Tag Archives: Fighter

Finding Determination Through Fear.

19 Oct

A few days ago I was talking with a friend of mine, and he asked me to explain my absolute worst fear in life. Though some classic answers popped into my head, like ending up alone and losing the people I love, I knew my absolute worst fear. I tried to say it, but couldn’t. I felt like I was about to cry. However, after a period of silence stretched over us like a blanket, I finally spoke.

“I’m afraid of the day when I’ll no longer be able to walk.”

I spent my entire childhood learning to walk so I could be as independent as possible, despite my Cerebral Palsy. Before my intense operations, I learned to walk in my own way, my knees knocking together as I put one foot in front of the other. During the years I spent on a t-ball team, I loved the feeling of running to first base. Even though I typically got out before making it to first base, I ran with all my heart just like everyone else on my team. I ran in my own way, but it never stopped me from trying.

After my first operation at the age of 10, I had to completely relearn to walk after having my femurs straightened out and kept in place with rods. One year later, when I got the hardware removed that was placed during my first operation, I had to relearn to walk yet again. See, not walking was never even an option for me. I wanted to be like the other kids my age, and to do that, I had to be able to walk. I had to be as normal as I possibly could. Even when I was faced with physical pain that made me want to curl into myself and give up all together, I kept going. Every day, I literally walked towards my own independence, one step at a time.

Because I spent so much of my life struggling, and ultimately succeeding, to walk, the thought of reaching the day when I’ll no longer be able to walk is completely terrifying. In so many ways, when I reach that day, it will feel like a kind of giving up. Though I plan to walk for as many more years as I can, I am scared of the day when the pain will just be too much, when walking will be putting too much strain on my body. It’s especially frightening because I know how much physical pain I’m in on a daily basis currently. The realization that I am in so much physical pain and I’m only 21 is terrifying. Trying to imagine my level of pain when I reach age 30 is nearly impossible.

That is one great thing about fear though. It has the ability to help us find the determination and strength we didn’t know we had. Yes, my worst fear is seeing the day when I will no longer be able to walk. However, I’m not there yet. I am a long way off from that day. Today, I am able to walk and do the things I love, despite being in pain. Today, I am able to push through the pain, because the result…the view at the top of the mountain…is worth it. The happiness, joy, and pure bliss of the destination weighs so much more than the pain of the journey.

The fear lingers in the back of my mind, the fear of knowing one day I won’t be able to get to the top of Max Patch, my absolute favorite place in the world. However, the fear also gives me the strength and determination I need to continue doing what I love. Yes, one day I may not be able to walk because of the amount of pain I am in. But I’m not there yet. I’ve still got plenty of fight within me.

At the top of Max Patch (October 2013)

At the top of Max Patch (October 2013)

Every Scar Has A Story.

4 Jun

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”-Khalil Grbran

One of my previous physical therapists, Meredith, shared the above quote with me a few months ago when I was going through a rough patch while writing my memoir, when my head was stuck in the memories that brought me so much physical pain that I wasn’t even sure where to begin writing. Lately I’ve been shying away from working on my memoir because I feel like I need to be able to just sit quietly in the closet with some of my memories that are mentally boxed away before I can shed light on them and begin writing.

I’m a very introspective person, and I’d rather sit outside among the natural beauty around me and reflect on life rather than be surrounded by tons of people. I enjoy time to myself, and since I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m not utterly terrified to reflect on my past, the pain I felt, and the memories that sometimes still haunt me, that’s what I choose to do: revisit the memories, even when they hurt. Occasionally, I wonder why I choose to fill my head with memories that hurt, but then I realize that facing the memories is the only way I’ll be able to accept myself. I kept the memories boxed up for so long, kicking the boxes to the back of my closet and refusing to even think about them.

I’ve been told that the special thing about scars is the story they tell. I hated my scars for such a long time. I never wore shorts even when it was really hot outside because I didn’t like to look down and be reminded of the physical and emotional pain that I went through. So during the summer, you’ll see me in jeans, no matter the temperature. I’d rather wear jeans and feel okay about myself than wear shorts and feel self-conscious. For many years, I couldn’t bring myself to even look at my scars. In the beginning, they scared me. Then, I hated them for being a reminder of my pain. And now, instead of being afraid or angry, I am reminded of not just what I went through….but what I fought through…and what I survived. My scars are a reminder that I survived a level of pain that most people can’t understand. Though my scars will forever be a part of me, they are also a reminder of what I’ve endured and overcome in order to reach a point in my life where I can honestly say that I am happy.

My scars tell their own unique story: the story of my life with Cerebral Palsy, full of every detailed memory during my childhood and teenage years. They hold more emotion than I can even fathom, much of which has been released over time through the process of writing my memoir and having this blog. And even though every day is a little bit easier for me to write what I felt during the years of intense surgeries and intense physical therapy, my scars still remain. Even though my surgery scars tell the first part of my story, the part that involves intense surgeries, 15 years of physical therapy, and many, many tears, they don’t tell the part of the story that I’m living now. I do. I’m writing the story of my life, and I’ve always held the key to unlock the boxes of what I’ve felt. However, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I actually realized I wanted to open up those boxes. But I haven’t just wanted to look at them, I’ve wanted to write them. The pain, the hurt, the strength. Because writing it all down makes it that more real, while also making it easier to be able to say: Yes, I have Cerebral Palsy, and I’m a survivor.