Sometimes I find myself using less positive words such as can’t, but, or don’t in regard to the things life brings with cerebral palsy. Often it is only in my mind, but sometimes I’ll say it out loud– where I notice it more.
I catch myself almost instantly in response to “well what about these shoes?” or “have you tried running again [with your exosym]?” “why not try ___ or ___?”
I think it is fair to correlate can’t with a real fear of failure. Is it that I can’t or I won’t? I fear wanting to give up; I fear the frustration that creeps in when I go for a hike and I grow tired too quickly. I fear anxiety, that I won’t see it coming. Even with my device, I am presented with a new set of circumstances– those that are difficult to anticipate until I am in it. One of them happens to be finding shoes! I know it’s not catastrophic, but my footwear options matter to me. It used to be that I could wear many shoes– they just had to have ankle straps or more support in the sole. Now, I become discouraged when I realize it is likely that I only fit into about 10% of the world’s shoes now, with my extra wide device at a men’s 4E! No more open-toed, cute strappy sandals. No more colorful, slim shoes. Even specific shoes that I can fit into often only range from a sad brown color to black or dark blue… I try not to care about shoes anymore but of course I have my moments.
Dealing with the downfalls of my new bionic way of life is a fine trade off for increased mobility and stability, sure but when I walk into the women’s department of any store my mind goes straight into “well this is depressing” mode… will I ever look cute or feel sexy wearing this??
“I can’t wear those” or “I could never wear these” or “I doubt those pants would work because the leg is too wide to fit under my device!” I go home and ponder what life would be like sans CP. Would I be the high heel QUEEN?? Haha, probably not but I am sure some of us have been there.
However literally you want to take it, can’t (as with any self-doubt) holds some significance to us all. Negative words have just as much power as positive ones but the good news is we are always in control of how much power we give them. There are times when your can’t(s) rule the day; they easily torment you. (ie. SHOES). Your PMA is no where to be found.
Can’t certainly has its place in our vocabulary as people with disabilities. But I think I’ve reached a point in my life where there’s really no room for “I don’t do XYZ because of CP.” That doesn’t help me get to where I am going or where I want to be. I will at least try whatever the day offers up even if it scares me, wouldn’t you?
Yes I have my excuses, and yes it is mostly a product of CP–but I don’t let those can’ts, won’ts, don’ts or buts stop me everytime from experiencing the world around me! If you think of it in terms of: everytime you use can’t = a missed laugh, smile, memory, or a missed opportunity to show others (and yourself) what you’re really made of–then I would say: think twice before you speak! You’ve got this. The PMA is all yours today.
So do the things you fear! The things that stem from the known, the perceived (im)possibility of it all, attempt the things you think you can’t do and though you may feel uncomfortable or uncertain it’s okay because these fears are malleable. Meaning, they change, they challenge us, motivate us–and they come and go. Better yet, I believe fear is dissolved through action and understanding.
I’ll leave you with one last thought-bite: What is the opposite of fear? Joy? Pride? Courage? Excitement?
Whatever it is, go get it!