I used to look stupid.
It's been on my mind for a while now to share this with you. A lot of you who know me pretty well, probably already know this about me but I just feel so compelled to share. Today.
After I lost my arm (10 years old), looking back, everything just seems like a blur. I don't really remember when I became self-conscious and I can't really remember if it was one thing in particular that started make me that way or if it was just gradual.
I was so ashamed of my arm, or lack thereof. I hated the way I looked without it. And when I say hated, I mean appalled. I know for sure from the day I lost it, I refused to wear sleeveless clothing. OhMyGah, don't even mention it. Sleeveless was out of the question. Swimsuit cover ups were a MUST. I never went without a t-shirt or something of the likes.
Photographs? They were a flippin battle. I always had to have someone on my right side to cover it up. I refused to take a picture alone unless I could stand next to or half way behind a wall to hide it.
This became the norm for me and my family. We all knew when it came picture time, someone had better get on my right side. And not say anything about it.
It was this way for years and years. I was so embarrassed and disgusted with the way I looked with one arm. I remember always whispering to myself, "I look stupid".
The summer before I started college, my mom took me on a cruise and that was the first time I ever wore anything sleeveless. All the credit for that goes to my older brother for encouraging me and promising that I looked good. After that cruise, I started wearing sleeveless a lot more often. I became comfortable with it.
But I was still extremely hung up with the way I looked in pictures. I still hid. I just cringed when I saw a picture of myself where my arm was showing. They all immediately got deleted or thrown away.
Even years later, when I got engaged, I specifically remember "interviewing" photographers and laying down the law for them. "My bridals are going to be tricky because I don't want my arm showing in all of them....but I still want to look natural..." HA! I can't believe I even found a photographer that agreed to work with me.
Avoiding all photos with my arm showing was impossible. I had to start just sucking it up. I had to pretend like I was okay with them. I was grown now, I mean, I had to stop acting like a kid right? It was silly of me. I had come to terms with the accident and I was honestly okay with having 1 arm but I was still crying inside and hating my image, in secret, which was worse.
Almost 22 years later, something has changed and damn, I'm glad it has.
It's a combination of things I suppose, but a lot of it is becoming and mother and having a kid like Kaleb who has been my #1 fan since day one. A while back at his daycare, there was a little girl making fun of me for having 1 arm and he stood up to her and defended the shit out of me. And in the past few months, he has started really loving and rubbing on my right arm. He just accepts it. He doesn't think I look stupid and for the FIRST time in my life, neither do I. Like as I sit here, this very second, I don't think I look stupid anymore. And that's so freakin huge, y'all. It's actually even more huge-er than I thought it would be.
When we were at the beach a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to write this post (even though I wasn't a 100% sure I'd actually go through with it) so I specifically told my mom to take pictures of Kaleb and I where my arm was showing. As she was taking them, in the back of my mind, my old me was still cringing a little because I just knew I'd hate the photos when I saw them and then I'd be lying to myself and everyone, again. BUT I saw them and I was like, "yeah okay...I can like that.."
It took me a while to write this post because I thought it was kinda silly to say, hey I used to think I was ugly, but 22 years later, I'm okay with it...but I realized I needed to do it. For myself. For Kaleb. Not only do I need self-confidence for myself because it just leads to a healthier life, but he needs to see that I have confidence as well. He needs to know that it's an important part of life.
It might be that only my mom, dad and brother will truly understand the depth of this achievement because THEY WERE THERE. They lived it with me for years and years, especially my mom. I know it hurt their hearts as well, I could always see it in their eyes when we were trying to take a family picture. So this post is also a little for them
I always get a huge sense of accomplishment and confirmation when I click "publish" in this little space of mine. It's like it officially gets it off of my chest and I can move on with that part of my life....and seeing as how just by me proof reading this, proud and happy tears are streaming down my face, I think this was a MUST!!!
So without further ado, here I am, for the first time in the majority of my life, not hating these pictures of myself. Only LOVING these because why wouldn't I?