I lean closer to the mirror and steady my hand as I trace the waterline to my eyes. Then I take a step back to analyze my work, hoping that the makeup has brightened my tired face. I feel lost trying to recognize the woman in the mirror reflection. I know it’s me, but only pieces – fragments of the face I had.
Suddenly, a flashback consumes my mind. I’m a young child, curled up next to my father on a fancy white daybed adorned with golden scrolls and poles. In my princess-fit bedroom, he reads me the classic children’s book “Stuart Little” by EB White, a wellness novel about a little mouse that captivated me.
These nights of reading with my father will always have a special place in my heart. But why does this particular memory come to mind right now?
Suddenly the tears start to flow and my cheeks blush. I realize that I am looking at the mouse version of myself. I wondered if I would look like my grandmother as I got older, but now I wonder what an elderly mouse would look like. How does my husband feel married to this new mouse?
Scleroderma changed my face
My once full cheeks were drawn back to my ears, narrowing my cheeks like a rodent’s muzzle. My pimple-cute nose has eroded, leaving a fine bone structure in its place. As my eyes stare at me in the mirror, I cast a permanent look of shock on my perfectly round, wrinkle-free face.
I try to pucker my lips, but the fine lines don’t budge. In proportion to the rest of my body, my little face is laughing at me. All I need are mustaches and I’m ready to eat some cheese and snuggle up in a mouse hole.
It was as if I had been held back and forced to undergo cosmetic surgery on every structure of the face, and I had no right to choose the outcome. This new outer shell is unknown to me, and I react harshly to this unknown. I developed a relationship with a second identity – the person the scleroderma created. I get so mad at this new woman who stole my physical features.
Yet if I looked at a stranger, I wouldn’t think she was ugly. In fact, I never wanted to be perfect, or look like someone in a magazine. Cosmetic surgery never crossed my mind, because I agreed with the person my God had created, and accepted who I was with open arms. So why can’t I fully embrace this stranger the same way?
I will look at myself with love and grace
As I stand there watching myself unravel, the mumbled cries abruptly stop. âI am not a mouse! proclaims my rational inner warrior.
I take a step back and try to think of myself as a stranger. I see that I am human and the silhouette of the mouse begins to fade. The crying stops, and I laugh and roll my eyes at the madness that just unfolded in my head.
I’m not sure exactly what kept me from going over the threshold, but I’m grateful for the intervention. I finish touching up my makeup and start the rest of my day as planned.
âLook at people with the eyes of your heart,â wrote inspirational author Alexandra Vasiliu. This includes ourselves.
Love me despite my imperfections
Scleroderma may be destructive, but it taught me to look at myself from the inside. From the wreckage I learn to build a stronger version of myself. I constantly re-educate my thoughts to focus on what really matters while accepting myself as perfectly imperfect.
We all deserve grace, but it doesn’t come easily. Think about all the times you bit your tongue to avoid hurting someone. Try to practice this same self-control with yourself. Give yourself the same grace that you give to others. When cruel thoughts surface, bring out your inner strength and fight like you’re your best friend.
Self-love is the best medicine, more powerful than scleroderma.
Practice being kind to yourself
Everyone has a personal struggle to face. It could be an eating disorder or scars that are difficult to hide. Whatever demon you have on your shoulder, find a way to treat yourself the same way you treat your friends and relatives.
The person inside will always be worth more than our outer shell. So smile at it, lift your chin and go create some happy memories!
To note: Scleroderma News is strictly a disease news and information site. He does not provide any medical advice, diagnostic, Where processing. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnostic, Where processing. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a health problem. Never disregard the advice of a medical professional and do not delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and aim to spark discussion about issues related to scleroderma.