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

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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 I anxiously grasped for any iota of relief that in a few minutes, my reputation wouldn’t be irreparably destroyed.

I resisted thought as the words finally escaped me after years of repression, knowing that if I allowed myself the ability to analyze my decision, I would never experience the feeling of freedom, love and acceptance that I desperately craved.

My disability.  My medical condition.  …I attempted to hide my physical disability for years…  I am unashamed of who I am and completely unapologetic…

Silently, robotically, devoid of any thought or emotion, I pressed “Share,” as the echo of my racing heart reverberated throughout my body.

This is it.  Now, everyone will know I have cerebral palsy.  They’ll know I tried to conceal the truth from them. They might feel angry. They might leave me. But maybe they’ll understand my motivation for hiding my true identity.  Maybe, revealing my disability will be worth it.

As notification after notification rolled in, my anxiety spiked, but it was immediately quelled by a tremendous wave of support and love for my decision to publicly reveal my disability.

“Your story left me in awe.”

“So inspiring!”

You show there’s no limits to willpower and courage.”

So proud of you for being so brave.”

Thank you for sharing your story.”

The anxiety that pierced my heart slowly transformed into a swell of comforting warmth.  My friends understood my decision to hide my disability. They were willing to support me regardless of my newly revealed past, regardless of my ability status. Their unconditional acceptance of me, disability and all, was the greatest demonstration of love I had ever experienced.

In the wake of my sudden honestly about my disability, my friends’ unwavering love ignited in me a spark of self-love that swelled into an unquellable flame.  Their love propelled mine as for the first time, I discovered the beauty of my body and the power of my story. That day, as I witnessed seemingly infinite expressions of love because of my disability, I solemnly vowed I would no longer fear my cerebral palsy, instead resolving to view it as a gift to love and embrace.

The moment I risked the life I knew to reveal my disability, I received the most precious reward: unconditional love. Every day, as I relish in the freedom of living openly with cerebral palsy, I give thanks for the friends whose tangible expressions of love finally allowed me to love myself and my cerebral palsy, fearlessly, unapologetically, and unconditionally.

Getty image by Mikanaka.

Originally published: March 19, 2018
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