Being married again is something I never thought possible.
I knew that this type of man would have to be a unique person, especially when adding children to the mix.
Before I did meet this person and get married, I found that I had to go through many steps in order to cultivate me first. I was a broken individual - mind, body and soul, prior to dating my husband. I’ve had to learn to love me again, specifically, the new me.
Even now, there is never a day that passes where I do not wonder about certain things, such as, is it easier for those that are born with a disability to cope? Would I have not gone through the same healing process if I had been born with my paralysis?
Most of us living with a new disability undergo huge changes, beyond what our minds can comprehend. Yet at some point, there is an undeniable shift that occurs in our brains that transmits to our body.
For example, when I could no longer use my legs, I became aware of my other gifts I didn’t know I had. I call it my sixth sense. No, I am not referring to myself as a psychic. What I am speaking about is when one part of our body is no longer working sensations and abilities are heightened elsewhere. Within this machine called our body, is our soul and spirit. So when I could no longer rely on my legs to help me get to a destination, my senses of smell, taste, touch and sight became stronger.
However, the most incredible gift I have now is this uncanny ability to read people like never before. For instance, the look in someone’s eyes, the words they use to express themselves, and the language of their body. I have realized that this is my gift I received in order to know whether I am safe. This is more than just physical safety, but the ability to know that a person has my best interest at heart.
You may think, why is this so important? Well, as a person with a disability I have spent most of my disabled life learning to understand and respect myself through my limitations. So, it is of the upmost importance to me, that I am understood in the same way. Many on the same life journey have learned that our voices must be louder, and that we must obtain eye contact where height fails us when speaking with another person who is not in a wheelchair.
This sixth senses also allows me to recognize those that are of deceitful intent, whether from trying to sell me something, to manipulating me because they feel I am lacking self-esteem and vulnerable. I have encountered many experiences like this during my years as a disabled person, and through it I have learned to become assertive. It is this sense that now equips me to make better decisions for my children, my family, and most especially for me.
Before I reached this point of self-assurance I had face many obstacles, many being people, including those I encountered when dating. Yet, I met my husband, and became pregnant four and a half years after we got married.
I was told that when I was in labor, I would not able to feel contractions. Therefore, I would have to figure out I when I was having them. According my gynecologist I had to be attentive for the smallest sensations, even something like a twinge of discomfort in my shoulder. Eight months later, right before I was induced, I finally came to the conclusion that my contractions came in the form of spasms in my bladder.
I believe there is something in our sensory brain that is constantly re-awakened every time we experience something new, whether it is external or internal - or my case in my own body after paralysis.
It’s been fifteen years since my spinal cord injury. For the first four years, I struggled with grief from the loss of my legs. I was also challenged with losing friends and other people in my life as a result of my disability. Yet, it is these challenges that I believe made me into the person I am today - positive, strong and conscious of others – and I believe that is these three components that have allowed me to live a victorious life after my spinal cord injury.
My positivity has come from being secure with myself, and knowing that no matter what my limitations, I can find ways to press on forward and live life as normal as possible.
My strength comes from knowing that I am accomplishing something every day, even if it is as simple as being able to change the sheets on my king size bed. (And using the fitted sheet - try doing that sitting down!)
Lastly, being conscious of others means to me, recognizing what others bring. When they speak to me - are they speaking with positivity, optimism and motivation, or are they the ones telling me that I shouldn’t, couldn’t and can’t? This is the most important component to living a fulfilled life after a spinal cord injury.
When I did finally get this, is when something amazing happened. It is this part of my spirit that keeps me lifted, and devoted to being kind to myself - because one quickly finds out in the disabled world, that people are not always kind.
Many who are first injured to concede to staying indoors and being comforted by their four walls. I believe this mindset causes us further emotional discord. I have learned through my journey, that if we lose our ability to communicate with the world, then we are always going to feel defeated.
It has happened countless times; where a fully abled person has approached me and we talk about something they are experiencing. I still feel in awe when this happens and often find myself wondering why they chose me rather than a fellow fully able peer? I always come to the same conclusion - it is because they see past my wheelchair, to my positivity, thus feeling the strength I carry, and understand I have a deeper understanding of overcoming life’s turbulences. They see I understand pain in a way most others are afraid to think about. This doesn’t mean I have everything that challenges me figured out though.
So, what if in my story something happened to me again? What if in my next chapter of defeating the cumbersome obstacles I have encountered after a spinal cord injury, I encounter yet another demon?
Well, I did and it came by the name of Myasthenia Gravis, a rare neuromuscular autoimmune disease. There are treatment options, but no cure.
So now, I rewrite my story and ask you travel this journey with me.