I don’t know about anyone else who has Ichthyosis who has been bullied as a child for their appearance, but I am triggered when people make comments about my skin. You know what is even more difficult to deal with though? Guess. When kids say similar things to you that the bullies said to you when you were 13 years old. I work in a group home for adolescents and teens struggling with multiple mental health diagnoses and as expected, I encountered some trouble from a couple of them because of my dry skin.
My job description pretty much is making sure these kids are learning how to take care of themselves and how to interact with other people so I have to watch out for them and make sure they are being safe, respectful, and responsible. I was reminding two of them of these goals as they were being disrespectful (as they often are). This time was different though because one of them came up to me and started telling me how the other said I was “ugly because of your skin around your mouth.” Upon hearing this, my heart and my stomach dropped. I briefly replied that I didn’t care what they thought about my appearance and once the kid was out of sight the tears came. I was 13 years old again listening to someone tell me that other people thought I was ugly because of my skin.
I am a very strong, confident person these days, but this reduced me to a puddle where I stood. Why? Well, I was triggered. I was triggered by something that stirred up unresolved, painful feelings in the deepest depths of my soul where I had stuffed them down over a decade ago. 6 words “You are ugly because of your skin.” So few words that I know truly do not reflect on me, but that put my heart in a painful place all the same. 6 words that have been spoken to me or shown to me in one way or another about 100+ times but that cancel out the 1000+times I have been told that I am beautiful. 6 words that make me feel like less than a human being and like I don’t belong here on this earth. 6 words that one would not think would hurt so much and that one says as a reflection of how they might feel about themselves, but that reduce me to a label feared by everyone, especially women, “ugly.” I am UGLY because of the genetic disorder I didn’t ask to be born with. I am UGLY because today’s standards of beauty involve perfectly smooth skin.
I like my job and it is very rewarding by the way. This moment just struck me so hard that day and I am still processing it 🙂
I know this isn’t true and I have since been healing. But do you ever get triggered by things people say? If so, feel free to share. Thanks for reading ❤