The onset of my disability began well into my adult years following a youth and young adulthood of athleticism. Dare I say, that I was normal as identified by society. I’ve learned since then that in life we need to be conscious about using words like “normal.“ What is normal anyway? For me normal (in terms of life) is the individualized experiences that we learn to live with. It is the world outside of oneself that contributes to the feeling of abnormality. This is why I try to live my life from the inside out versus the outside in.
I have had the enjoyment of having people ask if I will ever be “back to normal.” I have learned that a good self -reflective albeit smart ass reply is… “as soon as YOU are.”
Now look, I am not overly sensitive about terminology. The only word that makes my skin crawl is handicapped. That or any word with the “handi“ prefix in reference to me or my disabled peeps. Using that word or anything close will likely land you under my wheels with blood squirting out of your eyeballs and me pointing down at you shouting “yeah! yeah!” Roadkill anyone? But, I digress… exiting the vortex of negativity!
When we experience life-changing issues like illnesses, job loss, accidents, injuries, divorce, children leaving the home, aging, death of a loved one, or any major life event, we have to adjust. We do, however, have the free will to choose not to adjust and fight the situation. The outcome of fighting, in my experience, results in anxiety, depression, worsening illnesses, frustration and more. I find that flowing with the ocean of life and cooperating with its outcomes is a much healthier choice. That doesn’t mean to give up, not by any stretch, but to accept where you are so that you can move forward.
Here are a couple examples:
If you can’t run anymore because you have bad knees etc, embrace your normal and try riding a bike, or rowing
If you are going through a divorce, embrace your normal and focus on your children or pick up a hobby
If you have been diagnosed with an illness get a second opinion, embrace your normal and learn about what it will mean for you and your family; then develop a plan and focus on action
In these examples, you have to first accept the situation. I have seen people allow their lower extremity concerns to significantly worsen. They refused to accept that running was no longer a good idea. I’ve also seen people fight their ex-spouse so hard, that they became (unadmitted) alcoholics, and lost several friends. They even forced the kids to suffer. I know others who have had critical diagnoses that became suicidal, and debilitatingly depressed.
Save yourself a lot of pain and heartache. Practice acceptance of your normal. Focus your efforts on how you will constructively move through it or live with it.
When I was a little girl I loved swimming at the beach. Living in Los Angeles, California and beaching frequently, rip-tides were considered a normal part of body surfing. I learned that if I experienced a dangerous current to swim WITH it. Fighting would cause it to carry me further from shore much faster. In an active rip current, the more natural feeling thing to do is to fight by swimming like hell toward the shore. But the best thing to do is scream like a banshee (so the lifeguard will hear) and ride the tide! Although I looked crazy out there screaming, that was the action required to resolve the problem. That and staying in the flow of the situation. In most cases, I was able to ride with it and get out of the current on my own.
Truthfully, none of us are normal. We all have our individual uniquenesses. Why not stand out from the crowd and define normal for yourself? Play the cards in the poker game of life.
There is a lot more at stake than a pot full of money!
That, my friend, is one hell of a metaphor for life!