Friday, October 16, 2009

Me and My Ear

Today I was going to continue with the week's string of promotions, which seemed to emerge of its own accord. But something else has been pressed upon me, and I hope this isn't a mistake. Because I'm nervous. Because I'm going to share something with you, and I'll hope you'll be understanding.

My purpose? I want to be brave, to show one of my sensitivities. I hope sharing a little vulnerability and imperfection will make me stronger. And maybe remind us that everyone has something about which they're self-conscious.

I have this scar. It's called a keloid, and it's borne of a ridiculously stubborn tissue that likes to grow and itch and zing with pain. And grow, did I mention it likes to grow? That's the root problem of a keloid, which forms in ways abnormal from your standard pink, if not cute, scar.

It's on the side of my head, right smack on my earlobe. There for everyone to see, were I to let them; there for people to gross out over.

I wear my hair down, smooth and stage it dozens of times a day, so no one gets an eyeful. I cut my own hair. I offer the other ear to whispered secrets, to the thermometer at the doctor's office. When my hair goes up, for boat rides or yoga class, it's with low pigtails that hide, or a stylish scarf that covers and distracts. Windy days stress me.

It's horrifying. Only my family and a few close friends have seen it.

I've had surgery - deemed medically necessary because of the itching and zing - four times for removal of the ugly. It takes pain and preparation, weeks of steroid shots loaded directly into the toughened site. Ouch. But each of the four times? The keloid has grown back as the surgical incision healed. Because it's scar tissue in itself and of itself. My ear doesn't know how to regenerate the proper way, it would seem.

I've accepted the ugly, by way of my usual tricks and deceptions. And I slather vitamin E and Mederma cream; wear a home-fashioned compression clip I can't quite pass off as Blue Tooth on my ear, which softens the scar so it's bearable. But it's really for naught, since the scar may be part of me and the rest of my life as much as my brown eyes.

Wince now, get it out, because I'm going to show you, quick, before I change my mind. And I want you to know I had to step out of myself to take this picture. This was hard. All I can see is the 1-inch shooter marble that claims my right ear.


So now that I've done it, I've shared and showed what I've always hidden, what? Will you be able to visit me without seeing the keloid scar? Without attention to my vulnerability?
Do you still see me as you did before?

I hope so, oh, I do. And I hope you'll feel less alone with whatever it is for you. I hope you find strength - ugly ear or no - and step out of it. I'll go with you.

73 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

Janna, there's not a single atom of you that isn't lovely. I LIKE your "shooter marble." One of my very best friends since elementary school has keloids too. :)

Your display of bravery and selflessness is awesome. If your WIP's MC is anything like you, I'll be first in line to buy the book and help promote it. Who wants to read about a perfect heroine no one can relate to?

Hugs and happy weekend!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Nanner........got to be first to comment!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Hugs :D Going away now. LOL

Rebecca Nazar said...

Scar? What scar? All is see is a very brave soul. :-)

Rebecca Nazar said...

All 'I' see is a very brave soul . . . man, I need more coffee. Cheers, Janna. Fantastic post.

Rebecca Nazar said...

Hugs ;-) Going away now . . .

Heather Sunseri said...

You're beautfiul! Thank you for reminding me that we're all self-conscious and scarred about something. It is so hard to put ourselves out there with our words or our scars. You are a brave and beautiful person!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

I love this. I love this. Had to write it twice. It is the vulnerable places that make people more real and beautiful to me. I was sorry to read it causes you any pain. That is what made me most sad reading this.
God Bless You for sharing!
~ Wendy

Jessica said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!
I love your bravery Janna, and I'm so sorry this causes you pain. I can't imagine having to deal with that because I get incredibly self-conscious over my cold sores, which are rare and temporary.
Does it change how I see you? Not really, accept that now I see you in a deeper, better way. :-)
Thank you for sharing this part of yourself. I really hope they come up with a cure because that kind of chronic pain/annoyance has to be wearing.

Jessica said...

Hmmm....I believe accept is supposed to be except! LOL

She's So There said...

As one who just spent weeks not seeing, not focusing, not knowing if I would ever see again normally, I was simply thankful to see you...and how beautiful you are...

MeganRebekah said...

What amazing courage it took to put yourself out there so honestly! I love your bravery in taking this action!

CKHB said...

"Who wants to read about a perfect heroine no one can relate to?"

Exactly! And I think you look lovely.

