Looking Past the Misconception

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Rosemary Gregg

More stories from Rosemary Gregg

Bullying Hurts
March 14, 2019
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Looking Past the Misconception

They look down, swiping their eyes back and forth across my feet and I wonder if they notice. No, I know they noticed. They would’ve had to, right?

Do they think I have cancer? Do they worry that it’s some contagious disease? When their eyes drift from mine to my feet, is it the only thing that they can see or think about?

You wouldn’t think that one imperfection could matter so much, but that’s only because you haven’t stood in awkward positions, trying to keep them from seeing.

For a while, I was embarrassed, to say the least. I made sure to always wear shoes that covered the tops of my feet, but I just wanted to wear something other than sneakers.

I didn’t know what I had until just a few months ago, but that didn’t make the insecurities feel any different.

I sit at my desk while teachers walk around the classroom lecturing. Some purposely avoid looking down as they pass me, while others can’t help but stare.

It’s called vitiligo–a disease that causes the loss of skin color in blotches because of the dying out of skin cells. No, it’s not cancer, no, I wasn’t in a fire and no, it’s not contagious.

While it makes me more suitable for cancer, it’s not deadly. But it can’t be cured either.

Will every part of me look like this one day?

I have more questions than answers. The normal one, I suppose: Why? Why me? What’s wrong with me?

Skin supplements don’t seem to help, but I take them anyway. Four, every day, day after day.

I just want to walk outside and look down at a tan evenly distributed atop my feet rather than a new sunburn.

I’ve always heard that denial holds you back, but I think in this situation, it’s what keeps me going. I hold onto hope that one day, I’ll just wake up and it’ll be gone. My diagnosis will be wrong.

But it’s been harder to do that lately, as I’ve seen it crawling its way onto my shoulders and down my arms, past my sleeves and over to my stomach, crawling its way into the back of my mind.

I’ve been lucky though–my family and friends have been supportive. They don’t stand 10 feet away from me, and they don’t go out of their way to keep their feet covered. They don’t seem disturbed or disgusted, like I do. They look at me in the same way. I know they try to hide it, but they’re concerned that it means that I’m not healthy.

I’m healthy. It’s just that my skin doesn’t look like everyone else’s. But I can live with that, and I will.

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