I was diagnosed disabled before I was competent enough to know what that would mean for my life, I was only a year old after all. As a result of my youth, there was never really one set block of within which I adjusted to my dis-ability. It has always been a part of my life, it is what I know, but just because it is all I know that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with the reality of it from time to time.
My school does a dance day where every class puts together a dance and every year I say to myself, this year will be different because this year I won’t be bothered and upset because I cannot dance every year I say to myself – this year I will try.
And I do, I mean. I really do try. But every year, I just end up being bothered and getting upset because right there in front of my face is something I can’t do and seeing it just makes me feel marginalised, you see on a day to day basis I don’t think about my disability as I said it is a part of my life, however on a day to day basis I am not confronted by things I cannot do – like dancing. And when I am confronted with what remains impossible for me, that’s when it gets difficult.
You might be thinking “you could do it Grace” and I know I could, but I refuse to marginalise myself by being the special kid in the lineup, I don’t want to be that kid – and I have the right to choose not to be that kid.
I don’t think there is ever a time for anyone where anyone fully processes an injury or disability.
With time you learn to get on with it, you develop a sense of normality which differs from what most consider normal, but there will always be times when you realise once more that you’re different and thus once again you have to process your disability and what that means for your life and yourself.
As I said I never processed my disability when it initially occurred because I was too young to do so – however, there is no one block of time in which you process a life changing instance. Yes, there is a time in which you initially process something after it first happens, but I am of the belief that a person is constantly processing, there is never a time when you’re over it because when something starts off profoundly challenging it will always challenge you. That won’t stop.
However, what happens is that you get stronger. You get swifter, better at adapting and fighting, but this is not always easy to do – sometimes you just need to step back and sit it out, which is what I have decided to do with dancing, because I have control and get to choose what I put my fight into, you don’t have to fight everything. A part of processing life is recognising that you won’t always win everything and you do not have to fight everything. And that is more than okay.
The challenge does not cease, you just get stronger. The processing never really stops, but it balances itself with the amazement that is the life you’re living, life does certainly does throw you times when it feels impossible to process and move on, but the thing is is that it is always possible to process.
If you hold on to the hurt and the upset that you feel, if you constantly use those feelings as an excuse not to live, then it is you who will lose out. I have processed that I cannot dance, I have chosen not to try. I know that my disability prohibits me from doing this and yes it does still bother me to relive this process every year, I systematically hate being in the environment and state of mind that dancing puts me in and nobody around me understands this, but I can’t focus on that hate, because I know that for everything I cannot do – there is something that I can do. I have chosen to focus on those things and I have also chosen to take control, by choosing to sit it out.
I always think of a quote by Mike Tyson which goes “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face” – and I think the most powerful thing we can learn is that sometimes it is best to step back rather than fight back, a part of processing a disability or processing life is recognising you do not have to do everything – you’re entitled to sit out, as long as you know your focus and hold power in understanding that there will always be things that are, to you, worth fighting for. Things that you can do.
As I was talking to a friend about this he said to me, “don’t worry about it, just come and jump on a Harley with me” and yes, that certainly is my desired coping mechanism, I mean, when life gives you lemons – jump on a Harley.
All of us are perhaps always processing the difficulties in our life, but if you ask yourself ‘where is my focus, if I cannot do this what can I do’, and then work with that in mind, I promise you – you will not only process, you will smash it.