I had a conversation about my rehabilitative therapy earlier this week and articulated something that makes me very embarrassed and sad: the only reason I know I have made any progress is that other people have told me I have improved. Though my body has transformed in the last seven years, it doesn’t feel any different to me. My body feels the same as it always has. The therapy I have done has not made a difference to the way my disability presents internally. I think this just might be a matter of accepting that things are what they are, but it was very sobering and embarrassing to express it.
I certainly feel better as a result of yoga and physical therapy, but – as far as the actual disability is concerned – my body feels the same as it always has. The same is true of my disability itself: I don’t feel that my body is disabled. It feels normal to me. The only time I ever feel my cerebral palsy in my body is when I am about to fall, I actually fall, I struggle in some other way with balance, or I come up against something I can’t manage, like stairs that have no banister or a chair that is too high for me to sit on.
A couple of weeks ago, I went out with some friends and the only available table at the restaurant had chairs that were difficult for me. I sat and tried not to complain, but I could feel my disability in my body very strongly at that point; I used all my energy and strength in my body to stay as balanced as I could, but felt as though I were tipping over. I asked if we could move to a table that had lower chairs; we did and my body relaxed (understandably). The frustrating thing is that I’d wanted to be a good sport and not complain; I knew I wasn’t in a life-threatening situation, but I did feel in my body that I had to concentrate and balance any way that I possibly could so that I wouldn’t fall. This isn’t to say that my physical therapy hasn’t helped me get better. It certainly has. I just don’t feel any different internally and, truthfully, I don’t think I ever will. It’s difficult to realize and to accept it, but it just is what it is.