Can I share something with you? For many years I prayed about something and begged God for a miracle. I remember as a teenager asking why me? I remember the days of not feeling whole, like I wasn’t truly a person. I vividly remember one of my teachers, Mr. Cone, asking one day in class who was going to a dance coming up. I didn’t answer. Why? Because who would expect me to go. Middle school is tough for any kid. Add in there something that makes you different and it’s even worse. I honestly can’t remember a time when anyone really ever made fun of me. I really don’t. I might have been teased, but if I was, I’ve blocked those moments out. There were a couple of situations that I do remember that made me realize that not everyone accepts things the same way. But inside, I felt less than whole. I was the last kid to be picked in gym class. I never dated anyone in high school. I wondered many times if someone could love me.
Now I look back and wonder how this happened. I had two great parents who loved me. They didn’t put limitations on me. But my mind did. All because I have one arm that doesn’t work well. I suffered what is called a Brachial Plexus Injury. I was a 9# 11 oz baby who was stuck during a difficult delivery. My mom tells me the nurse was on top of her trying to push me out. I can only imagine how terrifying that was. I survived, that’s the true miracle here. I didn’t suffer brain damage…at least I don’t think. Haha. There is talk of negligence of the doctor who delivered me. Here’s what matters…it happened and even if there was, you can’t change what’s happened. You can only move forward. What good would it do to focus on the bad? Nothing.
What happened to that girl who was praying for a miracle for her arm? Well I grew up. I carried around this question in my mind of whether I would spend my life alone. I tried to hide my arm, even in my 20’s and 30’s. I would always put my hand in my pocket. I wore a lab coat for my job and I always hid my hand. Or I would carry my binder and hold my hand. I had many people tell me they didn’t even notice anything was different about me for months. But in my mind it was like I had a flashing red light above my head. That’s what the mind can do. It can create these feelings that can limit you.
I reached my 30’s and had lost my mom. I weighed more than I wanted to. All these things added to my lack of confidence and not feeling happy with where I was in my life. I decided to make some changes. As I lost weight and became more fit, my confidence soared. I met my soon to be husband online. My greatest fear was telling him about my arm. He didn’t care. We had two kids together and guess what, there was nothing that I couldn’t do to take care of my kids. All these fears I had in my mind all those years…they were all for nothing.
I still lacked confidence at times though as an adult. When I chose my wedding dress, I bought gloves to cover my arms so they would look the same in pictures. I still wore long sleeve shirts out on my walks in the heat. I’m still a work in progress when it comes to showing how I’m different. I’ve never enjoyed being in the spotlight and even considered a destination wedding to avoid being the center of attention. But I’m glad we chose to stay local and have family and friends present when we married.
Two years ago I was offered an opportunity. What I could never have imagined was the impact it would have on my life. I began coaching and part of the company’s vital behaviors is personal development. Every day I was listening or reading to something uplifting. I gave up the old me who looked at the negative side of life, the just get by attitude, the settling for where I am thoughts. I started realizing that I am worthy. I’ve always believed God had a very specific purpose for me in this life and I’ve honestly thought for years that my arm had something to do with it. I just never knew how He was going to use that “obstacle”. I started realizing that my story inspires many. Those that have a million excuses why they can’t do something, often think again when they see me. I’ve changed from the inside out. I’m still working to get back to my pre-baby weight, but I know I will. I believe I was made for great things. For me to name my Facebook Page One Armed Warrior and name this blog by the same name….that never would have happened even 5 years ago. I would have still been trying to hide that piece of the puzzle that makes me who I am. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and overcome much of my shyness and anxiety. In the process I’ve met some people who have changed my life. My friend Becky is a coach and has become my success partner and great friend. My friend Ellen, not only did she lose an amazing amount of weight, she became one of my coaches and a wonderful friend. When you change your life, it becomes a ripple effect.
I have thanked God many times for my injury. That sounds strange, I know. But I honestly believe the compassion I feel for people is tremendous. I love people deeply. I want more for them. I might not struggle with the same things they have…but we are all His children. I want others to know that they can be whatever they choose to be. They can lose weight with a great support system. They can start their own business. They can feel good in their own skin. All this is possible!
Recently I found a Brachial Plexus support group on Facebook and joined. I have learned more in the past couple of months than I ever knew in 41 years. I now know how blessed I am that I don’t deal with some of the issues many do. Wow, you feel lucky when you hear what some others are going through. Gives you a whole new attitude. But I am so thankful I found this community of others. I also learned this is an injury you can experience at any age. I had no idea. I’m very thankful it’s all I’ve ever known. It’s far easier to learn from birth vs as an adult how to do things with one good arm.
I continue to be thankful. If I can inspire others in some small way to make positive changes to their lives through this injury I had at birth, it’s ALL worth it. I pray you look at your life circumstances and see the good in what you might think is the bad. If you are the parent of a child that has had a BPI (Brachial Plexus Injury) or some other injury/limitation, just love your kids with all your heart. Tell them every day they are great. Tell them they can do anything they set their mind to. Help them share their story from a very young age with others. Kids love learning and are so accepting when you tell them what happened. Just think, that injury may lead to greatness in their life.