Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Break

Last week someone asked me to write on this topic:

"Being different and overcoming obstacles maybe? Or loving yourself... ♥"

I knew this day would come eventually. It's a topic that I have a love/hate relationship with because it's something that's very personal for me. I tend to shy away from it because I don't want to be labeled as someone that I'm not, and I don't like making this an issue in my life. Because it's not how I see my life. Those of you who know me strictly through my blog/twitter/other internet venues are probably completely confused by what I'm talking about. Don't worry... all will be explained in a minute. 

My first casts 
I didn't have a "normal" childhood - to say the least. I was the kid who practically grew up in the hospital. I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta (just call it OI). Basically it means that I'm short (4'2 to be exact) and break my bones easily (I've broken a bone about 20 times...ish). It's a genetic bone disorder, but no one in my family has ever had OI. We figure it was a muted gene on both my mom's side of the family and my dad's side. 

Random right? So again... I didn't have a "normal" childhood. How many kids do you know knew all of their hospital nurses by name and was a regular in the ER, and not because they jumped out of a tree or something?

I've gone through a lot of ups and downs when it comes to my handicap (or disability, or handicapableness, or specialness... whatever the politically correct term is this week). Growing up I didn't really seem to care. I hated breaking my legs all of the time (it really hurts), but I was a happy kid. The nurses used to fight over who got to take care of me. Breaking bones and going in and out of the hospital were just part of life - and it was normal for me.

Not that I didn't struggle. I actually have a lot. As I got older I wasn't breaking my bones as often. So when I did - it was almost a shock. For months, or even years at a time, I had been able to pretend that I was like everyone else. Then when I did hurt myself and had to be in a wheelchair and recovery for weeks and weeks - I took it a lot harder. As if being a teenager isn't awkward enough, right? Try slow dancing with a guy at homecoming when he's two feet taller than you. And shopping at the mall in your wheelchair at Christmas is a nightmare, by the way.

My 1st & only ballet recital. Obviously dance wasn't my calling.
Yet, even with the struggles - it has never been an issue for the people around me. Or if it has, they never told me. With my close circle of friends short jokes run rampant. My friends actually get quite creative with their jokes actually and I judge them when they think of something lame. I joke around with people and tell them that if they don't make a short joke on occasion I don't feel loved. This doesn't mean that my friends define me like this.

One of my close friends, who actually is the one who started the short jokes and tells them the most, is the one that gets most upset when people define me by my height and brittle bones. He hates it when people refer to me as a "disabled" or "handicap" person. He says it's because that means people see me by what I can't do. They see me as a "disabled person" and not as a person. I had another friend in college who lived on my floor who said that she never understood why people made short jokes about me - because most of the time she forgot about my height. That just wasn't who I was.
That's how I've always lived my life. Yeah, I struggle at times with how I am - but it doesn't define me. I've known people with disabilities who wear it on their sleeve. They wear it like a badge that they've won. I don't go to conventions for people who are short or have disabilities, they make me uncomfortable and I feel like I can't relate to those people. That might be fine for them - but it's not me. Heck, a lot of times I hate it when on TV and such they do stuff on people with disabilities. Artie on Glee is actually one of my least favorite characters on the show... although he's starting to grow on me.

So here's my advice. You may or may not have a physical disability, maybe you just feel out of place in life or have a hard time loving yourself. Here's what I have to say about it. Everyone has different ways of dealing with things, so if you disagree with me or feel as though this doesn't work for you, that's fine. This is just my two cents.

Your shortcomings and defeats don't define you. Are they part of the person you are and who you've become? Yes. But it's not everything.

That's not who I want people to see me as. I don't want to be "that short girl who breaks easily." 

Find people to surround yourself with who really don't care about your shortcomings. My friends and family care - obviously. They don't want me to break bones. But they don't make it an issue. They don't mind when they need to adjust things for me because I can't do what they can. They don't play the martyr when they have to help me. They treat me just like they do every other person in their life they care about. These people can be hard to find, and it might take awhile. But when you do - they are some of the most wonderful and amazing people you will ever meet in your life.

Remember that everyone has problems, shortcomings, and things that make them different. Each of us have struggles - they may all look different, but we all go through them.

Remind yourself of what your obstacles have taught you. I know that if I never went through the experiences I've had, I probably would be a complete and total brat. Or I think of all of the wonderful people I may have never met otherwise. I've been taught how to be compassionate of others and not judge them by how the look.

Most of all, remember who's you are. You are a child of God. I don't know why out of all of the genes in the universe two muted OI genes happened to come together and take over my life. But I know that God loves me and I am his. God wants to be with me, and love me, and care for me. More than anyone in the world ever could. The Lord of the universe is my dad - and he's a dad that LOVES me, and he loves you too.

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." - Isaiah 43:1-3

For more information about OI go here:


  1. Emily, this is really a powerful piece of writing. Thank you for sharing so honestly! I love it. You are amazing and I'm glad I know you!

  2. There were times I was not sure if you actually had reconciled the OI condition with who you are. I thought maybe you were trying to just ignore it. But it is very reassuring to see you have resolved many disability issues and are moving on with a productive and healthy life! You are amazing.

  3. I love how open and honest you are, but I especially love how you so strongly shine the light of Christ and make everything beautiful in that light. You're beautiful in attitude, faith, as well as inside and out...and so is your writing.

  4. There is so much in this post that is so amazing! I love it all!

    Thank you! This was what I needed to read!

  5. Thanks for being honest in this post. It's neat to learn something new about you and also to remember that Christ made me the way I am.

  6. I still remember when you broke your leg during rehearsal. You were so calm and collected and told everyone what you needed. That's when I knew how special you are!

  7. Thank you for this amazing honesty & openness! Your attitude is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this :) x

  8. What a beautiful beautiful piece. Thanks so much for this.

  9. Emily
    I wrote this comment a long, long, long time ago but then the comment monster ate it and I had to leave and I vowed to come back. So I am returning! What you wrote - it was absolutely beautiful. It touched me to the core. You are one of the strongest, in heart, people that I know and I consider you a dear friend, even having never met you. I send you all my love and know that you will always have a dear place in my heart.

  10. Wow, I clicked over from one of your more recent posts (July 2012) and I'm glad I did. You are such a strong and encouraging person! Your honesty is very impressive.

  11. First, I love our ballet picture together! This was such an amazing post. You are a talented writer!! I honestly feel blessed to be your best friend since we were born. You are an awesome friend, I'm crazy about ya!


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