October 29, 2013
Getting Back Up
The children’s program had been delightful. At the crowded reception afterward, I was happily chatting with others while simultaneously surveying the variety of refreshments available. Without even a wobble of warning, I slipped and fell.
A succession of thoughts quickly kaleidoscoped through my mind: First embarrassment followed by relief that no one was injured – then the fervent hope that none of the children had been frightened by the commotion. The growing sense that I should reassure those gathered around me was stronger than any ache or pain that might have been building in my body.
Suddenly hands were jerking on my arm to “help” me up. Except that it wasn’t helpful. It was physically awkward, emotionally embarrassing and much more difficult than picking myself up independently would have been.
“No thanks, I’m fine,” I protested – all while being pulled upward with no chance to get my feet under my body.
Now the “help” was simply irritating, and I struggled with coexisting needs: to be polite, to get on my feet, and to figure out which of these were more important, given the social and physical circumstances of the moment.
I am by no means helpless, but acquiesced to the assistance, allowing myself to be pulled upright like a powerless person. The people gathered around were understandably relieved that I was able to stand up and, I suppose, felt good that they had been helpful.
I felt dismayed. Dismay that I wasn’t allowed to get up by myself. Dismay that I wasn’t able to make people understand how important that was for me.
Guest blogger Alan Flynn of Sacramento has cerebral palsy and grew up in a small farming community in the Midwest, the middle child in a family of five boys. He has two adult daughters and a new grandson. Through his writing, he hopes to challenge himself and others to reach new goals in every aspect of our lives and gain self-understanding and enthusiasm for the opportunities waiting for us.