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From the very beginning of my life, I knew the warof being part of a fearful society.
Indigo skin covered my body at mybirth. The lack of oxygen caused me to have cerebral palsy.
When myfather realized I could not walk normally, it devastated him. The torment fromstrangers paled in comparison to what I received from my father. He mimicked mein public. He screamed at me to straighten my legs and walk right. When thedoctors gave me simple stretches to do, my father took them to the extreme,causing me to writhe and cry in pain. As I began to believe his cruel remarks, Ibecame embarrassed. This embarrassment caused me to hide away in my room foryears.
The doctors talked about surgery. At seven years old, casts wouldenvelop my legs from hip to toe. After that, I would have to learn to walk again.To me, surgery meant walking normally and making Daddy happy. When they decidednot to do the surgery, my eyes welled up.
"But I want the surgery.I want to walk like other kids," I said.
The doctor looked at me,his face white with pain. "Jessica, you will never walk like otherkids," he said.
I felt all my hope had been crushed. For years, Isank deeper into a well of depression.
When I was in fifth grade, myfamily moved to a different town. There, I befriended a girl named Angie. Itrusted her, but soon she deserted me because of her friends' ridicule. Even thesnide remarks and stares of strangers that I had tried to ignore became too muchto bear. By my fifteenth birthday, I hated myself so much I wanted to leave thisworld. When I was hospitalized for my own safety, I finally receivedhelp.
The counselors changed my life through therapy and groupactivities. They helped me realize that "normal" does not exist. Theyshowed me the good in life and in myself. They also helped me to come up with atheory: People fear difference; that fear becomes hate, which leads them to hurtand try to remove the differences.
Now I realize that being different doesnot make me a bad person. I have stopped speaking to my father, and I try toignore the stares and name-calling. I still have features that I do not like, buteveryone does. I try to be the best person I can, and treat others with respect.It still hurts when people treat me badly, but I refuse to take it personally.They do those things because they are afraid and hateful. It has nothingto do with me.
As I go through life, I will gather my army ofloved ones - those who accept me and look beyond the exterior. The army ofignorant, narrow-minded people will also grow, and I will not win every battle. Iwill win the war, however, by making the most out of my life.