MENDING THE BROKEN TOYS
No one likes being made to feel like there’s something “wrong” with them, or that they need to be “fixed.” It doesn’t feel good when people think of us as “broken toys.” Yet for so many of us with a disability, it almost feels like there’s no escape from that mentality anywhere we’ve ever been in life. I’ll admit I’m not without my faults. For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled to make the distinction between perception and reality. I was convinced that the way I see things is the way that they really must be. I had a lot of unresolved issues because of the warped lens through which I saw the world around me.
I was invited to join a group online recently featuring people I had gone to school with growing up. School was not always a pleasant experience, especially during the six and a half years I had lived in Holden. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too sure what to think. I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. Would anyone even remember me? Did anyone even like or respect me back then to justify joining the group? I figured it couldn’t hurt to test the waters at least and hear what other people had to say about their experiences from when they were in school.
What I discovered surprised me. In a good way. Here I was, fully prepared to start throwing down and giving people an earful about grades 5-8, ready to finally let people have it after all these years. Instead, I was welcomed into the fold with open arms. People spoke favorably of what they remembered about me. They mentioned how kind I was back then and how I went out of my way to show people I cared about them. They appreciated my ability to remember things about school that they had previously forgotten, like certain aspects of the school curriculum or notable events in school history when I was there. And when I told them how I had struggled to fit in since I wasn’t in with the cool kids or up on what was hip in the 90s, a handful of them even gave sincere apologies and expressed remorse, wishing they had behaved better back then.
And in that moment, that’s when it hit me. All this time I thought this school reeked of teen spirit, hyped up on hormones and Surge. But the people I went to school with back then made me realize that it wasn’t all bad like I had thought. There were plenty of redeeming qualities about my time in school. We were still young. Everyone had their own issues they were all dealing with back then, whether we had acknowledged it or not. We were all still learning and growing, still trying to figure out who we were and who we wanted to be. And whether we realized it or not, we were all capable of changing and rewriting the script.
Seeing the beauty and also seeing the potential in what looks broken on the surface is amazing. Taking the time and putting in the effort to mend a “broken toy” is a good thing, and it’s usually even the right thing to do. Healing from my past would be a major accomplishment to me. And that’s easily the best part of everyone telling their stories. We control the narrative. We set the tone for the stories we tell. No matter how dark or sad they may get at times, everyone’s story deserves a happy ending.
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