I remember getting a class photo taken after I'd had a bad haircut, and as we were looking at the proofs, I was bemoaning my appearance... and this ADORABLE girl said she didn't know what I was talking about, because I had the best teeth of anyone. And it hit me that we all have something that embarrasses us, and so we feel like there is a spotlight on it. My spotlight encompassed everyone's hair. Hers captured everyone's teeth. And none of it was a big deal at all.

You're brave to try to share with us your own "spotlight"... but what really shines is your good heart.

Janna Qualman said...

Wow, I really feel unworthy of all these kind and loving words. Thank you all so much.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Jana, thank you so much for your courage! You are beautiful--so talented, such an incredible person. I'd be honored to be your friend. Thank you for helping me view the different things in my life in a new light.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Oops--sorry. I misspelled your named. I blame the morning. :0)

Janna Qualman said...

Angie - I get that about the heroine, I do. It's a great point. And you simply crack me up!

Becca - I'm toasting you with my own coffee. And you're funneh, too! *grin*

Thanks, Heather. I hope you have a great weekend, too.

Wendy - I really appreciate your comment. Thank you.

Jessica - I think these things make us sensitive to others, don't you? And I feel that's important.

She's So There - Thank you so very much! And I'm really glad to hear your eyesight will be fine. What a blessing!

MeganRebekah - Thank you. Your comment (and the others') makes me feel braver than I did before.

CKHB - That's true, yes! We get so caught up in our moment, our thing, that we can't realize every other person has their own. We must remember that. It will make us more sensitive to one another.

Kristen - Your words are too kind. Thank you very much.

Terri Tiffany said...

Since I've met you, I never noticed it at all and if I had, it would not bother me at all. We all have our secret scars--some we can see others not. I have an ugly scar on my forehead and thus went back to bangs since I saw you cause it bothered me so much. Also got an ugly mole that was removed but still shows up to me in pictures--the list goes on! But you are a beautiful person and that's what counts!

Capri K said...

You are brave to bare your ear-soul. I'm sorry that it bothers you so, but there is much more to you than your right ear.

Like I always tell Abby, God uses the broken, imperfect things that we despise, for His purposes.

YOU are lovely!

Tamika: said...

"You are fearfully and wonderfully made..."

Janna, you have done what few of us would even consider. Thank you for intrusting us with a piece of yourself that few have had.

You are more beautiful now.

Blessings to you...

Kathy said...

Janna, you are very brave. And I commend you for that.

You are much braver than I am. I always try so hard to cover my flaws. My husband is the only one who gets to see the real me with no make-up. Thankfully, he likes me that way.

I think what your post reveals is that we all have something we're self-conscious about. No one knows what's going on in our thoughts or what we're trying to hide.

I like you no matter what.

Joanne said...

In a sense, you are continuing your week of "promotion." You are graciously promoting the Self, with all its detail and nuance. Your wisdom and beauty shines through in this post for all of us to learn from. Kudos to you ...

Diane said...

EVERYONE has something, or many things. Your ear is not you. You are beautiful and fun and quirky and that's why we all love you. The biggest lie the devil whispers is that once "they" know, they will laugh or treat you differently. The secret is once it's out there and you are vulnerable, the power of that thing over your life is broken. The weight of carrying that secret burden is broken! Hugs to you! :O)

Melanie Avila said...

Oh, Janna. You are such a sweet and giving person and I hate that you have something about yourself that you are so self-conscious about. Being able to share it will hopefully help you be more comfortable with it.

I'm self conscious about a certain body part and was ridiculed all through school for it, to the point that I STILL won't tell my husband the name they called me because I'm afraid he'll call me it, even as a joke.

Jenny Greenleaf said...

::hugs you very tight:: I don't think I could say more than what's already been said - I love that you've shared yourself in ways SO MANY others could not. ::hugs you again:: I'm so sorry you have to experience so much pain and discomfort!!!

WendyCinNYC said...

I agree it was brave of you to bare yourself on your blog. Of course I still think you are gorgeous, inside and out!

Lisa Marie Miles said...

I'm so sorry you feel you have to hide part of your body. You are incredibly brave and beautiful!

thedomesticfringe said...

Holy Cow! It's Terrible!!

JOKING. I hope you know that.

Really, you prepared me for the WORST. I was expecting something equivalent to the Hunchback of Notre Dame living on your ear.

Truth is that I probably wouldn't even notice it if you had your hair up. You're beautiful and the scar makes you unique, at least your right ear. ;-)

Do you feel better now that you've 'come out' with your hidden secret? I know you've made others feel better and I salute your bravery.

