Friday, November 11, 2011

My Daily Battle With Poland Syndrome

Many people have commented on my previous post (I Have Poland Syndrome) that they admire my courage and bravery in sharing my birth defect with the world. They appreciate that I look on the bright side and love life, being confident that God made me this way for a reason.

Well, I want to let you in on a little secret... I'm not courageous. I'm not brave.

I'm self-conscious.

Now, some of you might think that I am courageous relative to others that have Poland Syndrome. Others with this birth defect are afraid to even tell their closest friends that they have a misshapen body and a figure that would get stares from people at the pool or beach. That may be true, but it is hiding the whole truth.

The reality is that all of my family and friends often forget that I even have Poland Syndrome. They thought it was interesting at first, and now they don't even notice it. It is not who I am, it's just what's under my shirt.

The real battle is with my own self-image. I still see my one-sided chest every morning. Every day I see my puny right bicep and thin arm. When I have my shirt off at the pool, I often intentionally put my towel over my right shoulder in order to hide my missing right pec muscle. When I pose in photos, I often intentionally stand on the left side of people to show off my left bicep rather than exposing my right. These are things I think about.

The first photo above was taken four years ago when we moved to Portland. I have this photo in a frame by my desk at work and every time I look at it, it reminds me how I purposefully stood that way to hide my right arm. I like the way I look in it because it shows off my left bicep and pec muscle.

The second photo was taken about a month ago. In this photo, I immediately look at my right arm and see how small it looks. Many would say "Aaron, it doesn't look small. It's not a big deal," but it looks small to me. I struggle with focusing on all of the joys in the photo. I'm not ignoring my beautiful wife and cute son on a beautiful day at the pumpkin patch, it's just that my eyes keep panning down to my arm.

This is the battle of self-image that I struggle with. It's not eating me up inside or anything. I live a pretty normal life. Most of my time is spent thinking about work and my loving family that I come home to every day. But those other times of the day when I am daydreaming or looking at photos, I see a man who is not as physically attractive as I would like to be.

The life-long battle of being self-conscious is one that will never end. I am constantly fighting these self-image issues and accepting the fact that I am different. Some days I love being different, while other days I wish I had a normal chest and two normal arms. It's a battle that I don't think I'll ever win... but I don't ever plan on losing the battle either.

God tells us in the Bible that although I want to do good and think good thoughts, evil is right there with me. The battle of my flesh is raging with what I know God wants: He wants me to focus on the love that Jesus covers us matter what we look like. My body will eventually waste away and die, and it is what's in my heart and soul that counts. Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ!

Related posts:
I Have Poland Syndrome
My Tattoo
Will My Child Have Poland Syndrome?