I wrap my arms around you
I wrap my heart around you
Falling down the stairs
– I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rock, ‘Staging a Traffic Jam’
I have lived in Toronto for nearly a year now and it’s currently very slippery and slushy outside. It makes it difficult to get around; I expend a lot of energy just making sure that I don’t pitch forward and fall on my face. I find myself very frustrated and my disability is particularly debilitating, but yesterday I realized that everyone in Toronto faces this particular struggle at this present moment.
I had breakfast with my friend Sarah and she expressed the same frustration without me even bringing it up. She has been a dancer for her whole life and she has more flexibility, balance, agility, and strength than I have ever had (or will have) in my life. She suffered a fall last week and told me how much energy she expended just trying to balance while getting around in this weather.
My physiotherapist Sarah Leigh told me that I often think that certain things I feel or experience are ‘just me’ or just pertain to people who have cerebral palsy or other physical and mobility problems. She said that much of what I go through is universal and I would feel and experience it regardless of the fact that I have a disability. It was a sobering experience and certainly applicable to what I feel now: unsafe, angry, and afraid in the world, even when I have to go to the corner store to buy milk.
I nearly fell as I was walking from the bus to my home this afternoon. I said to myself, ‘It’s okay if I fall,’ and it is. It’s not the end of the world. It’s embarrassing, certainly, but it’s okay, especially in the grand scheme of things. Everyone wipes out from time to time. A lot worse could happen to me.
Yesterday, I tripped in a MAC store and fell, simply because I wasn’t paying attention. That was actually far more embarrassing because I couldn’t chalk it up to my disability or the snow. I was just being a dreamy dolt and not paying attention and I fell down. It was humiliating at the time – and I cried – but I can laugh about it now. Three people in the store ran up to me and asked if I was okay, and that embarrassed me further. I understand that people are simply concerned, but I don’t like to have attention on me when I fall down. I just wish I were invisible and that no one could see.
I left the store and met a friend for dinner. I felt better after we had food and laughed together. I reminded myself that everyone will fall – and experience worse things – and that it’s okay and it’s Just Life.