Why I'm Proud to Be Anything but 'Normal'
“Don’t you wish you could walk like everyone else?”
“Do you ever wonder what it feels like to be ‘normal?’”
These are just two questions I got asked often as a child and teenager. In response, as a young child I more than likely said:
“Yes, please! Give me legs that actually work for a change. Cerebral palsy stinks and I hate it! Physical therapy hurts, all I do is fall, and people stare at me like I am some kind of weirdo.”
As a teenager the answer would have sounded something like:
“Really? What you lookin’ at? Didn’t your mama ever teach you not to be nosy or stare? Yes, I have cerebral palsy, and no, you won’t catch it if you decide to be friends with me.”
I had a very hard time making friends, especially as a teenager. I was anything but normal according to society at that time. I still struggle with relationships, and I have recently found out that relationship struggles are unfortunately common among adults with various forms of cerebral palsy, for so many different reasons.
If you ask me those questions today as a 40-year-old woman, the answer will sound very much like this:
It depends on your definition of normal. If normal means not accepting people for who they are just as they are – then no, I want to be anything but normal.
If normal means I have some big high-paying job I stepped on people to get just to prove to society that I can make it and hold my own as a woman, then absolutely no. In that case, I want to be anything but normal. In fact, the work I’ve loved the most is volunteer work.
If normal means having a “circle of friends” and not including any particular person because they are “different” from the ones in your circle, well then I’ll pass on being normal according to society.
Cerebral palsy and everything that comes with it is normal life for me. It’s the only life I’ve ever known. It took quite some time for me to accept it, but it’s the life I believe my creator designed for me for his purpose, plan and ultimately his glory. It’s not easy; it’s not at all easy, but no one is promised an easy life. Sure, there are days when I want a break. There are days when I get frustrated and nights when I sob uncontrollably out of complete exhaustion. There are times when it seems like loneliness is my best friend. Nevertheless, I have to keep going; I have to keep living. I have to keep smiling, even when it’s fake. Perseverance is not for the weak or the faint of heart, but I will not let this disability run me and I want to be anything but normal — at least according to society.