District of She Magazine

Beyond Goldenhar.

We are all made differently, masterpieces uniquely stitched together in His likeness. At least that's what I've been told. It was the 1950's when Goldenhar was first discovered. A rare congenital birth defect that occurs mainly on one side of the face caused by a facial nerve that did not form properly or was broken while in the first weeks of development.

My diagnosis after birth was a shock to my parents. This elusive syndrome was now a part of their new baby girl's everyday life.  Thankfully I was given parents whose love was unwavering and compassion endless. Growing up, I was raised with confidence and I had a normal childhood.  Even amidst all the hospital visits, procedures and surgeries I was happy.

Once elementary school hit, kids started pointing out that I was different. They called me names and taunted me. My response, as if rehearsed, was always the same "Well that's how God made me." Junior high was really when the Insecurities began to creep in. Between the hormones and boys I began to emotionally berate myself. This time it wasn't my fellow peers, it was me who continued to draw attention to my physical difference. I felt "ugly," "deformed" and "not good enough." The insecurities that took root within me in junior high seemed to grow and deepen as my high school years progressed. I was angry at God for His inability to make me like the "pretty girls" I envied. As I watched my friends date I convinced myself that it was my physical appearance that kept boys from wanting to be with me. I became depressed, unhappy and lonely. I dreaded looking in the mirror. My reflection was a constant reminder of a face I wished to forget.

After high school I moved two and a half hours away from everything I knew, attending my dream college. With the beach as my backdrop and some distance from my past I hoped to create a new outlook on my future. Not long after being at school I remember and old acquaintance asking me why I simply didn't just "pray for my face to wake back up." I was taken back, appalled even. Didn't they realize I had been aware of my difference my whole life? Of course I would love for my face to just "wake back up," but the reality of Goldenhar promised a lifetime of commitment. My mothers words of comfort after that encounter will forever stay with me. "Believe me, if there was anyone who had wished and prayed that you did not have to have Goldenhar, or angry with God, or wished it was contagious and I could catch it, it was me. I finally dame to accept that this was God's will for you. You arebeautiful handiwork, I am sorry that people would ask you such insensitive questions.' My mothers words and her support have guided me into the beginning journey to self acceptance. 

Months later while working at a Christian camp I met people who would change my life forever. People who would help me come to a place where I would feel comfortable amoungst my peers and by myself. I have embraced that I was made with a purpose. A masterpiece.