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My Disability Does Not Disable My Attitude

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It is interesting to observe how your attitude towards your disability evolves over the years. As a child, I quickly recognized that I was different from other kids. It was a hard adjustment and took immense understanding from myself and other people around me, but once it was accepted, my life and childhood moved rather swiftly.

Like most people with cerebral palsy and other physical impairments, I participated in rather intense rounds of physical therapy. This was exhausting, and to be completely frank, it hurt like hell. As I grew into a teen, my parents gave me the option to leave the therapy behind. I was elated about that. As someone with extremely high spasticity levels, we were not really noticing increasing benefits. It did not matter how much I stretched; my body was still extremely tight.

As a teen, I liked boys and knew I was attracted to them from the start. However, my physical disability created barriers for me when it came to actually interacting with and possibly dating the guys I liked. I did not understand why it was such a challenge. I was just like others and wanted to be loved.

My teen years were also when my depression began to take complete control of the driver’s seat. I became angry with God. I did not understand and frankly refused to come to terms with the fact that I required special understanding and tender loving care. I was broken, so broken that I feared my own image would break any mirror. I was not sure how I would come back from this, if I would ever escape the darkness and make my way to the light.

Fortunately for me though, I met my best friend right in the middle of this nightmare. I believe he was sent by God just when I needed him most. He completely took over and showered me with unconditional love and acceptance. He saw me for the person I am instead of some “creature” who used wheels to get around. He was my angel and continues to be the reason my confidence shines with such illumination today. He is the person who showed me that beauty can emanate from any person, disabled or not. This simple fact had me glowing from ear to ear.

My attitude towards my disability was finally turning into a positive source of hope. Now I use my confidence and wisdom to teach others how to live with a disability or physical challenge.

As I have gotten older, I have developed hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a condition that is usually found in childhood. However, I was never told anything about my hip as a child. Luckily for me, only my right side is affected by the dysplasia. It is a condition in which your hip does not fit into its socket correctly. As a result, my hip joint is completely eroded and because of the degree of my spasticity, they cannot break and reset it. It can cause intense amounts of pain and makes moving even more difficult than it already is. Also, due to my type of cerebral palsy and spasticity levels as well as the malformation of my knee cap, I have chronic knee tendonitis. It causes stress and intense pain in my patella. This causes a chronic burning sensation and can be relentless. It even causes me to lose sleep often. I am wheelchair dependent as well, so I also deal with chronic back pain.

All of these pain conditions in addition to my cerebral palsy require immense amounts of patience. This may sound odd, but in some ways, I give thanks for them because they have allowed me to become an advocate. I love teaching others how to develop and foster positive attitude despite all of the hardships. As much as I wish there was not such stress on my body, I have learned to create a delicate balance in my life between the good and the bad. Most of the time, being in constant pain can cause me to become increasingly frustrated, no doubt about it. However, it is important for me to present and remember all of the good things I have in life. I have an extremely bright spirit and happy go lucky attitude that shines often. I find this is helpful for others who may be in the same situation.

I will not lie to y’all; there are times when my bright spirit dims. I have crying fits. I scream. I am human, and I fight against my body and carry an awfully heavy load day in and day out. It can be hard. The important thing is to embrace the sunrises and the sunsets, and remember that life is a gift. You are a unique person who was put on Earth to influence others with your special talents and gifts. Try to let the hardships and pain become a lesson that leads to something greater. You were destined for great things, and you will reach your full potential! You just have to make the promise to yourself to keep forging on.

Challenges are a fact of life. You are going to be remembered because of the way you handled your demons and continued to fight them while also shining. Don’t let anyone dim your light, because that light is unique to you and has a sacred purpose.  So despite the pain, whether it is internal or external, you can work towards creating your best life, and once you do, you will never look back. Your love affair with life is just beginning.

Getty image by Vovik Mar.

Originally published: September 2, 2018
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