Growing Up

by Rich Dunbar 11 months ago in trauma

"Wonder"—Growing up with a Facial Disfigurement

Growing Up

This is my first ever time using this, so I'm not sure whether this will get published or if anyone will read it. I guess I'm doing it for myself, but as a sort of diary, if you will. I'm the stereotypical man who struggles to talk openly about how he feels, and I suppose this is a very good way of doing that without openly talking about it face to face, which I don't fancy.

Recently, I watched the film Wonder (2017)it's about a boy with a facial disfigurement who starts school for the first time and faces challenges, such as making new friends and trying to ignore the constant stares and ignorant remarks.

This story is extremely similar to what I went through growing up, so the film really hit me hard and I have thought about it ever since.

I was born with a condition called 'craniofacial microsomia,' in which one or both sides of your face doesn't fully develop. One jaw is smaller than the other, I can barely see out of the one eye, with the most noticeable part being my ear. It is very similar to the one that the young lad has in the film, except mine is a lot more round and noticeable. A quick Google search of the condition will give you an example of what my ear looked like.

Before I started school, I was in and out of hospital. I'm not sure of the exact number, but I had least four operations under my belt before I started learning. This took its toll on everyone, not least my Mom. Everyday, through every operation and every doctor appointment, she was there. She is the strongest woman I have ever met. Like Julia Roberts in the film, she believed that I could go through school, and I'll always be grateful for that.

Believe it or not, the first few years weren't so bad. I had lots of friends, I was good at the schoolwork, the teachers seemed to like me. In my head I was just another schoolkid with not a care in the world—apart from what I was going to have as a treat when I got home, and whether Recess would be on (loved that show).

It all changed though when in Year 3 (I'm not sure what year that is in the US, I'm equally not sure whether this is a British or American site, my fault for not researching! Sorry!) I moved to a new school. From then on, things went downhill. All of the things seen in the film that the lad endured were exactly what I went through—stares, name calling, laughing, pointing, pushing over, you name it, I had it. Looking back now, I don't blame a single kid for doing what they did, they were being kids. At that age, you're still ignorant to the effects of name calling and bullying, and it only stops when you're taught that, in fact, it's not a nice thing to do at all.

These things, of course, affected me not only in school, but at home as well. I would beg my Mom and Dad not to take me, I would pretend to be ill and demand to go to the doctors. I would look at myself in the mirror and think, 'Why are you so ugly?' If there is one thing I am grateful for, it's having siblings. My brother and two sisters made those years growing up tolerable. Yes, we used to fall out. Being the younger sibling, I pretty much used to follow my brother around and do what he did, which used to annoy him, but he would always be there for me at the hardest times.

Eventually, I did start to make friends. They accepted me as just another kid growing up with them, who just maybe looked a little different. The name calling never stopped however from some of the kids in school, but again, kids will be kids.

Writing this now, at this very moment, I can already say I feel better. I have never really discussed my childhood to anyone, I am under the impression that there are people out there who had far worse than me so I don't feel it was necessary. I'm glad, however, that I discovered this site and I now actually might start to believe people when they say talking about your feelings is okay!

I would like to write about other things that happened in my childhood and how it all made me the person I am today, but hey, that's another story!

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