We can’t choose a lot of things in life. We don’t get a say in the hand of cards we’re dealt. We don’t get to say “you know what God? I’d rather not have MHE so…yeah”. This is our hand, and what you choose to do with it is entirely up to you. Your attitude is your choice.
You can spend your life sulking about how hard it is, or you could live despite it. Yeah, it’s hard to do a lot of things that people who don’t have MHE do with ease. Walking long distances can cause extreme pain, but I still do it because I love nature walks with my kids and my dogs. I still do it because walking is good for you…even if it hurts. I still do it because the alternative is sitting at home pouting about how I want to walk but can’t. I can’t ‘can’t’, I have legs and they may be imperfect but they get the job done – at a slower pace, but still.
I do a lot of things that I probably “shouldn’t”. I’ve never been good at listening to those guys in the white coats telling me not to jump on trampolines or play contact sports or ride horses. I may not have played contact sports, but I definitely jumped on a hundred trampolines and any chance I get, I’ll hop on a horse and go for a ride. Why? Because I want to enjoy my life, even if doing those things causes me pain. I’ll take the pain for the experiences.
I still get discouraged and depressed because limitations suck. Even I, the Queen of Stubborn Determination (dubbed by my father, no doubt), have limits. I allow myself those limits, I allow myself the chance to feel discouraged and depressed about my situation because not allowing myself to feel those things means that I won’t appreciate the good days when I have them. And yes…there are good days, days when the pain is outweighed by the beauty and the awesomeness around me.
I used to be really bad for letting those limitations block everything. I was insecure about my body, so I hid in layers even in hot weather. I don’t know how I survived grades 7 through 12 wearing jeans in this kind of heat. I can probably thank my Stubborn Determination for that – I was determined not to stand out in a “negative” way, and so I hid behind those layers.
Now I wear dresses and shorts and show off my arms and my legs because I am too tired, too tired of hiding. I am too busy chasing little kids who will one day have their share of scars and noticeable differences, and I didn’t want my body insecurity to become their body insecurity. I wanted them to see that I was happy and content and free.
I do struggle with that some days, after a particularly rude comment from a stranger, after someone stares just a little too long at my legs. It’s so difficult to overcome the insecurities of the past and that is a constant battle for me – but like I said, your attitude is your choice. I can waste my time sulking about it and let the stranger’s cruel comments destroy my spirits and my day, or I can choose to let their ignorance roll of my shoulders and continue to enjoy my day with the people who love me for me. The people I love most don’t care about my scars or differently shaped limbs, so why should I?
Despite having MHE, we can still live fulfilling lives. We can still find what makes us happiest, and do that. They say if you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen, but if you don’t want it bad enough, you’ll make excuses.
I really wanted to be a writer. I told myself that I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t write books. I didn’t have the time, the resources. My hands and wrists often hurt, and typing all day long would make that worse. I kept making excuses, kept telling myself I couldn’t and I didn’t until the day I decided, why not me? Why not yes? And I sat down and started writing my first book. I started making it happen, and I stopped making excuses.
It’s remarkable just how much free time you end up having when you stop making so many excuses.
I think a lot of us are guilty of that – I know I was and still am. We are afraid of failure, afraid of the outcome, and so instead of taking the leap we make excuses.
In my case, my MHE became a security blanket, a way for me not to try new and scary things. When I made that realization, I changed the way I thought about everything – myself, my abilities, my limitations, because I didn’t want my kids to ever feel like they couldn’t do anything because of their disability. If they truly want to do something, I know that they’ll find a way because I’m teaching them that if you work hard enough, it’s possible to find a way to your dreams.
Yeah, there are some things they may not be able to do, but they won’t hear that from me – they’ll find out from experiences, and then they’ll be able to say “well, at least I tried!” You can’t regret something if you went for it, right?
So, go for it. Go for whatever makes you happy. Chase your dreams, even if you need to use a cane or a walker to get to them.