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Self-Esteem; The Constant Struggle

Thursday, August 02, 2012

I can only think of a maybe a handful of times that words have really cut me to the core in my life. Where I was struck completely speechless and stunned, as the person verbally assaulting me continued to speak on and on, and I couldn’t even defend myself. It’s this odd feeling of are they really saying what I think they are saying, surely I am imagining it, it almost feels out of body.

I supposed I need a little back story on my life…. I wasn’t sure I was even going to share this with the internet, but when I was 4 years old I was burned badly in a gasoline fire. I had 3rd degree burns on my face, arms, and back and I spent 4 months living in a hospital bed and 8 years having non-stop surgery. It is something I have lived with my entire life and honestly I have never let it slow me down. I wear tank tops and open backed shirts, I try to tell myself everyday that its freaking hot and if someone doesn’t like seeing my scars than that's their problem. I feel that my scars aren’t an issue, I am a beautiful woman (at least that is what people tell me all the time), and I am not afraid to be seen. I have bright red hair for gosh sakes… I don’t mind being noticed.

Now back to ignorant a** holes… I was sitting down having lunch with my co-workers, laughing and having a good time and this guy who works in another studio in my building approached our table to talk to us. He is known throughout the building as a perv… he has some stupid photography package where he teaches girls how to become models, which we are all convinced that’s code for he gets underage girls in slutty outfits and takes pictures of them bending over and showing their butts. As he was in the middle of a shoot a few weeks ago he shouts to me, I am going to take your picture next….my thoughts “yeah sure, I don’t think so”. So back to what happened , when he comes up to our table he points to me and says “I’m serious, I want to take your picture, I know you have, you know, scars and stuff” gesturing to the side of my face, “I was thinking we could use a mask, and sort of go with the Phantom of the Opera theme”………… me and all of my co-workers are just sitting there stunned. Now I really don’t think he truly grasped exactly what he was saying to a person who has had to endure what I have had to endure in my life and I also don’t think his intention was to hurt my feelings, I really just think he is that stupid. He continued on talking but I couldn’t tell you what he said because everything from that moment on was just a humming in my ears. I was shocked at how that made me feel…. I am the first person to defend myself and to defend others and believe me I don’t have a problem stating my mind but I was truly stunned.

I was stuck on what he said and what his intention for saying it were. When he left the only thing I could say to my co-workers was “did he really just compare me to the Phantom of the Opera?”, they were shocked as well and as I was forced at the moment to talk to them all about personal things that I didn’t think I would have to mention in a group work setting, the tears started to flow and I was so angry that that stupid a** hole made me cry. Of course me crying made my co-workers start crying which oddly enough made me feel better. They truly are my friends and they care.

I have had to work so hard…. soooo hard my whole life to have any self-esteem. This isn’t like a scar on your stomach or a scar on your leg. My scars are covering my arms and hands and over my entire face and neck and back. Most I do not have the ability to hide at all unless I wear long sleeves and gloves in Alabama summer heat. I went through elementary to high-school with these scars. Started dating boys and eventually getting married with these scars and building enough confidence in myself that I am desirable and I am sexy and I am beautiful. I was so stunned that this man… this insignificant a** of a man could make me feel so ugly in all of about 5 seconds. I just kept thinking... he thinks you need to wear a mask… I know he’s stupid but it still hurt.

Will I let this affect me?… Well maybe for a day or so.. yes I am still mad! But I will move on and I know he is wrong and I know that even if I wasn’t burned there would be jerks who said something to hurt my feelings. I will push his words aside and know I am the sexy woman I am and screw him. It also feels kind of good that every man I know wants to kick his butt….

But you think you have such confidence but it is amazing how fragile self-esteem and confidence really are.

