Reflecting on my Disabled Childhood

Today marks nine years since I had surgery on my left hip, pinning it into place. At the same time, I also had at least one other minor procedure, to loosen the tightness in my hamstrings. In truth, my memory of this time is a little hazy, though I can piece together flashes. Mostly about the pain and throwing up when I was given morphine. I have tried really hard to redirect my brain’s focus over the years, to think about something else whenever June approaches, although this has so far been impossible. The two (incredibly neat) scars on my legs are a daily reminder of how different everything would have been if I was born into another body, you know? Often, this is also visually represented to me through the lives of my non-disabled siblings, too. In a first draft of this post, the next lines were: I find myself craving an adult experience that isn’t dictated by my dependence on those around me, even now. I can imagine that it must be so wildly liberating, despite the fact that everyone else gets to make these choices without a second thought. However, whilst I might never be completely comfortable with the permanence of my situation, it’s important to recognise that different is not always synonymous with better. Things have been intense since this fateful day in 2012, sure, but I’m not going to be defined by my experiences. For the first time in probably forever, I am genuinely and consistently happy. I am slowly learning to be proud of my disability. The heaviness that used to sit on my chest has largely disappeared. I feel lighter. I have come so very far, which is why it’s necessary to look back on occasions like this one.

I wasn’t a nice person when I was fifteen — or really any time before that. Not really. It would be so easy to blame the system for its lack of support, but I do have to hold myself accountable. For a long time, even from a fairly young age, I was more mentally unwell than I’d like to admit. If the help had been offered to me, I doubt very much that I would have accepted it. It’s so hard to explain what it’s like to give up on yourself, without really trying in the first place. I couldn’t be bothered with any of it, I guess. I was convinced that my life would amount to nothing, no matter what I did. I was angry all of the time and I put my family through a lot, which I plan to write about in more detail next month. Some of the memories still make me feel physically sick, though.

I hated my time in hospital. More than that, I have some heavy trauma associated with my recovery, which isn’t something that I’ll ever go into detail about here. When this unfolded, I decided that I had to protect the softness of my heart and be unapologetically good, despite how cruel life can sometimes be. I am so proud of my adult self, truly. I’m always trying to make other people’s lives brighter, which is something that I am relatively successful at. I think. You tell me.

Still, with that said, I hate my legs and it would be a lie to pretend otherwise. I have a new physiotherapist these days and when we first met, she asked if she could take my shoes and socks off. I said, “you can if you want, but my feet are really ugly”. She replied, “I don’t think that anybody has pretty feet, Danielle”. I could have cried on the spot. Last week, she asked me to wear shorts, for practical reasons. I cried about this when I put them on. Like, I cried in the most ugly way that my mum later came home with a pair of jogging bottoms to stop me from feeling gross about leaving the house. It’s a process and we can only do our best with these things.

A screenshot of a Tweet by maya circe, which reads “i think we need to move away from the idea within body positivity/neutrality circles that bodies are worthy of love and respect bc they “work.” disabled bodies dont always “work.” disabled bodies are still worthy of love and respect, no matter if they “work” or not”
I’m leaving this reminder here for myself and anyone else who’s in need of it.

So, to recap: I survived! I am happier than I have ever been. I wish that I could tell my younger self. Not every day is perfect, but I am better able to handle the waves without drowning. That’s something worth celebrating.

Owen, you used to live inside of my dreams before we met, I’m sure. I’m not scared of the future anymore, because you’re here. I love you more with each day that passes, which is both clichéd yet true, so I don’t care. xxx

6 thoughts on “Reflecting on my Disabled Childhood

  1. So very happy that you’re happier. You’re right about not everyday is perfect. An awesome read you have here.

    Like

    1. Thank-you SO much. I have been reading your work a lot recently. It really speaks to me. I hope that your days are mostly kind, too. My virtual door is always open, even when things aren’t pretty. But you DESERVE happiness 💚

      Like

  2. I was a sick kid who grew up to be a sick adult. Most of my stuff was invisible though, except for my hair. My dad, a hair stylist, accused me of self harm when I was 3, when my hair was falling out in perfectly round patches. Crazy, right? I joke now that he is rolling over in his grave because I haven’t had any hair anywhere for 19 years now.

    In 2012, I was actually in the UK immediately before the Olympics. I was in the airport waiting to fly from a short visit with friends in Amsterdam to stay with my friends in Worcester and I was crying, because I thought I had finished with my brain surgeries, and it was the day-of anniversary. (I had no idea that I had 8 more coming.) It was a phenomenal trip; I saw the torch twice, and we went all the way up into Scotland and all the way down to Brighton. I can barely make an hour trip in the car or short bus now, it’s pretty painful. I have more diseases that are known as the most painful diseases a human can have. I’m really sad that my travels are completely over.

    But like you pointed out, it’s not all bad. It’s not. We process these things and we figure out some really positive stuff. We repair relationships. We figure out how to have healthy minds. We learn how to love ourselves. We learn how to be vulnerable and ask for help. We pick up new hobbies and wonder why we didn’t do it sooner. We figure out who and what really matters. We figure out who WE can help. Sending hugs to you, because it’s difficult to process this, especially in public.

    Like

    1. Even though you can’t travel so easily now, I’d love to virtually have coffee with you sometime. Your words always touch my heart and your presence here, in my weird little corner of the internet, means more than you know. You are helping me just by existing, for what that’s worth. Thank-you for making it through to the end of every day with me. I hope that the process will be kinder to you from now on 💛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Virtual coffee/tea, you and me, absolutely! And yes, I really wanted that to rhyme, but the rhythm needs some work. 😉 The really great thing about adulting is that we can shed what we used to be, AND we have the vocabulary and the capacity to acknowledge and make amends. We aren’t kids anymore. Thank goodness, right? Thank you for being genuinely open and lovely. If I could safely send some gluten-free oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies I just baked today, I would. But with my luck I would probably give you botulism or something because there is no way to ship these on a budget. 😀

        Like

      2. Thank-you so much for making me laugh out loud. I have been really anxious today and it is the WORST, so I needed that. I appreciate you and your chocolate chip cookies from afar 😊 PS: I thought the rhyme was iconic????!

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s