Once when I was shopping alone at the mall, I was in the elevator with a mother, her children, and some of her children’s friends. The children were all girls. The mother (to the youngest): “Move ___. People like her will run over your toes.” I turned around to the adorable, little, girl who was no more than three years old saying: Hi, sweetheart. What new friend did you make at Build-A-Bear? (She had a house box). She told me. I could not really understand what she said. You do not need to be worried about me running over your toes. I have been driving a power wheelchair since I was six years old. I am good driver and very careful, okay? She nodded.
You want to know a secret? She nodded, again. I have multiple degrees in political science despite people telling me I could not go to college or graduate school because of my chair. When I turned back around her mother said (to me): “You heard what I said?” Yes, ma’am. That is how fear gets ingrained about people like me and others who are different from what society considers normal. Such fear can lead to much worse. “I am so sorry.” I nodded leaving when the elevator doors opened.
That experience stuck with me for days after. I could not shake it despite being proud how I handled myself while going through it. I picked up my phone. My chosen brother/journey partner answered on the other end. I explained how I was feeling. The level of misunderstanding in that situation really bothers me I told him. All he said was and after a minute. And what? I asked. “What are you going to do about it?” I stood up for myself. What else is there I can do in that situation? “Nothing in the situation itself. I mean in the larger sense. You know you have the gifts and ability to tell your story to the world.” The book I replied. “Yup.” You are not going to let this go are you? Laughter followed my question. Typical I snarked backed.
That experience and one more was the beginning of me seriously (the other is a blog post for another day) considering his book idea. He was acting as God’s vessel. Obviously, I did. Instead of writing a book, not that I did not try, I started telling my story on this blog and content creation on its social media accounts instead. He was right, which he does not point out too often, fortunately. My story does matter and I am changing the narrative around what is possible for people with CP. There is nothing better than using my gifts and abilities in this way, making the world better, and creating a life I love for myself simultaneously.