The candid video, which was originally posted to YouTube, is titled “The Glove Comes Off: 1st Time Really Showing My Disability.” In it, you’ll see a man named Chris Ruden, who was born with two fingers on his left hand and a shorter left arm. According to his website, Chris is a powerlifter, adversity coach, and diabetic speaker. Reddit user itsthatonegirlvyanca, shared the now-viral video on Reddit saying, “My boyfriend hid his disability for 17 years & finally stopped hiding his hand. Super proud GF moment.”
The video is a must-see. “From sixth grade to eighth grade, I kept my hand in my pocket all day long,” he says, including in PE class and while playing sports. “That was my entire middle school.” He started playing drums, he says, and would wear gloves to cover up. “It was the way I hid my problems. I refused to accept…to an extent…how I was born." Chris continued to hide his hand with gloves or pockets for years—in fact, he says in the video that practically no one had seen his hand in nearly two decades.
"In the last 17 years there’s been two new people in my life who have seen my hand. Today was the first time my girlfriend saw my hand.” He goes on to say that the experience wasn’t comfortable for him—and opening up on the video isn’t either. “This is the one last problem that has taken me years, over a decade, to get over, and it's still such a struggle," he says, getting visibly emotional.
Chris admits that part of him wanted someone in his life to push him to take off the glove and get comfortable with his appearance. But he knows that only he can do that. “This is me controlling what I’m hiding and what I’m not. I’d really like to not hide anymore.”
Chris says he’s releasing the video—he appears in it without his usual glove, and you can see his hand as he gestures while talking—to help himself and others who may be struggling. He wants you to know that everyone—even those on social media with polished lives—have problems. He ends with asking people to take their masks—and gloves—off and “just be real.”
Like all of us, Redditors were incredibly moved by the video. "As someone with a similar birth defect, this hit home," wrote one user. "I have a very similar birth defect as well," wrote another user. "Affects my right hand and foot. I always have my hand in my pocket, been that way since elementary school. I also used to hide it behind my back when I was sitting. This video hit me right in the feels."
"I hope he realises that those demons he feared where [sic] just shadows. And by seeing the responses on here and on youtube i hope he can see what a brave and beautiful thing he did by sharing. and i hope this gives him and other people that face similar demons, the strength to fight it and go on. dude im actually tearing up," added another user.
Later, his girlfriend shares more happy news: He’ll be able to wear a prosthetic soon. "The people at Hanger Clinic are actually in the midst of making him a lifting prosthetic," she writes.
Chris's video is just a powerful reminder of whatever barriers and struggles you’re facing, there are people who know how you feel—and they’ve got your back.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health