One of the most challenging things for me to accept has been my speech. People have refused to allow me to enter bars because of my speech. I have been ignored because people couldn’t understand my words. People have looked to others with me, in order to get an interpretation of my sentence. My speech has been made fun of by peers. Speech has been a challenge throughout my entire life. It was a large reason for the hesitation in watching myself on video. Probably the reason I would stop recording myself, or stop posting the workout sessions. Hearing myself talk would send me inside of myself. Leaving without desire to speak with the people in my life. If I couldn’t stand the way I spoke, how could they? My speech pattern just felt like another thing about me, people had to deal with. It has caused endless anxiety and fear. But, for some reason, watching the videos I have taken in the last few weeks, things have changed. listening to myself hasn’t been causing me to reach for the volume control, in an effort to turn it all the way down. I have found myself listening intently to the words being spoken. Noticing things about the sound of my words and the movement in my body. I see a person who experiences challenges in getting words out. The images have given me some thoughts.
There have always been times when the insecurity around my speech elevates. I continue to have trouble listening to myself speak on video. Though, I have found moments of curiosity. When I can stop myself from turning away from listening. Those moments didn’t exist before they occurred recently. They remind me of small holes being drilled into a wall of wood. Splintering the shield, I have fortified over years of trying to protect myself. Those holes signify instances of relief to my emotions. A feeling closer to the acceptance of myself with my disability. The emotions start to chip away at the rejection I have had for myself. After listening to myself on the videos of my workout sessions. I decided to shoot a short video, while sitting in front of the camera. Talking into the lens without having anything prepared to speak about. I was interested in the clarity of my voice. Wondering about the difference in speaking when sitting in a chair, as compared to talking while focused on an exercise. Watching myself speaking while sitting in the chair, caused fear inside. The emotions of anxiety came for a different reason. They weren’t related to watching a person who couldn’t be understood. Watching the taping of me talking directly to the camera, I heard someone who was understandable. There were moments when I actually wanted to hear more of myself. The emotions were pretty different from those being felt when I saw myself as an adolescent. But, the feeling didn’t bring about emotional peace with myself. Habits are challenging to break.
I have thought about myself in such a negative light for so many years. Remembering the video from my junior high school days. The ideas of being almost impossible to understand molding like concrete in my brain. The feelings of considering myself lucky if anyone was willing to have a conversation. Then, believing if someone did talk with me, it was to gain something for themselves. It was a pretty dark place to live a life. Thinking one of my main purposes in life was to be used. All because I had cerebral palsy and couldn’t speak with clarity. The sad thing about this opinion was the self-inflicted part of the opinion. I was lucky enough to have friends who surrounded me during my school days. Even blessed to have a high school sweetheart. Still, I felt like people must be settling to spend their time with me. I held onto the image in that video book report I had created. Never wanting to see myself on video, again. The decision was made about who I was as a person. There wasn’t any open to the possibility of being nervous on camera. Wondering how the nervous energy might have impacted my ability to talk? I was unable to provide myself another chance for self-acceptance. That decision, led me down some pretty dark road, for the years to follow. Now, the question becomes, how does one go about changing their own mind?
The judgment I levied on my younger self wasn’t fair. Unable to notice the obvious happenings in my life. No matter how I might have sounded to myself, people must not have been concerned. But, I held tightly to the images and interpretations I found. For years and years those thoughts took hold in the rear of my mind. Convinced of my inferiority to the people inside my sphere. The judgment didn’t stop there, I was unfit for anyone new, who saw me as worthy. Cutting myself off to the prospect of gaining new relationships. I found people who seemed to enjoy putting me down. Because, that place was where I wanted to see myself. As these perspectives have carried me through most of my life. Opening myself up to watching another video of me speaking, changes things. If I was going to allow the project from junior high to carry so much weight. It only seems fair that what I’m seeing in myself today, carry strong weight. In making such a commitment, my thinking becomes forced to make a change. The person inside the short clip had moments of intrigue. Providing a feeling of joy in the images being seen and heard. It shows an example of how far I have progressed, emotionally and physically. The work to improve my cerebral palsy has helped in many aspects. It plays a role in the strength required to speak clearly. The person on the camera shows just how far my effort has brought me.
An exciting thing about watching myself on camera has been the new perspective. Not only pushing forward the process of disability acceptance. Also, noticing ways I might be able to improve even further. My speech seems to fluctuate. Moving from times of clear understanding, into areas of carrying a pretty substantial slur. It doesn’t feel like those things happen at random. In watching the taping of my workout sessions. It seems there might be pattern to when I become more challenging to understand. I think emotion could play a large role in my speech pattern. Its clarity being able to be traced, at least in part, back to how I might be feeling. If the degree of my cerebral palsy makes in challenging to talk, in certain moments. Then, emotion piled on top of a task that challenges at times, makes speaking more difficult to execute. We can’t always control the situations we place ourselves in, but we can recognize those circumstances. Trying not to push aside the emotions of discomfort. Watching some of my workout sessions on video, helped me recognize some of these feelings. It seems like I’m not always emotionally comfortable inside the sessions. That discomfort could easily be contributing to the reasons I might be lacking the clarity of speech. Having the strength to watch the video, helps me with awareness. Noticing that I could be trying to talk a lot when I’m uncomfortable. There was some interrupting going on, that was my responsibility. All leading me to feel like I could work on slowing myself down. When I become uncomfortable, try spending more time listening. The filming showed me ways I could improve. But, it took gaining the ability to find more acceptance of myself, in order to listen.
The challenge for years has been to hold myself back from turning away. Convincing myself to stay engaged with the image of myself. I struggled with gaining the ability to accept the cerebral palsy impact. But, I was only looking at it through my own lens. A lens that for years was probably too judgmental. When the world around me was telling a different story. Friends who had been in my life for years. There were people in the public realm willing to interact with me, not matter the difficulty. However, I wanted to focus on those I felt gave me judgmental looks. I wanted to hold onto the person I could barely watch in junior high. The person who could hardly be understood. Those images stuck in my brain and were wound forward. They were used to feel like a victim and justify poor decisions. Now, the negative thoughts are forced into a process of change. The courage has been cultivated to take another look. Which, challenges me to leave behind years of a negative perspective. My speech today has improved. Likely, because of hard work in the gym and the opportunity to work with a chiropractor. Going back to watch the short video I took, after a couple weeks. The ability to understand myself speak continues to leave me surprised. I hope to work toward better growth and acceptance of my disability. Trying to slowly eliminate the years of negative thoughts built up in my mind.