Discovering Oneself

The readings assigned this week were very emotional and heart-felt. For each essay, you can sense the sorrow, anguish, pain and hope as the author takes the reader through mere glimpses of their lives. As discussed today in class, the authors experienced situations in which they are treated/looked at differently. While reading both essays it was interesting to note how each author felt they were being viewed. Lucy Grealy’s story, Mirrorings – paints a clear depiction of the hate and suffering she felt throughout her life. Reactions to her appearance were brutal, and began to shape the way in which she saw herself. Throughout Grealy’s story the reader was able to sense a desire to strive for something greater. She was never content, or rather – able to accept, her life as is. Perhaps her inability to attain a clear identity comes from the fact that her appearance was in fact, always changing. Facial recognition can largely effect the way in which individuals view themselves and others. As Grealy explained “with the constant surgery [she] was in a perpetual state of transfiguration. [She] rarely looked the same for more than six months at a time” (p84). Perhaps at this stage in her life, she was unable to grow accustomed to the way she looked – and was never able to truly accept her appearance. Additionally, it seemed as if Grealy measured her happiness on events she strives to accomplish, and once completed – she felt no happier than the day before. Reflecting back to herself while writing this story, I believe Grealy came to this realization. As stated in the opening paragraphs, Grealy claims “I didn’t feel I could pass up yet another chance to “fix” my face, which I confusedly thought concurrent with “fixing” myself, my soul, my life” (p.77). In contrast to Grealy’s bitter feelings towards her impairment, Nancy Mair’s story On Being a Cripple seems to have a more tolerant, grateful tone. Mair even approaches her illness in a slightly humorous manor. Mair is able to define herself from the disease – expressing her hatred for MS, but not hatred towards her own being. I believe there is a lot to learn from Mair’s perspective to her disability. Furthermore, I believe the major difference in the way each woman view themselves stems from the way they are treated. Grealy seemed to never receive the proper love and support from her family as Mair did. Grealy viewed her disability as a burden to her family members, and often felt a desire to live up to the merciless expectations of her mother and doctors. Mair was fortunate enough to have a family – a husband and children who continued to include her in their lives as if she had no impairment.  They did not treat her differently, and she valued that. It is also interesting to note how onlookers approached both situations – with Mari’s disease, others seemed to be compassionate and treat her with more kindness than if she were not disabled. However in Grealy’s situation she received painfully piercing stares and hurtful words.

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One Response to Discovering Oneself

  1. rebeccasadique says:

    I think it’s interesting how differently Grealy and Mairs were treated. At some point they both were frustrated and distraught with their situations, but Grealy was hurt a lot more than Mairs. Mairs’ struggle was more about how she perceived herself and her life, while Grealy’s was based more on how others perceived her and the treatment she received from strangers. This might be why Mairs was more easily able to accept her situation.

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