way, the kind way. I'd be lying to you by pretending to have all the right answers, all the right responses. But I don't have all the right answers. I don't always have the right responses.
As we had our staring contest, I made my hands motion to him the question, "What??" as I gave him a look with my facial expression saying, "Dude - what is your problem?? What are you staring at??"
Instead of looking away, he imitated my exact same facial expression and body movement - without breaking eye contact. A few seconds later I tried again, but his response was the same. (Think he would have done the same had I made funny faces at him instead?? Next time I'll have to give that option a shot!) It wasn't until I put my hand over my cheek, hiding my birthmark, hiding myself, that made him look away.
I was infuriated. Comments can sometimes be hurtful, but I think I find staring to be worse - at least at this stage in my life. (A hint for any guy who wants to potentially woe me...staring at my sparkling beauty is not the way to go! ;-) ) And although I acknowledge the hurt and frustration, I also have to make sure I don't allow people like this man define who I am and to try and take these situations with a grain of salt.
A part of me wonders if it is socially acceptable to say that I sometimes mentally high-five people in the face. Like I did today. (Even my thought process isn't always the greatest, or the most kind either.)
Although I've had a lifetime filled with these experiences and should probably expect them, I'm always surprised and in awe when they take place. I guess I always hope that the hearts of strangers will be kind and tender to others - not wanting to live 24/7 with my heart and mind constantly on-guard because of what people may say or do, just because of my appearance.
As I sit back and think about today's experience, I realized something...Something I've never really thought about before.
I think that people, like today's staring man, forget. They forget that they just as easily could have been me. The odds of them being born with a port-wine-stain birthmark covering half their cheek were as equal as my own. Although they were born "normal" - their "normalcy" could easily be taken away by one quick and simple, unforeseen accident. They forget, that if they were me, that they wouldn't want to be treated in the same way in which they have treated me.
People forget that their future child or grandchild could be just like me...Forgetting that they are the role model for their toddler, their child, sitting in the backseat of their car in the moment they are currently in.
They forget that one day, I may be a teacher to their child, a tutor, a friend, a mentor. They forget I may be someone who might make a much needed difference in their life, or a difference in this world.
People often forget I am a person...just like them.
Before you stare at others, or make fun of someone because they are somehow "different" in anyway, please remember...Remember that they are someone's child, sibling, and grandchild. They are someone's friend, mentor, hero. They are a person with talent, memories, experiences, and stories...with feelings, unseen scars, and unseen joys.
We are more than the surface of our skin, more than the differences that you instantly perceive by a quick glance or two minute staring contest.
The Travelin' Chick,
PS: On the bright side, I'm working on a couple of book ideas right now and the experience I had today gave me some good ideas to work with! It quite possibly helped me break through my writer's block. Yay for ideas!
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
|Right after my most recent treatment (left) and about|
5 days after the treatment (right). Both without makeup.
Having the treatment on a Monday, I knew I couldn't hang around the house. I had work and school the next day. Truthfully, one of the other main reasons I don't like leaving the house: my treatments always magnify the amount of staring and insensitive comments, remarks, and questions that people forget to filter before their words leave their mouths. (But please note that I am okay with how I look before my treatments. I'm use to my normal birthmark color. I only struggle after the treatments. To give you an example of one of my after-treatment example experiences...After my last treatment, a guy cursed at the looks of my face by exclaiming, "HOLY POOP**!!" And no, I'm not kidding…I know I look a mess, and not that great afterwards, but really??)
All that being said, I asked for prayer on my FB page. I wanted prayer for the patiences I needed to "deal" with the insensitive looks and comments. Prayer for kindness when I responded, and prayer for the ability to have the right attitude so I would have the ability to see the humor in any/all situations that took place.
My week ended up being great! Fantastic, actually. I found all sorts of ways to be happy and thankful…Thankful for different friends who encouraged me in many different ways. Thankful to have the ability to teach others, ranging from the kids at my work who had a million questions (some silly, some serious) to my neighbor next door who demonstrated yet, another, broken filter. I was - and am - thankful for teachers who ask me how I'm doing and who understood when I just didn't feel well enough to attend class, and parents who picked me up early from school because I didn't feel like I could sit through my last class. Really, this list of thankful moments could go on and on…But I am incredibly thankful for being able to find the small and big things I am thankful for and the positive things, verses the negative possibilities.
The other day I was able to see my friend Denise and she told me that she had a story idea in mind for me. She wanted to post it on my FB, knowing I'd get a kick out of it (as I can often find a lot of humor in having my birthmark), but wasn't sure how others on my friend list would take it. After telling me a summary of the story, I insisted that she must post the whole thing to my wall. It is brilliant, and I love it. It made me laugh - a lot. (Another thing to be thankful for!!) I asked her if I could share it here on my blog, and she told me that I could.
Here is the story (written by Denise Nicholes):
Okay...I'm pretty sure you are a super hero! You see...I grew up watching The Incredible Hulk (that's right...I'm old)...okay...well...He was a normal guy right!?! Yes yes he was...however he had a slight issue when he got mad: you know, he bulked up, turned green, became super strong (but of course had to control his temper). A couple of decades later (maybe even 3 decades) a young lady was born...normal gal right?!? Well...kind of normal...she's silly and doesn't like to wear shoes but that's okay. (back to the story). So Crystal the Super Hero was born. You see...Wonder Woman had a lasso, Bionic Woman had bionic ears, legs and arms, Superman could fly, Spiderman could climb walls...and Crystal can withstand high levels of pain when LASERS are shot at her! Crystal remains sweet until too many broken filters are coming at her...then her non-super hero friends want to help...but NO...Crystal's got this! You see...people can ask questions about her super powers (oh by the way, her powers come from the Purple Spot)...but if your filter is broken and you ask a dumb question she becomes a little Hulk-like...I'll give you an example: "Hey Crystal, what happened to your face? Were you in a car accident?" (Crystal response) "Ummmmmm NO, God gave me 'Purple Powers' and if you're seeing spots on my face right now, you should run because purple venom is about to shoot out at you...which could kill you...it depends on your level of stupidity". (okay...she wouldn't say that...but she should totally try it just once! How awesome would that be!) Stay tuned for more super hero stories LOL...If anyone has any super hero power ideas...lay it on her...she loves it...really...she does!
She even came up with - and did research for - a name for my double-life superhero character:
You shall be called AMETHYST (gem of fire) since it's a purple crystal: Purple Amethyst has been highly esteemed throughout the ages for its stunning beauty and legendary powers to stimulate, and soothe, the mind and emotions. It is a semi-precious stone in today’s classifications, but to the ancients it was a “Gem of Fire,” a Precious Stone worth, at times in history, as much as a Diamond. It carries the energy of fire and passion, creativity and spirituality, yet bears the logic of temperance and sobriety. I LIKE IT!
Later she wrote me a text and said:
"You know the other part of the story is when you ask Amethyst about the purple powers in a polite way, flowers will shoot out. Can you picture the cartoon in my head?? ;-)"
What do you think of Denise's story?? (Personally, I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!…Oh hey, did I mention that I LOVE it? This is probably one of the sweetest/coolest things a friend as done for me.) Do any of ya'll have any fun story ideas?
No matter what people say to me after a treatment, no matter how long they stare, or how low they lower their jaws in shock of my face's appearance - it doesn't matter. I am a superhero, and I have the strength to get through it!
The Travelin' Chick,
Crystal (AKA: Amethyst!)
**I like to keep my blog a friendly, safe, and clean place for others to visit. That being said, no, "poop" wasn't the actual word he used…but you get the idea.