Having a disability is the gift that keeps on giving. It feels like there’s an endless amount of sh*t we constantly have to overcome. Whether it’s physical or emotional pain, there’s never a shortage. Miguel Ayala, who has cerebral palsy, knows this all too well. So, his aim is to encourage others through his YouTube channel, ThisAbled Talks, to learn how to deal with the highs and lows of living with a disability.
We all deal with poop. It’s unavoidable. No matter who we are or what our health is like. So, it’s about learning to deal with the sh*t that happens in life that’s important.
For me, my disability has a big effect on how I deal with things. My cerebral palsy is a continual challenging me as I get older, keeping me on my toes. It feels as though, just as I overcome a new obstacle, there is another one waiting for me around the corner.
Because I have a lack of core strength and balance, my longest relationship has been with the floor! We go all the way back to 93. But I would be lying if I said it was healthy. It causes me pain most of the time, but I always end up falling for it again and again 😉
But my disability isn’t my defining feature. I have a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design (the illustration at the top is mine). I also like to keep busy, so between my main job and a side business, I run my YouTube channel. And I don’t let my disability stop me from getting out into nature – I love to go on hikes and the occasional fishing trip.
How to live with a disability
I have a positive outlook now, but it wasn’t always that way.
However, a number of years ago, I had a defining moment where I realised that wallowing and being downbeat about my disability struggles wasn’t the way forward. That one moment taught me to look at the world differently. Since, I have wanted to encourage others to do so as well. Here’s how it happened…
“It’s not fair,” I whispered, mid-sob, as I proceeded to have a meltdown on the bus heading back from a youth conference. I had hit rock bottom in one of the first dark moments in my life. I was tired. Tired of feeling lonely, tired of feeling like no matter how hard I tried, I would never be ‘normal.’
As my friend listened, while desperately looking for tissues to give me, he said something that has forever changed my perspective on disability: “Everyone is dealing with something, your something just happens to be on the outside where everyone can see it.”
At that moment, I looked around at the people on the bus and realised we weren’t so different after all. In a world where our differences, for better or worse, are constantly being pointed out, it’s easy to feel like we’re alone.
However, there is one thing that unites us all and goes beyond race, gender, sexual orientation, political views, disability or any other label we give ourselves. Poop. Poop is something we all deal with, or ignore, on a daily basis.
It can come from external sources, such as our job, family or friends, and it can be as small as running out of sugar for your morning coffee, or as big as not having a roof over your head.
We tend to believe our problems are worse than anybody else’s. It makes it so easy to react at a superficial level when things don’t go our way or when people do something we don’t agree with. We try and change others to fit within our mould, to help us take importance away from their attitudes.
But everyone’s circumstances are different, and there is a reason behind everything we say and do. For example, most of us have no idea what it’s like to be homeless, but we assume to know and, therefore, create a narrative around the people we see. We might say: “If I give them money they’ll spend it on drugs alcohol.”
We’ll never really know someone else’s true intentions, but, either way, it’s not our place to decide. Our job is to be kind and give because unless we’ve experienced it firsthand, we don’t really know what living with another person’s struggles is like.
That day on the bus opened my eyes. It taught me that we can choose to feel alone and look at others as uncaring. Or we can choose to understand people’s poop while we try to clean up our own.
Here’s my latest video on the subject for my YouTube channel ThisAbled Talks.
By Miguel Ayala
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