At a party I attended two weeks ago, an editor said to me, ‘You’re very bright and very determined.’
Late this afternoon, I had a massage complemented with needling. My therapist used both dry needling techniques and acupressure methods, sticking needles into my shoulders to help with my upset stomach and needles into my hips to help with the stiffness present there. She also massaged my legs while the needles were in. It was a strange feeling to have three different forms of therapy going on in my body at the same time, and strange to me to have such stubborn stiffness in the same places for an extended period of time, even after several days’ worth of intentional specific therapeutic professional treatment.
I did not particularly enjoy having the needles stuck into me today – especially in my hips – but I felt much better once the treatment finished. My therapist told me that dry needling would be better for my specific problems, but I am willing now to use and try both forms of needling as methods of therapy. It’s strange how I went from being utterly phobic and terrified of needles to a believer in their effectiveness within a few sessions. I suppose it’s that the positive effect of the needling is enough proof to me. If this kind of therapy makes me feel better, I’ll do it and use it.
People often ask me if the therapy I have done and continue to do helps me. I usually say that I wouldn’t do the therapy if it didn’t help me. I wouldn’t still be doing pilates after five years if I didn’t get health and emotional benefits from the practice. I wouldn’t have completed thirty consecutive days of bikram yoga if it hadn’t helped me with my flexibility, agility, and openness. I wouldn’t have spent hours in the pool, the gym, and on the massage table if there weren’t benefits to the therapy.
My cerebral palsy is a result of non-progressive brain trauma. It’s not something that can – and will – get worse if left untreated, like cancer or diabetes. I survived and functioned ‘well enough’ in the world before I started this therapy and, if I gave it up entirely tomorrow, I could still function in the world. I wouldn’t be at risk of dropping dead or being slowly consumed by my condition as though it were a disease. I would certainly lose a lot of what I have gained. My pelvis would twist, my legs would bend further, my limp would worsen, the curve in my back would get worse, and my body would be even stiffer than it is now. This is why I do all the work I do: I know where I used to be and I don’t want to go back to being that person. I owe it to myself to progress forward.
I won’t lie and say that there aren’t times when I wish I could quit. When I have bad days or disability-related problems, there are times when I want to stop ‘working on’ myself constantly and just ‘be myself.’ That isn’t to say that I would accept my cerebral palsy; I never accepted it before I started the work and I don’t think I ever will. I just wish, sometimes, that I could stop fighting against it all the time (or as hard as I do) and stop the tireless work. There have been times where I have taken breaks for weeks at a time, but then I have had to fight even harder to regain what I very quickly lost in that period of time that I allowed myself time to rest.
I have tried, more than once, to make this work ‘part of’ my life rather than ‘all of’ my life, but, most of the time, it is ‘all of’ my life because my disability has always been ‘all of’ my life. My journey to cure myself is now the anchoring force in my life, the centre from which everything else flows, and my primary motivation in life.
I think the difference between giving up at an earlier stage in the process and giving up now would be who I would be answering to. In the beginning, I was much more concerned with pleasing the people who cared for me and gave me therapy. I realize now that, though I was doing the work to better my body, I also sought other people’s approval and external validation. My sense of myself is very connected to my rehabilitation, but I realize now that, though I still answer to people, I am not as afraid of disappointing them and I am not as reliant on their support or validation as I used to be. I feel like I do this work for myself now rather than for someone else, because someone else told me to, or for the sake of pleasing other people. I would let myself down if I stopped and I would certainly disappoint other people, but I wouldn’t feel as strongly that I had failed them if I decided to quit.
I won’t quit, especially since I know I have the ability and potential to get even better. I will keep working not only to cure myself, but also to be as healthy and strong and as able as I can be. I don’t like thinking of this process as purely exercising to be healthy – because I equate exercising with going to the gym and I hate the gym – and I will continue to consider it cure. I will just continue to do the work for myself rather than someone else or for anything that hinges on external forces and validation. One of my best friends told me a few years ago that I need validation. I agree with her, but I don’t think I need it as strongly as I used to. I am becoming more self reliant, strong, independent, mature, and less dependent on other people’s positive opinions of me.
I would quit if this work weren’t effective or I didn’t enjoy it. It works and I enjoy it, so I will keep working. I will complement the work with other therapies and treatments to give myself the best physicality I can have, and it will make me emotionally stronger. I am very bright and very determined.