undercover

  Hello again, friends. Before we do anything else, let me just ask you this question: what’s the first thing you notice about the above picture? Is it the lovely dress (which I bought on sale at Macy’s for $15, no joke!)? The guitar in the background? The fact that I’m wearing sunglasses indoors? Or maybe that I look quite a bit heavier than I do now (that’s what I’m noticing, at least)? You might even note that I’m wearing long black opera gloves, which I like to think makes me look elegant and oh-so-sophisticated. I highly doubt, however, that the first thing you notice is my lack of a left arm. And of course, that’s no coincidence. 

  Ever since I was a preteen, I’ve tried my best to hide my limb deficiency from the world. Jackets, blazers, and long-sleeved shirts became the staples of my wardrobe. I wanted to completely eradicate people’s awkward stares and ignore the fact that I had one arm. I wore a variety of trendy sweaters on casual days and (like the picture shows) long gloves for more formal occasions. I was so good at hiding it, in fact, that my boyfriend Chris didn’t even realize I was missing a limb when we first met. This was a personal victory for me because I so badly wanted to be seen as normal. It wasn’t until recently that I finally felt the need to break free of all that. 

  Chris actually helped me a lot in that department. He’s very supportive and assures me that my arm doesn’t bother him at all. When we first started dating, I refused to take off my prosthetic arm (which is Myoelectric and freaking awesome, but I’ll get to that in another post) for him. I remember swearing that I would never let him see my short arm, not even if we got married. Looking back, I now see how comically ridiculous I was being. It took me a while, but I eventually warmed up to the idea. So I went for it and removed the prosthesis for the first time, fully expecting him to break up with me immediately afterwards. It’s funny the way life works sometimes, though. It turns out that he thought I was breaking up with him. He was so nervous because he thought that I wanted to end things. I couldn’t believe it. I thought he would freak out when he saw what I really looked like. Instead, he smiled at me and spoke the two words that would make any girl deliriously happy: “You’re beautiful.” 

  Now before I allow this post to get obnoxiously sugar-sweet and mushy, I should mention that I didn’t just drop all my insecurities and suddenly become a hundred percent comfortable with myself. That’s a process, and I’m not totally there yet. But I did start to realize that trying to cover up a part of myself was not working for me. I’m now at the point where I can deal with the stares and the questions, but I can’t deal with being dishonest and ashamed of how I look. And just like a friend put it when I wondered out loud if the average Joe on the street could be attracted to a one-armed girl, at least I don’t weigh 300 pounds. (Okay, I’m aware that that’s not very politically correct at all, but it’s a comforting thought. Fat people, feel free to console yourselves with the fact that at least you have two arms. Whatever works.) Anyway, I’m now well on my way to shedding the remnants of my cocoon to become a butterfly. (In this silly metaphor, the cocoon is the cumbersome fake limb and the butterfly is my perfectly asymmetrical self). One of my New Year’s resolutions, actually, is to finally be able to walk around without the prosthesis and without a care in the world about it. So yeah, I’m looking forward to shedding those unnecessary 10 pounds of metal and plastic this year. Can’t wait to show off that new figure when I get there.

Peace out,

Caitlin 
  

 

Social Share Toolbar

emerson lee

  I know we’ve only been friends for one blog post at this point, but I wanted to introduce you to someone (or something, rather) very special to me. See that beauty in the above photo? That’s my guitar, which I’ve named Emerson Lee. I bought him on a whim two years ago when I was 18. My parents were skeptical and didn’t believe that their limb-lacking daughter could learn to play, so I ended up just getting a cheap 80-dollar model from Amazon. com. Since no one in my family has ever played guitar and I didn’t want to go for lessons because I was scared they wouldn’t take me seriously, I bought several   books and instruction manuals to learn on my own. So began my journey of teaching myself how to play the lovely and complicated instrument. 


  I bet you’re wondering right about now: why guitar? Why not something you can play with one hand, like a trumpet or a harmonica? To be honest, I don’t exactly know. I have some theories, though. Part of me has always strived to prove myself and make sure everyone knows how capable I am. Another reason probably had to do with some pent-up anger at a “joke” I overheard a high school classmate say. She thought it would be funny to pose the question “how does Caitlin play Guitar Hero?” to her friends. The thing that bothered me about that was not that she was making light of my half-arm situation (I mean, I joke about it all the time). I was more insulted by the fact that she was assuming my inability to perform a task I could actually do pretty well. As a stubborn and slightly crazy woman, I resolved to prove to myself that I could not only play a virtual guitar but I could also play a real one. That whole incident certainly played a big part in motivating me to learn guitar. 


  But the biggest reason I took up playing that oh-so-wonderful six-string, if you want me to be truthful, had to do with laziness. It’s no secret that I’m a huge procrastinator. I tend to avoid doing any sort of homework until five minutes before it’s due. It’s horrible of me, I know, but old habits die hard. Anyway, guitar served as a nice diversion during midterm and finals week. I perused every guitar book I bought and watched all the instructional YouTube videos I found. And before long, I was strumming that guitar like I was Taylor Swift. 


  How exactly do I play, you ask? Well, I hope the picture on top gives you a good idea of it. I use a left-handed guitar and basically tape a pick to my short arm so that I can strum. It’s pretty simple, actually. And now that I’m a guitar girl, I can’t even imagine how I spent so many years of my life without playing. The feeling I get when I play is the most amazing feeling in the world. I feel strong. I’m not the pitiable little cripple that some people consider me. I play an instrument that even someone with twice as many hands would find difficult to teach him/herself. I am strong. Regardless of what anyone says or thinks about me, I have my music and all it represents to back me up.


Peace out,
Caitlin 


P.S. In case you were wondering, the handsome man in the photo above is my awesome-beyond-words boyfriend Chris  🙂

Social Share Toolbar

welcome

  Hi there. Welcome to my newest blog, Stream of Caitlinness (kinda clever, huh?). On this first day of 2012, I’d like to A) wish everyone a Happy New Year and B) announce that maintaining this blog happens to be my New Year’s resolution. Considering my past record of abandoning half-written blogs, I’m not sure how well I’ll do with this. But hey, it’s worth a try. Especially since I’ve decided to make this particular blog my most personal one yet. That means that instead of trying to stick to one overly specific topic, I’ll focus on whatever comes to mind when I sit down to write. And trust me, my mind is a very random and scary and interesting place. Of course, this stream of consciousness idea won’t be completely without direction.


  One thing I’d really like to explore and open up about is my disability. I’ve never been one hundred percent comfortable discussing it in a public setting (mostly out of the fear that I’ll be judged). But I’m 20 now, and I think it’s about time I get over my insecurities and start to live my life on my own terms. For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m a one-armed girl. I was born without a left forearm, though I’m quick to point out that it doesn’t really limit me in all the ways you would think. I get along just fine. Of course, I’m not saying that it’s always an easy thing to deal with. I don’t think I need to mention that I’m just a normal girl and have my share of insecurities. But my half-arm is a part of me, and I want to be able to embrace that. Hence, this blog has come into existence.


  So there you have it. If you’re reading this, thanks for embarking on this challenging journey with me.


Happy blogging!
Caitlin 



Social Share Toolbar