Growing up with a Limb Difference
I’m Sarah I have brown hair and green eyes and I was born with one of my hands a little smaller than the other. I can do the things that I need to and want to, although sometimes it is hard, sometimes it will look a little different, and sometimes it takes creativity.
It has been quite an adventure growing up with a limb difference. I went from being an exuberant outgoing toddler, to a painfully shy high schooler, and finally a confident woman. I used to use my hand, then started to hide it whenever possible, to then realize that was ridiculous and now embrace the function I have. I went from not caring about it, to hating it, to disassociating myself from it, to thinking it wasn’t so bad, and now being proud of the life it has taught me. This road has required massive insight, self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-love, and coping strategies to handle my deeply rooted insecurities. I remember sitting in groups with my peers, being too shy and insecure to contribute to the conversation. I remember seeing these confident young women and thinking “that’s who I am, that’s who I used to be” but I was battling myself and the stigma around having a difference that I was not able to break the barrier to become myself.
"you might as well give them something to look at"
I cried a lot and let my insecurities grow and weave elaborate webs in my head. I journaled on sheets of paper and then dramatically lit them on fire for the fear of anyone accidently reading them. I saw myself born with defects, as something to be found on a clearance rack due to “missing pieces.” I put up with friendships and relationships that would only “give” the “clearance price,” for my friendship. I never asked for more because I didn’t feel I was worth it. I am so thankful for the family, friends, and mentors in my life who did love me wholeheartedly, who tried to get me see that I was worthy of their love and friendship as well. (I did have a lot of fun as a child too, I wasn’t crying alllll the time:)
A large wake up call for me was reading a book by Sarah Dessen called “The Truth about Forever.” There is a character, Kristy who was in a car accident, had scars on her face and arms and she was a very vibrant and confident teen who wore eccentric outfits. The main character said “why do you do all of this?” and she responded with “They are going to look anyway, you might as well give them something to look at.” From that point, I stopped trying to hide from everyone and begun to be something worth looking at, clearing away the webs. Today, I am proud to say that I have broken the barrier and I have made peace with my insecurities. I have re-written truths for myself: I am worthy of love and belonging, I am born with everything I need, I am worthy to be here.
Myself beyond my Limb Difference
I am very much a dreamer and find so many things about this world fascinating. I like to say that I have a “gypsy soul” and I enjoy following opportunities, some of them drastically changing my life in ways I could never imagine. I struggle with wanting to do everything, and be everywhere all at the same time. At 23, I desperately needed a job and found myself living on the east coast working as a flight attendant! Of course, knowing me, that can’t be it. I spent my off time volunteering at Shriner’s hospitals (I was a patient there in the 90’s) and discovered Occupational Therapy. For the past 2 years I have been working as a flight attendant in the summer/winter and going to OT school in the fall/spring. I recently took up aerial arts and now I enjoy spending my time learning new tricks on the silks, lyra, and very recently the flying trapeze.
I love traveling, house plants, reading fiction, hiking, campfires, painting, drinking tea, lazy mornings, being outside, laughing with people I love, spicy food, dancing, live shows, supporting people I love doing things they love, and long conversations that speak from the soul. I am totally idealistic, a little dramatic, overly enthusiastic and incredibly welcoming.
What about you?
It is interesting to draft this about me and think, what are the things that would resonate and connect with the members of this community? Do people want to have these “harder conversations?” Am I too dramatic? Would people rather read about some of my fun facts? Did I say “I” too much? After re-reading it a million times, I felt this was my truth, this is what I have to offer!
I am very interested in how people introduce themselves to their peers, specifically children with differences and disabilities to new peer groups like a sports team. What are the effective aspects of this conversation that maintain respect and inclusion? What have you found to be the most effective ways of introducing yourself? This is my focus for OT school, is looking into how people introduce themselves, I cannot wait to hear about you! It is nice to meet you, I look forward chatting -Sarah