Scene 6: We Look Into a Mirror That No One Else Can See
During the minutes they waited for Kimberly, Both girls gleamed with anticipation of trying the lipstick. Karen used the time to share her belief in Tammy and Tammy’s abilities.
She said, “I know your life is more challenging than mine, but you are not alone. You and I are going to leave a mark on this world. You just wait and see!”
Tammy made eye contact with Karen, and Karen waited for Tammy to speak. She knew how hard getting words out was for her friend.
“Do you really think so, Kitten?”
“Yes, Tammy. I think so! A lot is lacking in the world’s attitude toward us as people with cerebral palsy. Society has not yet accepted us. They have trouble with what we say and how we say it. We have to face our pain and our struggles by ourselves, while others get to run away from them.
“We look into a mirror that no one else can see. They don’t know what it’s like to be us. We are at the bottom of the totem pole. Do you think they will give us the wherewithal to achieve any kind of success? They have trouble understanding that we can achieve anything. They think they must control our every thought and word. Don’t they understand we can succeed if given a chance? They have even more trouble believing that we have the same desires and capabilities that they do, because of all the labels of learning disabled, spastic, and paralyzed with brain damage that dehumanize us. Just look at the typewriter artist, Paul Smith. He has C.P. with severe spasticity. His parents were told he had no chance of surviving. He was not allowed to go to school or learn to read and write. He could not speak until he was in his teens. Yet, he became an artist. That disproves everything they think.
“It is within us to change the attitudes of people around us, and hopefully around the world. We must voice our views and allow our disability to shine through. We must remain accountable for who we are, and we must allow our experience of being disabled to be what it is. From that recognition comes our pride, our satisfaction, and our high regard for ourselves. When we derive a deep, positive conviction from achieving something we thought or were told was unattainable, then we possess dignity and a sense of worth. This is who we are.
“Every human being goes through this process. Why not us? Why are we different? Why are we left behind? Why do we have to be protected from our own thoughts, feelings, and dreams? Is there something so terrible about having our own dreams?
“Is there something so terribly wrong with us that humanity has to stop us from having our own goals? Must they destroy our dreams by immediately trying to control them? This is our life! Not theirs! We can’t be afraid to speak up for what we know is right.
“Our disability and pride start with the world around us and expand from there. When you or I affirm each other’s experiences, we validate who we are. When we affirm each other’s goodness we enable each other to move forward and beyond. When we face our feelings straight on, we enable ourselves to release the hurt and pain and see the truth squarely in the mirror.”
Karen looked at Tammy’s reflection with compassion. Tammy looked back with admiration. Her emotions raised her, inspiring her with an intense desire to empower herself.
Tammy sat up straight in her wheelchair. A prickly, tingling sensation that she had never felt before slowly moved up from her hands, through her arms, and then through every nerve in her body. It was healing energy that pulsated as it restored her rigid body. Her eyes opened wider as these truths touched her depths and her arms and legs danced.
Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.