We are the PhoenixesSep 08 12:51
I tell people learning to adjust to a new disability is a lot like grieving over someone you’ve lost. You learn to live with it. I used to struggle with answering this question, feeling embarrassed most people thought my life was a living Hell.
Its not easy trying to explain, no convince, that there is life after disability. Most people can’t imagine it. And when they do, they say they’d rather be dead. Really? You’d rather be worm food than alive?
Humans are known for Foot In Mouth syndrome. We don’t mean to demean, to offend, to make uncomfortable, but we were not designed to relish in diversity. So when anyone different presents themselves, like hey, a girl in a power wheelchair, we can’t help but wonder what happened and how in the Hell they do it. How can she be so happy?
Coping is a strange thing. It kicks in as part of our survival instinct. If we did not move on and accept what we’ve lost, we would in a pretty bad place. Even for people with disabilities, we too know life is too damn short to waste in on crying over what we once had.
A sense of gratitude is the key ingredient to moving on. You can either cry over spilled milk and what you can’t do anymore, or you can be glad for all the things you can still do. I can be mad I can no longer walk, can’t feel a thing in my legs, or I can be grateful my injury wasn’t worse, and be glad I can still drive, cook and do my own makeup. Had my injury been a fraction of an inch higher, who knows what I wouldn’t be able to do anymore.
We in many ways are like phoenixes rising from the ashes. We faced death in the face, but we survived, and we’re back and we refuse to die and to give up. I don’t know about you, but my mourning clothes came off a long time ago. The Victorians may have imposed a year of mourning, but I’m ready to move on. And so should you.
When in a deep discussion, how do you convince people there is life after disability?
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1. drlunatic | Sep 10 01:52
I try to embrace the challenges and enjoy my family. I like the idea of being a phoenix!!
2. Amy | Nov 03 08:08
Tiffny, You rock!
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.