Finding Balance as a Writer With Cerebral Palsy

I am a writer.  I spend my days playing with words, spilling my thoughts and pouring out my heart in the hope that someone, even if it is only myself, will learn from my mistakes.

I am a woman with cerebral palsy.  I spend my days relentlessly analyzing my gait, adapting to the world around me and longing for acceptance from society in the hope that someday, I will reach complete self-love.

I am a writer with cerebral palsy.

I constantly find myself at the jutting edge of a precipice, dangerously close to a free-fall.  I strive to be seen as a typical woman, but I feel an overpowering responsibility to advocate for the disability community, using my writing to foster hope and belonging.

I am invariably tugged in opposite directions, torn between two worlds.  In one world, I maintain a veneer of privacy. I am never asked invasive questions by strangers on the street, nor am I denied opportunities as a consequence of my life circumstances.  In another world, another life, my privacy is shattered by my vulnerability, by my insistence on authenticity. I am a woman weathered by the harshness of life, a woman well accustomed to overcoming, a woman who needs the world to see the truth behind her facade of typicality.

Sometimes I teeter on the precipice feeling stark naked, worrying I’ve shown the world too much, fearing that my disability consumes my identity. I suddenly realize cerebral palsy is all I know, obscuring the outside world. It becomes all I can see, but is it all anyone can see? Does the world see a woman intent on broadcasting her lilting gait, her struggles and her life story for the sake of a shred of unsolicited awareness? Or does the world see a well-rounded, stable woman with an unquellable lust for life, a burning passion for writing and a slight touch of cerebral palsy?

Then without warning, my balance shifts.  As I send ink cascading across a blank page, breathing life into loss and love and life itself, I agonize over whether or not I am doing enough for the community that has accepted me, encouraged me, shaped me.  I am struck by my relative privilege, my verbosity, my mobility, my intelligence, and the prospect of choosing to downplay my life story, my disability, fills me with guilt. How can I write, advocate, and still be myself? How can I help others to the best of my ability while still retaining a semblance of normalcy?

I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I remain on solid ground.  I am currently clinging to two conflicting worlds with every fiber of my being, and although I am dangerously close to careening off the precipice, for now I remain stable.

I am a writer with cerebral palsy, and one day I will find balance.  For now, I’m successfully scaling a steep precipice, one word and one step at a time.

Previously published on Project Wednesday.

Getty image by Rawpixel.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Cerebral Palsy

Richard Ellenson with Micah Fowler and Jessy Yates.

Why 'Speechless' Matters to the Disability Community -- and the World

Richard Ellenson is CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. Tonight, the second season of “Speechless” comes to an end. “Speechless” is a show that has sent thunderclaps of recognition and empowerment throughout the entire disability community. It leaves us in its season finale with the DiMeo family sharing a warm, if slightly odd moment together: [...]
Flying bird.

How My Caregivers Have Given Me the Wings to Fly

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Becca, and I am probably one of the most stubborn people you will ever meet. I don’t like to ask for help. Despite growing up with cerebral palsy, I was fiercely determined to be as independent as possible. My stubborn nature is arguably what has propelled me [...]
Human hands showing unity.

The Moment I 'Felt the Love' as a Person With Cerebral Palsy

I typed.  I hesitated. Am I making the right decision? They’ll have every right to be mad at me for keeping this a secret. No, if I ever want to love myself, I have to take this risk. I kept typing, but my heart pounded, my stomach felt hollow, and my breath grew labored as [...]
Alarm clock.

A Day in My Life With Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy

I find it very fascinating to follow other people’s lives. Everyone is different, and I feel that is what makes life more mysterious and beautiful. One of my hobbies is following different vloggers on YouTube. I find it both fascinating and entertaining to see how their day goes and the different energies they put out [...]