I have had a lazy eye since early childhood, and in my opinion it was the most noticeable type of flaw in the world. My eyes have always turned inward, alternating which eye is straight, and which is "lazy." Being a child in public school, it never went unnoticed. The comments received ranged from the obvious "cross-eyed" remarks designed to hurt me, to the somehow more painful yet innocent questions from younger children ("Why does your eye do that?") Add these factors to an adult family member who thrived on constantly reminding us of our most vulnerable flaws ("Your eyes cross when you lie..."), and you have a girl who is incapable of believing that she could be pretty.
Most of my life, I wasn't able to trust someone when they claimed to not notice my eyes. No matter how sincere they were, whether friend or boyfriend, I just assumed they cared about me too much to be truly honest. No matter how many times a guy was attracted to me, in my mind it was always because of my body, or because they had lowered their standards to be with me. I let myself believe that I deserved so little; that I would be lucky to be with anyone who would have me despite my perceived deformity. I ended up staying with someone who took pleasure in reminding me of how lucky I was to have anyone at all...using my insecurities to keep me in my place. I stayed I that abusive relationship far too long.
What changed things for me was getting out of that relationship. At some point, I realized - with help and support and constant reminders from friends and family - that he was also flawed and insecure. That EVERYONE has something that makes them feel not good enough. That my inescapable "deformity" only seemed worse to me because I was living with it, and letting it control my decisions. It was after I finally decided to end that relationship that I found a group of friends who changed everything.
These people looked me in the eye. They never asked me what happened to my eye. They never associated me with this one thing about me that seemed like my only signifying characteristic. They accepted me, no questions, no awkward kindnesses. And in that group I found my best friend and partner. In that group, I was able to look at myself from a new vantage point, and see myself as others had always seen me. My eye wasn't my identity; it was only a piece of who I was as a whole. It actually contributed to who I was, making me more approachable, as I was willing to accept almost everyone as they were.
It took time, but I am finally at a point where I wouldn't want to look any other way. I'm finally able to look at pictures of myself and not see THE EYE first. I look back at old pictures of myself and see what I was missing. All because I finally had enough. All because I decided not to allow how someone else saw me dictate my quality of life.
Hang in there. Listen to your friends and family. They are able to see something that you aren't. Find something that makes you completely comfortable with yourself - a group of people, a job, artistic expression - and spend your time there. And most of all. Do not settle for something or someone that makes you feel "less than." If they can't look you in the eye, that is their issue, not yours.
Also, find someone you admire that you didn't realize had a lazy eye - did you know that Cameron Diaz has one? How about Russell Crowe?
I'm not wise or maybe even smart. I took a really hard road to get here, after all, but I got here. I still worry about it sometimes, but not every day. Not every time I look in the mirror or have to talk to someone new. I can explain it to kids now without crying. I can even joke about it sometimes. It's not gone, but I no longer despise my face. =o)