Really I'm jealous of your hair. My hair is very wavy, but not curly like yours. It just falls short of the cool curly hairdos. I can't believe you cut your own hair either...very brave.

Great post and perhaps my longest comment ever.
-FringeGirl

Jody Hedlund said...

Janna,
I think that's one of the things I like so much about your blog is that you are always so honest and open with your struggles. I believe that true beauty lies within and that's something I talk so much about with my growing daughters. Our bodies will all age and deteriorate. But hopefully our inner beauty will only grow stronger and brighter.

Analisa said...

I love that you did this. I know the feeling of hiding what we feel is ugly. I am so used to seeing these because having keliods is so common with us Black folks that when I was little I thought the ladies were sticking gum behind their ears. This was when everybody did their own ear piercing. I don't even bat an eye when I see them. It took nothing away from your beautiful, sassy self just made you more real to me in my part of the earth. God bless you.
I think it may be the season for showing ourselves human.

Stacey Graham said...

Hello gorgeous!

We love every bit of you! One day I'll share with you my wonky ear pic. It had been ripped in half after a car accident and being the scrappy teenager I was, I fixed it myself. Bad idea. ;)

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

You are beautiful just the way you are! And unique! Not someone with an ugly body part! I bet if you took a survey we all would be showing you body parts (ooh, I hope decent ones!) that we feel should be hidden away, that embarass us and often create medical problems. You're a brave one to step out there and I admire you for it!

Hugs to you always my beautiful bloggie friend!

Janna Qualman said...

Ditto, Terri, you know?

Capri K - You're so right. Thank you.

Tamika - That's what I'd hoped for; that my post would touch others. Thank you.

Thank you, Kathy, I'm so very glad. And I do understand. Sometimes it's hard to let even those closest to us see our bad. Maybe even harder! But I think there's a certain and deep freedom when we do.

Joanne - How right you are. Thanks for pointing it out, lady. :)

Diane - Thanks. I do feel the burden is lighter, which is so great.

Janna Qualman said...

Thank you, hoo. And knowing your husband, that's probably wise. ;)

Jenn - It's okay. You know, your comment makes me realize, we all have something. I have migraines, too, and I think I'd take this ear thing over chronic migraines any day. Maybe the ear isn't so bad... I guess it all depends on perspective.

Wendy - Says she, the ultra-hip Glamazon. ;) Thank you!

Lisa - Thanks for coming over! And thanks so much.

FringeGirl - You've given me a busting smile. Thank you! For the sweet AND for the humor.

Jody - That's a hard lesson, isn't it? But oh so important. And thanks.

Analisa - You know, I've been told it's an anomoly for me, since I am so fair-skinned. And that's the only part of me that heals in such a way! (From a long-ago infected ear piercing, like you mentioned.) And I LOVE this: "I think it may be the season for showing ourselves human."

Stacey - *whistles* Wanna fix mine? ;)

Donna - LOL! Yes, let's keep it G-rated. And thanks. :)

T. Anne said...

I love you dispite your keloid ;) My son has on too on his lip. My scars are much more intense although invisible to the untrained eye.

Linda said...

Janna, there is absolutely nothig about you that isn't beautiful. As I have had the honor of getting to know you via our respective blogs and FB I have been blessed and constantly impressed with your gentle and caring spirit. Bravo to you for conquering your fear on this. I hope this is the first step in letting go of the fear and shame and letting your light SHINE even more! {{hugs}}

Jill Kemerer said...

This must have been really difficult for you to post about.

My high-school girlfriend wouldn't wear her hair up because of the size of her ears.

I get absesses sometimes that are impossible to hide. However, I'm fortunate that eventually they do leave.

I don't know about you, but I can never see the imperfections of my friends. They could have a third arm and I wouldn't see it. And even though we haven't met, I feel like you are a friend, so if we do meet, don't bother hiding it, because I won't see it anyway!

Thanks for sharing this!

The Unbreakable Child said...

I don't see a scar, I see a beautiful brave and loving spirit that shines.
x0

Lady Glamis said...

I almost cried reading this ... because of you're beauty and bravery! This is amazing that you are sharing something with us that is so painful emotionally and physically. Really, I'm extremely impressed and touched.

You are beautiful, Janna. Don't every let anyone, especially YOURSELF, tell you that you're not.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

So sorry to hear that it causes you pain. And so brave and real of you to share something that you've tried so hard to hide. Good for you Janna!

Travis Erwin said...

