Dear Cerebral Palsy

Dear Cerebral Palsy,

I am very frustrated with you and feel you are deceitful. You deceive me by telling me I’m different than everyone else. You deceive me by telling me no one understands me. You deceive me by concluding that I am not deserving of love and support because articulating what I need is very difficult at times. You deceive other people around me into thinking I’m drunk, or that I’m not interested, or that I’m impatient. You hide my sincerity, curiosity, and interest from people who I desperately want to connect with. Because you constantly contract my muscles, it seems I always need to rest and recover. You squash hopes and dreams of mine since I am constantly having to deal with you. I want to reconcile these feelings with you because I do not want to fight anymore.

It seems we have been fighting all my life. I forever want to minimize your role in my life but you always find a way to force me to attend to your needs. I have played in youth hockey and soccer leagues, taught myself how to drive, worked constantly on my hand eye coordination, went to college, and moved to 9 different states and 3 coasts, all in attempt to get away from you. I am soon to be 32 and considering retirement because you just won’t shut up! I wish you would leave me alone. Well, I guess if you haven’t left by now – if you haven’t left after all the concerts, ball games, and road trips I’ve dragged you through just despite you – maybe you won’t leave…

Look, because you are in my life, I will die sooner than most just because of all the stress and tension you fill my body. I still have things to do in this life, so can we work together to fully realize the potential of the body we are inhabiting?

You seem to like yoga, and green leafy things, and coconut oil. You seem to genuinely inspire people – not that pitiful, egotistical inspiration crap – but real transformative inspiration when we practice yoga. I like yoga too. Despite our hostilities towards each other, would you agree that we get along when we practice yoga? You like it because it brings oxygen to the blood and brain, larger muscles release from their chronically contracted states, and other weaker muscles have a chance to engage and grow strong. I like it because I can tune into parts of my body that you hide from me, regulate my hormones so I can sleep well and digest food normally, and connect with other yoga practitioners who are also dealing with there own deceiving disabilities. Yoga is about the only time we are moving towards the same goal!!

You know, Cerebral Palsy, I am sorry. It seems I have not taken the time to truly understand you. I should be embracing you, not minimizing you. I have spent all these years cursing you, thinking that you isolate me and tell me I’m not good enough. In writing this, I understand feelings of isolation and inadequacy are just habitual responses, and that lots of people, abled and special-abled people, struggle with feelings like that routinely.

Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. When we are able to quiet the mind, we experience reality directly, without judgement. We understand that we are not our appearances and the commentary of the mind is as valuable as advice from a hyper-sctive three-year old. I reckon we are not perfect, so our purpose together must be to understand our imperfections, restrain our habitual responses, and learn to return to that space beyond the mind, a place which seems so infinite and bright! Let’s make a pact to rejoice with happiness, be compassionate in the face of sorrow, become friends with the virtuous, and equanimous to vice. Let’s promise each other to have faith in what we need to do, vigorously pursue our goals, develop memory free of habitual responses and which keeps us on the right path, and maintain awareness of each other. Above all, lets just be gracious we have each other. We made it this far, let’s see how far we can go working together!

Sincerely,

Jeff