I have a new Blog :) You can check it out at www.redhotwritinghood.co
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    He is socially handicapped. Clueless. Ignore him, stick with those coworkers who support you. You have life experiences that have made you into a strong person. Continue to be proud of yourself for surviving all that you have. Hold your head high.
    2537 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your story. Self-esteem can be very fragile, but it sounds as if yours has a strong foundation that was only momentarily shaken. I'm so glad that you felt supported by your other co-workers, and that their sorrow for what happened to you helped you to heal from this hurt.
    2690 days ago
    I'm a little behind here, so I'm only just reading this, but all I can say is wow...what an idiot. I'm sure he had nooo idea of what he even said that was so offensive -- not an excuse mind you..just noting that he is possibly one of the most stupid human beings on the planet.
    Good for you for KNOWING how beautiful you are and knowing what a jerk he is. You are a strong, amazing woman and don't ever let ANYONE cause you to doubt that!!!
    2710 days ago
    Good grief. I hope you and everyone in your group ignores this obnoxious moron from now on. I'm not so sure he isn't hitting on you. Yuck!! Put him out of your mind. He is not worth thinking about. emoticon
    2710 days ago
    What a total jackhole.

    I just wanted to say (1) your red hair kicks mad butt; (2) don't let the turkeys get you down (and this guy ... omg, he is beyond turkeydom) and (3) health issues are a struggle, so it's no wonder to me that you have found yourself back at square one. However, keep the faith and keep working at it and you'll get there. You've done it before, you'll do it again!

    PS, love the new blog! Keep posting!
    2712 days ago
  • no profile photo MITCHARVEY
    Some people are just jackasses.
    2713 days ago
    I have to agree with Cheri about the harassment. Besides being a complete a**hole, he deserves to be reported. Does he have any sensitivity at all.

    You are one of the most courageous women I know and your blog made me cry. But your strength is truly amazing.
    2716 days ago
    In my work world that would be called harassment .(I used to be in the military) I don't work anymore because I have a spinal injury from a car accident and the scars to go with it .A very few people get away with singing a modified version of an old song "Nice face ,shame about the legs "but that is the military esprit de corps thing and most of them no longer have legs ! They are just trying to cheer me on in that strange soldiers way in physio! You are beautiful and on top of that you are a better and stronger person than that creature . My husband has two teeshirts that say it all about the spunk of a redhead ,one says "You can't scare me I married a redhead " and the other says "They say redheads have no soul , that isn't true redheads gain a freckle for every soul they steal" I loved the comment about kitsugi in my opinion not only do you look beautiful your beauty shines through in your words and talent. Noone anywhere has said a word in defence of that idiot so you are the one who shines brightest.
    2718 days ago
    also super excited by the blog, it looks awesome!!!
    2718 days ago
    you already know who you are, how awesome you are, and what a big pervy jerk this guy is - so use the anger for some good workouts and get back to embracing all of you, you are gorgeous, scars and all, that is part of what makes you YOU, part of what has made life the way it is for you. your scars screen out the losers, call it enhanced intuition ;)
    2718 days ago
  • DCUZ99

    I am so sorry that someone made you feel that way but I am so proud of the way that you are bouncing back. I hope that all the comments that you have read help you to restore the confidence that you had before the misfortune of meeting that insensitive individual.

    Don't let him get you down.

    Big warm hugs and lots of love from the UK.

    2720 days ago
    The sad part is.... He probably is clueless as to how that affected you and that he even said something wrong. That's how insensitive a$$holes can be. smh
    2720 days ago
    Oh gosh... I think I want to be you when I grow up!

    I really admire the way you dealt with the situation, by letting the emotions out right away, and then accepting the love and caring of your friends to help soothe you and heal the hurt....

    We can't change what other people do TO us, but you sure didn't bottle it up, take responsability for it, OR let it stay with you too long!

    Yeah, he's an a$$.... some people are. You handled it all with emotional maturity.
    2721 days ago
  • DRB13_1
    Your history reminds me of a story that used to be on the SparkPage of one of my friends. I couldn't find it (I believe she has updated), but it refers to the Japanese art of kintsugi.

    That means "golden joinery" in Japanese.

