This week a story touched a raw nerve deep within my being, hauling up emotions I thought I had long dealt with and buried. Well, obviously not, because I have been overcome by grief.
The story is about a lady who was left paralysed after things went wrong at the birth of her triplets. Four years later she is fighting her ex-husband, along with her parents, to have access and visitation rights to her children. What was meant to be the happiest day of her life, turned into a never-ending, lifelong nightmare.
After I was left paralysed from the neck down and consequently divorced, sole custody of our son was awarded to my ex-husband. I was devastated.
Although I was granted visitation and access to my son, the journey has not been simple or easy. I’ll spare you all the gory details.
As with most divorces, nothing seems fair, things often get ugly, emotions run wild and unfortunately, material things, money and children become the weapons in the war between the two broken souls who once loved one another enough to make a commitment and declare publicly “… I … take you … until death us do part.”
I have to wonder why we still insist on getting married, making these vows to one another when we do not really intend to keep them or they are loaded with conditions.
I was angry. I was bitter. I was scared. But, most of all, I was sad. Just. So. Sad.
Who do I blame? God? Myself? My ex-husband? The psychologist? The lawyers? The judge? The system?
Yes, a part of me will always be critical of choices and decisions at the time because I was traumatized, rejected and hurt, physically and emotionally, in the worst possible way imaginable.
But, if I am to be brutally honest, we are all a product of the same society – one that does not know sincere compassion, have real understanding of differences and sadly, lacks true empathy.
So, then, we are all to blame.
We’re part of a culture that is not only ignorant but is ashamed of imperfections. We are constantly bombarded by images of perfection, extreme outer beauty or good looks through the media. We are made to feel inferior and are pressured to have plastic surgery, implants, Botox, teeth whitened, laser treatments and every other so-called beautifying process. We risk being shunned if we have skew teeth, a crooked nose or, heaven forbid, wrinkles.
So, as a result, facing any type of permanent disability – or even a serious temporary injury – is far too traumatic for most people to comprehend.
We are all human where our primal instinct is to “fight or flight” when faced with a terrifying situation. When it comes to disability the flight instinct, for most of us, wins hands down.
Disabilities immediately evoke fears of abandonment, rejection, loneliness and frustration – and understandably so – because that is just human nature.
Many of us are obsessed with finding ways to become happier, more fulfilled and better people on the inside. Is it, perhaps, because we are trying to compensate for not fitting the perfect mold that society expects of us?
Yet, when real life punches us in the face in a desperate attempt to teach us, we run. We hot-tail it out of there as fast as we can. We don’t seem brave enough to stay in order to learn the lessons, the skills and coping mechanisms we need to move on in life as empathetic beings. It takes courage to learn. Often, we don’t have the guts to stay, to learn the teachings of the universe and that’s why we will continue to make the same mistakes time and time again.
There was a time in my life when I also believed that a person with a disability was incapable of making a positive contribution to society, let alone, be a parent. Until, it happened to me. And for that, I am truly sorry.
Well, I couldn’t run, this time. I had to stay and deal with my paralysis. I had to put up with people staring at me, some with pity in their eyes and others with a smirk on their faces, whilst hiding my intense heartache. But, I have learned valuable lessons which have forever changed me, cleansing my spirit, removing staining judgments, prejudices and intolerances. And for that, I am grateful.
My resilient maternal instinct refused to give up, forcing me to fight, not only for survival and adaptation to almost incomprehensible change, but, for persevering and pursuing a relationship with my son. And for that, I have no words.
I don’t blame his dad for making the decisions that he did at the time as, after all, he is also a captive of humanity’s present mindset.
Maybe, in my own small way, I can make a difference, even if it is, just changing one mindset at a time.
Disability can strike anyone at any time. I long for a society that can embrace uniqueness or disability and just celebrate life in all its raw, natural states.
Does it scare you to be part of a world, that you know, could turn their backs on you should you become disabled in anyway?