Today marks the 14th anniversary of my mobility disability and I have many big emotions. Becoming physically disabled was traumatic, and since that moment my life has changed drastically!
Every day I wake up in a body that is my enemy. I have had periods of deep mourning for all that I have lost. Basic functions and abilities, the body I knew for so long, friends, team-mates, hobbies, fitness, health, wellness, experiences, opportunities and independence, all gone in a snap.
Occasionally I need to let go of something else my body can no longer do, and the mourning returns, though usually for a shorter time because I am used to the cycles of loss and grief now. I have less attachment to these things I thought defined who I was and what makes my life valuable, good, or even worth living.
I have had many celebrations because I am still here, still kicking ass, and still advocating for myself and others. Through all the crap that disability has brought to my life, I must also acknowledge that it brings good things too.
Through disability I have connected with some of the most compassionate, smart, kick ass friends (and community) that I would have otherwise been oblivious to. With them I have laughed hysterically, ugly cried, loved/been loved, supported/been supported, and even shouted into the void about how hard this is. Every shout I made came with KNOWING that the echo back would not be “have you tried yoga, or walking, or this magic cheese?” (that response tends to come from the able-bodied folks who are uncomfortable about all these disabled feelings, and even the word disability ?). The disability community responds with “I hear you, I validate you, I hold space for you” they GET me, and somehow that is enough to keep me moving forward.
My name is Jayde, I have multiple disabilities and I am doing my best in this life. My value in this world is not defined by my body, what I do, or what I contribute. My value is in simply existing – as I am. I am not an inspiration, I am not pitiable, I am not even “other” – disability is coming for us all! That is a fact of life.
I am suffering, I am celebrating, and I am learning every day how to be a better human than I was the day before. I am proud of who I have become, and how I have handled myself. I also acknowledge that I have had a HUGE hand up from my wife and luck, and I try not to take any of it for granted.