It’s an amazing world we live in now. People everywhere are able to connect instantly. I just saw my friend Molly introduce two people to one another on Facebook in a single post. And with online forums, chat groups and communities, someone in North Dakota can simply ask if anybody around them has a limb difference and they’ll get a response. It’s crazy nuts. And pretty awesome.
Growing-up, I never knew anybody “like me.” I can’t remember a single person with an arm like mine. I’ve been told that when I was younger I was taken to support groups, but I don’t remember them at all. My mom says I mostly went to help other parents see that their kid would be ok. Is that ironic considering what I’m doing now? Maybe just foreshadowing. Something like that.
The thing is, I was always treated as if I wasn’t different. I was just a kid. I played and learned and got hurt and got in trouble just like anyone else. So, my missing limb was never a defining characteristic for me. I never had a desire to have friends with one arm or anything. My limb difference was always a part of who I was, but never a big part.
Now it is. And I’m embracing it.
My mother-in-law asked me the other day, “What’s the secret to your success?” I had no idea how to respond. My wife is always talking about how much I overcame, but I didn’t experience it that way. Most people grow-up learning to do things two-handed…because they have two hands. I grew-up learning to do things one-handed, because that’s what I had. I never once thought, “How will I ever do this with only one hand??” I just did it.
This all brings me to the rub, as it were. I love making the videos for LOH and I love that they’re popular and helpful. Especially for parents and grandparents. I totally understand the desire to be able to show our limb-different kids how to do things with one hand. But…they’re going to figure it out. They’ll show you how they do things. And they won’t be thinking about adapting, they just will adapt. It will be second nature because that’s all they know.
So, it’s this weird back-and-forth for me. Part of me wants to say, “Don’t show your kids the videos! Don’t draw attention to their difference! Let them figure out how to do stuff on their own!” And it’s funny because it’s like, “Hey, everybody – my greatest pieces of advice are to treat your kids like they’re not different and not to draw attention to their difference. So, here’s my website that is completely about drawing attention to that difference.” But, I know that’s dumb. I know my insight is valuable and helpful, because you’ve told me so. I know the videos really do give ideas and launching points for your kids to learn how they do it best. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I plan to help and encourage as many people as I possibly can, however I can. And I’m excited about it.
Thank you all for allowing me to grow and learn and explore what it really means to be a limb-different person. Thank you for encouraging me to share my experiences. And thank you for sharing yours! Every email and Facebook post and Tweet I get gives me a jolt of energy. You really are the reason I do this.
Y’all are awesome.