From time to time, we like to invite guests to share their stories with us. Today’s guest blogger is Carly Okyle.–Ed.
While I’m not shy about disclosing my cerebral palsy, I usually follow up with how it’s no big deal — often in the same breath. Of course, the severity of my diagnosis — or lack thereof — depends on your vantage point. To people in assisted living centers who have trouble eating or moving on their own, my disability is minor. To an able-bodied person, my limp is one of the first things they see.
I can understand how my CP looks to other people, but my own perspective on it changes by the day. Sometimes, it changes by the hour.
While I’ve volunteered with organizations that help developmentally disabled individuals and have friends with impairments, the majority of my life is spent around able-bodied, typical peers. At times, this can skew my perspective until all I see are ways that I’m different, ways that I don’t measure up. In other moments, I’m able to be thankful for the relative ease with which I’m able to live my life.
With one foot on each side of the boundary that delineates “normal,” I can get into some conundrums.
With one foot on each side of the boundary that delineates “normal,” I can get into some conundrums. For example, I have a placard that allows me to use handicapped-designated parking spaces, but is it right for me to use it when there might be someone else who needs it more? I’ve written about my disability in various publications, but is it right for me to do so when there are those who can argue that whatever difficulties I face are minor in comparison to their own and that I actually have no idea what I’m talking about? Can I represent a community accurately when I occupy a very specific, limited spot on a wide and varied spectrum? The answers to these questions depend on how I view myself, and that might be the biggest question of all: Do I view myself as disabled or not?
That might be the biggest question of all: Do I view myself as disabled or not?
I do self-identify as a member of the disabled community, but I also grapple with these questions. If anyone else ever wonders these things, I just thought you should know that you’re not alone.