    Lyrics from song by Peter Mayer

    Japanese Bowl

    I’m like one of those Japanese bowls
    That were made long ago
    I have some cracks in me
    They have been filled with gold

    That’s what they used back then
    When they had a bowl to mend
    It did not hide the cracks
    It made them shine instead

    So now every old scar shows
    From every time I broke
    And anyone’s eyes can see
    I’m not what I used to be

    But in a collector’s mind
    All of these jagged lines
    Make me more beautiful
    And worth a much higher price

    I’m like one of those Japanese bowls
    I was made long ago
    I have some cracks you can see
    See how they shine of gold

    emoticon Shine on, Beautiful! You are a survivor!
    2721 days ago
    He is obviously clueless and doesn't realize how deeply his words hurt you. I can tell by your story that even if you don't know it, you've inspired other people throughout your life. Just keep doing that. You are here for a reason so don't let him get to you. emoticon
    2722 days ago
    Good for you for not letting this ignorant person define you or what makes you truly beautiful. So many people let one ignorant comment stick in their minds and define them. I have seen this pattern many a time. Really, I think if you have a human resources dept. at work this person needs a talking to and some sort of course in empathy and sensitivity. I don't think ignorance is an excuse. He needs to be educated. It is kind of ironic isn't it because instead of embarrassing you, he ended up playing the fool for an audience of people who truly care about you and nothing about him. emoticon
    2722 days ago
    Wow. Just remember-your scars say absolutely nothing about who you are. His a-hole comment speaks volumes about who he is. Thanks for sharing your story here. You inspire me!
    2722 days ago
    Holy cow! He needs to be fired.

    2722 days ago
    "I really just think he is that stupid." Um... yeah. Among other things. I can only imagine how you felt - I am still shocked after reading this. The depths of some people's profound stupidity and lack of awareness is astounding to me. Just astounding. But enough about him, he is just not worth the time.

    But you are. What an amazing and brave story about a beautiful woman filled with determination, spirit and courage. I have a burn on the side of my face. I fell on one of those old-fashioned radiators when I was a baby. My aunt was babysitting me - and my mother never forgave her. I never really think about the burn because it doesn't define me in any way....

    You are a rock star! And any picture of you would be beautiful. Simply beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing your story. That took ballz ;) Battle on, gorgeous. It's coffee time for me... Happy Saturday.

    2722 days ago
    Cosmic proof that some good can arise from the most heartless acts: I stumbled across your blog ('unbelievable' doesn't do it justice; if called to account, I can just hear MoronMan's pretence-defence), which in turn has led me to your 'RedhotWritingHood' so - there's a good thing!

    Reading your story made me think - ever hear of Amanda Redman? Wonderful actress, good style, and not the traditional iconic star. I don't know how extensive her scars are in general, but I know she was badly burned when she was a toddler, and her scars are visible onscreen. Like you, she hasn't let it stop her from living her life.

