Strolling to work this morning a man sidled over to me on the street and said how much he enjoyed my piece a few months ago in the Irish Examiner. He added that he had seen me around before, and had promised himself that if he ever saw me again he would say hello and congratulate me on my story. What a lovely way to start the day.
I was delighted because this gentleman had felt he was connected to me because he knew a little about my journey in life. He also felt he could talk without feeling intrusive, and in truth I was not bothered in the slightest. Writing this blog has encouraged several people to greet me on the street. Others have heard me on radio and read the Examiner article and responded. It makes a change from being stared at. At least now people feel a connection with me, and I’m flattered and delighted when they do.
My intention in writing is to help break down barriers for the facially disfigured – it’s not just about me. Many others fear the daily grind of walking crowded streets because people may stare at them. We are not freaks, just ordinary people who look different. Our faces are not meant to challenge or frighten others, and we crave acceptance by society as everyone does. We deserve that.
I spent several days in London over the weekend and not once did I notice people staring at me. If they did I wasn’t aware of it. Isn’t that great? It is for me. Each of us who is facially disfigured would love to live without feeling the eyes of others on us, staring openly, whispering to others about our faces, or making offensive remarks.
Just after | met my ‘fan’ this morning and was basking in the moment, I had a rather different experience. A motorist stalled in traffic spotted me. Startled, he craned his body and neck as far as he could across to the passenger side so he could get a better – and longer – stare. Incredible. You really wonder about people sometimes.
Last Saturday I attended the AGM of Lets Face It in London. Founded 30 years ago by the wonderful Christine Piff, it was a great opportunity to meet so many people who are living with facial disfigurement daily and the professionals who care for them. More about that in my next blog.