My emotions flow from me like water down Niagra Falls. This, like anything in life, can be both positive and negative. Positive is I write killer poetry. On the negative side, sometimes I get so overwrought that I can’t even decide what to wear in a morning.
Growing up I loved to be on stage. It didn’t matter whether I was acting, singing or dancing. It was fun to step out of my life, to pretend and escape to another. Being in tune with my emotions enabled me to really "get into" what ever part I was playing. I was voted by my senior class, "most likely to win an Oscar." If a part needed me to cry, the tears would flow. Prior to my disability, whenever I needed to vent, I could put on my track shoes and take a hike with my Walkman. There is always this need to "move" and get "it" out.
Since my accident, my emotions have gotten even stronger (both positive and negative.) Writing in the Movin’ On newsletter has been very strange. When I was young, I couldn’t stand writing, probably because I couldn’t spell or write well. I took my first computer class in college. Thank goodness for spell check!
Having lost a massive amount of mobility, my resources had been restricted to dealing with the negative aspects of this challenging lifestyle. Again, writing, seeing my therapist and crying does help, but sometimes it’s not enough. I wish I had a more physical means to vent my feelings. I can still exercise, but it is so limited. Do you ever feel this way? Do you ever feel that the only people who are around you are people who are paid to be there? Friends don’t seem to be around when it comes time to deal with the down side of a disability. Sometimes I wish that I could hurt someone or something as much as I have been hurt. Are there times you are surrounded by so many, yet you feel so all alone? Me too.
A spinal cord injury happens, and BOOM! You are physically different. You have the same name, yet your body is no longer yours, it seems to belong to the chair. There is absolutely nothing in life that prepares you for this. Rehabilitation facilities do their best, but real life is so different. Please consider the following; never deny yourself feelings and emotions; whatever pain and difficulty you are going through, it must be recognized before you go on. I don’t know about you, but I can make mountains out of ant hills. When that happens, I whip out my journal, seek out support, or just get out of the house until the next crises comes. Those with spinal cord injuries know this can and often does happen.
Never let anyone deny you your feelings. I recall one weekend when an old friend came into town. I hadn’t seen her for quite some time and was interested in a good catch-up conversation. But she had no time to listen. She was too busy talking about herself. The following Monday I got a call from a neighbor I had recently met. She said that I was on her mind and she wanted to know how I was doing. When one door shuts, another door opens!
Keep trying. Keep crying. That’s all we can do.
Keep coping. Keep hoping. They’ll see you through.
Be gentle on yourself and those around you.
Katie Rodriguez Banister works with audiences to embrace diversity
through motivational speaking and disability education.