You probably heard the phrase “Can’t isn’t in my vocabulary” a time or two. Well to celebrate Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month I want to propose to the CP community removing another word from our vocabulary, “embarrassment.” Better yet I suggest we remove more than the term. Let us say ciao to the emotion.
First let me say the urge to feel embarrassed due to your cerebral palsy remains completely normal, at the least the norm we in the CP community know. Personally I use the word in some form seven different times throughout my memoir Off Balanced. As an adolescent I felt embarrassed about my awkward gate, classroom accommodations, needing physical therapy, amongst other facts.
Like Off Balanced documents though I came to embrace my CP, a task which involved eliminating my aforementioned embarrassment. Interestingly enough this issue came to my mind’s forefront last month while writing my Handicap This team post “A Friendship Transcended Abilities.” When describing asking Matt to bring my coffee cup into the other room, I almost used the words “asked the embarrassing question.”
Then I thought “Why is the question embarrassing? I need help and I’m mature enough to realize that.” Hence the final version read “I walked over to Matt and said “˜I know this sounds like an odd request but my mug is too filled for me to carry over. Could you bring it over for me?'” Not, “I walked over to Matt and asked the embarrassing question”¦”
Certainly transitioning today’s tip from theory to practice stands a grand challenge. Surrounding yourself with the right people helps a lot. Once in early 2013 I recall going out to eat with some friends at Red Robin. Drinking my beer I hear my friend Devin call my name.
“What?” I said
“Do we make you nervous?” he asked humorously noticing my arm trembling a little. I smiled and we enjoyed comedic bonding amongst friends. Utilizing comedy yourself also works to remedy embarrassment. Allow me to demonstrate.
Last month at the repass after my friend Alex’s funeral I experienced a potentially embarrassing moment. During a conversation with Alex’s widow T.Jaye my left arm went spastic, shaking greatly. Problem, in my left hand I held a cup of coffee. T.Jaye reacted almost instantly grabbing the cup from my hand.
Still I managed to spill the hot coffee on my shirt sleeve, my pants, and the floor. Alarmed my buddy Rob asked me “Are you alright?” before going to grab some napkins for me.
“Yeah, I guess my arm was just saying I was getting too emotional” I said with a chuckle. Through humor I diffused the situation and avoided embarrassment.
So in conclusion I advise eliminating embarrassment from your vocabulary and emotional spectrum by accepting sometimes you need help, laughing at cerebral palsy’s quirks, and finding people who will laugh with you at those quirks.
*Accompanying image courtesy of FrameAngel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net