Dear Cerebral Palsy,
I read recently that thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. In that spirit, I decided to write you a thank you letter.
You are my friend. You are my enemy. You have been my constant companion from the moment that I took my first breath. You have shaped my life in ways that no one, including myself, ever imagined possible.
My early years were full of uncertainty. Whispered questions of what a life with you would look like were uttered almost constantly. You were seen as a weakness. My family, friends, doctors, and therapists did all they could to help me become stronger in spite of you. However, no matter how strong I became, there were still things people told me I couldn’t do thanks to your presence in my life. Fortunately, I listened not to those people, but to you, my frenemy. You pushed me to think outside of the box and prove the naysayers wrong. I thank you for lighting that fire inside of me and pushing me to learn how to do things like ride a bike and climb a wall. Those may seem like minor accomplishments to some, but to me those accomplishments mean everything because you were with me every step of the way.
My formative years were a constant battle between you and me. Once I became strong enough to survive with you, my goal was to defeat you. Nearly, every hour, outside of school, was focused on making you disappear. At one point, I even thought I had found a secret weapon. For six years, I poured every ounce of my energy into a therapy that was rumored to have made the constant companions of others disappear. Year after year, the therapy awoke muscles that you had tried to shield from me. Time and time again, I would get my hopes up only to have them come crashing down because my ultimate goal was not met. Try as I might, I could not make you leave. In time, albeit begrudgingly at first, I came to accept that you will be with me forever. Years have passed since our battle, and I must admit, I am grateful that we didn’t part. Now I understand that together, we are fighting a battle far greater than any I could fight without you.
Adulthood with you has been very interesting so far. Every few years you bring about new aches and pains, but also new adventures which I have learned to embrace. Embracing you and the challenges you bring about has helped me to grow as a person and to realize my purpose. My life partner and I have a level of understanding and empathy for one another that most people cannot dream of having thanks to you. As much as I wish things were easier for us sometimes, I know that our level of connection would not be possible if you were not also his unwavering companion. Thanks to you my eyes were opened to just how much encouragement the people of this world need to embrace differences and accept one another. I have made it my mission to spread that much needed encouragement to others by disseminating messages of acceptance and equality. I can fulfill this mission because of the unique perspective you have given me on life. The battle for equality in this world is ongoing, but I know as long as I have you as my partner in the fight, I will undoubtedly make a positive impact. So, thank you for always being there. Thank you for fighting the good fight with me.
As you know, despite all of the positive things you’ve brought into my life, there are still moments and days that I despise you and wish that you did not exist. From now on, when I find myself having those moments or days, I will read this letter to remind myself of the impact that you, my forever frenemy, have had on my life so that we can continue working together in the fight for equality.
All my love,
Allison M. Boot