Listening to: Broken by Lund
Photo credit: unknown
It’s hard not to get so wrapped up in your own storm that you forget about your neighboring islands’ weather. When that happens, you tend to think that nobody understands you or your story.
But the truth is that there are many people who do, that look at your picture and say “Oh, I’ve been there before!”. Sometimes that’s heard. Sometimes it’s better left unsaid because inside knowledge of past experience gives the wisdom: some things are easier said than done. Either way, the only person that can see you through that hurricane is yourself.
I was born with my disability. There was no big event that took my hands away. There was an official diagnosis of “bi-lateral deletion of digits” and “congenital malformation”. After that, seven years of pretty consistent doctors visits and surgeries. Then after the age of nine(ish), things came to a slow and it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I picked the ball back up and really looked at it.
Because that was when the occasional pain turned chronic. When there were days I fumbled everything I held. Days I was irritable, frustrated and angry. Between then and now, those days have steadily increased. I have pinched nerves, involuntary muscle spasms, anxiety attacks and just really low grumpy days. Days where I have to admit it does hurt, otherwise I would be lying.
That isn’t to say there aren’t good days. In fact, right now there are still a LOT more good days than bad. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that; I strive to live everyday the best way I can. As soon as I let the fear of what is to come get the best of me, I am letting the bad days win. Yeah, that means that every once in a while I lose too.
I carry an extreme awareness of the inevitability that the not-great days will increase. When I have to opt out of being as active as I WANT to be. When I have to do the “Okay, I can’t do that. But I can do this. And I will do this”, self pep talks. And when those fail, relying more on those around me to do things that, in a more perfect world, I SHOULD be able to do. It absolutely sucks. But this world was born of entropy, it is chaotic and turbulent and nothing, NOTHING is guaranteed– not even the ability to be as independent as you want to be.
People compliment me all the time and will go so far to ask me how I do it. Dude, I’m in the same boat as you are. You might have hands, but neither one of us know what the hell we’re doing. I wing it? Maybe. Or maybe I stumble around in the dark until I can find the right switch. It might not be the same room you’re standing in, but I am still stuck with no other choice but to find a way through. Just like you are.
What I can tell you is that by growing and weeding out some people and habits, I have improved my outlook and my security immeasurably. My support group is a huge part of that security and one not so secret part of its success is acceptance that this group should be built on quality over quantity. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you, while making the commitment to pick your broken ass up when you fall.
This last year, I have worked hard to reaffirm my self-sufficiency. What I mean by that is the only person in this life that you can control is Y-O-U. Even when you choose to walk away from someone or something, you are really just removing yourself. For everyone you’ve ever left, life keeps moving. Sometimes it means you are doing what is best for you, and you know it. Sometimes it means you are giving up on something that had the potential to be good for you, and you regret it. The important thing to remember is either one of those options will take you on a path that leads you to a truer self than what you were before– if you let it.
Every step taken so far has not been perfect; I’m fairly certain if you looked at my trail you’d wonder what weird ass beat I’ve been stepping to and X has yet to mark the spot. There have been stumbles, setbacks, moments I had to be dragged through the mud and parts where I chose to skip. There is no end in sight, but that’s half the fun. The other half is the adrenaline rush when you realize the end will look nothing like the present. Even if my steps slow because of my disability and I have to be pushed or even carried through by my loved ones, I will never forget how hard I’ve fought and how loved they have made and continue to make me feel. And if I ever do, I know they’ll remind me whether I like it or not. So much more than that, I know in my heart I will end on a positive note, because life is way too short to waste it on feeling sorry for myself until there isn’t time to reverse that sorrow or playing into the thought that I am useless without them.
Mental or physical, being disabled is a trial of errors. You fail a lot, and it’s hard as hell to see those failures as stepping stones to success. Even harder to remember that even the most able bodied individuals fail too. I’ve believe in the fact that humans are highly adaptable beings; they are capable of learning from their mistakes and improving upon reflection. If you have failed, you are more likely to succeed. For that reason, as a card carrying human, I believe in myself.
Keep walking. Only look back if you need a good reminder of everything you have overcome. Otherwise, mind the gap and keep your chin up. You are doing just fine.