Cerebral palsy varies from person to person in how it affects people. Limitations in one person might be completely different from another person. One symptom, however, remains the same in those who have cerebral palsy: Muscles become uncontrollable to some degree.
Muscles can be stiff, too relaxed, have involuntary movements, or a combination of all of these. When actions aren’t under your control, sometimes things can happen that you don’t want and leave you embarrassed, frustrated or sorry.
I mainly have athetoid cerebral palsy, but I also have a combination of all types of cerebral palsy. When my body has an involuntary movement, when I least want it to, I feel very frustrated. What I mean by involuntary movement is when I have a spasm or my body seems to move constantly for no apparent reason. Involuntary movements often occur when I’m nervous or talking to someone new. I used to really hate the movements when I met a guy I liked when I was younger and tried to talk to him. But, like everything with cerebral palsy, you need to push past it and keep on living life.
Apologizing to others because of muscle spasms isn’t uncommon for me. An involuntary movement could hit someone by accident with the arms or legs. I have done this numerous times to people I know and to strangers. I have a never-ending string of apologies. When this happens, I feel bad when someone thinks that I actually did it on purpose. The fingers on my hands often clutch something tightly, and I have difficulty releasing them. Grabbing things and not being able to let go happens at the worst times, too, and then you need to explain why. And, then another apology comes into play.
People tell me that I don’t need to apologize as much as I do. I’m not the type of person who can hurt someone and just move on, even if it is not intentional. I remember when I was almost eight months pregnant with my daughter, and I had to hire a morning attendant so that I could use the bathroom more frequently. On her first day, as I crawled down the hallway to the bathroom, she made a comment that I took too long! I actually had the impulse to apologize, but I suddenly stopped myself. How dare she say this to a pregnant woman, but especially to someone who has cerebral palsy? I didn’t apologize.
I can’t say that I’m perfect about not apologizing for things that I can’t help, but I have come a long way. I had to first accept myself as others had to accept me. I learned that I was being too critical of myself, more than anyone else. Of course, I will always apologize if I cause anyone pain. Even if it is not my fault, I apologize. That’s necessary regardless when you hurt someone.
Acceptance is a never-ending battle for me with cerebral palsy. Sometimes, I feel like a prisoner in a body that does nothing but fight against me. But without CP, I’d miss out on many amazing experiences for which I can thank cerebral palsy. I just need to remember that my disability has a mind of its own, and I don’t need to apologize for being who I am.
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