10. Occasionally at restaurants people would pay for my family’s meals.
9. A doctor put one of my toes in my shoulder, to make something grow.
8. Fights with my brother ended when he punched me in the jaw because we both knew I couldn’t retaliate in-kind.
7. I was told I couldn’t be a psychiatrist because I couldn’t do an ER rotation. (The same woman would eventually tell my mother that I was never going to find anyone who wanted to be with me).
6. Strangers felt comfortable coming up to me to tell me I was an inspiration to them. One guy even told me that seeing me in McDonald’s one day made him quit his job and drive medical transport vehicles. (though, to be fair, this one still happens)
5. A woman told my mother I would end up in heaven, just because I don’t have arms. Because she equated physical disabilities with cognitive disabilities and just assumed I would never be able to think for myself just because I was missing limbs.
4. I was not allowed to eat on my own at school until I was in middle school, because other kids may see me and want to emulate me. So until I was 11, I was not allowed to eat my lunch independently.
3. One day, my 5th grade P.E. teacher made everyone bat without hands and called it “Rajah Day”. To teach them to appreciate what they had, because it could be worse, they could have been born like me.
2. When I was 7 my mother made me explain to a total stranger that I wasn’t a freak, I was just born differently. On that day she made it clear to me that it was my responsibility to make everyone else ok with the fact that I don’t have arms.
1. Congenital phocomelia was the reason I was adopted. My mother would routinely tell me that she looked for children with physical disabilities when she was adopting, teaching me to ground my worth in what I was missing.