It’s 3am, and I’ve been tossing and turning. My mind won’t stop racing — thoughts of what it would be like if I didn’t have a disability. I can see myself walking on the beach on Cape Cod, my happy place. As I stand, I can feel the sand in between my toes. I feel free…
I open my eyes and take a deep breath. To the left of me is my wheelchair. It’s a constant reminder that my legs don’t work like they used to. I take a moment to change my perspective on disabilities. My wheelchair is my legs. It brings me independence and freedom, allowing me to do anything anyone else can do.
Living with a disability can change one’s outlook, learning to look at life different from a different lens. Thus, one must ponder a variety of things before going out in public. For example:
- Is there a ramp to get into a restroom or a store?
- Are the bathroom stalls big enough to fit a wheelchair?
- Other logistics.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), society must ensure that the disability community has the same rights as anyone else. Sadly, the world isn’t fully inclusive, through things have improved drastically. However, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.
It’s frustrating when public places are not accessible. It’s a reminder, to me and others with disabilities, that were different. It’s been a difficult process accepting who I am. I have insecurities just like anyone else. At times, I feel like a burden, needing help with cleaning, meal prepping, taking care of my dogs and so on. It’s taken time for me to realize that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness.
I’m grateful for being vulnerable and transparent. It may sound silly, but I view it as a superpower. It’s nerve wracking to be blunt and honest. It’s scary to know others may judge me. It’s taken a long time to understand that it doesn’t matter what other people think. And that’s the superpower part.
As I lay in bed, my mind is quiet. I close my journal and place it on my bed. My orange pen is resting on the top. I’m thankful for the creative arts that run in my DNA. It allows me to express my authentic self, in writing and in painting.
Life, for me, is worth living. There’s a reason why the big man upstairs brought me into the world and continues to guide me. My story isn’t over; it’s just beginning.
 (What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? | ADA National Network, 2022)