I’m at work right now.
I can hear my bosses footsteps down the hallway. He’s with someone. He asks if anyone’s working in the nursery yet.
“The girl with the dog is here”
I hold my breath.
“Allyson. Her name is Allyson.”
Sigh of relief.
I have major identity issues, stemming from the time I was little and first diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome. From the age of twelve, I became known as a diagnoses. The acronym CRPS became attached to the end of my name. Doctors knew my symptoms better than they knew my personality. They knew my favorite medicines better than they knew my favorite foods. They knew the name of my favorite hospital staff better than they knew the name of my best friend.
I became “the girl who can’t walk.” I was introduced as “Ally with chronic pain.” I was more often a patient, rather than a person. I was my own disease.
When I came back to college after learning to walk in 2015, I was able to shed that identity. My new friends didn’t have to know sick-Ally unless I told them about sick-Ally. Strangers didn’t know I had a disease, let alone any pain at all. I was finally Ally… for a bit.
Then I glued a service dog to my side. I gave myself a 70 pound visible sign that said “hey look at me!!!! Im disabled!!!”
Please don’t misunderstand. I love my girl more than anything. She saves my life daily, that’s why I have her!
But when people see her and not me – when people acknowledge her and not me and ask her name but not mine – who do I become? I’m no longer Ally. I’m the girl with the dog. I’m Malibu’s handler. I’m a second thought.
But, I’m not any of those things.
I AM Ally. I’ve been Ally this whole time, and will continue to be as long as the Good Lord let’s me. I’m content knowing that HE knows my heart and sees my every quality, good and bad, for what I’m worth. My identity is much more secure in Jesus, rather than in my dog or my former wheelchair-bound life.
So, I want to challenge you. Are you seeing people for who they are? Or are you seeing them for what they have – a disability, a child, a dog, a different appearance? Do you know them? Like, really know them? Or are you going to let them continue to be seen as “the girl with the….”?
With all the love,