“Ay, there was this gorgeous girl in McDonald’s yesterday and she was with this really ugly guy. I’m like, ‘What theee??’ They start sign language-ing and then I know why she’s with this guy! Only reason she’s dating him is ‘cause she can’t get anyone better ’cause she’s deaf!”
I don’t know why my driver instructor (long story as to why I have one) chose to tell an ableist story right after I told him I was deaf. Might have had to do with him pretty obviously being high on something. And I guess I wasn’t exactly shocked since he’d also told racist and sexist stories.
Despite these considerations, I couldn’t help feeling hurt. ‘Cause self-image is something I’ve been struggling with. I didn’t realize how much of my confidence was derived from my six-year relationship with someone “out of my league.” But I reflect on the past, before Kristina, and remember loathing my body. Standing in front of my mirror before school, disgusted, muttering insults at myself about how pathetic and hideous I looked. Even picking at my skin to remove blemishes ‘til I bled. And I thought I wasn’t a “good man” because I was so physically weak. A big bundle of insecurities.
I’m not at that level of self-hate these days, six months after breakup, but regardless, I recognize that my self-hating developmental years are a foundation for how I view myself today. And today… yeah, I don’t like how I look, and I feel people think I’m weird for having cochlear implants. And I can’t stop thinking about how I haven’t gotten any matches on dating apps (which I don’t even fundamentally agree with so I dunno why I’m even on them). And I can’t stop guiltily thinking of how many times in the past I uttered the mantra, “Everything will be easy after I get my transplant and cochlear implants.”
Here I am, transplanted and implanted, worrying about things as shallow as looks.
My pastor’s wife, Julie, once visited me in the hospital and said she felt convicted to remind me that my body is a temple. That was several years ago and she was referring to me not taking care of my health. But her words ring through my mind today, beating back my doubts and refocusing me on spirituality.
A temple can be a cathedral or it can be a cave; what matters is what is produced from it — love, kindness, joy, gentleness, integrity, all that. My body is a temple and so it is defined by fruits of the spirit. Not by how “chiseled” my physical features are or if I need to rely on technology to hear. Reflecting, I think I have a pretty decent spirit. I can always do better, and I strive to, but I’m on a good track. And, spirit aside, my body is as God designed it to be — broken yet restored whole to further His plans. That’s pretty cool.
I’m trying to focus on others rather than myself: Tell that dude he’s really pulling off that leather jacket. Tell that girl her pink hair is rad. Tell my bro his workout efforts are really showing lately. Tell my buddy she’s hilarious. Building others up builds me up, too. Concentrating on loving others does wonders for my emotional stability. When I’m loving others, my spirit is full. When my spirit is full, yeah, “everything is easy.” Kind of.
As for romance, if God really has a gal out there for me, they won’t care much about my implants and they might think I look pretty ok. So, why worry?