    You go, girl - whether scars are on the inside, outside, or both, real beauty shines thru.
    2722 days ago
    thank you for sharing your story - i can only agree with what everyone else says, *he* is an a** and YOU are BEAUTIFUL! emoticon
    2722 days ago
  • SJOHNS30
    Wow... to me it seems like he is really pressed on your nuts. I mean he has approached you several times to try to get you to do a photoshoot so he can get you to take your clothes off for his pleasure. Obviously he finds you attractive. He is just an idiot with no game and couldn't think of anything intelligent enough to say to convince you that you should strip down for his shoot. If anything I think you should be flattered that he is going to such great lengths to try to get you to pose and is trying to desperately to think of something witty. Next time you should tell him in an over-enthusiastic tone "that sounds like a great idea! And then I can take pictures of you for my little peni$ calendar. I think you would be a great for the cover! I think you would be inspiration for all of the men out there dealing with the inadequacy that you have been dealing with. You are so brave". Jack@ss! It is strange how certain things can trigger so much emotion within us and seem to cut us so deep so quickly. We love you and obviously no one loves this sorry little man who has to trick girls into giving him attention (Dateline To Catch a Predator anyone?)
    2722 days ago
    What an @$$!! You are beautiful!! Dont let some perv effect you. Brush it off, walk tall and sexy!!
    2722 days ago
    I have scars, not from a burn, but all over my body. I used to hide them and like you I decided I would not hide and be ashamed. People like that man are ignorant and they do need to be held accountable for their ignorance, intended or not. You should make a point of telling him how horrible what he said is. Maybe it will change nothing but maybe it will make him think about his behavior and he will change on some level. You never know. Just know that I understand you and think you are gorgeous and brilliant. Hugs
    2723 days ago
  • no profile photo BAMAJAM
    Oh what great responses to your touching blog! Xphoenix offers so much understanding because she had endured serious burns also. From all the comments here, you know that your "fan club" is huge!!
    You can always know too that there will be cruel, meanspirited jerks in this world. They are pitiful creatures and the lowest life form. Do you recall when the lady bus monitor was ridiculed and mocked by the cruel youths----? That lady had an outpouring of support, and money,... when her story went public! She received more than half a million dollars from folks who wanted to "comfort" her.
    Don't give anyone the power to spoil your happy spirit--- ever !!
    2723 days ago
    Wow, I can't believe someone could be so stupid and insensitive. You are beautiful inside and out and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise!
    2723 days ago
    You are strong and brave for sharing this. You are are also beautiful. I can see it in your pictures and I can feel it in your words. I'm so glad that you have such great co workers that were there to cry with you. Words hurt and I'm sorry this guy hurt you.
    Today, think beautiful thoughts!
    2723 days ago
    Most of the time, it's not the people whose intention it is to hurt that really bite deep. It's that casual backhand in what was an ordinary conversation where they don't even realize that they've stabbed you in the gut and chatter blythely on, unaware even that your world is crashing down.
    2723 days ago
    Oh darling.. it's so great (for him) that I wasn't there... lol. You know I would have handed his a$$ to him and made him feel about as big as an ant. Moron. What's saddest is, he probably didn't even see that what he said was total garbage. First of all, you ARE beautiful. I dont want to see you ever question that again. Ok? Not only do your scars not matter to real people, but they make you MORE beautiful to anyone that has been through anything remotely bad and it's like a badge of honor to reflect how rock-hard tough and awesome you are. And the fact that you're freakin' HOT is just icing on the cake. I think he saw how beautiful you are and the fact that you (unlike the teenage hookers) wont give him the time of day. I'm sure it took him ages to come up with his comments and he probably even wrote them down so he would remember it for a later date and he just saved it up until his golden moment (when you were surrounded by people) to say something and possibly embarrass you.

    The best thing is, it brought you closer to a realization that your co-workers truly are your friends, he's a giant douchebag, and (even though you feel upset right now), you will emerge from yet another test STRONGER. You ARE beautiful and smart and sassy and awesome. Don't let some a$$ that you would NEVER associate with in the first place to judge you or even come close to thinking he CAN.

    As a side note, I think you would be interested to know that I was burned when I was 6 months old in boiling water (in a bathtub). I was already walking and fell in as the tub was filling. I managed to catch myself with my right hand but got my face, neck, right leg, and both of my feet. I was in Shriner's Burn Hospital in Massachusetts for a year and had surgeries to try to correct things (including skin grafts, reconstruction, etc) with my hand especially until I was 15. In fact, those doctors said I would never walk again (bahaha! in their FACE!) because my cartilage was basically melted and I actually have none in my hips and things from all of the surgeries. I was teased forever for it and so I have a different outlook on teasing for burns. I could NEVER see someone with it and say anything even remotely negative. If anything, it makes me want to hug them and suddenly they are even MORE fantastic for their amazing survival and, when they are as awesome as you are, I tend to feel even MORE amazed.

    So, basically.. this guy has never broken a nail or had a real life before. He's not struggled to prove his worth yet and therefore, has not earned space in your mind. Push him out and realize that you, my dear friend, and FANTASTIC and he will be chewed up and spit out one day by someone. Its just a matter of time :)

    Love you!! XO
    2723 days ago
    that guy is truly a f*cktard!! i'm so sorry, what an @ss!!
    2723 days ago
    You know what...you said it. Ignorant @ss.

