Hello again, friends. Before we do anything else, let me just ask you this question: what's the first thing you notice about the above picture? Is it the lovely dress (which I bought on sale at Macy's for $15, no joke!)? The guitar in the background? The fact that I'm wearing sunglasses indoors? Or maybe that I look quite a bit heavier than I do now (that's what I'm noticing, at least)? You might even note that I'm wearing long black opera gloves, which I like to think makes me look elegant and oh-so-sophisticated. I highly doubt, however, that the first thing you notice is my lack of a left arm. And of course, that's no coincidence.
Ever since I was a preteen, I've tried my best to hide my limb deficiency from the world. Jackets, blazers, and long-sleeved shirts became the staples of my wardrobe. I wanted to completely eradicate people's awkward stares and ignore the fact that I had one arm. I wore a variety of trendy sweaters on casual days and (like the picture shows) long gloves for more formal occasions. I was so good at hiding it, in fact, that my boyfriend Chris didn't even realize I was missing a limb when we first met. This was a personal victory for me because I so badly wanted to be seen as normal. It wasn't until recently that I finally felt the need to break free of all that.
Chris actually helped me a lot in that department. He's very supportive and assures me that my arm doesn't bother him at all. When we first started dating, I refused to take off my prosthetic arm (which is Myoelectric and freaking awesome, but I'll get to that in another post) for him. I remember swearing that I would never let him see my short arm, not even if we got married. Looking back, I now see how comically ridiculous I was being. It took me a while, but I eventually warmed up to the idea. So I went for it and removed the prosthesis for the first time, fully expecting him to break up with me immediately afterwards. It's funny the way life works sometimes, though. It turns out that he thought I was breaking up with him. He was so nervous because he thought that I wanted to end things. I couldn't believe it. I thought he would freak out when he saw what I really looked like. Instead, he smiled at me and spoke the two words that would make any girl deliriously happy: "You're beautiful."
Now before I allow this post to get obnoxiously sugar-sweet and mushy, I should mention that I didn't just drop all my insecurities and suddenly become a hundred percent comfortable with myself. That's a process, and I'm not totally there yet. But I did start to realize that trying to cover up a part of myself was not working for me. I'm now at the point where I can deal with the stares and the questions, but I can't deal with being dishonest and ashamed of how I look. And just like a friend put it when I wondered out loud if the average Joe on the street could be attracted to a one-armed girl, at least I don't weigh 300 pounds. (Okay, I'm aware that that's not very politically correct at all, but it's a comforting thought. Fat people, feel free to console yourselves with the fact that at least you have two arms. Whatever works.) Anyway, I'm now well on my way to shedding the remnants of my cocoon to become a butterfly. (In this silly metaphor, the cocoon is the cumbersome fake limb and the butterfly is my perfectly asymmetrical self). One of my New Year's resolutions, actually, is to finally be able to walk around without the prosthesis and without a care in the world about it. So yeah, I'm looking forward to shedding those unnecessary 10 pounds of metal and plastic this year. Can't wait to show off that new figure when I get there.