Looking at me

I acquired a facial asymmetry after a brain surgery I had when I was 12 years old. All the parts in the right side of my body were afflicted. I then went for therapy and was back to ‘normal’ after five months. My recovery didn’t stop me though from being conscious of my physical appearance. I was young, and was at a period when flawless skin and pretty faces are the coolest things. I tried hard to adjust and I think I was able to; I mastered the art of deception so that I could still look healthy in pictures.

Ten years since then, the AVM recurred. It was in the part of my brain the gamma knife rays weren’t able to reach (according to my neurologist), affecting the right parts of my body again, including my face. The therapy I’m having in a certain hospital here in the UAE won’t do; my therapist opined that we just focus on my balance and coordination since science can’t do anything for my looks anymore. I believed her, thinking that my physical appearance should really be the least of my worries now.

It really shouldn’t be anyway. Any magazine has a page or a line devoted for teenage girls driven with all kinds of insecurity. Sadly, these same magazines would just print perfect-looking beauties in its glossy pages. It would be pretty impossible for a girl like me then to be admired at or noticed (One of my dreams is to be a billboard model.)

But a year and four months after my second operation, the idea still won’t settle. I still wanted to look good. I still wanted to look attractive. I still long for the day when people won’t cringe when I talk or smile. I still want to have my self-confidence back.

That’s not true, I’d tell myself. That’s lousy, I would add. I should just feel blessed that I don’t look sick all the time. My face appears better than it had been 16 months ago. It shouldn’t be a problem since I don’t have somebody anymore to look good for or something I still have to be good at.

Yeah, right.