My birth on August 1, 1961, two months early, did not go well. Only three pounds and 11 ounces, I beat the odds and survived. But for the rest of my life I would carry the burden of cerebral palsy.
Through the years I have often asked “Why?” and it was hard not to feel resentful. Most of the time I felt like an inferior, an outsider, afraid of rejection. And sometimes I was rejected.
“Who are you?”
This question seems simple enough, but the answer is hopelessly entangled with our life experiences. If we happen to be singing on a mountaintop, for example, our self-understanding is backlit by a joyful radiance. But if we’re languishing in a valley, weighed down in lament, dark clouds and shadows will fill the frame. In the words of psychologist David Benner, author of the book The Gift of Being Yourself, identity is “who we experience ourselves to be.”