I´ve always considered myself a pretty peaceful guy, especially from my mid twenties and till the present. But the truth is I´ve been angry, the type of angry that made me throw things against the wall, slam the doors shut or just scream. Sure, I got angry at the “normal things” like others do, but there was also a seed of anger within me that stemmed from the CP, it materialized in what seemed like an external battle, it was me, pitted against the whole world no less. But the real truth of it all was, it was a battle inside me that caused the majority of it.
There were times in my life where I would get really angry or upset because of the CP, or how it made me feel, and I don’t think this was always as apparent to those around me, as sometimes the anger only appeared later, either in the form of tantrums when I was younger or by seemingly being mad for no reason. A lot of this was caused because I was fighting with myself, and I was fighting something, which you cannot fight, but only accept, if you wish to be happy. It took me a long time to realize that, and some of the thoughts and feelings of anger and frustration still creep up every now and then. I just hope that I am now equipped well enough to silence them again before they affect me or the ones around me. Below I have listed 5 things or thoughts that was a source for frustration and anger in relation to my CP when I was younger, but also in fairly recent times.
1. Competitive Situations
I was (still am) really competitive, and while I enjoyed participating in sports like football (soccer), a part of me couldn’t help but feel frustrated when I saw that I was not helping my teammates or challenging my opponents as I would have liked. Because even if I was too slow to catch up to someone when they sprinted past me with the ball, or unable to dribble past a defender, it didn’t mean I was any less hard on myself at that moment. On the upside of this, the social interaction and acceptance I got from my peers combined with those moments where I actually genuinely succeeded at my attempts made it a worthwhile pursuit in the end. Later on in life I discovered poker as a competitive game, and I at least feel I`ve gotten quite good at it over the years. More than the money or the tournament wins I would get from it, the feeling of being able to compete freely, with no consideration to my CP whatsoever is immensely liberating. Even when I make mistakes its a lot better, because I know, there is no one or nothing else to blame than myself. The fact that I can fail when playing poker truly on an equal footing as my opponents, is just as important as the fact that I can win the same way. Another aspect that I enjoy about poker, the live brick and mortar variety that is, is that when I sit down at the table, the CP is not a part of me for that moment, my peers view me just as another player, and that is quite special.
2. Being Put in Situations Where I Could See My Own Limitations A Lot Clearer
I remember on quite a few occasions being in situations where I would have to seemingly harmless tasks, often together with others who did not share my challenges associated with the CP. One such occasion I remember was at a physical rehabilitation center where I went to get physical exercise and guidance a while after my latest surgery. One day I was schedule to join a group of other people doing some exercises in the water that pertained to balance or motor skills in some way. Most of these people where adults that for various reasons, such as accidents or sickness were there to recover, and as such the majority of them (in my mind all of them) were able to do the tasks with relative ease. I was not. And this might seem a horrible thing to think, but I remember get immensely frustrated and angry at the fact that I wasn’t able to do this, since I was 100% healthy, and had no illness or accident to speak of, and yet these people who where recovering and had just come from the hospital had no problems at all. I remember it made me feel so helpless and pitiful. Those thoughts erupted in anger, and I remember quite vividly throwing the foam plate that we did the exercises with into the wall, cursing and storming out of the pool, much to the surprise of the others in the group.
When the instructors there with the best intentions in mind caught up with me and told me it was not a problem, and that I didn’t have to do well, and that everyone did what they could do, it made me feel even worse, because I felt they did not understand why I got so angry in the first place. My whole life I had fought against being viewed as different, and when I was put in situations like this, when I was brutally confronted with that feeling, it was horrible. The instructors thought it worried me what the others might think if they saw me fail at this, but I didn’t really care about that at all, the problem was, how it made me feel, and how it made me view myself.
When I was younger, I didn’t really accept the CP, if anything I fought it. I battled with it at every turn, and tried to show it that it wasn’t going to stop me, no matter what. And while this is generally a good attitude to have in life, if you are trying to fly without wings or an airplane, gravity will still be gravity, and the fall or rather the landing will still hurt. By that I mean that there are some limitations or as I like to see them, attributes that CP brings with it, that are there, whether you like them or not. I am going to be more tired than others, and I am never going to run as fast as my other friends, that is just a fact, but it does not have to limit you, it just gives you some guidelines as to which activities you should pursue or in what way you should pursue them, just as gravity makes mankind invent airplanes to be able to realize the dream of flying.
3. Going to Physical Therapy Or the Doctor
I`ve mentioned this before in other blog posts so I will not harp on it too much. But I absolutely hated going to physical therapy, especially the times where they were examining or in some other way establishing the effects of my CP. Hearing two adults talk to each others saying “His knees rotate inward x degrees. His hips only extend to about x % of normal value.” really got to me. I felt compelled to defend my own body and myself, because I didn’t feel they were simply talking about the CP, I felt they were talking about me, and all the ways in which I was different… all the things that were wrong with me.
4. Thinking “Why Me”?
This is a thought that went through my head many times during my childhood and teens especially. Sometimes, when the CP made me feel excluded or different, or in some other way was the cause of suffering in my life, I got quite angry and frustrated at everything. I remember as a child, throwing fits or tantrums at things like wearing the AFO`s or doing my exercises, because I felt it was immensely unfair that I was in this situation and my friends not. Why should I have to wear AFO`s when no one else that I knew did? Especially since they were truly a pain to use as well. Later on in my teens this thought process morphed into a rather fatalistic or at least very pessimistic view of my life. I remember clearly thinking “Why should I bother taking the surgery, or doing any sort of exercise, I’m only going to get worse as I get older anyways, what’s the point?”. OF course I see now how silly this line of thought really is, but at the time it felt completely reasonable.
5. Thinking I Deserved Better
I remember getting really angry at the fact that I had to deal with all of these things, and thinking things like “why me?” like I mentioned just above, but I also remember I felt somehow that I deserved better, that my troubles in life where only caused by something which I could not control, and that it was very unfair that I had to deal with this, and not others.
To come full circle from my first point in this post, the way I deal with these thoughts now a days is largely thanks to two things, meditation and learning to let go of things, but also poker. Poker shows you time and time again, that you deserve nothing, you are not entitled to anything, what you are dealt, is what you have, and it is up to you to make the best of it. It also taught me another valuable lesson, that even if you manage to do something good with what you have been dealt, life can still throw a curveball at you and things may not go as you want them to. But the real lesson there is not what happens those times, but how you choose to deal with it. You can either choose to get angry at the person who made a bad play and got lucky against you, or you can choose to accept it and move on to the next hand or tournament. This is so true for life. Succeeding in life and being happy is not about what you have or what has happened to you in the past nor what may happen to you in the future, it is about how you choose to handle these things. You can either adapt as best you can and keep going, or you can surrender to it all, or be at the mercy at whatever life throws at you.
I hope some of you have found this helpful in any way, if you did feel free to share it on Facebook, twitter etc. or felt you could relate perhaps to some of it. If you have experienced something similar or you have something to share about CP and feelings of frustration and anger please comment below. 🙂