I am lucky enough to have an extraordinary group of friends around me. A group of people who support me, help me, encourage me, and see me for who I actually am. I also have a spectacular pair of parents and a pretty nice brother too (don’t tell him I said that). With the bunch around me I can usually feel comfortable enough to ask for the help I need and know that it will not be held against me or made fun of. This means, that I actually want to spend time with these people and i know that they respect me and my desire and right to dignity. As a result I can be open, honest and the real me without fear or embarrassment.
There have also been a group of people who saw my disability as something that makes me different and in some ways, less than everyone else. Whether consciously or subconsciously, these people have sought to treat me in such a way as to hide my disability and pretend it doesn’t exist. While I’m sure their intentions were good I now feel a sense of shame about my self and a certain self-consciousness around these people. The domino effect is that I no longer have these people in my life and have had to go through a period of rebuilding my confidence and self esteem through counselling.
In the midst of this I happened upon a lovely young Canadian guy. We discovered we both had a love of the comedy cartoon South Park and a similar take on the world. Through the eyes of this particular gentlemen I suddenly saw myself in an entirely new way. The things about myself I saw as horrible, he saw as intriguing. I was shocked! We became very close friends and try as I might I couldn’t get him to admit that I was grotesque. I was astounded! Eventually I decided to pull out my trump card, the one thing I hate most about myself, my Picasso-esque feet. I am not sure what reaction I was expecting but complete acceptance was not it! It was at this point that I decided I had to accept, I am who I am and I look how I look. I will always be grateful to him for that.
It’s amazing how clear your vision can be when you’re looking through someone else’s eyes…