On my way back from Florida, after battling with myself all week about whether I needed to cover my scars or not, this is what happened –
My family and I were in the airport going through security. I was wearing short-sleeves, as I had done (albeit with difficulty) all week, and my scars were visible enough (despite my attempts to cover them up with medical make-up.) I was at the back of our family, lagging 2 suitcases, so the officer at the desk had to wait a little while longer for me to catch up and move forward in the line.
I thanked him and shot him my best smile, as a gesture of appreciation, expecting a “No problem!” or something of similar meaning. However, his response was so unexpected that I had to ask him to repeat himself:
“So do you have pet cats then?”
He asked, nodding towards my arms.
I said. I wasn’t sure if I had heard him correctly…
“I asked if you have pet cats or something?”
He said, rolling his eyes, gesturing again towards my arms.
I stood there, somewhat in shock. My heart started racing, my cheeks flushed a rosy red, and I felt my body go numb.
If anyone has seen the film about Walter Mitty, you will remember his vivid imagination and impressive fantasising skills. This is exactly what happened to me right then:
An imaginary scene played out in my head in which I attacked this man, shouting abuse at him for his ignorance, lashing out at him physically, crying and losing all self-control, turning into the hulk, causing a scene in the airport….. and being dragged away by airport security personnel – to a room with white walls and booty-juice – to top it all off.
What actually happened was that my stepmum gestured to me to go over to her for comfort, 19 Year Old Sis gave me her jacket to cover my arms with, and 12 Year Old Sis gave me a cuddle and continued to check up on me for a while. (I am so glad that she knows the truth now, and that she is as accepting and compassionate as she is.)
I looked away from them all, desperately blinking back tears, feeling as though it was the end of the world. I felt like the most shameful piece of shit in existence. I was sure all the hard work I had put into showing my (albeit medical make-up concealed) scars over the holiday was for nothing. I was convinced I was being punished for allowing myself to expose this part of myself. I just wanted to disappear into the face of the Earth.
Now that it’s in the past, I am calmer and able to mentalise: maybe he genuinely had no clue being from an older generation; maybe he was trying to be nice; maybe he thought I would find it funny; maybe he is socially impaired himself, etc.
Although, having said that, my anger, sadness and shame at the time was totally legitimate; it was not a pleasant situation to be in at all.
At least I have a plan of revenge generated: One day I’m going to be proud to show the world who I am – imperfections, scars, and all.