I have been hinting about it on social media for months, posting status updates and tweets. My blog was the only place I let the true reality of my life struggles slip through, sharing stories of others’ struggles in response to my own — all tiny hints.
But nobody knows how much I felt I was losing my life every time I struggled to get my body in and out of the shower. They don’t know the empty space that becomes my body as I’m forced to slip into the passenger seat of my own car. They don’t know what it’s like to be in a push-and-pull, tug-of-war relationship with your own body. They probably think I’m just canceling plans again.
It’s Thursday afternoon. I’ve been battling many health problems for the past six months, some of them repeat offenders. And that doesn’t take into account the major changes in my personal life. It’s almost as if I’m going through growing pains and the pain in my physical body is in sync. But today, as I put on makeup for the first time in two months, I also choose an outfit wisely and make sure my hair looks nice. I can feel the nervous excitement buzzing like bees in my chest.
No, I’m not going on a date. I’m driving a car — my car — again, for the first time since my two-year relationship ended and the battle with my body stepped up its game. I’ve been forced to leave school to focus on my health, which keeps escaping me. For every step forward, I feel like I take four back. This has been going on for awhile now; so many things are out of my control. But I’m really trying. Since I feel like I don’t have any control of my body or the things around me lately, I have been diving deep within. This is the first time in years that I’ve put myself first before the needs or wants of anybody else. Although my body is having its ups and downs, I feel great.
I had been hinting to my mother about driving by myself again. I got my license about three years ago, I have my own car, and I’ve driven a thousand times by myself. Finally, she gave in. As I slipped out of my house this morning, the same nervous tension swirled in my head. I put my purse next to me, my cell phone safe in my pocket; I adjusted my seat, feeling frustrated that it had been moved from my favorite position for the comfort of others who now had to drive me. Normally, now I would put on my favorite playlist that I’ve been building — but not today. “I need to get my life back,” I tell my mom as I put my car in drive and pull out of our driveway.
As we turn to start on our way, my car and I become one. I melt into the seat and she hugs me while we turn. We glide down the road like giddy best friends. My hands tight on the wheels, eyes glued to the road, I react like a new driver again, despite my history. I feel like an old dog learning new (but really they’re old!) tricks. I’m driving again, I’m back! It’s my life. I plan to live it.
Please, always challenge yourself. Please keep learning. Please keep going. No matter where you are, it’s never too late. You’re not too far gone to start again.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.