I commend you for "exposing" yourself, but trust me when I say it's a far bigger issue for you than anyone else. You have nothing to hide or be ashamed of.

The only ugly thing about this is the pain it causes you.

Cindy said...

Janna, I think you're beautiful inside and out. Your courage touches me and makes me want to be the kind of strong person you've shown us today.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, Janna, I cried as I read this.
You are one lovely, brave lady.
I think better of you for your courage and tender heart.
I am gonna pray that this blip goes away, in Jesus' mighty Name!!! So there.
I love you just the way you are...

JLC said...

This was a great post, Janna and very brave of you to highlight your ear. I think all of us have a certain 'spot' on our bodies that we are shy to reveal. If I knew you in person, I wouldn't notice your ear. I would feel bad about the surgeries and do all I could to help, but the ear takes a back seat to the person that you are. (Besides, I don't even notice when people get haircuts.)

I was born with a cluster of moles on my neck. Kids at school would point at it and say "Ew! Whats that?" My parents arranged to have the moles removed, and they did. But I still have a bumpy scar that often turns red. My dermatologist recommends that I have it cosmetically removed since it could be susceptible to skin cancer, but I am unwilling to do this. This scar has become a part of who I am. It's my 'trademark'.

Janna Qualman said...

I really don't deserve all these amazing comments.

T. Anne - Goodness! Has he had any treatment? I will be thinking of him.

Linda - You're just so very sweet. Thank you! And I should thank my parents, first, and then those around me, who are huge in who I've become.

Travis - I appreciate this, especially because you're the only dude who's commented. ;)

Cindy - Thanks, but I shouldn't take credit for that much. Still, I appreciate your thoughts.

Jen - I love that! Thank you very much.

JLC - I'm blessed to have people in my life who feel just that way. And my husband, thankfully, couldn't care less. :) I agree! Keep that sweet little spot!

Jill - Those don't sound any fun! I hope they're not painful.

Thanks, Kimmi. That means a lot.

Lady, thank you. I won't! I'm learning how not to, anyway.

Deb - (Hiya! What happened to Strange Fiction? ;) That means a lot. Because if I'm not real, then I'm nothing.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Why is it we see our own scars so clearly? (I had to really look at the picture to see yours.) I'm thinking your writing must be very honest and touching. Compelling.

My niece, too, has a Keloid. Reading this, I now know much more.

You are both brave and informative. Thank you.

Susan R. Mills said...

You are beautiful Janna, inside and out.

Nadine said...

Janna, I think your scar is beautiful! It makes you unique!

Don't be ashamed, show it to the world! (which actually you've done with this blog, so there you go!)

I think it's great. We all have insecurities about something, but if you just step back and take it as part of your uniqueness, it makes the insecurity into something beautiful.

You go girl! Wear your hair up today! Be proud!!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I was expecting something hideous that would gross me out, but honestly, it just looks like an enlarged earlobe to me. I commend you for your bravery, I know what it's like to feel self-conscious about something and then expose it. For years I never wore short sleeves because to me my loads of arm hair grossed me out. It wasn't until long after I had children that I decided God made me like this, He's got have given me the courage to reveal it and handle the comments.

I hope you have a great weekend and know that God made you perfect in His sight!!

Janna Qualman said...

Midlife Jobhunter - I really hope so, about the honest and touching writing. And I'd take any advice your neice has, if she's got some trick for her scar.

Thank you, Susan. That's so nice of you.

Nadine - You're right. We have to find the good in those insecurities and turn them around. I was just giving my daughter a lesson about little things that give us character, and maybe I should take my own advice.

Eileen - I appreciate the reminder. You're right! And thanks for sharing about your insecurity.

Deb Shucka said...

I love your willingness to be so honestly vulnerable. I'm in awe. I hope by sharing you'll be able to see the beautiful, talented and kind woman we all know, before you see the keloid.

You know, don't you, we all have scars we'd prefer others didn't define us by. Some are attached to ears, others to hearts, yet others to perception.

This is an amazing piece!

Karen said...

Janna, an ear does not a person make. I've met some physically very beautiful people, who were so ugly! Give me a sweet ear lump anyday. I am sorry it causes you pain.

May your ministry and career grow in the sharing. Blessings**

scarlethue said...

