Thanks to Emily Ladau for this post idea.
On an average day, I think I say, “I’m sorry,” half a dozen times a day. My friends joke that if they had a dollar for every time they heard me say sorry, they’d both be rich. I apologize for the smallest of things, from needing help to use the bathroom to wanting to go out to the grocery store. Sometimes I even apologize for drinking too much water because I might need to use the bathroom afterward. I apologize for basic bodily functions on a regular basis. Most non-disabled people don’t apologize for drinking adequate water or using the bathroom.
Everybody needs help sometimes, regardless of whether or not they are disabled. Nobody can live their life without needing help sometimes. Babies and toddlers need help, and we don’t think twice about helping them. My wants and needs are just as necessary as anybody else’s. It shouldn’t matter that I need more help than most people sometimes.
I have apologized for advocating for myself and for wanting to be included, despite the fact that I deserve to be heard and included. For example last year I worked with an intern at my physical therapy clinic. I apologized to the lead physical therapist because the intern stretched my muscles too much. I waited until the intern was out of the room, because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. My PT said it is perfectly acceptable to provide feedback and indicate discomfort when necessary. I didn’t want to frustrate the intern or make her feel bad.
I’ve apologized to my friends when they have had to slow down their pace so that I can keep up with them or when I ask them to cut up food for me in a restaurant. My friends and family never treat my needs as an inconvenience. Accommodating me is no different than providing braille for a visually impaired person or allergy-friendly food offerings in case someone has allergies or sensitivities.
I’m ready to stop apologizing for being who I am in this world. Despite my disability, I deserve to live a full life. Cerebral Palsy doesn’t mean that I have to watch the world go by. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines in life, and nobody should feel like they have to do this because of a disabilty.