Walking in pride with a disability

Published on 7 July 2024 at 21:24

Image Description: A person stands looking at the water with a purple and red sky

 July is here and it is disability pride month. During this month it is a time of not hiding our disabilities, but celebrating them. All to often people who have them may be hesitant to share their disability status or to be seen ,if they have one that is visible. I have struggled with confidence with having many parts of my disability from learning, to how I moved.  Many times other people will make comments or be unkind to those who have them.   Recently my husband and I witnessed this happen.   We were having a lunch date at a restaurant. We were having an enjoyable afternoon, until a group of diners exited the restaurant. One of the men commented on how another man was walking with his feet turned in. "Look at him, he walks like a penguin!" Hearing those words cut me like a sword. When I walk my feet also turn inward, causing me to have an atypical gait, and know how cruel others can be.  

I began my journey of determination when I was very young.. When I was learning how to walk, my feet would turn in because of how I was positioned in the womb. My parents tried everything to correct my feet, special shoes and surgery. None of these approaches worked and I was back to walking with my feet turned in.  The only lasting effects were a pink arched shaped scar on each foot. I was once ashamed of the scars and wanted to hide them in socks and shoes. I did not let my feet stop me though, from riding my bike or walking up the long hill that my childhood home was set on. 

I may walk differently but it does not hurt and I have few complications. The main complications have not been the state of my feet or walk but the reactions of other people. I have had others called me a wide variety of animal names including a penguin and a duck. I have also been called a cripple or special needs. People have commented that my walk was creepy and would wonder why I walked that way. My parents made me trudge to school even when it was difficult and knew that others would be unkind. I also did not let it stop me from walking across the stage to graduate high school.

Many people would think that it was just kids being kids, but I have experienced this as an adult. Strangers have stopped me to ask why I was walking the way that I did. I even had a person who asked me what was wrong with my deformed feet. As an adult I was more aware of how others, viewed me but was more determined not to let it stop me. 

I did not let stop me from joining a gym and participating in group exercise classes.  I have found many kind participants and friendly instructors.  Many fellow classmates and instructors have things that they struggle with, but still come to exercise together. 

I also did not let prevent me from graduating from university. I was so proud when I received my bachelors degree. Many people did not think that I could do that with other disabilities as well.

I did not let it stop me from walking down the aisle on my wedding day. I held onto my dad's arm and walked through the garden to my husband. I also did not let it stop me from dancing with my husband at our reception. Finding him was a dream come true, because I often wondered if I would find someone with having a disability. 

Having a disability may cause my walk in life to look different but not less. I also do not need others to pity or to feel sorry for me. I lead a full and happy life. It would be nice if others could be kind to others who may walk, talk, look, or act differently though. A little compassion goes a long way. I did not get to choose having a disability and there are many parts of it I can not change. I have not let it stop me from going to school, getting married and doing the things I love. Life is to short to be self conscious of what others think. I am determined to step forward confidently and not let my disability stand in the way of achieving what I want. 

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