Howdy. So… 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’ve managed to find and keep a good man, I doubt whether I would’ve given 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 question 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. (I took about thirty selfies before I found one that didn’t crush my soul.) 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. That 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. One of my elementary-grade teachers 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’s as flat to me as the screen you’re using to read this. I have no depth perception. I constantly have to guess where things are, and my hands often reach for purchase because I struggle to know my place–walking in a crowded mall or grocery store is more terrifying to me than driving on an interstate at seventy miles per hour. People move around like gaseous molecules with no regard for others. When I stop to wait 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, black hole, voyeur, wallflower. Eager for, but incapable of, belonging. Unwelcome. Unnecessary.
And despite all of this, I know the ways I have been blessed, and they are many. I am here today because of those blessings, those lifelines God has thrown me. He gave me a voice; it took me a hell of long time to find it, but yall… I found it, and I ain’t afraid to use it.