When I was 10 years old, I came down with Bell’s Palsy. For those of you that don’t know what that is – it’s a paralysis and weakness of one side of your face. Damage to the facial nerve that controls muscles on one side of your face causing that side to droop. It comes on suddenly, usually overnight. The transformation from normal to dysfunctional is frightening. It looked like I had a stroke. (Needless to say, my folks were scared witless.) The right side of my face went slack. I couldn’t close my right eye at all. This caused dryness of my eye, which was painful. I had to tape it shut at night. (Which irritated my eyelid and made it red and swollen). I drooled without knowing it. I had just started the 6th grade, when everyone is trying to fit in, and I felt that I looked like a freak. Of course, kids made sure that I knew I looked like a freak. So, I was terrified about my future. Would my face always be this way? How am I supposed to get a girl to even look at me, let alone like me? How am I going to get a job when there are normal looking people around? Am I going to be to The Elephant Man of Wyoming? I was terrified. And I couldn’t bear looking at myself in the mirror.
Luckily, after some time, the symptoms began to recede. In the rural Wyoming town, where I grew up, we didn’t have a specialist to treat me. I was simply put on steroids and told to rub my face to keep the muscles from atrophying. To this day, I still have residual muscle weakness in my face. I have a hell of a time blowing up balloons. (My kids love watching me struggle at it though!) And my right eye droops and squints more than the left, especially when I’m tired. So I know, how it feels to look in the mirror and despise what you see. I know what it is like to avoid being seen. I know what it is to be extremely self-conscious. And I know what it feels like to scrutinize every single photograph of yourself. I don’t ever want anyone to feel about themself the way I did. No one should EVER have to feel that way. We’re all created in God’s image. Even if that image looks broken.
I was so thrilled to see that Karen has created Face2Face Healing. So people like me would have a place where my parents could have gone for information and support. That would have been amazing! They would have learned better ways to support me mentally, emotionally, and physically. They would have also been supported. Ten-year-old Terry would have found other people who had gone through similar struggles and wouldn’t have felt so alone. Learning about holistic treatment strategies like Mindfulness, Tai Chi, Reiki, and Acupuncture would have increased the speed and effectiveness of my recovery. Face2Face Healing is a noble organization. it is so worthy of your support. The next time you get a phone call or see an email from Karen extending you the opportunity to help out in some fashion, take her up on it. You’ll be part of raising fellow human beings up out of their dark night of the soul. You’ll be bringing individuals hope when they feel broken.