I have decided to write from my heart, since I believe that gives life to my best work. I have a great life, a great family who loves me, friends who support me, and anything that I could ever want. However, my life is a bit different than most. I live a life with a disability: cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a disability for which I have a love-and-hate relationship. It is like my best friend one minute, and like that annoying house guest the next. It has brought out the best in me and probably the worst. I am very compassionate toward people; I think I can empathize with people well, because I know the hardships life can bring, and I would want someone to help me or my family if ever we were in a time of need.
On the other hand, cerebral palsy has made me intolerant of ignorance. It happens everywhere I go and I cannot stand it. I guess you can say that’s my pet peeve. All my life, this world has put this label on me, not that labels are necessarily bad or anything. However, when people put labels such as, “disabled’’ or “physically handicapped,” there are judgments that stem from them.
There’s something inside me that annoys me every time I see people start to lower themselves to my level and use a voice as if they’re talking to an infant. When people hear the words “cerebral palsy,’’ it automatically transforms them into these baby-talking creatures that I no longer want to associate with. I view myself as a normal person. That is how my parents raised me. So when people baby or talk down to me, it shows the lack of respect; or the lack of education they have with people in my situation.
Speaking of my parents, I think one of the greatest things my family has ever done for me is to treat me like I do not have a disability at all. They have never coddled me nor isolated me from anything and I am beyond grateful for that. Everyone who has a disability needs to feel accepted for who they are. Some people who have disabilities act as if they are mad at the whole world, and I suddenly feel sadness well up inside of me, thinking how dark their world must be.
In short, my life is not cursed or horrible as some may think when they meet a person with a disability. I don’t seek pity from people, and try to stay away from those who just can’t help but feel sorry for me.
I live a normal life – well, a normal life for me, that is, a life that encompasses many special relationships: with God, with music, and with someone special.
My faith in God has brought me joy and peace throughout my life. From the time I was a little girl, I knew that without a shred of doubt that God was going to use my life for something good. God is the only way I can ever handle my life the way I do. He is the foundation for my life, and for that I am extremely blessed. I was lucky that my parents taught me how to attend church regularly from an early age.
I have never once hated my life, nor been bitter with God for how He has made my life. I have my off days where I get annoyed at life or God, but never bitter. What helps me the most when I get into one of these moods is music, hymns preferably. I like to sit in the quietness of my house, when no one is home, and just listen to hymns. That seems to make my day go a lot better. Hymns make me feel that all is right and at peace in the world; I feel as if the Lord Himself is holding onto me.
Until I was 4 years old, I was not able to talk, and so I used a communication device. Writing has always been a part of my life, it saved me from a silent lonely world. Therefore, from a very early age, I knew I wanted to become a writer. As a child, I would write stories for fun. My parents, the proud parents that they are, saved each and every piece of work that my brother and I ever did. It did not matter to them if the words were misspelled, it only mattered that we gave it our best. I think even now, well into my adulthood, their love and support have gotten me through so much.
There is something quite magical about writing. I don’t know what it is exactly. It could be expressing yourself on a piece of paper, or creating your own world where anything you imagine comes to life on paper. I know for me, writing has helped me break the barriers between another person and me. I have this speech impairment where it is hard for people to understand me at times, which makes them think that I am mentally disabled as well. However, when I write, it allows people to get to know me for who I am, and not just what they see on the outside.
Learning from experience
I have had many wonderful experiences in my life and experiences that have tested and tried my faith. However, I do not regret any of them because in each, a lesson was learned. For instance, I had a hard time dating. In the past, it seemed that all guys wanted was perfection in women, and that’s something I’m obviously not; no woman is.
About six years ago, or so, I met a man, who, like me, had cerebral palsy. He was a pastor who had traveled all over speaking to various churches. We were smitten with each other. For both of us, this was the very first relationship we ever had. Our parents thought we were crazy, and looking back on that relationship now, we indeed were. On one particular day, we had decided to go to the mall and look around. Well, Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You’’ came on the speaker. He began screaming the words as loud as he possibly could, twirling his chair in circles, in the middle of this mall. It was funny but embarrassing all at once.
In the end, we decided to go our separate ways, but the memory of that moment at the mall will be forever embedded in my mind. I cannot listen to that song anymore; it brings back memories of something that wasn’t meant to last. I am, however, forever grateful for the lesson he taught me, which is that sometimes things don’t work out for the best; that sometimes you think you’ve met the right person, yet there’s an even better person out there for you, so don’t settle in life.
Everything and everyone that crosses our path can be considered a life lesson. That life lesson has helped me in my current relationship. Yes, I have found a wonderful man who sees me for exactly who I am, and loves me anyway. In this new relationship, I no longer make the same mistakes as I once did. And I realize, now that I am with the love of my life, that if it wasn’t for that experience, long ago, I would not have met him.
I have experienced great love and great loss. Great love can come from a romantic relationship; it can come from a friendship as well. My life is filled with people who love me, and at the end of the day, that’s all I need to know.