I have changed my body and my interpersonal maturity because I want to. I want to be a more physically capable person and a more mature person, so I have committed to changing and improving myself. The change only really happened when I made the decision to change myself. Other people previously tried to change me – and tried to change me after I made the commitment to myself to change – but I’m the only person who can truly change myself, even with the support of therapists and doctors. They can guide me, support me, and help me, but I’m the only one who actually makes the real changes.
Last summer, I was – very briefly – in a relationship with a man who tried to change me from the second I agreed to be his girlfriend. He had never been in a relationship before and he assumed a position of control without consent from me. His intentions were good, but his delivery was disconcerting and inappropriate, especially considering the fact that I was his first girlfriend. He tried to boss me around and tried to change me, particularly because he felt I worried too much. I’m a bit like Emma Pillsbury on Glee: utterly neurotic, wide-eyed, sweet, and kind of dorky. A few months ago, one of my best friends said to me, ‘You’re neurotic in a cute way.’
I worry a lot. I worry too much about what other people think of me and what they are saying about me. I worry about curing myself and I worry about managing my disability as I continue to progress and get better. I worry that I will never get better. I worry about my friends and my family and where my life is going. I worry about my competency at work and my performance in my university course. More than anything else, I always worry that I have offended people and they are too polite, too sensitive about my disability, or too gentle with me to call me on it. I had a reflexology treatment last year and the therapist said that human beings hold a different emotion in each of their organs. She told me that the strongest emotions she felt in me through the treatment were worry and resentment. Without knowing anything about me, she said, ‘Why are you so hard on yourself?’ My first inclination was to say, ‘Because I’m a bad person.’
My boyfriend from last summer texted me quite soon into the relationship and told me he was ‘[setting] an example’ that told me not to worry. I knew he meant well, but it put me off and made me angry. It might be true that I worry too much and too often, but it wasn’t his place to ‘set an example’ so that I wouldn’t worry. Even if he did set an example, I would still worry because it’s just who I am. I have consciously and consistently worked to change other parts of myself so that I am more mature, responsible, accountable, self-disciplined, socially acceptable, and professional, but if I want to change the fact that I worry too much (or to reduce the worry I carry around) it has to come from me, not anyone else (especially not someone who feels it’s somehow his business or responsibility to change me). Needless to say, I got out of that relationship fairly quickly. I’d once heard that relationships end when one person tries to change the other. I didn’t understand that until I’d experienced it firsthand.
When I first started working to cure myself, I didn’t fully believe in the possibility of a cure or my capacity to make it happen. Other people tried to push me and force me to do the therapy. It was only when I took it on for myself – and not for someone else’s approval or because someone else told me to – that I really saw positive effective results, felt much better about myself, and made a stronger commitment to the process.
I still worry about everything. I understand that I could stop worrying – or worry less – if I made a commitment to change that part of myself, but I don’t want to change it. I understand that ruminating less would likely relieve some emotional stress, tension, and anxiety, but I know that this something I would be doing ‘because someone else told me to or wanted me to’ rather than out of my own volition. Change is only effective, permanent, and transformative if it happens from an intrinsic place.