My name is Rebekah Hale. I was born with my left hand and forearm missing due to Amniotic Band Syndrome. I used to be extremely self conscious of my arm. When we would go places and sit down, I would tuck my arm behind my back. From about seven to ten, I was very shy about my arm. Thinking back, I’m almost positive I was ashamed to be the way I am.
Ridicule from the children at school didn’t exactly help. However playing softball boosted my confidence in the fact that I could be good at something that usually required two hands. But eventually the kids at school got used to the fact that I had one hand and went off to find some other unfortunate kid that wasn’t like them to make fun of, as some children do. I moved to Colorado in the seventh grade, I was thirteen. I had to deal with the ridicule from children all over again. But when I was in the seventh and eighth grade, I discovered I loved to sing, and that I had a great voice. I wasn’t going to let the embarrassment I felt toward my arm affect the one thing I’ve always been good at; singing. But even with the confidence booster from the fact that I could sing, I was still so ashamed to be different, that I could barely stand it. Maybe it was the staring from people at public places, or the pointing that curious children did. I’m not sure. I was mad at everything; mainly God, for making me different.
It took me until high school to realize that I wasn’t and never would be the same as everybody else. I’d spent so much time hating myself for the way I was, instead of embracing the fact that I was different and that there are people that TRY to be different that can’t be. It was almost like my freshman year epiphany. After a while I started doing weird things with my arm, like shoving quarters in it and MM’s for free candy. I even made a few friends because they wanted to touch my arm. Every once in a while I’ll come across someone who is ignorant about my arm by cracking one hand jokes, but they don’t know that I’ll just crack my own one hand jokes to throw them off balance.
Now when those curious children point and ask, I tell them the truth, completely aware that children are innocent and curious and say some things that may be hurtful, but don’t mean for them to be. Some people ask me if I wish that I was like everybody else. I always answer with the same thing. “If I was like everyone else, then I would be no better than the people who made me feel terrible about myself” I realize now that I shouldn’t be embarrassed about my arm. That my “disability”, if you can even call it that, is the one thing that made me become who I am today.
You should never be ashamed about the way you are because what I said is true; people try to be different and usually don’t succeed. Embrace the fact that you’re different. I no longer look at myself as “disabled” or “crippled” because that’s not what I am. I may have some difficulty doing what I want to do, and I may not succeed, but the fact that I tried and didn’t give up is enough for me. If you, or your children have any questions, I would be more than happy to answer them. Take care and thank you for reading my story.