While playing hide-and-seek with her sister, a four-year-old girl accidentally burned herself and was taken to the hospital, where the doctors said she wouldn't make it. But forty-five years later, the woman's life changed when a stranger on the beach followed her while pointing his phone in her direction.
They say it's essential to fall in love with yourself to live happily. Usually, people who love themselves have high self-esteem, and their confidence becomes apparent whenever they walk into a room full of people. They never shy away from trying new things or mingling with strangers.
However, sometimes, people lose their self-confidence because of their physical appearance. Living while hearing people make fun of them shatters their self-esteem. The woman in today's story also had to face hate and criticism for something that was not in her control.
Sylvia Mac recalled living in a small apartment with her four siblings and parents, who worked hard to make ends meet. Often, they didn't have electricity for hours and couldn't get hot water for bathing. As a result, Mac's mother used to boil water and light candles for her children to take turns bathing in the tub.
One day, while Mac was playing hide-and-seek with her sister, her mother told them to be careful because she had put a bowl of boiling water on the bathroom floor. Four-year-old Mac thought the bathroom would be the perfect place to hide, not knowing her sister would suddenly push open the door, making her fall into the bowl. Mac recalled:
"Screams could be heard all the way down the hallway and into the kitchen."
LOOKING FOR HELP
After hearing Mac's painful screams, her parents rushed to the bathroom and ran cold water on her skin. When that didn't work, her father immediately called an ambulance and took his daughter to the nearest hospital.
While growing up, other children bullied her by calling her names like "witch" and "snakeskin."
Inside the ambulance, Mac's body temperature started to drop. Upon reaching the hospital, the doctors told Mac's father that they didn't have a burn ward. They suggested he take Mac to the nearest burn specialist, which was out of town. They requested the police escort them to the facility as soon as possible.
After reaching the newly-built burn facility, the consultants put little Mac on life support and didn't treat her burns because her body was too fragile. Soon, they informed her father that his four-year-old girl wouldn't make it. They asked him to call his family so they could say their goodbyes.
Mac's mother and siblings reached the hospital, fearing they would lose her at any moment. They said their goodbyes and sat beside her, praying God would show them a miracle. Mac revealed what happened after that night:
"I began to pick up and strengthen over the following days, exceeding doctors’ expectations."
Once the little girl started recovering, the doctors scheduled multiple operations to fix her burnt skin. Mac remembers always being in pain because of the countless surgeries she underwent. She recalled:
"My hospital appointment was really difficult because I was practically used for student doctors to examine like a guinea pig."
Taking off all her clothes in front of multiple doctors had affected the little girl's mental well-being. She frequently had nightmares of being surrounded by doctors in white coats and often woke up on a wet bed because she had no control over her bladder muscles.
Looking at her burnt skin had shattered Mac's confidence. While growing up, other children bullied her by calling her names like "witch" and "snakeskin." They also mocked her, saying no boy would date her.
The little girl loved swimming because she found it to be therapeutic. Mac would enter a "different world" underwater, but coming out of the pool was an uncomfortable task for her. She always waited for other children to get out of the pool and enter the changing room so no one would see the scars that covered her body.
One day, Mac's teacher in secondary school asked all children to shower after a hockey lesson. As the children stood in a queue with towels wrapped around them, Mac pleaded with her teacher not to ask her to take a shower. Instead of listening to Mac, her teacher pulled her towel and pushed her under the shower. She recalled:
"Having everybody look at me was awful, I just felt like everyone was laughing at me."
A DIFFICULT LIFE
Mac's burn scars covered her neck, stomach, back, and part of her left leg, making it difficult for her to hide them as she grew up. They made her feel insecure about her physical appearance. As a teenager, Mac hated taking photos, unlike other girls.
Having low self-esteem affected Mac in many ways. She couldn't take exams or go for interviews because she always doubted her abilities. At one point, she even started fighting with her friends and family for no reason. Being in a constant state of depression had affected her badly.
Dating men had also been challenging because whenever someone touched her back, they felt her scars underneath her clothes. Mac was afraid they might make fun of her, so she often walked away until the day she met the man who accepted her with her burn scars. She confessed:
"I was in love straight away because he accepted me. It just felt right."
Mac revealed she had three children and a grandchild with her partner before she broke up with him. In 2016, things changed for Mac when she went on a holiday to Bulgaria with her son and mother. While going to the beach and pool, she wore a bikini and covered herself with a sarong.
THE LIFE-CHANGING VACATION
Before going out in public, Mac asked her mother if her scars were visible through the sarong, to which she said they weren't. However, when she went to the pool one day, she noticed a man filming her while holding his phone high.
When she moved to another spot, she saw that the same man had followed her while pointing his phone in her direction. "I was extremely angry," Mac recounted.
Mac's mother suggested they go to the beach to make her feel better. Over there, Mac saw her mother sitting with her head down. Watching her mother being affected by how people made fun of her scars motivated Mac to draw a line. At that moment, she decided to embrace her skin. She recalled:
"I took my dress off, and I walked down to the edge. People were looking at me, and I looked at my mum, and I smiled, and I went, 'Mum! Look! Look at me!'"
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
Spending time with her mother on the beach made her realize that no one could help her except herself. She decided to embrace her scars and stop hiding whenever people took photos of her. Instead, she posed whenever someone filmed her.
After realizing how difficult it was for people with disfigurements to embrace their bodies, she gave swimming classes to them at a local pool in London. She also created a website to raise awareness about people like her. She said:
"My message to people with disfigurement is to just go for it, do whatever you want to do in life."
What would you do if you were in Mac's shoes? Would you give up after hearing all kinds of insults from people around you? If you liked this story, share it with your friends and family to inspire them.
Click here to read another story about bullies who called a girl "the world's ugliest woman." But she shut them up by becoming successful years later.
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