“I turned thirty this year and I’m just about ready to say that I accept my spina bifida. To some, that might sound like an odd statement. I was born with spina bifida, so there’s no question that I have it and will have it forever. It’s there and will always be there, so of course, I have no choice but to accept it, right?
This acceptance of myself is something I’ve always struggled with. And yes, I said “myself” not “this part of myself.” For as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to compartmentalize my life. There’s always been this feeling that I’m living a weird, sort of double life.
I have my “normal” (yes, I cringe at that word too, but bear with me) life on one hand, and my spina bifida life on the other. The “normal” parts of my life are the things that aren’t directly affected by my spina bifida, or the times when I’m not reminded of it. For example, this would include things like my school life like getting my Master’s Degree, or hanging out with my girlfriends, or having a movie night with my husband while we cuddle with our cats.
But then, there are those times or activities when my spina bifida is overly apparent, and I just can’t possibly feel “normal.” I used to view these times in such a negative light that it just decimated my self- confidence and self-image. How could I accept a part of me that made me feel so different?
Well, I’m learning now. I’m learning that being different is ok. In fact, I’m truly accepting now that my differences are what makes me, ME. I wouldn’t be this version of me otherwise, and I can honestly say that right now in a positive way. I like this version of me that I’m becoming, and that’s only happened through some really hard work. I’m so proud of the work I’ve put in and continue to put in to get to where I want to be. And for the first time in my life, my future is looking a little less scary because with this self-acceptance has come a better understanding of the importance of self-care and self-advocacy. All of this adds up to a better version of my life than I thought possible.” -Amie Richards, born with Spina Bifida