Dearest Cerebral Palsy: Thank You (Really)

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Dearest Cerebral Palsy,

When I think back to the last almost 28 years, I smile. It’s pretty amazing considering our start.

You know your first impression on me did not turn out well. We certainly struggled for a while, or at least I did. I felt so many negative emotions thanks to you, feelings like anger and embarrassment because you prevented me from blending in with my able-bodied peers.

All of that negativity culminated with me looking back at my high school years and regretting. I regret not mirroring the friendliness particular classmates showed toward me. Plus I regret not asking out my high school crush. Self-talk like “Who would want to go out with somebody who can’t even stay on his own two feet all the time?” gave me no chance there.

Reflecting back now, though, I realize I unfairly blamed you. I remained at fault. I controlled the negative self-talk, not you. I dwelled on elements outside my control rather than accepting them and moving forward.

Yes, I could not blend in thanks to you. However, also thanks to you, I discovered my passion to write. For every negative there lies an interconnected positive; I just needed to look harder to find those silver linings.

zachary fenell the mighty

Even today while we enjoy a thriving relationship, I honestly still encounter my difficulties with you. Not driving probably places the most obstacles in my way. Then again, relying on friends for rides when we go out serves as a quality assurance filter for friends. Professionally I worked around my transportation issue by becoming a freelancer. Said decision led me to work alongside some great people, such as the guys at Handicap This Productions and the star-studded Mobility Resource staff.

Best yet, by guiding me to my passion for writing, you turned me onto a channel where I can touch other people’s lives in meaningful ways. I wrote about our journey from the turbulent beginnings to my current positive viewpoint in a memoir titled Off Balanced. Feedback from Off Balanced proves tremendous!

So tremendous, in fact, that I actually performed a complete 180. This spring I will participate in my first 5K, walking not running. And I’m hoping people will ask me about the way I walk! Then I could tell them about you, Off Balanced, and perhaps make an impact on their lives, too.

So thank you. Thank you for your guidance and thank you for helping me create opportunities.

Sincerely,

Zachary

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