When the dishes need doing!

Really, it’s true; I never have to do the dishes or housework, or put the bins out. Last time I did any of that was over 20 years ago.

Whenever we see somebody substantially less fortunate than ourselves, most of the time our first thought is how well they appear to cope with life. Then we immediately move on to ourselves and think “I couldn’t live like that.”

Of course, the reality is far more complicated than these two thoughts. We have no idea how any other person is coping, apart from a brief glimpse or snapshot view from the outside. Similarly we have no idea how we would cope in their situation because we can only compare what we would lose in regards to our current life.

I am severely disabled; I cannot feel or control anything below my chest or my elbows; I cannot walk or use my arms properly, and my hands are wobbly things at the end of my arms. Of course my disability comes with many other problems, but these are the things that people see and that they believe are my biggest problems. But my physical disability has not taken away my ability to think and to take a wider view of life. I realise what is important and why it is important. I broke my neck when I was 18, which made me mature overnight. Instead of seeing what I couldn’t do, I was just pleased to be alive and couldn’t wait to start my new journey.

I could list here all the things I cannot do, but I don’t. They are irrelevant to me. Just like the average person does not dream of walking through walls; I don’t spend time and energy thinking about the physically impossible.

So, sometimes I find myself counting my blessings regarding the things I cannot do; dishes, housework, cutting the grass, washing the car, other chores – the list goes on. At this point some of you are thinking “but surely you would love to do those things!” – well, no. For about a week maybe, I would soon get fed up with it just like everyone else.

I cannot help being paralysed, but my attitude is a choice

Would I do any of those things if I was given a magic hour where I could do anything? No, of course not, and I don’t think anyone would. What would I do in a magic hour? I have no idea, I haven’t thought about that for at least 10 years and cannot remember what my answer used to be. It is not going to happen, so why spend any time thinking about it? Don’t get me wrong, of course being paralysed can be a burden, it can be very frustrating and stops me doing some things I would love to do. But this is where it comes down to attitude. I do not spend my time focusing on what I cannot do.

When desire for what you cannot have turns into jealousy then it becomes damaging. We all know what jealousy does to a relationship; well it does the same to your relationship with the world and the people in it. Even if you convince yourself, or somebody else convinces you, that you have been short-changed and don’t deserve the hand you are dealt, it doesn’t mean a bad attitude will be accepted or tolerated for long. Have dreams and make goals that are possible, rather than focusing on “if only” situations that are never going to happen. There are only a few things that are truly unachievable, though. It is absolutely amazing what is possible if you use your imagination and focus your energy.

I cannot change being paralysed, but my attitude is a choice.

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