04 Apr

Having a learning disability is like having a mixture of dark and light. Some parts of having this are dark, heavy, and frustrating. Other parts are bright, light, and easier to manage. The beauty of having the two opposite forces is that they work together in my life and without each other I would not be able to function.

 The dark heavy feelings of frustration, of not being able to do certain things, one weighed me down. I could not move forward and thought that my life would always be difficult. I was so far in the shadows of what I could not do that I almost missed the light.

 To my surprise, there was a golden light to having one. I found that I may not be able to do math or drive, but I had other gifts such as reading, writing and photography. When I focused on the interests that I was good at I felt happy and empowered. I was no longer in deep despair. My accomplishments are also my light. I have not let having one hold me back from going to college, getting my degree, finding a job, and falling in love. I have had to make careful choices and not everything worked out how I planned. To my surprise the biggest failures often led to something more fulfilling. 

I was also able to use my experience of the difficult times to help others. I work in a school as a para educator with students with disabilities. I know a great majority of them are dealing with the frustration of not being able to learn and perform to the standards of their parents and teachers. I get the opportunity to share my story and to encourage them. I tell them that their brain is simply wired differently and affirm that some things are hard. I also tell them that they can achieve their dreams, they may need a different way to get there. I give them resources and ways to advocate for themselves.

 Advocacy is a tool that they will need to use for the rest of their lives, not just to get through the next grade. I still have moments in my life where the darkness of disability settles in. I may feel frustrated when I make a mistake. I have learned to give myself understanding and compassion during these times. 

 Other times it can be hard when other people who do not understand my disability will make remarks or give unsolicited advice. I have learned to extend grace and understanding to those who do not understand. Many people have either not experienced this or knew someone one with one.

 Even if the darkest shadows a light always peeks through. If I turn my face to the warmth of the sun the shadows will slowly fade into the distance. I’m learning how to walk into the light and let the dark lurk in the distance. Both the light and the dark are a permeant existence of life with a disability. The darkness of feeling frustrated and burnt out has helped me to understand the difficulties that come with having a disability. The soft light of what I am good at helps to lift me and see the beauty of what I can achieve. Some days are lighter and easier with having one. Other days are heavier and more complicated. I have learned to appreciate what each experience brings and continues to teach me.  I can also share this wisdom with others through my writing, speaking and work in the classroom. To my surprise the opposite forces of light and dark have come together to bring harmony. I am forever grateful for the person that they have created me to be. I would not be the person I am today without both the light and the dark.

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