    I'm not even going to try to justify that man's thinking, because clearly he wasn't. All of our interactions have shown me that you are a wonderful, strong willed, and beautiful person. And I know I've only seen the surface. People just well are people sometimes and it's hard to ignore them all the time. Impossible in fact, but what you do afterward is what makes them win or lose.

    Posting this and sharing the experience with us. He lost.
    Sharing with your coworkers and having them understand. He lost.

    So you just do what you need to do to get your head back where you want it and know he's a loser.
    2723 days ago
    It's amazing to me how some people think...
    What an idiot that guys is!
    You are a beautiful woman and I'm sure that's the real reason he wanted to shoot you... I'm sure he was just trying to be creative and didn't think about what he was saying to you. What was really going on in his mind was what is it that makes this woman special?

    2723 days ago
    Total jerk! Some people are so clueless and so ignorant as to how to be a decent human being. You are a beautiful woman!
    2723 days ago
    Don't let the moron get you down. What comes out of his mouth is not worth the time of day. I understand that you were hurt and insulted. Very reasonable reaction. But he does not deserve the power trip he got by being so insulting. I would make every effort to not look at him or listen to him or share space with him. I looked at your pictures and you are beautiful. Feel proud of yourself! emoticon
    2723 days ago
  • PLYNSN316
    OMG. I am completely stunned. As I was reading your blog, I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I am so sorry that you had to deal with this a**hole. I am blown away by people's rudeness and complete lack of brain power. How dare he? No. You don't need a mask! How dare he even imply that! I am so angry. What right does he have?!

    I am so sorry.

    Our self esteem is a really fragile thing. I picture it as a beautiful, rare, fragile flower in my soul. When I water it and tend to it with positive affirmations and love, it blooms. When I listen to and replay hurtful comments or suggestions, it wilts and the petals start to brown on the edges.

    It doesn't take much for the petals to start browning, the soil to dry up, and the wilting to take effect.

    It does take a lot of work, however, to keep the flower in bloom...to ensure there is enough water, the soil is full of nutrients, and that there is ample love and light shining in.

    You are incredibly beautiful. You are desireable. You are wonderful. Keep the light shining on the beautiful flower inside of you.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2723 days ago
    Holy crap on a cracker!!

    Don't let it get you down...you KNOW better than that. It's like my friend who's co worker said "why do black people always have to have black names like sha-nay-nay or something?" (Her name is Rasheda) she just looked at him stunned, so you're right there are people out there who just "don't get it" and although their intentions may not be hurtful.....are just a little TOO brash.

    Don't let it worry you...you are freaking beautiful.

    2724 days ago
  • ROSIE777
    I am so sorry but so proud of how you are handling it. emoticon
    2724 days ago
    I know exactly what I would do because I have done it before to those kind if insensitive people. I would make it a point to track him down. I would tell him I need you to sit down we need to talk.I would tell him you want no talking from him until you are finished. I would lay it all out & tell him this is what it has been like all my life & tell him what it feels like. Tell him since" he has not one ounce of sensitivity in his body I had to take you by the hand like a child & explain it to you." Just maybe he will get it, unless he is that dense.
    Take care ( I like your sassy red hair!!!!! )
    2724 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/2/2012 12:11:39 PM
    Thanks for sharing your story. That guy is a total jerk and sounds like a creep. I can understand how what he said would upset you, but good for you for not letting his insensitive, ignorant words get to you. You are a beautiful person inside and out.
    2724 days ago
  • JONEIL513
    wow.. i wish I could punch that guy in the face. I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you. You are so beautiful inside and out. You deserve major props for going through such a trauma and coming out so positive and strong. emoticon
    2724 days ago
  • -POOKIE-
    Oh *hugs*

    I have prickles of tears in my eyes at the thought of your efforts being torn down by this utter *insert choice expletive*

    I hope though there is a little smile at the knowledge of how many men AND women would happily boot him from here to the end of next week on your behalf though.

