So throughout my life I have had 8 surgical procedures. Of the 8, 6 have been on my knees / legs. Of the 6, two of the major ones left me with long, ugly scars on my lower left leg after I shattered both bones one year, had pins and plates put in, then had to go back the next year to have them taken out. As if I didn’t already have self esteem issues from my weight (I have been a healthy size all my life), and from the prior surgeries (bad enough that most of them were on my knees, now this? I had to wear orthopedic “stockings” for a long time and that helped with hiding the scars and not allowing people to see. Then when I finally stopped, for the longest time I just couldn’t walk down the street without people staring. I remember the first time I did it – I asked a friend to take me literally 500meters away (less than half a mile) and when we got back to the office, I went straight to my office, locked the door and cried. I felt humiliated and I felt ugly.
Then there was the time I had a doctor’s appointment – ladies you feel me – and halfway through the physical examination (we all know how uncomfortable it is so please get it over and done with) – my very own doctor (OBGYN) asked me with a smile … “So how old is the baby now?” I was taken aback. I didn’t have any kids (still don’t) and none of my sisters had babies so he must have been mistaking me for another patient completely – like altogether – like seriously? And he smiled and pointed at my appendectomy scar which was from my childhood when they literally butchered you to remove a very small organ. He actually thought that it was a c-section scar. But wait … at what point had he NOT read my file to understand that I did NOT have children … and seriously? In the middle of this exam? Let’s just say that the old coon (very well respected coon in my home town) ceased to be my doctor as soon as I could get off the table, get dressed and leave his office.
And those are just the scars on the outside.
I could tell you about the guy I dated for 6 years who was emotionally abusive and one day told me that I looked like a baby hippopotamus and if I didn’t lose weight, by the time we were married with kids, I would be the size of a baby elephant.
But wait: Let me stroll further down memory lane to the time my cousin called me up in boarding school. He needed to borrow some money to take some girl out for some social event and I had a pretty little stash of pocket money because my high school, unlike his that was in the middle of the city, was out in the middle of nowhere so there was very little I spent my money on. So he got his boys together and they got a car and they drove one and a half hours to see me and I was so excited because wow, my cousin (whom I adored) was coming to see me. You see he was always such a ladies man and also very popular because he was something of a local rugby jock … And so I kinda let the word slip to one of his admirers and by the time he got there a small crowd had gathered. He was so happy to see me. I was as proud as a peacock. He had bought me a card to say thank you – I opened the card right there and then and my world came crashing down. It said : It’s ok to be your size … Elephants are cute. I couldn’t cry in front of him – he howled with laughter and hooted with glee. I couldn’t cry in front of his boys. I couldn’t cry in front of his admirers, and so I forced a laugh to escape my lips and giggled hysterically because after all, it was kinda funny. That night in my bed I cried for hours. I. Was. CRUSHED.
And lastly I cannot begin to tell you how much it hurts when someone you love tells you how beautiful you are and asks you to then imagine how much more beautiful you would be if you just lost a little wight. Or when an “auntie” (because all your mothers friends growing up were aunties) tell you that you really should work on losing the ‘baby fat’ especially since you’re no longer a baby. Or when your girl cousin who’s slim and tall in high school tells your that it’s a good thing you’re pretty AND confident because if she was your size, SHE WOULD JUST DIE!
Here are my life lessons. PS: It has taken me the better part of 4 decades to finally be able to believe in myself:
- Beauty comes in different shapes, forms and sizes
- Don’t judge me by my scars unless your’e willing to walk in my shoes and overcome what I had had to overcome.
- I AM Beautiful.
- There is nothing wrong with my size unless I think there’s something wrong with my size.
- Learning how to walk again after all 6 procedures almost killed me both inside and outside – but here I am today able to jog 6 kilometers a day.
- It takes having the right people around you to escape the prison inside your mind
And finally a word to the wise. All you people out there judging other people … DON’T. JUST DON’T! You don’t know what state of mind someone is in. You don’t know why they are the way they are. You don’t know their journey and you don’t know their story so please stop telling it. You just might be the one who says that one thing that pushes a depressed teenager into suicide. You just might be the one who says that mean thing that breaks that “ugly” person apart when they had finally decided to be brave enough to leave the room, or the house, or to show their scars for the first time by wearing a dress.
For anyone out there struggling with self esteem issues: You ARE beautiful.
For anyone out there in an abusive relationship : You CAN get out.
For anyone out there who cannot look themselves in the mirror : You CAN love yourself.
For anyone out there who has lost all hope and is sinking into the dark hole of depression : You ARE special. You DO have a purpose. You ARE the seed of greatness.
I have told my story here in public for they first time. I have done it bravely and bearing all because I truly believe that these words will reach someone who has struggled, is struggling or will struggle with self esteem.
I tell my story knowing that we still live in a world where someone will judge me for telling it but also knowing that I no longer care what you say and that your words can no longer hurt me. I know who I am. My Identity is that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I was created to encourage through my scars. My scars ARE BEAUTIFUL and my scars will liberate someone out there. And so I write and I release everything and everyone that hurt me in the past. Every sad, bad, mean word no longer hurts me because it gives me the fuel I need to speak out against those evils.
To some people, I will never be thin enough, clever enough, tall enough, loud enough, quiet enough, pretty enough … to some people I will never be enough: But by the grace of God, I now know that I AM enough. I am Enough. I AM ENOUGH!
Today is day 16 of my #31daysofwoohoo journey. Today I ask you to look in the mirror and say out loud : I AM ENOUGH!
I am Beverly Chahonyo and I LOVE YOU!