Finding My Wings with a DisabilityHealth + Wellness
“Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies, it creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars. Butterflies are created through transformation.” — Stephanie Marshall
Butterflies have always been one of my favorite things. I can remember being a small child and being enthralled by their beauty. I would love to watch them fly and try to catch them. Many people look at a butterfly and don’t realize that it didn’t start as such a beauty but as a caterpillar. The butterfly must go through many transitions to become such a beauty. Some of those changes are difficult and odd Each part of the journey serves many purposes, many of which I could not see at the time. Much like the butterfly I have had to endure a process of transformation. I didn’t begin with my wings but had to go through many extra steps to get them.
The key to achieving my wings was to learn to be content and go with the process. I didn’t begin the journey of having one loving life with my diagnosis. I wanted my disability to go away and thought that then I could be happy. Despite many efforts on my part, it didn’t go away. I spent a great deal of time dwelling on what I could not do. When I focused on what I could do and what brought me happiness, I began to feel more satisfied. I also had to learn to deal with the comparisons that others placed on me. Many people did not understand why I could not learn and would compare me with other children my age. People thought that if I wanted to do it I could, rather than accepting that some tasks were simply not possible. I can remember my peers not understanding why I wasn’t driving. When I tried to explain that I could not do it, they dismissed my concerns. People would frequently ask ‘Are you driving yet?’ Others shamed me for not driving or would tell me that I would want my freedom. I have worked hard to make sure that not driving has not gotten in the way of most of my dreams. I have found ways to find solutions to this. I’m able to get to most places, I simply need an alternative way.
I have also had other people who would rush the progress on things that I could do. Often it takes me longer to learn and process information. Many people dismiss my delay in understanding or progress as not being motivated. Others have thought that I’m not listening or paying attention. What many people misunderstand is that I am listening and trying to process what you are saying to me. Most people wouldn’t put wings on a caterpillar and hurry it along to fly. Instead, you would realize that the process of receiving wings would be a process and would nurture it. Rushing the butterfly to sprout them wouldn’t help them and could create more damage. The same type of compassion and understanding is what is helpful with my processing. I may need information repeated or shown how to do something again. It’s not done to be difficult, but my brain needs the extra time.
Learning to be content with having a disability hasn’t cured it. The process of accepting my disability has been a journey, similar to the changes a butterfly goes through. I will also have others who compare me to others who can fly higher or can go faster. I’m not able to change the actions or words of others. The only thing I can change is myself. Focusing on what I lack and what others can do drags me down further. When I focus on what I can achieve I find happiness which enables me to rise to my full potential. Learning to be content has been the way that I found my wings with a disability.