This is honestly one of the most honest and difficult questions I have to answer. Before now, I had never had this question asked me directly, and when someone asked me this a while ago, I had to write about it. Hopefully, I can make a difference and put some perspective on this subject for younger people, especially young disabled people.
I have been disabled from birth. When my mother was giving birth to me, complications meant I had to stay in hospital for some time after. Eventually being diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a hair lip and cleft palet, then as time went on, I developed epilepsy, which my last seizure was roughly thirty-one years ago. Then as I learnt to talk, it was clear I had a speech impediment. After several years of seeing a speech and language therapist, it was clear my speech wasn’t going to improve, and this part of my brain, even until this day, still tells me that my speech is coming out of my mouth clearly, but it isn’t.
So, back to the question I was recently asked. ‘Have you ever thought of or still have thoughts about what your life would be like if you were non-disabled?
My honest answer is at this moment in time, now that I’m creeping up to my forties. Yes, I have sometimes gone over the abled-bodied facts, especially when lying in bed at night. But, this was more frequent when I was a lot younger. As a teen and a twenty-something-year-old, you want to keep up with the cool kids and not bow to peer pressure, and I may have touched upon this in my previous blogs. But, unfortunately, you tend to push yourself and your body to its limits, so much you put yourself in discomfort to keep up. But naturally, as you grow older and a little wiser to the fact you learn to listen to what your body is telling you and if it’s telling you to slow down a little, where the peer pressure of your youth days isn’t in play anymore, you listen to what your body is telling you. Then, if you need a time out to recover, you do just that.
So for this particular blog, I want to turn things on their head a bit. I have now had time to do a bit of soul-searching, and I have accepted myself as a disabled man. There were times I didn’t want to see or label myself as disabled. I wanted to be ‘one of the boys.’ Looking back, though, I didn’t need to ‘be one of the boys’ because even back then, all of my family and friends just saw me as Gavin Clifton, and they loved and accepted me as being disabled from day one. For some reason, there were times when I had thoughts about what my life would be like as a non-disabled person, but there was no need. So, if you are someone trying to find your place in life and find it difficult to accept your disability, please don’t, because those people who fail to accept to see you for who you are aren’t worth your time. The ones who accept you for who yoú are, are worth everything. So if you are finding it difficult to answer this particular question, please speak out because you aren’t alone in having these thoughts. Other disabled people have them, too, honestly.