My name is Bryan Ness and I am a professor of biology. That is only a part of who I am, though. I was also born with a very visible birth defect that has caused both of my hands and feet to be deformed. The cause of these defects is a congenital defect called amniotic band syndrome. As a result both of my hands have shorter, misshapen fingers, with only four fingers on my left hand. It also caused my left ankle to be fused, caused the skin and circulation on my left foot to be impaired, and left me with just three toes on my right foot. These defects meant that I had to adapt in unique ways from a very young age to do the things that come so easily to other kids. It also meant that I was visibly different from other children, which frequently led to ostracism and bullying.
I am also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I was sexually assaulted periodically throughout my childhood from the age of 8 and throughout my adolescent and teen years by an adult male friend of my family. He was a person my parents thought they could trust, and I never could figure out how to make my perpetrator stop the continuing sexual abuse. I never told anyone what had happened to me until I was in my 30s, and even then only anonymously in an online support group. Eventually I entered psychotherapy and have made much progress in healing from this early trauma. I also found out later that, as I had feared, my sister was sexually assaulted on a regular basis by the same man.
It is my hope that this blog will be a place where others who have experienced similar things in their lives will find comfort and support as I share some of my struggles and the things I have learned along the way. I have called the blog “Nubs of Wisdom” as a way of reclaiming a derogatory name I was called in grade school by other students. I was frequently teased and bullied with the name “Nubs” because of my shortened and deformed fingers. It took me many years to even be able to acknowledge the name, and now I want to recontextualize it. “Nubs” implies something that is small or less than the usual size. I hope my little tidbits, my “nubs,” of what I hope are wisdom will occasionally be found by others to be inspiring. I hope my “Nubs of Wisdom” will inspire others, who like me, have been through long nights of adversity. May you know and realize you are not alone. Others have travelled this path before you and have survived, and even thrived.