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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.

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