The Teacher Who Changed My Life as a Performer With Cerebral Palsy

I’ve always loved to sing and perform. But because of the way my particular form of cerebral palsy affects my body, I had been told in my adult life that it was going to get a lot harder than it had been when I was young. So in December 2014, I came to the conclusion that I needed help – more help than I thought I did, in fact. And I picked up the phone and made the call.

I remember it like it was yesterday – January 5, 2015. It was a cold Monday. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I had a meeting that would completely change the way I pursue my passions. It was ultimately the night I met a woman who would change my life. Her name is Angelé.

Asking for help when you have a disability can be scary. Asking for help from someone you don’t really know is even scarier. I’ve always walked through the world, especially in my artistic pursuits, feeling as though I have been defined by having a disability – the way I walk; the way my left arm is carried. But I walked into Angelé’s living room on that January night, we didn’t talk about it. We didn’t explicitly talk about it for at least two weeks. And when we did, it was like I was talking about it with someone I’d known my whole life, not a woman I’d just met three weeks earlier. It was so easy. We talked about it for a little bit, details were shared, and then that was it.

Then I just sang. I was just a girl there to sing, not as I had convinced myself for so long, the talentless girl with the bum arm. I hadn’t felt this amazing since I was a junior high kid doing children’s theatre.

I felt so amazing that I’ve continued to spend my Monday nights singing in Angelé’s living room for the last four years. She is not only my teacher, she is also a dear friend. We talk about everything in my lessons, from music to being onstage to trivial life things. She is one of the people in my life who do not see my disability. I am the oldest in my family, and my Monday nights are spent singing my heart out all while learning from and laughing with the “big sister” I never had. Because of knowing her, I feel like I have a space where I am free to be exactly as I am. As soon as I walk into her living room, I know I am safe, and I know I am loved.

Getty image by Bizoo N.

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

Related to Cerebral Palsy

Actress alone on stage sitting barefoot on a chair.

The Time for Hiding Disability Is Over

When I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months old, the consultant gave my mother a very blunt prognosis: I wouldn’t be able to walk, talk or feed myself. None of this fazed my mother, who has without a doubt been my champion ever since I entered the world three months early, weighing 3 [...]
Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Measuring the Moments in My Life With Cerebral Palsy

In early July of 2015, my family and I were being led by an elderly German man, Frank Van Den Broeke, through Vatican City’s most famous monuments. It had been an interesting morning. Frank was not the typical tour guide. He was very enthusiastic about helping us fully experience the beauty of every artifact and [...]
Woman holding masquerade mask and wearing a black mask.

When I Pass as 'Normal' With Mild Cerebral Palsy

I have very mild cerebral palsy. It’s so mild that I often forget about it and think I’m passing as “normal” (read “able-bodied”) but then someone will say something to me that makes me realize “Oh, I’m different.” Like when a guy in the street catcalled me and then when I ignored him he remarked [...]
Black and white image of large family; family of 7, several kids with disabilities

Choosing to Do Foster Care for Medically Fragile Children

We were busy raising three sons and two daughters; life felt somewhat manageable. During a quick weekend getaway, my husband and I decided to go listen to some missionaries speak. Sitting there hearing about their work in Guatemala, we wondered if perhaps this was something we should get involved in. We were at a crossroads [...]