This week I read two inspirational essays- “Mirrorings” by Lucy Grealy and “On Being a Cripple” by Nancy Mairs. Both authors had severe illness but had a different approach to deal with it.
In “Mirrorings” by Lucy Grealy, she talks about her life as a cancer patient and her struggles. When she was 10 years old, the doctors removed the right side of her jaw to prevent the cancer from spreading. There was a time in her life, when she did not look in the mirror for an entire year as she feared to see her ‘ugly reflection”.
I feel that Grealy had a negative self-image as she considered herself ugly and she felt that her life would never be normal. Although she kept telling herself all that, she did not give up finding a way to fix her face. Grealy found it hard to accept her face as it is and move on, however she did not give up finding a cure. She had a journey with several surgeries and obstacles but at the end she did recognize herself/
In “On Being Crippled” by Nancy Mairs, she talks about her life as a multiple sclerosis patient. She did have her own struggle but her approach was different from Grealy’s. Mairs learned to accept the disease and her new life. She still tried to enjoy life with her illness and had more positive outlook. For example, when she was on her way to California with her family and she thought she had an exacerbation, she decided not to go back home and said “I think we’d better get the hell to California because I don’t know whether I’ll ever make it again”(54). Another statement made by her that she accepts the disease and her new life was “I’d take a cure;I just don’t need one”(55). This showed that she had a positive attitude towards her disease.
Although I did not have a severe illness like Grealy, I could relate to her more since I had a similar experience. When I was in middle school, I got an infection in my right eye and it was swollen for more than a month. Everyone thought it was a sty (I thought the same as well) but I later found out that my upper eye lid’s pores had been blocked which causes the swelling. For a month I walked with a swollen eye. Everyone would stare at me and make me feel uncomfortable. I went to seven different doctors and all of them told me and my mom and that I needed a surgery. My mom wasn’t comfortable with that idea and she took to me another doctor who finally said that I didn’t need a surgery and instead he gave me medicines. For entire one month when my eye was swollen, I disliked looking at myself in the mirror because I thought I looked hideous. Every day I couldn’t wait for school to be over and go back home and not see anyone. I felt how Grealy thought about school- a battleground. I feel that people’s reaction to my swollen eye and people who mocked Grealy for the way she looked were influenced by social media. Social media has defined beauty in its own terms. We judge people by their looks and not their inner beauty. If not for the social media, people would have different and a positive attitude towards the inner self rather than outer beauty.