I don’t remember the first time I realized I was different. But I do remember how those differences made me feel. Broken. Unlovable. Worthless. The laughter, remarks, and even the subtlest of sounds hit my ears like a shotgun fired that continued its torturous ringing until the wee hours of the night. “Here comes the alcoholic. She walks like she’s drunk. Why is she hopping around like that?” were some of the comments I would hear daily.
You see, I was born with Cerebral Palsy – a condition for me that reveals itself in both of my right-sided limbs. I walk on my tippy toes on that foot and am unable to fully extend my right arm and hand. My muscles are very tight and at times appear “spastic”. The worse of the pain would happen as I witnessed kids at recess and lunch enact the way I walked to others as they would burst out into laughter. My soul shattered a little bit more each time and only solidified the negative thoughts I had about myself. Those kids were right. I felt I was broken and unworthy. This went on for years, and I grew even more insecure about myself. It was a dark time in my life. I was scared and felt very lonely, and I constantly told myself that no one would ever understand the deep pain I felt. I locked it away from all those that were close to me and pretended it didn’t exist.
During my schooling years, I was a decent student. I genuinely enjoyed the learning aspect of it but for the reasons above; hated any break times. I ended up making it on the honor roll a lot but would “magically” get sick when the award ceremony would happen. The dread of walking across the stage in front of what I thought were millions of people made me ill.
I found solace when I learned how to be ‘someone to everyone’ that I encountered in my life. I became a great actress. I put that fake smile on my face and went about my day. What I didn’t realize at the time was these very actions further chipped away at my core and created even more pain. My very own coping mechanism was failing me. I became scared to death to show the world just who I was because I didn’t even know that person who lived within my body anymore. The fun-loving, country-bumpkin, who loved to ride bikes, and read in the treehouse was gone. This intense fear of rejection or having someone discover I was a fraud – haunted me. I struggled to get better and only found myself slipping further away from ME. I wondered if I was ever going to get past this internal pain that I was experiencing.
Thankfully, I have made great strides and continue to heal past hurts in my life. This has been far from easy. In fact, some days are so painful that you may find yourself thinking it’s too much to bear. Let me encourage you with this.
Every single step you take towards mending those broken parts of you, to peeling back yet another layer of gunk to be dealt with, you begin to uncover the beautiful masterpiece that is YOU. And I can promise you with all certainty that life becomes worth living.
In the past 6 years on this healing journey, here are some truths I’ve discovered:
- Having everyone like you is NOT possible. When you are truly and authentically you, you will attract the people that bring out the best in you and love you for YOU. Haters don’t matter.
- Don’t be afraid to share your gifts with the world and let your light shine. We need more people to stand in their greatness with humility and love, so we can positively impact the world.
- NEVER SAY NEVER. Some of the things that you never thought you would ever do, are the very same things you are doing now. Make them count.
May you find inspiration and encouragement from a little girl turned a woman who bounced back from bullying and is making her mark on the world through her story. You too can!
~ Brook Sheehan | San Diego, California