Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trying to Stay Strong

School started up again about a week ago, but I feel like I've been here for an eternity. There is so much I love about college...my friends are beyond amazing, my classes are challenging, and I do enjoy having some independence.

But I'm not going to lie; it's tough. I feel like so many people see the way I stumble over my own feet, see the exhaustion in my face, see me struggling to make my way through a crowd, and they assume that I'm weak.

Why do people assume that people with disabilities are weak?

I feel like it takes so much strength to get through just one day. I have to navigate a world that wasn't built for me, a world of curbs and endless staircases and hills, and sometimes I wonder if I'm strong enough. I find myself rushing to class, breathless, yet I am slower than even the people walking at a leisurely pace. And then, sometimes after I've finally arrived, all of the seats have been taken and everyone stares and my feet ache terribly and I'm left standing in the back with shaking legs, wondering if my knees will give out.

And sometimes I wonder, too, if my spirit will give out. I had a particularly challenging day today, and I was walking to class today in a torrential downpour. My determination was warring with my burning legs, my shoes and socks were soaked, and I just kept telling myself, "One more step, one more step..."

That's my life right now...one more step, one more step, one more step. But each step is physically and emotionally draining. Nearly in tears, I messaged my mom...I don't know if I can do this.

"This is the story of your life," my mom wrote back, "And you always rise to the occasion."

So for now I'm just looking for that strength in my spirit to make up for the weakness in my legs. I feel like I'm falling, falling, falling, trying to accomplish the impossible. I know that I can do this...paradoxically, disability has shown me that we as human beings are capable of so, so much...I just need to find that strength.

9 comments:

  1. Sending you lots of strength. And I love your mom's response. xo

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  2. I recently found your blog. My son has "hidden disabilities." His issue are nonetheless very real and have very real impacts on every aspect of his life. He struggles on a daily basis just to make it through the day. I watch him fight to accomplish what many people take for granted. I love your moms response. And I admire your strength, just as I admire my sons strength, especially on the days when he feels like he has no strength left. No fight left. When he is tired, overwhelmed, and doesn't know if he can take that "one more step, one more step." But he can. And so too can you. Hang in there. I can't promise it will get better, or easier, they would simply be empty words; platitudes from a stranger out in internet la-la land. Just know that I'm rooting for you, that I believe in you, as I believe in my boy, every day.

    Just one more step. The stories of your lives.

    Hang in there ;)

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  3. If you texted me that you don't know if you can do this, I would have wanted to reply: You must. It sucks, it is painful, it is so not fair. But you must take one more step. Otherwise you will be letting yourself down. Not me, not your parents, not anyone more important than you. Your dream is the most important reason why you must take one more painful step. You won't forgive yourself otherwise. Plus if you don't step out of this torrential downpour your feet will never forgive you :)

    Probably not the right words to comfort you and I don't think your mom's text did either. But I do think your mom wasn't trying to minimize your pain. She probably thought she was giving you what you needed. I do wish she had allowed you to break a little bit and been able to offer the comfort you were looking for so that you could take that one more step to a safe harbor. Instead of saying you can, I wish she had asked what do you need so you can?

    Hugs to you, my brave warrior friend. It might not seem like it, especially after days like yesterday, but you are probably the strongest woman I know.

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  4. I'm so sorry to hear that life's been rough on you lately - the wet shoes and socks thing sounds absolutely miserable.

    And the end of your tether is never a pleasant place to be.

    But to (possibly) add a little fresh perspective, I'd love to suggest that perhaps the future tense 'don't know if I can' could become a little more present, and a little more affirming - you already ARE doing this. And damn well.

    And whilst I'd love to give you a massive hug and tell you it'll be okay, I don't know that, but I DO know you are a fighter, and I have every confidence in you. You got this.

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  5. I just want to take a moment to thank all of you for your support. That means more to me than words can express. Life is still challenging at the moment, but today was a much better day, and reading your words of encouragement makes everything so much easier! xoxo

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    Replies
    1. Glad to hear it's gotten a little easier. May tomorrow be likewise, and the day after, and the day after.

      Very best wishes to you - keep on keeping on :)

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  6. Ah, Kerry my sweet and powerful friend. Keep going. One more step. One foot in front of the other. I know that it's so hard and I'm sure there are days when it really feels like you can't do it but at the end of the day? You did it. I find such inspiration from you. The way that you look at the world, your heart, your writing talent...your spirit and kindness and goofiness (I'm still not over the glitter because that stuff is horrible to clean up), it's all what's perfectly you. How you walk has given you strength that is unmatched. By the strongest of men.
    I adore you. Text me any time.

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  7. Hi, I got here from your comment on Kristi's post. About wanting to take your disability away for your mom.

    I want to say a couple of things. First, college is so effing difficult -- for everyone! Everyone feels like they are tripping over their feet. I think that some people are judgmental, but others are just wondering how you are managing it all when they can barely keep it together, and they don't have CP or anything else like that.

    I went to school with a woman with Cystic Fibrosis. She was in one of my major seminars, and she talked about it a lot in her work. I was seriously, seriously in awe of her.

    So, sometimes it's not all bad. I agree that the gawking must get tiresome. But sometimes it's with respect.

    Then (and sorry for this super long comment!): Your sentiment about wanting to take away your disability for your mom's sake. That really hit me hard. I have a not-yet-two-year-old son, and I just see things so differently now. I wouldn't want him to change something about himself just to make me cry less. At the same time, I don't think I could NOT cry if I saw him struggling in such an unfair way. I don't know if that helps or sounds patronizing. It just struck me.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

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  8. Oh wow can I relate to this. College was brutal for me, too. The other thought that comes to me is how much you might have benefited from a wheelchair or SOMETHING on campus. I get that you feel really self-conscious about these things, and I did, too. But now? The level of energy it saves me and how empowered my chair makes me feel, because it GIVES me so much more freedom than I ever had without it? Well, I wish you could feel that, too, without the barriers of self-loathing. <3

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