I can still hear it now…
The sound of their laughs, the whispered name calling behind my back. Forever etched in my brain.
Every step I took only made things worse.
“She walks like she’s drunk! Let’s call her ‘Alka-Seltzer’. Hey, Alky!”
Each word they spoke cut deeper than any knife would ever do.
I hated this school. I hated these people.
Before the 6th grade, I knew I was different only because I was pulled out of class by what I remember to be a “physical therapist” and taught skills like sweeping, mopping, and raking.
I can’t remember much of anything else we did in these very random hours of time. I do, however, remember that I hated being singled out. I couldn’t understand why I had to do such stupid things while class was in session.
The only thing that shifted my attitude about it was the fact that I was allowed to bring a classmate with me each time.
It was a great escape for them, I’m sure!
This small country school was all I knew. I had been in the same class with these kids since the first grade (I home schooled in kindergarten) and had established great friendships.
We were competitive but never malicious. We raced, we played, and we laughed.
My 6th grade year began in a foreign school. My family and I moved to the city, much closer to my mother’s work.
This was the pivotal, defining moment for me where everything changed.
You see, at my old school, 6th grade was still part of the elementary level so naturally when you hit that grade level, you became the “Top Dog” of the school before becoming a “Little Fish” again in 7th grade!
This new school had 6th grade included in their middle school curriculum.
So here I was- the new girl who just morphed into a “middle schooler” overnight.
I knew no one and no one knew me.
As if the process of being the new kid on campus wasn’t enough, I brought along with me a disability and a very timid demeanor. Two factors that don’t bid well in a new environment.
I had never experienced anything like this before.
To my old classmates, I was just a normal girl that played and did everything they did just a tad bit differently.
To this new group, I was a feeding ground for ridicule and verbal vomit. And every dagger thrown, was another opportunity for the perpetrator to stake their position in the “cool kids” clique.
It was as though there was this unspoken “Bully Scoreboard” and whoever bullied the hardest, meanest, and ugliest was granted the Golden Trophy.
With every step I took, I cringed. I grew more and more spiteful of myself. And not only hated this school and these people, but also ME!
I learned very quickly that the only way to keep their painful words at bay, was to please them. Engaging in things I had no interest in doing, saying mean things about others so they would like me more, etc.
I died at 11 years old. The essence of the young girl I once was, was gone!
I despised movement in front of others. Hated being recognized for academic achievements and made it a point to miss school when I knew awards would be granted.
I hid in the shadows of others. Others who I thought were better and prettier than me. Ones that, if my friends, could make me feel better about myself.
I had no control over how I walked even when I tried desperately to be normal.
My self-worth and self-confidence was non-existent. No amount of external accolades or love could fix the cuts inside.
That was until the birth of my daughter nearly 15 years later. That story is here.
Cerebral Palsy is what my disability goes by.
What it is: A neurological condition that affects the motor cortex of the brain. This is the part that sends out the commands to other parts of the brain to coordinate movement of the limbs.
What it isn’t: A mental disability. People with Cerebral Palsy have ALL of their mental capacities but struggle getting words out or speaking clearly because of their spastic (extremely tight) muscles. The tongue is a large muscle of the body.
It may be a part of me forever. But it no longer defines me. What I once tried so desperately to hide, I’ve learned to love as it is something that makes me uniquely me. ❤
Yours may be called by another name. It really doesn’t matter what it’s called. I believe that each of us has some sort of “disability” whether you can see it on the outside or it’s hidden under the covering of your skin.
Please heed these words dear one: Don’t allow another person to make you feel less than perfect because of it. You are a beautiful creation and uniquely designed in your own special way.
May this song and its words refresh your soul!
“I was a blind man falling
‘Til I felt the life You’re calling me to
Pulling me out of the darkness and
Pulling me out of the lies
Putting the beat in my heart again
I was a dead man walking
Until You loved this dead man walking back to life”
Live everyday of this precious life FULLY ALIVE!