Monday, July 13, 2015

CP and the struggle between being realistic and living life to the fullest...

It was such a good day at the beach—every breath of air was sweet and salty, not like chocolate pretzels sweet and salty but the kind of sweet and salty that you can only find by the ocean...and the water was a little chilly, but not so cold that it ached with every step.

And yet, as I watched the other beachgoers moving so carelessly and effortlessly as they threw themselves at the ocean and bounced through the waves, I couldn't help but ache. I wanted to join them so badly, to run past the shoreline until the waves climbed above my waist, to duck my head under and feel the saltwater sting my eyes. I knew that I could have asked my brother or my parents to take my hand and they would have, but I didn't want to inconvenience them, and so I just pretended that I just wanted to go in up to my ankles anyway.

It all sounds so trivial now, but it's just so hard, especially at this stage in my life. My friends and my brothers are traveling, exploring the world and going on trips and being 21-year-olds and sometimes it feels like all I can do is sit back and watch because of my CP.

A few weeks ago, my two best friends went on a week-long trip to Europe and they asked me to join them. I've never been out of the US before and oh, how I wanted to go with them...but the reality is, with my disability, I can't just make spontaneous plans. I have to consider whether I will be able to manage the airport, my bags, walking long distances...I have to consider whether I will be able to manage the curbs and the steps, and whether my friends have their hearts set on a tourist attraction that wouldn't be practical or possible for me. And so I had to say that I couldn't go, and I blamed it on the fact that I have an internship this summer—which, to be fair, was a major complicating factor and a perfectly valid excuse. But I couldn't help wondering whether I would have been able to go on that trip if my life had turned out differently and I was born without CP.

Now those same friends are planning a road trip in a week or two, and they are begging me to join them. I am sitting here in tears because I don't know what to my heart, I want to go. I don't want my CP to limit me, to hold me back. But I also don't want to hold them back. I know that if I told them this, they would assure me that it wasn't an issue, and for sure they wouldn't leave me out—they're the kind of friends that head for the flattened part of a curb automatically, and they do an amazing job of being sensitive to my needs while also not focusing on my CP. But I want them to be able to hike and swim without reservation, without worrying about whether I can safely join them.

And I have to consider my own personal well-being as well...what if the lake is too deep for me to safely swim? I'm not a bad swimmer but my balance issues mean that I have to be more careful.

Sometimes I just wish I could participate in life as fully and as freely as everyone else seems to be able to, without having to worry about any of these "extras." I'm really struggling with finding that balance between living my life to the fullest without letting CP dictate what I can and cannot do and being realistic and responsible about my limitations.