I have spent most of my life thinking of myself as a victim; not without reason of course. In Africa, as a child, I thought I would like to become an ‘African’ and covered myself in mud. My mother was not amused to put it mildly. At school, I thought I was a Catholic but got found out and ‘removed’ to the minority Protestant section. In Thailand I was a farang – despised foreigner. I had goofy teeth, which didn’t help matters once the baby teeth fell out. At boarding school, I had my fees paid by the government – hmmmm.
Moving into adulthood, I still managed to attract unwanted attention for being different. Being pregnant at medical school was certainly not what women did. Not to mention being the black sheep of the family for being a Christian. Then in the church, I was far too outspoken as a woman. Being mentally ill in hospital, I was ‘deliberately trying not to get better’ according to some of the staff. In Scotland I was an ‘incomer’, which means outsider, and finally here in the USA, I am an immigrant, though being British does at least give me the advantage of an accent everyone seems to love.
However shedding this perspective of myself has been far from easy. The enemy’s lies are so pervasive in my mind; every time I perceive a failure or difficulty in life, they want to confirm this view of myself. But that is what they are – lies.
I am me, I am white and female and vulnerable, funny and talented and far too sensitive. There is much about me that I would like to change – the scars from self-harm on my arms for instance, or my fine and thinning hair. I wish I would stop being hypocritical and judgmental – but I am the way I am.
Recently I stepped way out of my comfort zone, taking part in a ‘Variety Show’ as half of a comic duo. When I agreed to this, little did I know that I would have to sing as well as make corny jokes.
As the shy, underconfident child at school, I had taken singing lessons to counter the fact that I sang flat. It worked and enabled me to be selected to sing with the famous boys school Eton College, in their opera. But that was short lived. As an adult, the confidence drifted away and I was back to square one.
I came back from rehearsal a week or so before the performance here and faced myself in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw nor how I sounded, but I took solace in the fact that when I was singing, dancing and acting I forgot about myself. I was having so much fun. It was like being a child again but without the disapproving parents.
I am not about to hit Broadway and I know enthusiasm is a good cover for lack of talent, but I feel alive. It’s a good feeling. It’s good to know that I am me, not for any reason other than I am who I am. I have nothing to prove. I am totally accepted and loved in all my brokenness and fallen nature by the One who made me (and I don’t mean my parents!)
Life is tough and life has been tough. We all have our own different paths, some so excruciatingly difficult and unbearable that I cannot imagine how they survive. I want to fix it but I can’t. I hate injustice and discrimination in all its forms. But we do need each other, every one of us, whoever we are. A bottle full of love and acceptance 20 x a day is what this doctor orders. Non-judgmental listening, understanding and empathy towards myself as well as others, goes a long way in repairing the damage. I confess, I’m not very good at it, I need Your help and your help, but at least in that I know I am not alone.