Survival Is The Only Option!

My whole life has been about survival. When I was a child it was about surviving the physical handicap I had to deal with because of the decision my mother made to have a child sired by a man who had a disease with a 50 % rate of being passed on. I am the 50 % child and I struggled in my young life to deal with being made fun of because I was the last kid around the track, I couldn’t pull myself up on the “monkey bars” but I was one of the most intelligent kids in the class so I was an “anomaly” because I was the first kid that most of the children I grew up with had no experience with, children that had diseases like I had, ones that made me physically unable to keep up but I was their equal in intellectual matters. This struggle has never ceased to exist in my life but as I grew older I began to be able to deal with the cards life had dealt me. I was not a very happy child, I had the first 2 surgeries on my ankles when I was 6 and 7 and my mother didn’t tell me what was going to happen to me when I went through the first surgery and woke up with my leg in a cast. Why, why didn’t she tell me? In her own words, which I only found in a paper she wrote for a college class she took as an adult from a teacher I suggested she take a class from, after she died of cancer 5 years ago that my stepfather gave to me.This is from the paper my mother wrote for the class I told her to take “TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION. SO IT’S SAID, AND IN THIS CASE, MAY BE MORE ENLIGHTENING. I HAVE ALREADY RAISED MY CHILDREN, SO MY OPPORTUNITY TO HELP THEM BECOME PSYCHOLOGICALLY HEALTHY HAS ALREADY OCCURRED. ONE OF MY CHILDREN DID HAVE SERIOUS PROBLEMS TO DEAL WITH AND IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE TO THIS PAPER TO EXPLORE WHAT I DID THAT WAS RIGHT OR WRONG AND WHAT THE EFFECTS SEEMED TO BE. RELATED TO THIS WILL BE SOME OF MY OWN PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS AND THE INSIGHTS I HAVE GAINED ABOUT THEIR CAUSES.
WHEN MY DAUGHTER WAS THREE YEARS OLD, I DISCOVERED THAT SHE HAD A RARE FORM OF MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY, WHICH WAS NOT LIFE THREATENING BUT CRIPPLING. HOW MUCH CRIPPLING WOULD OCCUR WAS NOT THEN KNOWN . TWO ATTITUDES I HELD MADE DEALING WITH MY CHILD’S HANDICAP PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT. BECAUSE MY OWN CHILDHOOD HAD BEEN SO MISERABLE, I WANTED THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE A SUPER PARENT AND MAKE A CHILD TRULY HAPPY AND I HARBORED A LOT OF GUILT FEELINGS TOWARD MY CHILD BECAUSE I WAS THE ONE WHO WANTED CHILDREN SO BAD, NOT MY HUSBAND. HE HAD BEEN KILLED IN AN ACCIDENT, SO I HAD TO DEAL WITH THIS FOR A WHILE BY MYSELF . I BELIEVE THESE GUILT FEELINGS LED ME TO PUT UP A FRONT FOR MY EMOTIONS OF STOICISM WHICH I DID NOT FEEL, WHILE COMPELLING ME TO FEEL MORE ANXIOUS CONCERN ABOUT MY CHILD THAN WAS GOOD FOR HER I DID NOT EXPRESS THESE FEELINGS, FOR OBVIOUS REASONS. YOU CAN’T TELL A YOUNG CHILD, “I FEEL SO TERRIBLY SORRY FOR YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE CRIPPLED.”
WHEN MICHELE WAS SIX SHE HAD TO HAVE OPERATIONS ON HER FEET. I OBVIOUSLY DID NOT PREPARE HER FOR THESE OPERATIONS AS WELL AS I SHOULD HAVE. SHE IS 27 NOW AND THE OTHER DAY SHE SAID “WHEN I OVERHEARD YOU TALKING TO SOMEONE ABOUT THAT FIRST OPERATION, I BECAME SO FRIGHTENED I NEARLY DIED!” I THINK THAT I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN HER TO VISIT THE HOSPITAL BEFORE THE OPERATION, BUT EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, I SHOULD HAVE TALKED TO HER ABOUT HER FEELINGS, EVEN THOUGH SHE DIDN’T ASK ANY QUESTIONS I COULD HAVE SAID, “I KNOW YOU ARE VERY FRIGHTENED ABOUT THIS OPERATION AND I KNOW IT WILL BE UNPLEASANT AND YOU WILL HAVE SOME PAIN, BUT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO WALK BETTER AND I WILL BE THERE WITH YOU TO HELP YOU.”
WHEN SHE RETURNED TO FIRST GRADE ON CRUTCHES, AS WE APPROACHED THE CLASSROOM SHE DIDN’T WANT TO GO IN. HER TEACHER SUGGESTED THAT I LEAVE HER AND GENTLY RESTRAINED HER FROM GOING WITH ME. I DID LEAVE HER BECAUSE I FELT SHE COULD HANDLE IT, THOUGHIT WAS DIFFICULT FOR ME. I WAS RIGHT AND WITHIN A WEEK HER CLASSMATES WERE COMPETING FOR TURNS ON HER CRUTCHES AND HER ADJUSTMENT TO SCHOOL HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOOD.
HER STEPFATHER AND I TRIED TO BOLSTER HER SELF-IMAGE BY ENCOURAGING HER TO DO THE THINGS WE KNEW SHE WOULD BE ABLE TO DO WELL, DESPITE HER HANDICAP. SHE LEARNED TO PLAY THE PIANO, SHE RODE A HORSE WELL, DID GOOD ART WORK AND WAS ALWAYS A GOOD STUDENT . WHEN SHE WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, DESPITE A TENDENCY TO STUMBLE EASILY, SHE PLAYED THE FLUTE IN THE MARCHING BAND AND NEVER MISSED A STEP.”
Well some of this account of the events in my childhood are true, but her memories of what happened it is only hers and not necessarily the truth. As for having my not having any problems in marching band that was far from the truth, I twisted my ankles regularly and dreaded every outing but I was not a quitter and so I trekked on to survive the only way I knew how, which was by putting one foot in front of the other, just as I still do to this day.
I don’t know any other way than to keep on struggling to survive, giving up or losing the battle has never been an option. And this has been the way I survive, and continue to survive, every day of my life. There is no other choice, I will survive even when I don’t know how I will, I just know I will!

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