I presented my story at one of those Bible studies in which I participate. I worried over what to write for two weeks. I was asked last night if I could go today instead of next week. I said, “Sure.” I hadn’t figured out what I was going to say, didn’t have any props (because people like to look at things)… I knew it would come to me, but… yall… it came to me at eight-thirty a.m. this morning… sixty minutes before I was to speak. Once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator. I thought I’d share what I’d said–most of you who’ve followed Picky for some time know the spiel, but for the newcomer:
I don’t look good on paper. Three years shy of fifty, unmarried, childless, physically and mentally disabled, financially and emotionally insecure, underemployed with no prospects or drive for better opportunities, living with my parents, driving a twelve-year-old vehicle with nearly two hundred thousand miles on it. The longest romantic relationship I’ve had lasted four months… four months longer than it should have because I had no interest in him. The one that mattered most lasted six weeks… if that… because I had too much interest in him. The worst one lasted three months and ended with him verbally, emotionally and mentally abusing me. If I could manage to find and keep a good man, I’ve doubted whether I could give him children anyway because I have cerebral palsy: my hips were dislocated at birth; my bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles are poorly-constructed things; and my brain suffers chemical imbalances that cause severe depression and rage… even if I’d been physically capable of carrying a child and having a healthy pregnancy, I questioned whether I would’ve been sound enough to be a nurturing mother. I’ve not kept any job for longer than five years, and none of them have paid well; the majority of them have been in retail.
I don’t look good in person. My face feels like a Picasso painting: scraps jumbled together and colored red for the rage, yellow for the jaundiced skin, blue for the sadness and the tempest, and black for the fear and the despair. I’ve had six surgeries, three of which were on my eyes. I bear some thirty scars from those surgeries, and ten of them are above my chin. I’ve been told of how ugly I am more times than I could possibly begin to fathom. I’ve been told I should kill myself because I’m taking up valuable air and space and there are more important people who need it. That no one would ever want to marry me because I was too ugly and no one wants to wake up next to something–not someone–that ugly every morning. I had a teacher put my desk in an appliance box because she couldn’t stand having me in her classroom, couldn’t bear the sight of me, but couldn’t put me in another one because I was too smart to be in special education. The world is flat to me–I have no depth perception. I see things like you would see them on a television or theater screen or in a magazine or photograph. I constantly have to guess where things are, and my hands often reach for things to help secure my place–walking in a crowded mall or grocery store is more terrifying to me than driving on an interstate. People move around like gaseous molecules with no regard for others. And when I stop to wait for people to go by or I press myself against the shelves in a store until they have passed, people stare at me and ask, “What the hell is your problem?”
Life has been my problem. Loving it, wanting it. I have battled suicidal ideation since I was eight years old… since that teacher put my desk in that refrigerator box.
I am that electron that doesn’t belong anywhere. The free radical floating in the cosmos, screwing things up. The fifth wheel. The black hole. The voyeur. The wallflower. Eager for, but incapable of, belonging. Unwelcome. Unnecessary.
Two and a half years ago, while on a Sunday drive, my father said I seemed happier, that I wasn’t fighting as much. I wanted to cry. I wasn’t fighting at all. I’d stopped clambering for the surface. I had dreams of an Aggie ring, marriage, family, home, career. One by one they’d died. I’d been mourning their deaths and waiting for mine, knowing it could be decades away. And two weeks or so later… My oldest friend called, inviting me to her classroom to teach first graders how to write. I met a little boy, and then I met his mother, the woman who leads the small group of which I am a member and heads the women’s ministry of the church I sometimes attend.
I know the ways I have been blessed. I am here today because of those blessings, those lifelines God has thrown me. He’s never thrown me so many as He has in the past two years.