Monday, August 5, 2013

The Gift of Disability

Sometimes when I tell people that my disability is a gift, they look at me with doubt written all across their faces, as if I'm either delusional or in denial.

I've noticed that people generally feel more comfortable defining situations as either black or white. And many individuals outside of the special needs community consider disabilities to be devastating tragediespitch black.

I want to stand on all of the rooftops in the world with a loudspeaker and contradict that notion with every fiber of my being.  

They're not.

Disabilities can be painful, and on the darkest days, they may seem unbearably challenging, but they're worth it. They're worth every tear, every fall, every ache.

At the end of the day, I couldn't care less about the handicap parking spaces that so many people joke about. And who cares that I'm allowed to be late to class when it rains or snows?

No. These "benefits" that people talk about, those mean nothing. Nothing.

Disabilities are beautiful not because of these petty "privileges," but because of the life lessons they impart. The challenges that send us to our knees and threaten to eat us up insidethese very challenges give way to strength, wisdom, and compassion.

And I would never trade that away. Disability has shaped me into the person I am today; it has given me a gift that I can take with me wherever I go.

Disability has shown me that the purest form of happiness is not our own, but that of others. When I was a toddler and still unable to walk on my own, simply watching my brothers chase each other would cause me to shriek with laughter. Their happiness was my happiness. I have found that the same is true in the broader context of life; the greatest joys come from helping others and watching the people we love enjoy the amazing adventure of life.

Disability has shown me patience. People in today's world are so preoccupied with speed and timelines, milestones and deadlines, efficiency and shortcuts. But my cerebral palsy has taught me that life isn't about who is the fastest. The people who rush to complete tasks and who are preoccupied with deadlines and milestones often miss the beauty that comes with fighting for something every. single. day, and they take everyday miracles for granted.

Disability has shown me perseverance. I have learned that diagnoses mean only so much, and disabilities are less about what we can't accomplish and more about what we can accomplish. My cerebral palsy has taught me that perseverance is a magic of its own. With determination, we can often transcend not only doctors' expectations but also our own.

Disability has shown me acceptance. Some people look at my crooked legs and see only brokenness in my clumsy steps...but in truth, I am so much more than my body, and so are you, disability or not. It seems that some individuals look at those with disabilities and consider them to be helpless, pitiable, and inadequate. This couldn't be farther from the truth. People with disabilities have personalities, quirks, talents, hopes, and dreams just like everybody else, and we, too, are capable of changing the world for the better.

I am thankful, so thankful, for the perspective that disability has brought to my life. Where others see a rainstorm, I see a rainbow. Not misfortune, not a limitation, not a tragedy.  

A gift.

11 comments:

  1. Holy crap, you did it again. Just when I think you cannot possibly top your last post BABOOM. I should never have doubted :)

    Having a child with a disability means that I have to slow down, have the patience to breathe and see things from her prospective.

    And I can tell you this my friend, I bet your parents remember the first time you walked more than your brothers. I bet they were more proud and I bet they called everyone they knew.

    The ultimate beauty in disability is the celebration. Because we celebrate the spirit it took to get there.

    As always freaking adore you!!!

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  2. I love this line: "When I was a toddler and still unable to walk on my own, simply watching my brothers chase each other would cause me to shriek with laughter." Because Alex laughs like you did when Evan runs around acting all goofy! This post made my night. Thank you.

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  3. I nominated you for the Liebster Award! Read here for more details:
    http://www.brycemoline.com/2013/08/liebster-award.html

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  4. You are a beautiful person. And I am in tears. Thank you for this!

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  5. I totally love you, Sweets. Totally. You nailed it again. Pretty much every single time you write something you nail it though, my friend. I love the line that disability has shown you acceptance - I think that, through Tucker, that's been the biggest gift that his disability has given me. I see everybody now. I don't even know whether I did before but I guarantee that I do now. Thank you for writing this. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Your writing and your awesomeness is already changing the world.
    PS - are you starting school again soon? This summer has FLOWN by!

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  6. I don't even have appropriate words to comment on this, other than to say it's amazing!

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  7. I'm autistic and I know I'm a better person because of it. To those who think I have no empathy: You're wrong. The whole reason I want to apply to be a moderator on my favorite Minecraft server is empathy. I don't want that position for the colored names on items or the power. Instead, I feel a lot of empathy for frustrated players and want to do something about their problems.

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  8. Dear K,

    In our book, your A- OKEY, you have a Focused mind, a will to being and becoming Alive and your working on a Degree-on your way to a life empowered with a Creative Mind, God has truly Blessed you with a Big Heart and a thankful Soul. Keep at it and be the Blessing to others.

    The Heart At Play Foundation

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  9. Thank you for the lessons of exactly why people with disabilities are not to be pitied, Kerry. I loved this post. I will forever hold you up to Owen as someone to aspire to emulate.

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  10. Something in me...kind of internally rebels at the idea that disability is a gift because it teaches us lessons. Maybe because it is not that far of a leap for me from that to other people believing that disabled people's sole purpose for existing IS to teach lessons to other people. Obviously it is not for me (or anyone) to tell you how to feel. Your feelings are yours and mine are obviously about ME, so feel free to take this in or just ignore it ;)

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