The other day I had made a post reaching out to my followers asking them if anyone would be interested in being a guest blogger on my site. I was blown away by all the responses and so happy that these people wanted to be featured on MY page!! I cannot wait to read all of their personal, amazing stories!
This first article comes from a girl named Jennifer that I went to elementary school with. She fills us all in on what it’s like to grow up with cerebral palsy and how she didn’t let her disability get in the way of having a “normal” life!
“My Time Has Come”
“I was born on October 20th,1987. I arrived two months premature. I don’t exactly remember my birth weight, but I do know that my father always tells the story of how my whole body was able to fit in the palm of his hand and my family had to buy me baby doll clothes because regular sized clothes were way too big; so I imagine I was very tiny. I stayed in the hospital for six months, I was hooked up to machines until I weighed enough to go home. My parents really didn’t know what was wrong with me but they knew something wasn’t right because my muscles were always tight and stiff and I wasn’t reaching the milestones that the other babies my age were able too. I was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy (CP) at the age of 3.
More often than not, when people hear the words “handicapped”, “Cerebral Palsy” or “disabled”, they automatically assume the person is incapable of living a “normal life” like average people do. The truth is my life is pretty normal. I’m just like every other 28-year-old woman. I’ve experienced pretty much everything that everyone else has so far in life, the only difference is that I experience them a little later than expected. I’ll explain exactly what I mean by that throughout this article.
My childhood was pretty average. I had friends, was in Girl Scouts, liked the spice girls. I was obsessed with the boy band *N’SYNC (Justin Timberlake was my favorite). I also was in “Miss Preteen New Jersey” Pageant when I was 7. I even played on a softball team with the help of my brother, Westley. Although having CP didn’t stop me from doing these things, I had to undergo hours of therapy (both physical and occupational), along with doctors’ appointments and surgeries.
I’ve had about ten surgeries thus far and I absolutely HATE them. Recovering from surgery is the worst. My problem with surgery is that even though the doctors said that having each surgery would somehow benefit me, there is really no way to know if the outcome of the procedure will in fact have a positive effect until the whole surgery is finished. Honestly some procedures helped, some didn’t. Every time I had surgery I felt as if I was some kind of animal that the doctors were experimenting on. I often felt out casted when it was time to get procedures done because I felt like I couldn’t relate too anyone. Usually most people go through life without having to have surgery at all, so I thought they wouldn’t understand what I was going through. It wasn’t until years later when I realized that I don’t necessarily have to relate to others all the time. We’re all on our own journey and were designed to learn from others as well as teach others things they might not even think about.
Another part of my life that was greatly affected by CP was dating, and how I went about doing it. I can remember my middle school days when we all stopped thinking that the opposite sex had cooties, and actually became interested in them. The boys would see a girl they thought was cute in the hallway and they would proceed to flirt with her. I knew it wouldn’t happen like that for me. I remember talking to my family one night and telling them how frustrated I felt because I felt like I’d never get a guy to “like” me because of my CP, it was then then my father told me “not to worry because one day my time would come. It just comes a little later than everyone else’s.” Around this time the Internet was just beginning to get popular, things like AOL, chat rooms, AIM, all were slowly becoming a cool new hobby for me and my peers. I soon found out that the Internet was an easy way for me to talk to guys because they would see my personality and not just see the CP. Well, needless to say that worked, however, I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 16. I didn’t really have a serious relationship until I was 22 years old.
At 23 I got my heart broken by my first love. Everyone experiences heartbreak in their lifetime at least once, but this was different for me because I know he ended it because he couldn’t handle me having Cerebral Palsy. That’s what really hurt. That’s the part of me I cannot control. Looking back on it today, I don’t have any hard feelings towards him, he’s a great guy; this life just isn’t for everyone. After that I went on a whole lot of first dates but never a second or third because the CP would always get in the way. Around this time, I became upset and I had a talk with my father again he told me my day would come like he always does but he also said that it takes a special kind of man to love me and he’ll see my heart not my disability. Soon after that talk I was on Plenty of fish and Kristofer messaged me we eventually went on a first date, a second, a third and now we’ve been together almost 4 years we’re engaged to be married and just bought a mobile home together. Growing up I was sort of embarrassed of my disability. Sometimes I’d pretend that the Cerebral Palsy part of me didn’t exist. I didn’t want to be known as “that handicapped girl”. I just wanted to be plain ole Jennifer. It wasn’t until my brother told me about Josh Blue, a comedian who also has CP. I googled him watched YouTube videos of his stand- up routine and I was cracking up laughing all night. I can honestly say from that moment on he’s been my role model. He made CP kind of cool.
I think it’s safe to say my time is here. I’m getting married August of 2017 to a wonderful man who loves me unconditionally, the BEST friends in the world, an amazing family and an adorable dog. I’m now a homeowner, just living life just like the average person. My advice to anyone with a disability or anyone who’s even going through a rough patch in their life is too try not to stress out and remember your time will come when the time is right.”
About the Author: