I cry when I’m frustrated.
A few days ago, as I was leaving work, one of my colleagues and I were discussing our living situations. We both had complaints about them, but we agreed that, all things considered, things could always be worse. People have also said the same to me about my cerebral palsy: things could always be worse. I could have a more severe form of my condition, I could have a different and more debilitating disability, or I could lack access to the therapy I am lucky enough to receive. I understand that this is true, but I sometimes feel that this invalidates the fact that things are still hard for me and that managing a disability – while working to overcome it – is challenging. I left the office in tears because I was extremely frustrated, and then I stood in the middle of Bedford Square in the rain and cried like a drunk girl. People looked at me like I was crazy. I was embarrassed to be such a mess in public, but I was upset and, though I felt angry, I knew that it was actually sadness. Anger is the end result of a lot of other different emotions. Sadness, despair, grief, frustration, resentment, loneliness, unworthiness, and shame come out of us as anger.
I phoned my friend Amy and cried and cried and cried. I walked toward the tube as we spoke, and I had to stop a few times because I was crying so hard that I was utterly overwhelmed. She listened to me and didn’t judge me and I felt better. I later phoned my friend Emma and she also helped me feel better. I think a lot of things had compounded and I’d held them in. Frustration finally forced the feelings out of me in the form of a really messy meltdown. I was really embarrassed – especially since it happened publicly – but it was bound to happen sooner or later, whether openly or not.
Having cerebral palsy is really hard. It’s frustrating, debilitating, painful, exhausting, limiting, lonely, alienating, and stressful. Rehabilitation can sometimes be very similar: it feels like an uphill battle with no end in sight. People tell me to just accept it and do the best I can – or that I’m very lucky to have the support that I do – but it doesn’t make having a disability any easier. Writing this reminds me of a quote from One Tree Hill. Lucas says to Brooke that he never meant to hurt her. She replies, ‘That doesn’t really matter, Lucas. ‘Cause in the end it all hurts just the same.’