It's not as bad as you think it is. We blow these things up in our minds, don't we? I have a weak jawline, at least I think I do, and I'm so afraid of appearing to have a dreaded double chin that sometimes my jaw will ache at the end of the day from my subconsciously pushing it forward all day. I discovered it after seeing myself on video when I was 17. I like to think of that day as the day when my childhood officially died, because I don't think children really think about things like that. But you're beautiful not in spite of but because of your ear-- dealing with that has helped turn you into the kind and generous and accepting person you are, so you shouldn't regret having it, not one day.

Stonefox said...

Oh Janna, you just grew to be a giant in my eyes (and I'm not talking about your scar!)

You know what? I think this post was for me. I really do, because I am contemplating doing a vlog on my blog and I am NOT a public speaker not do I have the suave, grace, etc etc etc to do something like that well. But I feel like I have to do it too, in obedience to God.

Your bravery and courage to do something so personal and sensitive to you encourages me to step out and do the same. Thank you, my friend. I think you should start wearing your hair back. Because you are beautiful AND brave.

septembermom said...

You are amazing!! Beautiful inside and out :) You have such courage. You help ALL of us who have something that we're self-conscious about. I'm sorry for your pain. You are a terrific woman and writer. We are all lucky to have found you :)

Janna Qualman said...

Deb - I suppose I did know. And I'd hoped my post would be relatable. Thank you.

Karen - "Give me a sweet ear lump anyday." I love that, and thanks. :)

scarlethue - We are. We can all be so self-aware that it distracts us from the good and the best of ourselves. Here's to your beautiful jaw!

Heidi - I hope you do it, and I will applaud you loudly! And probably spring a tear or two.

september - No, I have to disagree with you. It's I who is lucky to have found all of you.

Janna Qualman said...

You all have humbled me very much.

Janna Qualman said...

PS, Heidi - I'll be out of town over the weekend. If you do it over the next couple days, I'll see it when I return!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Janna -

You're a beautiful woman - inside and out.

Blessings,
Susan :)

LeSan said...

Janna I read every one of these comments from your wonderful friends and I can't think of a single thing to add other than "Everything they said!" You are a tremendous inspiration to have put forth not your wayward ear but your vulnerability. That is what makes you brave. We all have something that we consider our personal curse to suffer under. We unwittingly give it power over us with our shame. You taught me a lesson and at the same time kicked this keloid's butt. Bravo and Way to go!

Anonymous said...

I love you ear, it is part of what makes you special! Show off that lovely ear.
~Heather

Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl said...

I hope you feel better after sharing this, Janna. I still think you're PURDY - always!!!!!

And... what marble?


:-D

Hugs,
Michele

Kristen Painter said...

Everyone has something they don't like about themselves, you know? And just think - you can hide yours if you want.

I think you're brave for showing it off, but silly to think it might change the way your friends think of you. ;o)

JOY said...

Your beauty shines from every word you write, speak and share. Your beauty is respected by me and many others. I see nothing but a unique wonderful Janna who eminates beauty! You inspire!

Janna Qualman said...

Thank you, Susan.

LeSan - Wow! Thanks for your amazing comment.

Heather - *hugs*

Michele - Pfft. What marble? Right! ;)

Kristen - Well, I admit. It's not the first time I've been called silly. ;)

JOY - That means so much to me!

Lori said...

Oh, Janna, I missed this post.
I am sorry. I have to say that you have really cool glasses. I love them!

I cannot imagine what took for you to gather the strength to do this post. I am so proud to know you! And I am sure everyone else has said it before me (I didn't get time to read all the replies) but really, how does that little boo-boo change anything about you? Except that maybe it makes you more profound and more admirable in so many ways? Lots of hugs!

Janna Qualman said...

Lori - Well thanks! I like 'em, too. :) And I know, I know. You are all so wise! Thanks.

Ladybird World Mother said...

You're just lovely!! Now that you've done that, shall I be brave and show you how damned hairy my legs can REALLY get? I just love that you have done this... you are awesome. You ROCK. xxxxx

Janna Qualman said...

Ladybird - You have me rolling! Ha! What a, erm, mental picture you've given me. :P But thanks. You rock, too, for your own reasons.

Ana said...

That's a very brave and liberating thing to do, as you are sharing with us a great part of who you are. Thank you. :) We appreciate you.

Janna Qualman said...

Ana - And I appreciate you. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just happened across your blog and read about your keloid scar. That must be frustrating...to fight that scar and have it keep on fighting you! It truly is not at all bad to look at...I think that you are lovely! and I don't notice it and would not likely give it a second look if I happened to see you in public with your ear 'out' in the open.

Janna Qualman said...

Wow, thank you! I appreciate your saying that. :) And thanks for visiting my blog, too.