Cerebral palsy has a tendency to bring about feeling of frustration, which have boiled into anger during my life. Anger can be defined as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. Something about having cerebral palsy doesn’t seem fair. CP has caused many things in life to be slightly different. The way I accomplish physical tasks may look different, take more time, or some things may simply not be able to be accomplished. It seems most of us would like to fit in with people we come into contact with each day. There is a difficulty in being different from everyone. It can cause feelings of isolation or loneliness. Being different and wanting to fit in can also leave us susceptible to being bullied or being used in different ways. All these situations and emotions have left me feeling frustrated and angry. However, through hard work and continued determination, I have faced the anger. Working through the frustrations of cerebral palsy and working toward a life without the detriments of fear and anger.
Being an angry person is no fun. It never occurred to me that anger was an issue in my life. The only thing I knew for sure was something wasn’t right. While attending college, the study of psychology helped my understanding of the positive emotions I should be feeling. Without the experience of positivity, help had to be sought. The things I’ve learned along the way have been surprising. My life was full of years comprised of yelling, throwing objects, and verbally attacking loved ones. Anger became a tool for my life. I was using the emotion to, among other things, scare people and push them away. Anger may also be used as an attempt to control people and our social environment. It didn’t seem to be working in my life, and the day my mother confirmed my tendencies toward emotion abuse resulting from any upset, changed my life forever. It hadn’t occurred to me, I was causing pain for not only myself, but those people who were closest. All the psychological work I was doing to that point took a back seat. It was time to focus on stemming the tide of anger I’d been feeling for too long. There was no way of knowing if improvement was possible. However, I became willing to look at anger as a problem in my life and attempt to heal the emotion.
There is a quote from Dr. King which says, “returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars…” It seems anger could replace violence in this quote. Anger can take away light, adding darkness as it spirals downward. Violence often seems to be preceded by anger. The quote by Dr. King strikes me as a reminder of the consequences resulting from becoming angry. Actions from anger rarely lead anywhere positive and can often create more negativity. It seems each time anger would strike, there was a justification for the emotion. Someone or something had caused me to become angry voiding me of the responsibility of my actions. It wasn’t until looking at some of the overall reasons I was becoming angry, that the anger started making sense. There always seemed to be root causes for lashing out. The most constructive way to begin healing the emotion of anger was to understand its origination point.
Where was my anger coming from? It began to feel as though those around me knew all along. The challenges of cerebral palsy were to blame. However, simply pointing the finger at CP seemed too simple. Other people experience anger who aren’t challenged by a disability and some even have a greater struggle. Something I’ve learned throughout this battle is anger can stem from fear. Becoming afraid can be defined as feeling fear or anxiety. The emotion of being afraid seems to be a response to uncertainty, which may lead to feelings of frustration, then on to anger. This has become my best guess for the chain of emotions leading some of us into overwhelming anger. Fear of uncertainty and chaos in life can become the culprit. In my case, the challenges of cerebral palsy can cause many situations of uncertainty, placing me into a position of possible fear. There may become a lack of confidence over whether I can handle a physical situation. The challenge is handling those situations without letting emotions like fear and frustration overpower patience and persistence. The swapping of those emotions reducing the anger, turning darkness into light, encouraging confidence and happiness.
Decisions seem to be an important factor in the anger puzzle. Getting away from regarding oneself as a victim and becoming a person who holds themselves accountable. Even if society views cerebral palsy as different and therefore negative, the choice to agree with that assessment seems to make things worse. It became invaluable to work on understanding the ways my life is different from others. The attempts to approach life similarly to able-bodied people wasn’t working. There was no possibility of physically functioning like those around me. The perception I had of normal physical functioning, as a requirement of reaching social acceptance left me empty. It brought about feelings of fear and frustration each time I attempted to physically appear similar to my peers. Those failed endeavors not only left me feeling hollow, but brought about emotions of anger. It didn’t seem fair when I couldn’t do something like everyone else and being picked at or thought less of as a result became infuriating. There was a fear of never being accepted. My decision-making process had to change, to realize any possibility of filling the emptiness inside, and living a successful life.
Through hard work, cerebral palsy slowly transitions from something negative to something positive in my life. The experience of having CP is unique. Instead of struggling to physically fit into the world, life has evolved into learning about the ways I don’t fit. Turning my experience with a disability into something I can share. The process has decreased frustration and fear, which were almost a daily occurrence. Today, I look for the ways my life is different from the able-bodied people around me. Instead of feeling my challenges to be unfair, I think about whether the unique struggles I’m faced with each day can be written about. It opens possibility rather than creating feelings of isolation. It may bring me closer to others, as we share stories and discover differences. The gift of writing has turned cerebral palsy into something positive, providing me a way to more fully enter the world, and sent the demons of anger looking for a place to hide. This process is far from mine alone. It’s a journey that will always be shared with those who believed, especially when I didn’t.
We all seem to face challenges in our lives. Sometimes those challenges can bring about unforeseen value. Cerebral palsy was the circumstance causing negative feelings inside. It was the basis for emotions of inadequacy. Because there was nothing I could change about having the disability, those sentiments were creating anger. The anger pushing the people away, who secretly I would have preferred closer. Reducing those negative emotions of anger has changed my life, but also continues to be a process. The reactions of frustration are slowly replaced with positive feelings, which can be awkward and uncomfortable at times. When we replace our naturally developed responses with more productive instincts it can feel weird. It can require some emotional adjustments to accepting a more productive life. The change creates a whole new process, as projected darkness turns into light.