Last week we started this series by asking and answering the question: “What is normal?”
My normal is this — I am limited. And I need help. All the time.
The list is rather long if I were to name everything, but here is a sampling of tasks I can’t do on my own:
- get out of bed
- take a shower
- use the bathroom
- cook and eat
- brush my hair
- blow my nose
- move around the house
- drive a vehicle
- go anywhere
Each activity involves someone helping me. Most days I’m more than okay with my limits. I was born with them. I have had plenty of time to adjust, accept, and embrace my normal.
Because I don’t dwell on my physical disability, I can fight against other limits.
I don’t have the pleasure of extended alone time. I can’t go spend a whole day in my favorite Panera corner without taking a caregiver with me. Or I can’t run off for a long walk in the woods by myself. For one thing, I have to think about details such as, is that path in the woods accessible for a wheelchair or will I get stuck in the middle and have to turn around? This is just an example of another limit I may face.
The trick with anything is I’ll never know when I’ll need (or want) to: A. Eat something; B. Go to the bathroom; C. Sit down or stand up; D. Choose from the above list.
Therefore, the presence of another is never far from me.
Some of my favorite moments are the quiet afternoons when I can hang out in my room alone…after the extra caregivers have gone home and it’s just me (and my parents). They understand my need for space physically and mentally. I have to rest and refresh in order to keep going. Because I’m also limited in the amount of energy I can pour out in a day.
I don’t have the freedom to be spontaneous all the time. Every plan involves other people. Whether I’m having a friend over or trying to go somewhere, I know my limits and I find the help I need.
While I am limited in ways that impact daily life, I become that much more excited for what I can do. The people who help me to actually feel UN-limited become gifts and reasons for deep joy.