For the first time in seven years, I was inspired by the words that were coming out of my own mouth. I was spiritually naked, exposed, vulnerable that day. I was finally talking about who I really was.
Since 2009, I’d told a story to hundreds, shared it with thousands more via social media and hopefully “inspired one person, one day at a time” with “MY Story.” It became a formula. They felt bad and I uplifted them. They felt good about life, even for a second, and in return I did as well. In reality, I had no idea what it really meant to be just trying my best, one day at a time.
However, as I sat down with Providence and my best friend, Michelle Marie, I didn’t have a rehearsed, written script “about me.” No TED Talk, (which I’ve run from for years).
For the first time, I walked into an interview with the intention of listening, receiving truth from my source within and articulating by God’s grace the REAL me! Michelle Marie asked me to tell my real story: what it truly meant for my life and my loved ones after I lost my left hand above the wrist in a car accident on March 18, 2009. My journey, the revelations and the new-found purpose of my life.
And that’s what I’ve decided to do here.
I’ve told my story for other websites and groups, some multimillion-dollar franchises and organizations. But sharing what was best for their brand—and the power of editing—left out my authentic life. For years I expressed a brief CliffsNotes version of myself, cut off from the world and a truthful relationship with myself.
Everyone wanted to KNOW. What was it like when I lost my hand? How did it happen? How am I so positive and happy? Or am I?
Part of “my story” has always been: “The HAND is the least of my worries.” But is it? Perhaps I was avoiding reality. I became numb as I talked over and over about this, as if what I was saying was God's truth. If I had really spoken the truth, I would have said: "I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, so why are you listening to me.”
I felt obligated (by self or spirit) to make others feel OK about my accident. I revealed only the gifts that came to me and my shifts in perspective that changed for the better after I lost my hand. But what really happened to me that day? What is my story? What is my truth?
Learning to be COMFORTABLE IN YOUR OWN SKIN is everything. I have a friend with an amputation who will not leave the house without a prosthetic. I feel a lot of parents have tried to protect their children from bullying. Or perhaps they feel their child isn’t as fully capable as others, so the child grows up only wearing a prosthetic and never leaving the house facing the world as they are.
A prosthetic is so unauthentic to who I’ve become. I am forever grateful for my hand, made possible by fundraising. I wear it to auditions and filming if needed, but I can’t support masking who I truly am. My prosthetic is there as a piece of art that can enhance my natural abilities to work on camera as an actress, but it is not there to replace who I am. In my day-to-day life, I don't wear it. But I do see beauty and love in it because it represents all of the people who supported me.
It’s difficult in an image-obsessed beauty culture for any woman—let alone a woman who is an amputee—to feel confident in her own skin. One thing that stays strong to my story is that I will never conform or send the message that with a pretty prosthetic you can be just like the rest of "them," or that with a prosthetic you can be loved, cherished and beautiful. Because who you are, just as you are, is who the world needs.
You never know who's listening, truly listening. Every day we share our opinions, our beliefs and our judgments without consciously being aware of what we preach. You might not realize who's looking up to you, who you may be inspiring and what lives you are changing by the things you say—and, more importantly, by what you DO. To say actions speak is an understatement. What we do not only affects our own lives, it also can inspire, disrupt, heal, hurt, motivate, discourage, lift up or let down.
What message did I want to leave behind? I kept asking myself this.
The power in helping others is where I finally found freedom! Just as I AM. When I wake, I say, “I haven't hurt anyone, no one has hurt me, I’m alive.” I’m lucky and I’m able to put anything into action that I believe. We are enough, as we are.
Be OK with being in your own skin. That is the key to true confidence. Loving yourself, loving God and being grateful for each and every moment in this life. You have the POWER to do anything your heart desires.
Believe and become: Don't be afraid to show the world exactly who you are!
Peace and blessings, XX.
Providence St. Joseph would like to thank Chauntal for being a paid partner with us on this important topic.
Providence is pleased to share the stories of great people who have overcome health conditions. As part of our population health program, we want to share insights and stories that help bring awareness to common health conditions. Not all the people featured in our stories are Providence patients.