Saturday, August 15

Risk Anything

It's an indescribable feeling, really. It's something I've tried putting into words for years now, and despite my best efforts, this is all I've gotten: it's like standing in front of a room full of your harshest critics, naked, knowing that they're watching your every move, eyes burning with disgust. Whether that critic be a complete stranger or your own bathroom mirror makes no difference-- the feeling of discomfort becomes so overbearing you want nothing more than to hide... run away... do anything that will take their unforgiving eyes away from you.

And that's the cruel joke-- as much as you run, you can never hide from yourself. Believe me, I've tried.

Living with a disability is like a perverse game. Who gives in first? Is it you who have spent years trying to mask your differences to appease them? Or is it them? Those who feel you don't deserve to be treated as a human being because you don't fit into their warped view of perfection? I wish I was strong or courageous enough to say that for me it was the latter.

I have never been able to walk into a public place without that ever-present burning shame trickle down my spine. I have never met an individual without first thinking to myself, "PLEASE, please, please... just don't try and shake my hand." I have never looked into a full length mirror and actually liked what I saw.

I cannot even begin to explain how tiresome it is waging an all out war with your own body every time you look in the mirror or catch that condescending look in a person's eye.

That's all it takes, really, to tear down those walls you had tricked yourself into believing you had built. No matter how strong your support system for those walls may be one withering stare or insensitive comment is all it takes to destroy you. Because what those close to you don't realize is when you're around them, you can almost start to pretend that there's nothing different about you. For a few blissful moments that burning shame of being you disappears and it is though your problems never existed.

I would give anything and everything to never have to lose that make-believe world.

The real one is a cold, unforgiving place that spins you around the moment you step into it, leaving you on the ground wondering what just happened. It's a place where you can choose to defend yourself or let your loved ones fight your battles for you, desperately wanting them to stop and let you earn your dignity but standing your own ground; yet too weak and scared to do anything on your own, eternally grateful that someone even thinks you're worth fighting for.