Making Peace with having a disability

Photo by Ellie Burgin on

Doves are often associated as a sign of peace. Many times they are released at funerals or other events to encourage peace. It is considered a good sign when you see one at your door indicating a time after a difficult situation. Much like the tranquility the dove brings, I have had to make peace with having a disability. Seeing this bird doesn’t indicate that my disability will be gone, but how I view it has been healed. Finding this serenity has been a process where I’ve had to surrender many situations one at a time.

Accepting my mind was wired differently was the first thing I had to make peace with. For so many years I wanted to learn and be like everyone else’s mind. Little did I know that everyone thinks differently. A person who has neurodiversity has physical wiring that causes them to learn differently and needs unique strategies to be able to thrive. I didn’t want to use accommodations for extended test time or specialized construction, but I wanted good grades. I had to learn that if I didn’t use them, passing grades wouldn’t happen, or if I did, it made it more difficult.

Knowing that there were some things that I simply couldn’t do, even with support was another thing I had to make peace with. I often thought if I put in the work I could conquer math or get perfect grades. Putting in effort and trying did help to improve things but to a limited extent. I would spend time memorizing math facts or using a calculator and still not get the problem correct. Other things such as driving, could be a possibility, but not the wisest choice. I could study for the test but couldn’t operate the car safely. It’s more empowering for me to focus on what I can do and use other methods to compensate for what I can’t do.

I had to make peace that not everyone will understand or support my decisions related to my disability. For so many years I wanted the approval of others. I felt that I needed to apologize and explain the reason why to everyone. It was a great source of frustration when others didn’t get it. Some people are indifferent to it and others have used it to bully me because they knew it was a sensitive subject. Others have also given me advice that was well meant but didn’t apply to the situation. I can remember someone advising me to take a summer course in math. I was already struggling to retain information. Others have suggested glasses for my visual perception, but not realizing the problem was in my brain, not my eyes. Many times, people would get upset when I didn’t follow their suggestions, knowing they wouldn’t help me much. People often asked why I used certain supports and considered them cheating. It was more beneficial for me to find out what worked for me and to do it, rather than try to plead my case for others.

Until I made peace with having a disability, I couldn’t enjoy the life that I do have. Life with having one may be different but not less. I let go of the things I simply can’t do and focus on what I can do. If you hold a dove in your hand, it will be limited in what it can do. The bird will want to wiggle free and fly to bring encouragement to others. If I don’t make peace with my disability, I am limited by the constraints of what I can’t do. I’m trapped and can’t bring joy or hope to others. When I finally let go of what I can’t change, I free myself and bring that freedom to others. I didn’t get to chose to have a disability, but I can make the choice to make peace with it.


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