So after an intensive evening of washing my car I sat down to relax on the couch and watch this great new show called “Push Girls.” For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s about these 4 different women who are in wheelchairs…none of them being born in one. Three of them were in horrific car accidents that led to them needing wheelchair assistance, the 4th had an extremely rare condition where a blood vessel burst in her spine leaving her paralyzed. They are four of the most beautiful and inspiring women I’ve ever seen, not just on the outside but on the inside. It’s so interesting to watch how they’ve responded to being disabled and it’s been in a way completely opposite of me. They’re confident and they like when the attention is on them whereas I always just wanted to be invisible or blend in.
One of them said something that really got me thinking though. She was a dancer for many years before she was in her accident. Dancing really was her life so needless to say, adjusting to not being able to move her legs was beyond difficult. In this particular episode, she had entered herself into a ballroom dancing competition. It was so touching to watch her drive and fearlessness in doing something that really you never see people in wheelchair’s even attempting. There was a moment in rehearsal where she broke down though because her feet (which had to be strapped in to allow for her to dance) kept falling out. She finally just yelled “This is so frustrating!!” and shared how upset she was that she couldn’t use her legs anymore.
This may sound strange, but I consider myself lucky that I wasn’t born able-bodied. I don’t know what it’s like to be able to walk up stairs normally or not have a limp, therefore I can’t really miss it. I can’t have dreams about what it used to be like when I could walk normally or could do sports. I can’t even fathom how hard it must be to be born a certain way and then because of one incident, have that all ripped out from underneath you.
So I had a thought…what would I do if I had one day to be fully functional? Would I even want one? I actually started to cry a little at the thought of being able to do all those things I’ve wanted to do like everyone else but couldn’t: go up and down a staircase with ease, play tennis, try surfing, just go out in the world and ask a whole bunch of guys out without having to worry about what they think of my limp, sit on the ground and be able to pop right up when I was ready, run a few laps. The list is endless really. Then I wondered if that would make the next day that much more painful. A Disabled Cinderella Story. I wouldn’t have my glass slipper or my Prince in the morning. I honestly think it would make it more painful. Like I said before, I’m extremely grateful to not know what I’m missing and this has been my “normal” my whole life so I’ve had the opportunity to really learn how to deal with it (and am still learning).
Besides, thanks to my MDA blog, I met an amazing woman in New York who has the exact same kind of MD that I have and she said something that struck me so powerfully. She said growing up she knew the one thing she would never change about herself was the fact that she has muscular dystrophy. Meanwhile, I had always felt the complete opposite. Of course there are things about myself I sometimes wish I could change physically but that’s always been the big one. I wished my limp would just go away so I wouldn’t have to explain it to every single new person I met or even some strangers just walking by. Wouldn’t have to worry how I was going to bring it up on a date or if it was going to send the guy bolting in the other direction. I wouldn’t have to sit in a room full of people who were runners and feel like I was from another planet. I really admire her view point about her disease though and I know for a fact I would be a much different person if I wasn’t “Born This Way” (thank you Gaga). I don’t think I’d be able to empathize with other people as much as I do because I know what it’s like to be made fun of or be bullied. I know what it’s like to feel so hopeless, I wasn’t sure how I’d make it through another day. I cheer for the underdog, I want those who have faced and are facing the same discrimination as I have to be recognized, feel loved and have the rights they deserve. I wouldn’t even have this blog probably.
I’ll admit it, I don’t think I’m 100% there yet with feeling that the muscular dystrophy is the one thing I wouldn’t change about myself but I think I am well on my way. What is it they say? Life isn’t about the destination…it’s about the journey!