Letter to my Parents, Teachers, and Coaches from my Younger Self
Had I been able to articulate what support I needed as a child, here is what I would have requested of the adults in my life
Don’t make me prove to you that I’m okay. I need you to trust that I will be okay and will have a great life.
See me as whole and remind me often that I am.
Take care of your own emotions around my hand difference – it is exhausting for me to do it for you! Get whatever help/support you need for yourself so that when I need you to listen and validate what I’m experiencing, you are able to do so.
Reach out to others who have this special situation to be able to anticipate what unusual circumstances I may deal with in my life.
Understand that grieving is a process. Grieve the child you didn’t have as often as you need so that you can truly love the one you do.
Don’t allow anyone decide for me what I can and can’t do.
Support me in the things I want to pursue. But also remind me that I don’t have to do everything everyone else does. Help me to learn the concept of choice.
Just because I have figured out how to do some things for myself, don’t assume that I will figure out everything independently. I need you to be part of the process.
Appreciate that even though being different can be amazing, it also can be hard and challenging. When I go out into the world, not everyone sees how wonderful my difference is. So I need empathy for the places and spaces where that message hasn’t yet reached.
Understand that accepting one’s own body is fluid and ever-changing. One day I might love my different hand and the next day I might think it is ugly. Support me and be patient as I navigate this very confusing process.
Realize that you will always question and worry about whether you are doing/have done enough for me. But the most important thing you can do is to love me exactly as I am.
Understand that sometimes people will focus on my differences too much. At other times, they won’t focus on it enough. Help me to learn how to recognize and ask for what I need.
Be aware as I grow that asymmetries in the body are cumulative. Things that are easy for me to do with my different or dominant side when I am young may be harder as I get older. If I ever tell you that my body hurts, listen and consult with someone with expertise.
Model asking and accepting help from others. Seeing you do this will make it easier for me to ask and accept help from others. After all, everyone needs help sometimes.
When I’m old enough to do more for myself, be with me rather than do for me. Work with me to problem solve. Even when I no longer ask you for help, continue to offer so that I remember that it is okay to ask. If I refuse your offer, don’t be offended – one day I may accept the help.
Recognize that as I get older, I often will make how I have adapted to life look easy and that I have figured it all out. But I need you to know that it often is not easy; in fact sometimes it’s still super hard.
Above all, know that I love you ❤️ even if I don’t always remember to thank you for everything you do for me!
©2023. Laura Faye Clubok, MS, OTR/L, On The Other Hand Therapy