Thursday, 8 September 2011


People often confuse strength and perseverance. Especially when it comes to disability. Apparently people see me as ‘strong’ because I put up with my disability and attempt to build life beyond its restrictions. This requires neither of the above two qualities. I am not strong because I attempt to live an adequate (yet ultimately unfulfilling) life. Nor is it perseverance, because that implies I must have a degree of honourable character in order to look past my own flaws. And I cannot.

Give me anything in the world and if I had the opportunity I would flee from my current circumstances. The fact that I have not implies nothing, except that I have neither the means nor the opportunity to do so. I never will.

So in this context, what constitutes strength?
  1. Is it making the ‘best of’ a miserable situation and finding the little things to make a happy life?
  2. Is it forming the unrealistic expectation and hoping circumstances change?
  3. Is it trying to find a way out hoping that a ‘better situation’ can be found?
Trying to find the answer to the first question could constitute strength, but the other two do not. Sure, achieving the small things in life and being proud of the most minuscule achievements can have a positive short term effect. But when the core problem remains this placebo is short lived. In my case it will never, ever change no matter how many small moments there are.

This also takes away the last two questions: there won’t be any changes and better circumstances will not be found. So all that is left is to remain stoic.

This is the reason why I am highly opinionated. When I am required to sit down and cop my misfortune on the chin for every minute, of every hour, of every day, I refuse to do so in any other aspect of my life.

Perhaps that is what strength means?


  1. Todd, good post - I feel like I understand you more.

    A friend wrote to me yesterday:
    "People somehow think that since you deal with this illness you are strong enough to handle everything they have as well. They lean on you. Expect that you can take it...after all...look how strong you are with everything else in your life. You overcome, that's what you do...your heart is even more sensitive than your skin...and you love harder than anyone gives you credit for...and when you hurt, you hurt like anyone else. You hurt like everyone else."

    Strength and disability are really tricky to accept, and easy to take advantage of.

  2. To me, strength implies doing something. Hanging on, hanging in there. If life was a monkey bar the weak would fall off and the strong remain. Just remaining doesn't mean happiness though. It might hurt like crazy to keep hanging on forever and swinging from bar to bar. I doubt if all life would be one monkey bar either. There are probably numerous ones in our lives - some too high for even us to reach, some too hot or too slippery - and definitely not many that have been dusted like the athletes do with theirs.
    And sometimes it's OK to drop off so you can go home to Mummy and have a warm dinner and get tucked in to bed too. Cherrie