The Practice That Helps Me Get Along With My Deceitful Disorder
Dear Cerebral Palsy,
I’m frustrated with you. I feel you are deceitful.
You deceive me by telling me I’m different from everyone else. You deceive me by telling me no one understands me. You deceive me by concluding I do not deserve love and support because articulating to others what I need is difficult at times. You deceive other people around me into thinking I’m drunk, that I’m not interested or that I’m impatient. You hide my sincerity, curiosity and interest from people with whom I desperately want to connect. It seems I always need to rest and recover because you’re constantly contracting my muscles. You squash my hopes and dreams.
Well, I want to reconcile these feelings with you because I don’t want to fight anymore.
It seems we’ve been fighting all my life. I constantly try to minimize your role in my life, but you always find a way to force me to attend to your needs. I’ve played in youth hockey and soccer leagues. I taught myself how to drive. I worked constantly on my hand-eye coordination, I went to college, I moved to nine different states and I’ve lived on every coast in the U.S. These were all attempts to get away from you. I’ll be 32 soon and am considering retirement because you just won’t shut up! I wish you would leave me alone.
Well, I guess if you haven’t left by now — if you haven’t left after all the concerts, ball games and road trips I’ve dragged you through — maybe you won’t leave at all.
Look, because you’re in my life, I will probably die sooner than most because of all the stress and tension you put on my body. I still have things to do in this life, so can we work together to fully realize the potential of the body we inhabit?
You seem to like yoga, green leafy things and coconut oil. You seem to genuinely inspire people — not that pitiful, egotistical inspiration crap, but real transformative inspiration — when we practice yoga. I like yoga, too. Despite our hostilities toward each other, would you agree that we get along when we practice yoga? You like it because it brings oxygen to the blood and brain, larger muscles release from their chronically contracted states and other weaker muscles have a chance to engage and grow strong. I like it because I can tune into parts of my body that you hide from me, regulate my hormones so I can sleep well and digest food normally and connect with other yoga practitioners who are also dealing with their own deceiving disabilities. Yoga is about the only time we’re moving towards the same goal!
You know, cerebral palsy, I’m sorry. It seems I have not taken the time to truly understand you. I should be embracing you, not minimizing you. I’ve spent all these years cursing you, thinking you isolate me and tell me I’m not good enough. In writing this, I understand feelings of isolation and inadequacy are just habitual responses. Lots of people, abled and special-abled people, struggle with feelings like that routinely.
Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. When we’re able to quiet our minds, we experience reality directly and without judgment. We understand that we’re not our appearances and commentary of the mind is as valuable as advice from a hyperactive 3-year old.
I reckon we’re not perfect, so our purpose together must be to understand our imperfections, restrain our habitual responses and learn to return to that space beyond the mind, a place that seems so infinite and bright. Let’s make a pact to rejoice with happiness, be compassionate in the face of sorrow, become friends with the virtuous and equanimous to vice. Let’s promise each other to have faith in what we need to do, vigorously pursue our goals, develop memory free of habitual responses and maintain awareness of each other.
Above all, lets just be gracious we have each other. We made it this far, let’s see how far we can go working together!
This post originally appeared on JeffWilkerson.net.
The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.
Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.
And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.