Who Am I to Instigate an Identity of Disability?

Not long ago I had the great fortune of being gifted with a much needed massage.  I was surprised with it by my friend Jill at a women’s retreat we shared our church.  Thank you Jill!  As the masseuse began, I caught myself thinking “I should tell her that I have a ruptured disk in my back and three in my neck”.  Then, as a longed for touch of my head began, I caught myself thinking “I should tell her that I had brain surgery and to be careful on those patched up parts and screwed in pieces on my head and forehead.  Oh, and look out for those sink holes on my head too!”  I would put into place this identity:


            Suddenly it dawned on me – why did I feel the need to share that?  Wouldn’t I only be encouraging an identity that I have fought so hard to dispel?   Why would want to tell anyone my past?  Wouldn’t I just be keeping myself in wrapped up in disability?  Why did I feel it mattered?  Is it a safety mechanism?  Is it to let others know “hey, I had some pretty crappy things happen to me so, you need to know.”  But really who needs to know but me?  Who needs to hear about anything I’ve been through?  What difference would it make other than set in place a perception about me that isn’t what I have worked so hard to make go away?   Why would I want others to know that I have been through some pretty crappy things other than to refer to it in an inspirational or motivational way?  Those things do not define me.  I am me, Cheryl, a woman who really likes massages.

            This experience embraced me with such great force that it was more like a reckoning than anything else.  Here I am sharing with others how to “Silence the Noise of Disability” when I found myself in the midst of being the instigator of noise!   Noise created by thought; the thinking that creates perceptions which then turns up the noise.  I am not about my disability, it’s really about the fact that I have survived and that I am the sum of my passions, talents, skills and knowledge.  I am Cheryl.


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