Self Image

When someone suggested I start a blog, my first thought was, “Who would wanna read what I have to say?” There are many times I still wonder that. A few weeks ago, I put way too much pressure on myself in regards to what people thought about me via my blog. I say this because I try to be as honest and candid as possible in my blogs, meaning I put myself out there for all to see. But I have no idea who reads this. When I go out in my community, I cannot help but to wonder who has read my writings; who knows the personal things I’ve discussed? I felt like maybe I’ve shared too much – sometimes I just feel so exposed (for lack of a better word).

Don’t get me wrong, I am EXTREMELY blessed for all the support. I put myself out there, in the media and in my writings, and have no regrets; however, it does, at times, make me feel quite vulnerable. Prior to my accident, I was a very private person, so putting myself out there so much did not come easily. Looking back now, I am so glad I did. Recently, I found myself going back to my original blog, Believe in Miracles, and had a sudden epiphany. These entries, although public for all to read, are mostly for my benefit. Many times I go and re-read previous blogs to see my progress; to take my own advice; to be inspired; or to remind myself of where I’ve been and how far I can go. For instance, this time two years ago was the first time I could scratch my nose! It is so surreal for me to know that something so simple was such a huge accomplishment, but at that time, it was a major milestone.

That being said, I want to talk about a struggle of mine. One of the hardest things for me to overcome since my injury is my self image. I will be the first to admit that I had many insecurities before my accident. All my life up until age 19, I was overweight.
At my heaviest, in 2006, I weighed in at 215. It wasn’t until my first year at Southern Miss that I somehow lost the weight. Honestly, I don’t know how. I credit it to being a full time student, full time waitress, happy in a relationship, going out with friends, and no longer eating momma’s cooking! Regardless, even after dropping 90lbs, I never saw myself as thin… But it was not just my outer appearance that I had a hard time accepting.

I have always felt like an awkward individual; constantly questioning myself and how others perceive me, often feeling misunderstood. Trust is, I didn’t know who I was because I had a tendency to focus too much of my time and energy into my relationships instead of focusing on myself, my goals, and my interests. In the last two years since my injury, a year and a half of which I’ve been single (longest I’ve been single since high school), I’ve learned so much about myself. The time away from dating allowed me to realize who I am as an individual and I would not trade that for anything. For the first time in my life, I was invested in myself as opposed to a significant other. And while I continue to discover who I am on the inside, I still find myself trying to love my outward appearance.

As I previously mentioned, I already had a tainted vision of myself from being overweight for so long. After my injury, I had to get used to an entirely new body. It did not take long to discover that many of my clothes did not look the same when I was always sitting down and, to be quite blunt, could no longer suck in my gut (no shame). My power chair, which seems to swallow me up in its oversized and intimidating frame, is usually noticed before I am. Honestly, with how cumbersome my chair is, I’m not the least bit surprised. It looks like a transformer. If my chair doesn’t attract the stares, then my spasms seem to seal the deal. Who expects to see a paralyzed chick suddenly kick out a leg and then have to have someone put it back on my footplate. But it’s not only my legs, my whole left side/arm contracts when a spasm occurs, guaranteeing some odd looks from strangers. Then there is the insecurities with my hands; my lifeless fingers stay curled into little fists. This is likely my biggest insecurity. Of course, the lack of hand use means I’m unable to do a lot of my own care and grooming, i.e., my hair. I’m sure most girls can relate with me when I say that a good or bad hair day can make or break how you feel about your appearance. It seems so simple, but I would give anything to be able to do my own hair again. Ah, but I digress.

As I said, I write these blogs for my benefit. These are words I needed to get off my chest. I look forward to the day I re-read this blog and say, “Insecure!? Katy, you’re crazy!” Like everything else in my journey, I will turn this struggle over to God and know it will one day be a thing of the past.

All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren’t.
– Marilyn Monroe

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9 Comments on "Self Image"

Kristin W
June 28, 2012

Write. A. Book. Best sellers list = Unlimited time at Sheperd!! You can do it and I’d be in line when it comes out… Notice I said WHEN … NOT … IF!!!

July 24, 2012

hi katy. you don’t know me. i used to work with your brother kevin and i’m only a little bit acquainted with sarah.

BUT. i wanted to echo what kristin wrote up there. what a great, great idea! i know i’d buy a copy!

June 29, 2012

Wow. Talk about being real!

So, when people tell u ur beautiful, do u have trouble believing them? Or could it be that people don’t tell u ur beautiful often enough? I guess I’m one of those people from the second part. Saawwweee! :)

Katy Blake, my beautiful friend from across the seas, I do hereby declare :

Ps : i swear, I really are. Everytime I see a new pic of u, I think, she’s so pretty. Then I go on to think, she probably knows it. That’s the problem with being pretty – people assume u know it and that you’re probably a snob or have everything all together with no issues in life. Lol!!

Ok enough rambling from me. Great post. At least now u know one person that read it isn’t even from ur side of the world!!

Karen Dirickson
June 29, 2012

Hello Katy. My name is Karen. I just got done reading your blog. While I am not a Quadriplegic I was quite blessed by your words. As a child I to had different views of myself. I thought I will never be pretty enough or smart enough for anyone to love or like me. But as I got older I found myself caring about other people rather than myself. Putting in a nut shell I was a human doormat. When I got into adult hood a very abusive relationship broke me of that. I was no longer anyone’s doormat or punching bag. It was then I found out who my true friends where. I did not have half the friends after that. It was a lonely time for me. I had trust issues among other things. But then I turned to God for help. He taught me that I was never alone in my trials. Like that poem footprints in the sand: God said at your darkness times it was then I carried you. so please know that no matter what goes on in your life God will always be there for you. God Bless you. Your sister in Christ Karen.

June 29, 2012

Listen to her! Start the book, just get it going. I’ll gladly proof it for you. This really could be your ticket to unlimited Shepard AND allow you the forum to make those changes in the system you’ve been talking about. I see it now…best seller list then testimony before Congress. Take up where Chris Reeves left off. Just do it!!!

Erin B
June 29, 2012

Kristen W. is right ~ Katy, you write so well. You should be writing a book. Your story is amazing. Part of what makes it that way is your brutal honesty about what you are feeling and thinking. AND by the way ~ I love the girl that I watched grow into a beautiful, interesting woman. I wish I could take away your insecure feelings for you. You have always been beautiful, kind and a fierce friend to all who know you. Your weight and “Transformer Chair” have nothing to do with that. You inspire so many people ~ through your writing, through your art and with your every day struggles. I love you and pray for you every day.