It’s nighttime at my place. I look around and start to feel a mix of emotions. Having a disability such as cerebral palsy, you can only hope one day you have enough independence in your life that you can live on your own in some way. This has been my dream for so many years.
I can’t believe a year went by so fast it seems like I just moved on my own. I started living on my own when the world was on lockdown. I thought it would be the hardest thing, but it turned to be the best thing for me. While the world was on lockdown, it got me to concentrate on myself and start the life I hoped to have. I got to learn the lay of my new land/life from learning how to keep up my own space, time management, and much more. I genuinely enjoy this past year and the journey this lockdown took me on. It wasn’t just about me moving. It was about planting my seeds of life. I sat down at my computer and started just writing everything my heart felt about life.
I’m getting to know who I am without having others around filling my head with other information or feeling like I should help the people around me when I see that I can’t. I’m the kind of person who will let people do things for me when I know I can do them by myself. I’m learning to slow down when I need to. A person with Cerebral Palsy knows the slogan for Cerebral Palsy is “LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS.” While this is an excellent slogan for the Cerebral Palsy Community, some of us take it too far. Instead of recognizing that we do need rest, we push through. Instead of listening to our bodies, we keep going and risk injury. I have learned the hard way that sometimes there are limits. Pushing past limits has caused broken bones for me. These broken bones led to fallbacks in life and lots of time and energy spent getting back on my feet. I believe that “LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS” has different meanings to different people in the Cerebral Palsy Community. Yes, we always want to push our limits, but we also need to balance that with the risk of injury and further fallback.
Balance is tricky literally and figuratively (as we all know, Cerebral Palsy is a balance issue). Because I’m not relying on someone to be in the house with me, this has been a time in my life to teach me about limits and balance. While this has been a time of tremendous growth, I need to be careful with what I’m doing. Over the last year, while locked down in my place, I have been trying to work on this. I had someone watching over me all my life, and while people are still watching over me, they can’t and don’t want to be here all the time. My family wants me to have my independence, and I do too.
The best part of being locked down was teaching myself about limits and balance. This got me to look inside myself and clean up the inside of my so-called house (mind & body). The two biggest things I put locks on in my life are my Cerebral Palsy and the dreamland I put myself in. It was tough for me to deal with the fact that I have Cerebral Palsy. To help me cope with cerebral palsy, I put myself into my head and made a big mistake by making a dreamland. Each time I didn’t want to deal with Cerebral Palsy or felt left out in life, I went to a place inside me to run away from the pain that I felt from life. I see now this was the biggest mistake of my life: seeing my Cerebral Palsy as my weakness. Instead, I should have seen my Cerebral Palsy as my strength.
In the past year, I have been writing my thoughts down. I have started to clean my mind/heart for the first time in my life. I have begun to understand that my heart/mind were on two entirely different chapters of life. When I look at my reflection now, I see the strong person that I am, cerebral palsy and all. Yes, my family and friends had so much to do with my strength. But the one thing that also helped me build the strength I have now is learning not to hate the cerebral palsy in me. Once I realized that my cerebral palsy was – and is – a part of my strength, all the pieces of the puzzle came together. I felt I became one, the way I feel right now.