For August, it was so WET yesterday. I didn’t leave the house all day because I must admit that I hadn’t really thought about what I would do with my “Steady Stick” aka umbrella, if it actually rained. Except yesterday it did, a lot, and for the sake of not wanting to be the only drenched person whilst holding an umbrella for balance, I stayed in.
I ended up watching films for most of the day and sobbing in my pyjamas, dark chocolate in hand, when I settled on ‘Wonder’. It tugged on my heart strings so much and even though at times it was a sad story, it was also truly inspiring. Whilst touching her heart Julia Roberts says, “this is the map that shows where you are going” and whilst pointing to her face says “this is the map that shows us where you’ve been. And it’s never, never ugly.” This quote touched me so much because whilst society teaches us that looks are important, it fails to teach us the journey each of us has been on is more important.
My facial paralysis is evidence of the journey I’ve been on and more importantly that I’ve survived to tell the story. Although it’s most likely a timing thing and probably will improve with physio, so many people are born with facial deformities or have awful things happen to them physically that they have to accept will never change or get better with time. This got me thinking that if you know these people, you know that they are not defined by their appearance; they have so much about them that is far more worthy and it’s an honour to know them.
Someone recently asked what I missed the most since my surgery and I answered, “walking down the street without drawing attention or having people look at me.” Granted, it doesn’t help that I constantly ask if I’m walking okay. I’m so stiff and overthinking it, and concentrating on not falling over, that if it looks like I’m trying too hard it’s probably because I am. But when this happened today I realised that this is what it must feel like to others who are physically less able. Walking down the street without drawing attention to themselves is probably something they dream of all the time, whilst knowing it will never become their reality.
Living in London I meet new people all the time, on tubes, coffee shops and whenever I’m out. I have journals full of examples and reasons to be kind, but one that will forever stand out is Helen, my hairstylist. Until April I didn’t know her very well because admittedly, although I’d been going for a while, it was the first time I truly got to know her. She was wearing a Gillet that she purchased from Portobello Market the day before, when she also visited her old house. It took me a while, and lots of questions, before I realised, she was talking about the Grenfell Tower.
On Wednesday 10th April I wrote:
“Haven’t written all week. Have felt a little flat, exhausted and didn’t feel like it. Saturday, I said bye to Harrie, got a turmeric latte from Swallows coffee and then had my hair cut by Helen at H & G. We got talking about Grenfell Tower after I’d asked if she owns the salon (which she does and has done for over ten years btw!) She’d said she was upset by the comments that they’re all immigrants on benefits. It was heart-breaking to hear her talk about the fire, not being able to see one hand in front, losing her daughter in the smoke all day, losing her best friends, having ongoing lung and asthma problems, losing her home. It truly is heart-breaking. I wasn’t in London at the time but remember it on the news and had no idea it was so close to where I live now. Saw the tower with the “always in our hearts” banner whilst on the tube today. So sad but a reminder to always be kind to people – you have no idea what battle they’re going through – to not judge someone on looks, there’s more to them than meets the eye– to be positive because some of the people struggling the most do it so effortlessly. It’s inspiring.”
Helen is still in temporary housing over two years since the fire in 2017 and experienced things you wouldn’t wish on anyone. She has ongoing health problems as a result, lost the people closest to her and yet, seemingly, doesn’t have a problem in the world. She is evidence that you should be kind to people always and that you shouldn’t judge someone by their exterior.
Lately, my closest friends and family constantly say “oh but it’s not important” or “you don’t want to hear about something so trivial when you’ve just had brain surgery.” My big sister apologised for crying to me after devastatingly burying her new baby bunny, my best friend was shattered after losing her dream job and my other sister is currently suffering depression whilst having a seemingly easy life. And yet I’ve honestly lost count of the amount of times I’ve been told it’s not important.
The truth is if it’s important to you then it’s important, period. Everyone has problems that are relative because whilst being minor to someone else, it’s important to them. Everyone truly is fighting something you know nothing about and even though we have heard it before, until you’re forced to remember, it’s easy to forget.
I kind of feel like the girl in Mean Girls at the moment: “I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school… I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy…”
Maybe it’s far-fetched, but maybe it isn’t. There is always somebody worse off than you and even if you think your situation is terrible, there is always somebody wanting something you have right now.
I’ve stopped apologising for how I am at the moment to people I’ve not seen since my surgery because I know I’m the same inside. No matter what we’re going through, always remember that there is something to be thankful for; be strong and choose to be positive.
Favourite quotes from ‘Wonder’
“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”
“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”
Note to self: Being right is never as important as being kind to someone and going the extra mile and being kinder makes a huge difference. Everyone deserves to feel important and loved in their life and being a good person is what makes us who we are.