I rode a school bus from age 9 to 17 and thanks to my relentless schoolmate, John the last 4 years were absolute agony for me. His torment began when my older brother graduated and was no longer around to protect me. John was ruthless, shouting loudly, “Hey! Anchor nose!” every time I boarded the bus in the morning. By afternoon it was just, ‘Hey, anchor’ – like a dying battery losing it power, he lost his zest for torture as the day progressed. Walking everywhere with my head held low, I cried a lot during my teenage years and told my mom, ‘When I’m 28 I’m going to get a nose job!’ I don’t know why I picked that age but felt I’d be pretty mature to handle it by then.
So, at age 29 I went under the knife, experiencing painful Rhinoplasty surgery in addition to having my lower orbital bones broken and reset because my plastic surgeon said it would rid me of dark shadows under my eyes (I opted out of a nose job at age 28 because that was the year Tony and I got married and knew he’d be mortified if I looked like Rocky on our wedding day).
I went to my parents’ house the day my bandages were removed and while studying my side view in the upstairs bathroom mirror, I broke. Muffling my gasp and sheer shock by putting my hands over my mouth, I bawled my eyes out. I felt as though my best friend had died. I was no longer myself and my identity permanently blown to smithereens. I was angry that society would not accept me as I was – a girl with an ethnic appearance. I felt ashamed that I had caved and given John my power. He won…and I had lost. It took several weeks to emotionally adjust and although I’ve come to accept and like my nose, any bodily changes I make today come from a place of self-esteem and usually to improve my health.
I learned that beauty is a myth and like the old clichė, it is in the eye of the beholder. We should never allow external factors to dictate our self-worth. Find love within. Lastly, forgiveness and understanding will free and transform your pain. I know now that John’s bullying tactics were just a way to deflect his own pain….and I forgive him.