Stacy Ellingen

Stacy's Journal: What is Normal?

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By: Stacy Ellingen
Posted in: Stacy's Journal

What is normal?  That’s a loaded question with no right or wrong answer. When people ask it, it’s often meant to be rhetorical leaving people to ponder. A common response to that question is, “there’s no such thing as normal.” That’s so true!  Regardless of the circumstances, normal is usually what everyone strives to be. In the disability community, the word “normal” is something we many times laugh at because it truly doesn’t exist in our world.  

Sometimes, people ask me if I could have one day- 24 hours- without CP, what would I do?  In other words, what would I do if I could be “normal” for a day? I honestly don’t even know.  I can’t even imagine.  First, I have to be realistic and say I understand that if there was a way I could be without CP for a day, I’d probably have to be a psych ward because it’d be such a shock to my entire body at first, I probably couldn’t handle myself. 

With that said, what’s the first thing I’d want to do? Yes, I have thought about it. It’s fun to daydream about. First of all, I’d want to know when it was going happen so that could have my close family and friends could be there.  When the magic first happened, (again, I’m fantasizing about this--realistically, anybody in that situation would likely need psychiatric treatment after that big of a shock to the body) I’d stand up and start hugging people. I’m not sure what I’d talk about, but I wouldn’t shut up the entire day! After hugging everyone there, I’d walk around the entire house (I’m assuming that I’d be at my parents house where I grew up) and experience walking up and down the stairs. I’d carry any babies and little kids around that were with me-–something I long to do.  We’d then go somewhere where I could try playing lots of sports just so I could see what it felt like to play the sports I love to watch. Then, we’d go to every inaccessible place in the area, so I could experience it. I’d visit friends’ houses and go up the lighthouse. I’d go to small jammed restaurants and eat the messiest foods. When we got back to my parents, explore the house some more--do simple things such as run through the grass and ride a bike. I’d probably try driving a vehicle too just so I could experience it.  I would end the day by walking around the neighborhood and chatting with my friends and family until my time was up.  That’s how I’d spend my day!

Is my fantasy realistic?   Absolutely not. If given the chance, would I do it?  Probably.  I’m not sure how I’d handle going back to having cerebral palsy. On one hand, I think it’d be incredibly hard because you just experienced a lot of things you’ll likely never be able to do again; however, part of me wonders if you’d almost miss having the limitations. It’s interesting to think about, but, if given the chance, I think I would do it.

Now, I know and understand this is one of those controversial topics among people with different abilities. Many people feel their disability is a part of who they are and they wouldn’t change it. While I respect their opinion, that’s not me. Like I’ve said in past entries, yes, I accept that I have cerebral palsy and a it’s part of my life; however it doesn’t define the person I am. For that reason, if given the chance, I’d love to experience “normalcy.”  I’m not expecting it in my lifetime.  If it happens, great, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.

Normalcy is something we all crave and strive for.  That said, definitions of “normal” widely vary. Unless referring to something static like temperature, the word usually can be used pretty loosely. While we all have our own unique definitions, society has its own that many people continue to strive for!

***The views expressed here are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of InControl Wisconsin, the Network or any of our sponsors.  


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