A few days ago, a friend (whom I met through this blog and who also happens to have one arm) told me about a recent dating experience. Just like I used to do, she tends to hide her limb difference when around members of the opposite sex, so the guy she’d been seeing had no clue about her arm. I encouraged her to be open with him and confident in herself, but things didn’t go very well after the Big Reveal. Surprisingly, he reacted like a complete jerk; he was reluctant to see her arm and basically dropped all contact with her. Not cool. And it’s not the only rejection I heard about this past week.
On the “Women Tell All” special episode of The Bachelor, limb different contestant Sarah Herron spills all about the pain she felt after Sean Lowe told her she was not the one for him. “It’s the worst to be told ‘you’re great, but you’re not good enough for me,'” she says. “I always fall back on, ‘Oh well, it must be because I have one arm.'” It’s a heartbreaking moment as the audience sees Sarah fighting back tears. And it brought me back to the times when no boys wanted to dance with me at parties and my 6th grade crush told me my shorter arm was ugly. So for the sake of honesty here, I’ll confess this: I cried after watching the show. I know exactly how Sarah felt, and I cried for her and for my friend and for myself and for any girl living with a physical difference in a superficial world.
But here’s the thing that may just shed a little light and hope on this sort of situation – we’ve all been there. Turn on the TV or pick up a book or magazine, and I doubt you’ll have too much trouble finding a scene where a beautiful and seemingly perfect girl with two arms faces rejection from the guy she wants. Rejection is not a phenomenon exclusive to women with limb differences. People get rejected for all sorts of reasons, whether or not they have a disability. I know there are a few moms who read my blog who have young children with limb differences, and I’ve been hearing a lot of worries about their kids’ future love life. All I can really say is that dating isn’t easy for anyone. You will have to comfort your daughter after her first breakup and console your son after his first crush doesn’t pay any attention to him. But the fact is that you’ll have to do that with any kid, limb difference or not.
And when it comes down to it, a limb difference isn’t an automatic deal-breaker for most people. Just because you’re missing a limb doesn’t mean that all guys are going to reject you. It bothers me so much when people tell me or anyone with a difference that there will be a man who won’t be “shallow” and will look “past the disability.” That almost makes it sound as though a limb difference is some horrible deformity that makes you totally undesirable, which is completely untrue. I’m sure there are plenty of guys interested in girls like my friend or like Sarah simply because they’re gorgeous. A missing arm is not something a man should have to “accept” or “look past.”
I know I’ve been very insecure about my arm throughout my life, but I feel comfortable knowing that my boyfriend loves all of me just as I am. He’s there for me and he’s happy with the way I look, even with messy hair and 1.5 arms. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here before, but he’s the one who inspired me to start blogging about my limb difference. And it’s definitely made me realize that I’m not alone and that I’m worth loving.
There’s not really anything comforting or intelligent I can say about rejection other than this: it really sucks. But when you do find someone who really loves you and who you can connect with and be vulnerable with, you’ll realize that all the hurts and heartbreaks kind of just fade away. So in closing, I’ll leave you with the lesson Sarah Herron took home from The Bachelor experience: