The process has been weeks in the making. There was a large learning curve for this movement to be executed. Not only the physical aspects of doing the crab walk. The emotions of trying to make this happened carried weight. Lifting my hands off the floor felt like the largest physical obstacle. Refraining from giving up on the process was the largest emotional hurdle. My emotional connection with the crab walk also played a part. The feelings of isolation gathered from the challenge of attempting the movement in childhood. I couldn’t get my body to move in the way that would have been required. I even struggled to balance my body on my four limbs with my hips off the floor. While the peers around me seemed to achieve the position quite easily. Going from stabilizing themselves on their feet, using the arms behind them to support their upper bodies. In looking towards the sky, the could move their feet and hands backward in a coordinated pattern. Providing the picture of walking like a crab. Backwards across the gym floor in physical education class. Others, including myself would be seated in the middle of the floor. Continuing to try gaining the coordination to balance on our feet and arms, facing the ceiling tiles, with our hips lifted off the ground. In my memory, there weren’t many who struggled to achieve that first position. Looking around to see that I was one of the only kids without the ability. The instance made me feel alone inside my disabled body.
We worked really hard on placing the pieces together. The steps along the way took patience with the process. Along with a belief, however small it might have been, that this was accomplishable. I remember watching Bernard do the crab walk weeks ago. When I could barely stabilize myself in the position I had missed as a kid. The person sitting on the gym floor, on the verge of tears, remained inside. The anxiety came through my body again watching Bernard explain we would reach the goal. My doubts in the statement felt real. Wondering how I might end up feeling if Bernard would be wrong. If we try for weeks, building towards the ability to crab walk, and I fail just like in school. Would the moment not bring about the same emotions of failure? Leaving me inside feelings of not being good enough? Because those were some of the emotions when I could lift my hand off the floor in the push-up position. The failure to execute that movement, after attempting different tactics to get it done, left a frustrating taste. Now, we had arrived at the place where picking my hand off the ground would be the largest question. The work had been gone through in balancing the position and lifting each foot off the floor. Similar to moving my legs while holding the push-up position. The movement of my legs weren’t the stumbling block. I needed to figure out how to move each of my arms.
I remember the first time I was able to raise my hand off the turf. Remaining balanced on the three contact points I had with the ground. The moment wasn’t about raising my right hand off the floor. I had arrived at the point where lifting my right hand was working well. But, being situated in the crab position. Using the four points of contact to keep my body stable. Facing the ceiling with my hips up off the ground. Figuring out how to lift my left hand was an obstacle. Bernard started helping me break down the process into steps. Every time I would make an attempt at lifting the left hand, my body would crash to the floor. Often landing on my left shoulder and hip. The collapse was happening so often, my left elbow became bloody during one workout. We kept trying. Really concentrating on shifting my weight to my right side. Getting the weight evenly distributed between my two feet planted on the ground and my right arm. Bernard was getting me to conceptualize 33% of my weight on each point. The biggest feeling for me, after working through so much practice, was shifting my weight forward. Getting a larger percentage onto my feet, than I was placing on those points. Too much of my weight was staying on my right shoulder. Once the concept of pushing the weight more to the front, clicked in, I could finally get my left hand to move. Then, it became practicing to understand the feeling of my weight shifting correctly. Which, resulted in even more carpet burns on my left elbow. Finally, some consistency with the movement came.
There was a relief to the achievement of lifting my left hand from the turf. Being able to achieve it while maintaining my balance in the crab position. It was an achievement not reached when holding the push-up position. Even with all of the effort we had put forth. Executing the weight shift onto the three contact points with the floor. Having my trouble hand of the left come off the floor, made me ecstatic. It meant the possibility of performing the crab walk might be real. But, in order to make the crab walk a reality, there were more steps. My left hand was required to do more than just come off the turf. The hand would need to move back to some extent. The distance it moved behind me wouldn’t be significant. There just had to be some movement to perform the walk. Another step for me to work on with my left hand was placing it back onto the ground. After working the entire process of gaining the ability to lift the hand. I was running into trouble placing the left hand back onto the floor. The trouble being experienced was flattening out the hand to recreate a flat surface for the turf. The cerebral palsy of my body wants my hand to be closed. Fingers clasped into the palm and my wrist bent toward the forearm. So, when the hand gets released from the surface of the floor, this is the position it strives towards. Causing another point to focus on when trying to perform the task of crab walking.
The number of items requiring my thought in order to perform the task feels wild. We crossed the challenge of dispersing my weight to the three balance points. Enabling me to lift my weak side hand off the ground. After experiencing much less challenge, when raising the dominate sided, right hand to raise off the floor. All of the sudden, I was faced with concern over placing the left hand back down. The process was part of contributing to the bloodied elbow on my left side. Making attempt after attempt to create an open left hand when placing my arm back into the stability point. The problem was my fingers getting tangled up under my palm. When the left hand would contact the turf, I would tumble over. Bernard continued reminding me to open my hand and bend the wrist correctly. Working on getting this part of the movements wasn’t as frustrating as lifting the hand off the ground. Inside my head, I realized the move was possible, because it was returning my hand to the starting point. The other aspect was, this felt like one of the final concepts to grasp, before I could perform the walk. Part of the challenge was not being able to watch my hand reengage with the floor. I had the feel my fingers being stretched out and maintain my stability. Allowing my hand to be felt gently coming down into the turf. Rather than attempting to hurry that point of stability back into place. Like so many other aspects of having cerebral palsy, I couldn’t assume my hand would know how to behave. It took repetitions to find the feeling without the advantage of watching the arm lower itself. Another mini challenge inside out workout that improves my overall disability.
Following the repetitions of picking the left hand off the floor and placing it back down, I got the hang of doing it. Arriving at the point of opening my fingers and angling the wrist advantageously to return myself to a good crab posture. The next step was moving the left hand backward. Learning the motions necessary to perform the actual crab walk. When we had solved the challenge of lifting my left hand from the floor. Bernard provided the example of moving my limbs in order to walk like a crab. My first move would be with my left foot. Trying to work with my weaker left side first. So, it was moving the left foot back toward my left arm. Which, actually provided me with a stronger feeling of stability. After my left foot was successfully inched back toward my left foot, the moment of truth was upon us. If I could lift my left hand and move it backward, we would achieve the crab walk. Anxiety filled my body in the moment, I didn’t want to fail. Collapsing my body to the floor like I had done many times in the process. So, I slowly lifted my left hand, the balance was maintained. I didn’t move the hand far, nor did I lift the hand high off the ground. But, my left hand inched back and I set it securely back onto the turf. The happiness, excitement, and relief could be immediately felt inside. The most challenging part was over. I then, moved the right foot closer to the right hand, and inched the right hand backward. All done with balance remaining and my hips off the ground. The pattern happened once more before I was forced to let my hips back down to the floor. I had taken two steps in the crab walk. We had achieved something that felt unattainable for years. That had caused so many feelings of not being good enough. The moment was pure joy.