The doctor said amniotic band syndrome was the cause for me to be born with only one arm. When I was a fetus, my arm was tangled in fibrous strings called amniotic bands inside the womb. The bands wrapped tight, preventing my arm from fully developing.
I was raised in a large family that believed in whatever I wanted to do. My grandma made a shoe from a piece of cardboard and yarn. I remember the countless number of hours that I worked over and over until I could grasp how to tie the shoelace. She was left-handed, so teaching me how to write my name was easy for her. Through my entire life, everyone tried to teach me something. I can remember getting so mad and angry. They just didn’t get it, I thought. In fact, no one did. I could get the idea of how to do it, but I had to figure it out on my own. It was emotionally and mentally exhausting. It was like I was always unhappy and never smiled. My temper was always on a short fuse, ready to strike at any given moment.
My mom was so kind-hearted; if she saw me lose my temper, she would often just do it for me. My mom had to go to work early in the mornings, so I had to rely on my dad to fix my hair before school. I would always have to wait on him to get ready first. He would get the comb wet and part my hair straight down the middle and feather it back on the side and use hair spray on it.
I always had to wait on someone to do something for me. Having one arm made life difficult. My dad bought cars and fixed them up or brought them home and detailed them. I couldn’t wait for him to get home so I could help. I would watch him for hours. He taught me how to wash a car. I may have had to redo it a second time because I blocked out a few things he said but that was something I could do with one hand. I could also vacuum a car really well. I had to redo it a few times, but I mastered it. I was so happy because this was something I could do with my dad and be just like him.
Over time, my parents and family just gave up trying to show me things because they knew that I was going to find my own way anyway. Every day was a struggle in itself. I even got to the point where I rebelled against anyone telling me that I didn’t have to get so angry when I couldn’t do something the way they did. As I got older, I would look at myself each day in the mirror and just cry and get even more angry. I asked myself over and over: Why me? Did my mom do something bad during her pregnancy, so I was her punishment? What would it be like to have an arm, just for a day? I asked myself these questions daily. The longer I stood in that spot in my room, the faster I could feel my heart pounding.
The anger grew into bitterness. Man, was it strong. People often said, “God made you this way for a reason.” I heard it so much that it made me despise that three-letter word or anyone around me who said it. Everywhere I went I looked at people and told myself they had the life that I could only dream of having. One day, I went home and ran to my room, grabbing a sheet off my bed and covering the mirror with it. I had to make my room a happy place. I was my comfort zone. I would stay up late and think of how I could do this and that. When daylight came, I couldn’t wait to try my ideas. A few weeks later, I walked over to the mirror and took the sheet down – it was like someone opened a door to my brain. In that very second, I realized that I had to stop running or hiding the fact that I had one arm. God made me without an arm for a reason. I could do anything anyone else could do. I could be anything I wanted to be.
Going through these phases in life gave me willpower and made me more determined than ever. I had been hiding behind a shield, running from the answers to the many questions that I had. The mirror was a reflection that God was showing me daily that I was the way He made me. Day after day, God showed me a way to do things. I didn’t need devices to do anything. It was so hard to accept that but, once I did, my life bloomed in ways that I can’t even explain. In that very second, I knew without a doubt my life had a purpose. Standing in front of that mirror was the simplest yet hardest thing to do. I had to stop hiding behind a shield. I had to stop running and fighting against him.
You know what? All I had to do was just trust. Just being honest, there were many sleepless nights that I wanted to just give up! I said, “I quit, I quit, I give up!” more times than I can count. But if I was still and quiet long enough, this tingling feeling would come through me and, just like that, the anger was pushed to the side. My energy level went up and my determination was stronger than ever. I have no devices to help. Everything I do today is 100 percent based on God!