    I know you will get back to your state of mind where you know how wonderful you are... let the anger rage a bit and then get calm, secure in the knowledge he will ALWAYS be that thick and nothing can change that! Yet you can change how he made you feel.
    2724 days ago
    Oh...don't get me started so early in the morning.
    I can't believe THAT.
    Phantom of the dang OPERA!!!???

    I too am outspoken, don't mind attention BUT there is something inside of me that when stunned by what someone has the NERVE to say out of line to me...I have trained myself to PAUSE.
    I KNOW MY TEMPER. At work I would have gone all Kanye on his a** and afterwards regretted letting that OUT.


    I tell you WHAT...I let alot of things SLIDE...but I feel when it comes to ME...who I am, I DEFEND IT TOOTH AND NAIL. When I was truly "fat" I didn't allow ANYONE to refer to me AS SO. There is too many negtive connotations linked to it coming from the mouth of SOMEONE ELSE. IF I want to call MYSELF fat...I am ALLOWED. IF someone even DARES to try to put me down... I am no bathing beauty, NEVER WILL BE a top model, couldn't win a beauty content... but, I feel all I have is myself. I am worth SOMETHING. No matter WHAT I DO NOT deserve to take on hurtful words from ANYONE about who I am OR what I am not or anything else.

    What he needs is to KNOW HIS PLACE. He needs to how far he can go with you. He overstepped HIS BOUNDARIES.

    If I may suggest...
    When you have collected yourself...when you don't feel Kanye will take over and you might blank out and whip him into a stooper with his own camera...I would TELL HIM FACE TO FACE...don't you EVER come at me LIKE THAT...and simply walk away.
    If he wants to apologize, I would tell him TOO LATE. You respect me, I will respect you...but don't EVER cross the line with what you choose to say to me again. Make it simple.

    If he tries it again...even PLAYING...you have witnesses. I WOULD TELL ON HIM! Report his stupid hindpot to HR or whomever is equivalent to it on your job.

    The truth is...that's a soft spot. Nonetheless any GROWN UP KNOWS you don't look, stare, or make references as he did. (I would request a drug test for that FOOL....cause he has to be ON SOMETHING.)

    I really believe...even with all this weight loss and chatter about looking our best, TRUE BEAUTY COMES FROM WITHIN. GENUINE sexiness is what a woman feels INSIDE and it only excudes on the outside. It is not forced, it is not necessarily WHAT she wears...it is simply HER. Everyone else sees it. Everyone else KNOWS IT. THAT, to me is what being a sex Goddess is all about.

    I think when a person has gone through something and they have something physical they have to deal with daily...it serves as a reminder.
    But let what you see BE A REMINDER of TRUE STRENGTH. the remnants of A REAL SURVIVOR.

    And when you meet jerks like Merv the Perv...keep in mind only someone who is dumb does/says things like that.
    NOBODY that is WORTH your questioning your own self esteem or anything else. THEY HAVE A PROBLEM...don't let their become one for you.
    ...got me started...
    You know what's going on with you...that jack a** is so stupid he doesn't even know there is a problem going on WITH HIM. Now THAT's DUMB. Its laughable really.
    2724 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/2/2012 11:57:54 AM
    What an a$$hole! He def sounds like one of those completely clueless ppl who have absolutely no guard on their mouths. I'm sorry you had to go through that. You are a strong woman for all you've been through and even though I know it wasn't a good experience for you at all, of course, wear those scars as battle scars! You went through enough with them! They make you even more beautiful than you already are. And screw him! It's also nice that you had such a good support system in that moment. :) emoticon
    2724 days ago
    The guy is an insensitive a$$ who obviously has no manners... I'm so sorry you had to go through that, but thanks so much for sharing your story!
    2724 days ago
    That guy is a jerk. Congrats on your weight lost. emoticon
    2724 days ago
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