I fell over in the supermarket last week. It was not my fault. This I know – displays should not obstruct aisles to the point of injury.
And yet, as I sat on the floor recovering, flanked by 2 lovely strangers who stayed to check I could get up safely, familiar feelings crept in.
Embarrassment. Vulnerability. Shame.
The dull ache of whiplash and resultant stiff muscles ruled my weekend. I cried all weekend, so overwhelmed by misery.
I hate to feel useless. But I feel it more and more. My confidence, ever fragile, is destroyed by every fall. I am going out less and less. I can feel the independence I wrangled for creeping away from me, each of us withdrawing into ourselves. We’re separate again now, you see.
That’s not OK. I grieve every day. I was never allowed to recognise that process when I was younger. I was supposed to be grateful that I had legs that worked and that wasn’t worse. I have been haunted by “it could have been worse”.
I don’t try and deny that grief anymore. I think that by accepting it and letting myself say with the finesse of a child that it is unfair, I am saying it cannot overwhelm me.
Sometimes it still does, this weekend being a prime example. So overrun with emotions – shame and hatred among them – I was desperate to lash out at the body that fails me and punishes me in doing so. Rationally I knew it would achieve nothing, but I was so overrun with hatred for the body I can never turn away from or escape.
It gets so very lonely, being on the fringe of so many parts of society. I can be disabled… but I can walk; I can be a mum… but I walk funny. I’ve never been able to fit anyone’s view. And it has broken me. All I have ever wanted to do is fit.
But I will not. Denying my reality is causing me so much pain. I already have so much pain. I do not apologise when I say I cannot live like this anymore.
I cannot live with I can’t. All that makes me feel is that I can’t be society’s perception of what I ought to be. But I am learning that other people cannot validate what they haven’t come to understand.
I don’t want to waste away here, resenting the safe haven of my home. That is not enough for me. But I do need to feel safe. And so I have finally decided to invest in a walking aid. The thought even as I write that makes me shudder with the embarrassment teenage me felt so acutely when I rejected the option.
But it cannot serve my pride in this way any longer. If I stop living, Squidge misses out too and even if I have to accept a decline so young, I will never accept its effects on my darling girl.
So I’m going to safeguard my independence however I can and teach Squidge that all expressions of emotion are OK, are healthy if they are being processed.
I fully expect that one day she may not want to be seen with her mum and a walker and that’s OK. I have to deal with the disability whatever, so there will be nothing I can’t deal with in her honesty.
But for now, I choose to let this decision empower me. After all, if it helps me carry on, then that’s all that matters. A wonderful friend said to me today “It is not for all the time. Often, it is just a visual reference to inform others you need more time.” Disability is not the either/or scenario I have always imagined. We can work with it. I hope. It feels positive to feel even that.
I am making a choice. I am important. I will shout for what I need. I will teach my girl to shout too. We will muddle through. As Squidge would say (to)”getha”