Disabled or able-boded, it’s their choice on how they choose to live their life. It has taken many years to know that I am not my disability; my disability is only a piece of me. Many people look at the label and don’t honestly look at what is under the label. Out of all the people I meet and everyone who has thought I was just my label, the one person I get upset this the most is looking back at me every day.
In a past blog, I wrote about understanding my labels (https://sixlegtoindependentlifefromawalker.com/2021/10/05/understanding-how-my-labels-empower-me/). In this blog, I wanted to explain how living with a label might be challenging, and it is also fun to let it be and enjoy all that life gives you. Whether you have a label or not, life will always be a fun challenge. I’m lucky enough to live my fun and challenging life with six legs, and it can be a bumpy life with just two legs like most people. You would think life would be steadier on six legs, but it can be more challenging, but the challenges can lead to fun also.
If you don’t know, cerebral palsy, or cp as it is commonly referred to, is the number one most common childhood disorder. It affects movement, posture, muscle, and balance. There are several different types of cp. While groups of people will have the same types, no two people with cp are the same. The cp can present differently in everyone. One thing about cp that few understand is that we are more than cp. We are human, just like the next person. When I talk about my life, I see life through my unique perspective because my life with cp is unique. Yes, there have been times in life I never wanted to be unique or run away from my uniqueness, but during the pandemic, I received the greatest gift of my life. The gift that I never thought I would get a chance to have; was to become more independent and live independently.
I took all the negative I had about cp and found a positive about life with cp, not to say I still do have bad days, but I finally understood the weakest part of myself and made it my strength. The weakness from my cp has taught me many important things about life. No matter what life hands you and the challenges that await you are only there because you can overcome them. It’s up to you and you alone you choose to rise above the challenges that you are given,
I sometimes find it’s the most complex challenge in my life. I can handle a leg broken in three places, but the worst pain comes from simple nagging pains such as a dam hangnail. That doesn’t mean the big stuff doesn’t hurt because they sure damn well do. It has taken years to find ways to let the pain have its time to be a thorn in my side, but try not to force on it as much. Then there are challenging times such as applying for jobs, looking good on paper, then going in for an in-person interview, and the employer just sees what is in front of them, not remembering what they read on the application. Getting looked for something is a part of me is sometimes challenging. I spent many years studying and training for something that I loved.
I studied human servicers with force on recreation therapy and gerontology. I worked for a few years in nursing homes, but the problem was that the elderly population I was working with wasn’t too sure about me because people with disabilities were not seen or heard from when they were younger and brought up their families. As much as I knew that was the case, it was very understandable. Then, on the other hand, it did hurt knowing I hoped to do what I love but knowing I couldn’t because of how life was back then.
On the other hand, there are many positives about having cp that can be hard to see. One of the things I think is essential in my life, as much as it can be annoying, is educating people about not just cp but other disabilities as well. Knowing I can teach one person or hundreds of people, I have taught someone that disability is just a label. I don’t think it’s as much the person unwilling to learn, but it is also about how the person that has the disability approach the person unwilling to understand you. It’s about acting kind and being natural about it, don’t feed into people’s negative about cp or disabilities. Get them to see that it’s the only piece of who you are. The positive of a disability isn’t in every person because it depends on the person and the person’s strengths. I don’t mean physical strength; I’m talking about emotional stability. It takes a lot of emotional power throughout life with any disability; what I have found is that what I lack in physical strength I make up for in emotional strength.
It is tough to find the strength in yourself when you have a disability that weakens you physically, but if you have the love and support as I did all around you, that will help you find the emotions within yourself. As we all know, we don’t come with instructions when we are born. Some people just have it in them to look past the disability to give their child the best life possible, while others don’t know what to do. They don’t have the strength for the challenges that lie ahead of them. They aren’t showing their child they can do unique and beautiful things in life. I feel that my challenges in life are the fun parts of life because my challenges show me that I’m alive and can overcome anything in life.
My parents could also agree on ideas and give and take pictures about what worked and didn’t. When my mom might have been afraid of letting go or pushing me too much. My dad called my mom out; if they did things in steps to get to the goal, it might have taken time, but in the end, they got me to where I needed. Then again, if my dad was pushing too hard, my mom called my dad out-this what parenting should be like a give and take. I understand I will never be a parent, which was my choice. I also appreciate every parent’s way and how they want to raise their children, and times are so different from when we grew up but just understand you need to work as a team to raise any child. Still, when it is a child with a disability, as much as you want so bad to hold them extra tight in the end, it’s not helping the child. Lastly, remember there are so many books, blogs, and people who are experts on children and disabilities, but in the end, they’re your child, you’re the parent, whether your child is disabled or not, every child is their own personal. You are the only ones who know your child’s emotions and disability due to what is best for all of you and listen to your heart, guts, and child, not just books or other people. You can consider all those things, but you will know what is best for your family in the end. In the end, if my parents didn’t do what they did, I wouldn’t be here, or if I was, I might not be as independent as I am now.