Like most people my age I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately. Trying to figure out what I want to do and who I want to be requires a lot of thought. Recently though, my soul searching has been taking a different turn. I’ve been thinking a lot about the person I already am and there is one question that just won’t leave my head. How much of who I am is tied to what I have?
There’s no question that CP is a big part of my life. I’m a (pretty much) full time electric wheelchair user. It’s impossible for it not to be, but I often wonder what my life would be like if CP didn’t exist.
I’m sure some of my personality is hardwired. My whole family loves music so I have no doubt I would too, even without CP. I do feel what I do with music would change though. As an able-bodied person I feel as though I would probably have gravitated towards cheerleading, gymnastics, dance, or an instrument. I don’t think I would have been a singer.
Similarly, I know that I would have a strong interest in books and movies regardless of whether I was able-bodied or not. What would probably change though is the type of things I read and watch. I’m really into medical shows like House, Untold Stories of the ER, Mystery Diagnosis, etc. I also love to read any book with a disabled character in it. I think if my disability did suddenly disappear I would avoid those and gone more towards suspense or horror shows/books. (I habitually avoid them now because they kick my startle reflex into high gear)
Lack of disability would have a huge impact on my writing as well. I wouldn’t be writing stories that predominately feature disabled characters, and I most certainly would not be posting on this blog right now. I would know nothing about the disability community and it would probably have no desire to write about it.
The last thing that I feel would change if I did not have CP is my career choice. I want to be a social worker. People’s minds fascinate me. Maybe this is because my mind is the only part of me that functions completely as it’s supposed to. I think I would have picked a much more physically active career if I was able-bodied.
Sometimes thinking about all the things that would be different gets me down. There have been many occasions where I laid awake at night picturing myself dancing, or walking in high heels. The fantasy only lasts a few minutes though before my brain starts trying to insert something to disable me, whether that is a car accident, or breaking a limb. My brain will try anything to get back to what it knows and understands. I don’t know if this means that I’ve completely accepted that disability is part of my life; I think it just means my brain wouldn’t know what to do if it were given a functioning body. After eighteen years of struggling to perform everyday tasks it’s become normal. When something actually is easy to do, it’s a pleasant surprise.
I’ve learned how to function in a body that doesn’t and I wouldn’t have it any other way.