*movie announcer voice* Last time, On Sickly Stardust vs. Everything!
…So now, I do in fact live with the pain and the struggling and the hating of my face. And it sort of sucks. I don’t even look like anyone in my family because of my jaw. I didn’t think I looked like anyone, period.
But then, last night happened.
And I will write about it tomorrow, because I am officially sleepy.
To be continued.
Aaand now it’s tomorrow. Hello there. I hope whoever is reading this had a good day. My day was kind of terrible, except for the last three hours, which turned completely around leaving me feeling far less stressed and freaked out. The tremor in my left hand (that I’m assuming is a nervous tick) even stopped and I am no longer shaking after four days of it. Woohoo! Anyway. Back to my face.
The night before last I got curious and Googled all of the health issues I have, because while I know they are hereditary, I wanted to find out exactly how hereditary they are. I never had any name for my jaw deformity except, well, calling it deformed. That’s also what all the doctors always called it, so I figured that was the correct term. As it turns out, I was wrong. I found out that having a jaw deformity is called maloclussion (which is kind of mean considering people like me many times have speech impediments, so saying a word like maloclussion is a real challenge). There are different classes of it, and after reading the symptoms it seemed most fitting that I had Class III maloclussion. I nervously clicked the “images” button to see if I was correct. And when I did, I immediately burst into tears.
My whole life I have been made out to be different, to be ugly, and to be the only one of my kind with all the problems that I have, especially the jaw problem. I had never seen anyone look even a little like me, and I don’t look like my parents or siblings, so I was trained to think I was the only one. And yet, on Google, I saw a whole page of people who looked like me. It was such a shock to my system. Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind, now that I’m in a better state of mind, is Tarzan and the song “Strangers Like Me.” It felt a lot like that.
The most shocking part of it all was that I saw people of all different genders and ethnicities. You’d think we’d all look very different, and when it came to our eyes and skin, we did. But our jawlines were all the same. All elongated, and pushed either upward or downward, and when they smiled, they all had big gaps in between their top and bottom rows of teeth. They all said they had pain, they couldn’t smile, that they didn’t look like their relatives. However, we all look like each other. And I truly could not believe it. When I went to the orthgnathic surgeons they showed me pictures of people with different jaw and teeth problems, but I never saw any that looked as severe as mine.
The other part that hit me the hardest in all of this, aside from 1. finding an actual name for this thing that has tortured me my entire life and 2. finding people who also were dealing with it which I didn’t know existed was 3. finding out that many of them were able to successfully have surgeries to fix the jaw, taking away the deformed shape and closing the gap. The process was long and painful, of course. But in the end, they showed the befores and the afters…and the afters, oh, how lit up these people all were with their new jawlines and their new smiles. Those smiles were brighter than fireworks. And I felt so happy for them all, that their pain was lessened, their self-esteem heightened, and that they could finally smile proudly and not have to cover it. There was also a part of me that was smashed in the face by the fact that I would never be an after, because I can’t handle the surgery. I won’t get to smile brighter than fireworks, or see what my face should have looked like. And worst of all, I will always have this pain.
And now for a confession: I got angry and frustrated not only because I was just floored by a huge amount of information at once, but also because I thought to myself, “You’ve had the internet since you were 12, and you never once thought to look this up? What the hell is wrong with you?” I try to do as much research as I can about my health. I try to be cautiously proactive about my health (I say cautiously because to my surprise, not everything on the internet is true! I know, my mind was blown too when I found out). I have researched deformed jaws and orthognathic surgeries to understand other people’s experiences, of course…but I never dug far enough to see all of this. To give it a name, to realize that I am not alone in this. Logically I never truly thought I was the only person on the planet who had this issue, but to actually see it is so much different than just assuming.
I am now realizing though that maybe I should not beat myself up so much about not researching like I have with all of the other illnesses I have. After all the pain, all the failed attempts at fixing my deformity,all the doctors and dentists, all the ridicule and bullying I’ve had to endure because of my deformity, and after having to live with it every single day since I was old enough to remember, it’s actually a no-brainer as to why I didn’t research it a whole lot. It may sound silly, but I think I just simply got sick of hearing about it, and being reminded of it. I am reminded of it every time I move my mouth or look in the mirror. So why use my free time to be reminded of something that I dislike even more? My free time should be used to distract myself by playing Pokemon or watching Bates Motel while wondering how Freddie Highmore went from being this adorable little English boy to a freaking psychopath. You know, using my free time like a normal person.
As much I try to be distracted, or to forget who I am or what my body is like, the truth remains that you cannot run from your problems, that playing Pokemon for six hours straight will not make me healthier, and that when you are a person who is chronically ill and chronically in pain, it is a part of who you are. While there are countless things in life that make it easier to be who I am, and I am grateful for those things, I ultimately have to face and embrace these challenges. If I can’t get rid of my jaw deformity, I am going to have to eventually accept it, along with all my other health problems. They aren’t all there is to me, but they are a part of me, and I’m going to have to be okay with it.
The path towards self acceptance, for me, is a long one. This blog is one of many tools I am using to not only help myself, but others as well to get a little farther down that road. It is going to take me a long time to be nicer to me. I have had horrible, nasty bullies in my life, but the nastiest one has always been myself. I look and feel different than most other people. I have some bigger obstacles than others. But who says that has to mean I can’t be just as beautiful, strong, or as intelligent as others? One day I hope I can look in a mirror for longer than only a few seconds, smile my big gaping smile, and feel good about it. This may not be the face that I think I was meant for, or that I wanted. But it is my face. So I plan on taking very good care of it, and giving it all the love I can. I think this face deserves it.
Do you care if I don’t know what to say,
Will you sleep tonight, will you think of me?
Will I shake this off, pretend it’s all okay,
That there’s someone out there who feels just like me,