I have permanent screws in my face. They rest behind the sides of my nose and on either side of where my smile ends.

When I was 5 I remember asking my Mammy, “Why don’t my teeth close?”. She thought I was messing around but then she saw that my back teeth were somewhat touching but the front ones had a huge gap between them. I didn’t think too much about it until I hit puberty and my face started to grow into the face of a young woman. Suddenly I had people asking me “why is your face crooked?”. I couldn’t hide this part of me.

By the time I was 17 I only had a top and bottom molar on the right side of my mouth that half overlapped. None of my other teeth touched. Eating a sambo was a killer, I had a strategy of sinking my teeth into the bread and tearing it away from the sandwich. Sometimes I would tear away the bread but the filling would be left behind.

I wore braces for 4 years. I went on regular visits to the orthodontist and a maxillofacial surgeon. They would measure my face, talk about how crooked it was, and then tell me how it was the worse case they had ever seen. I would shrug it off but it impacted me nonetheless. I avoided being in photos and I hid more than I should have.

Then came the day when I finally have the surgery. My upper jaw was broken and re-aligned. For 6 weeks I could only eat liquids through a straw. My teeth were bound together with elastic bands. My face was swollen and I didn’t know if I was going to look different after the surgery (I did a little but not much).

Time passed. I healed. The first thing I ever bit into was a slice of cucumber. I had been dreaming for months about being able to bite into something and see the shape of my bite mark left behind. I remember looking at that smiling half-moon of cucumber. I cried. For myself, the girl who’d had a crooked face.

Now, I love my asymmetry and I won’t hide myself away ever again. I am worthy.