“Resentment is like drinking a poison and hoping it will kill your enemies ” Nelson Mandela
It is time to retire one of my favorite pairs of shoes and not to sound like a typical female but I’m kind of bummed. They were broken in, comfortable and went well with every outfit. But after a series of stumbles/falls, it is time to part ways. Although they were broken in, they no longer provided support and there were several occasions where a shoe fell off mid-step and flew across the sidewalk. Thankfully, I had a backup pair because as I mentioned once before, shoe shopping is not my thing. Between the lack of sensation on one side of my body, dealing with foot drop, and other issues, shopping for shoes is actually frustrating. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to walk and not constantly worry about falling on your face. Or wonder how new shoes could affect your balance. It’s such a struggle! Okay not really in the scheme of things but it’s one more thing to take into consideration and quite honestly, an inconvenience.
Sometimes it’s the little things like buying new shoes, those little what ifs, often make me resent my disabilities and become angry at myself because my stupid feet, weak legs, and lack of balance cause so many issues. It’s frustrating! How easy it is to throw a pity party for ourselves. But what is more frustrating at times is it not my fault I’m disabled. I usually tell people I’m physically disabled as a result of my cancer because it’s an easier explanation which is true but not the whole story. The truth is the doctor in charge of my radiation treatments gave me 8 times over the limit I should have received.
By the time I was 7 years old, I had undergone two major surgeries to remove a brain tumor that proved to be as stubborn as me. After the second surgery, my doctors seemed pretty optimistic but then an MRI just six weeks after the procedure showed the tumor came back and was bigger than before. So instead of doing surgery again, my parents and chose to try radiation treatments to destroy the cancer. The radiation destroyed the cancer but left me physically disabled and nearly killed me. It was like an atom bomb went off in my head, I know really awesome, right? The thing was my doctor overdosed the radiation and with that intent too. The radiation I received was new technology at the time and I was the youngest patient to ever receive this type of radiation so it was pretty risky. If all went successful, destroying the cancer and leaving no major side effects, my case would have been famous in the medical world and my doctor would have been famous too. Before the radiation treatments were even finished, he had written papers about me to present in conferences. My parents and I found out he rushed my radiation treatments for his own good; not out of a desire to heal, but out of a selfish desire for glory. He caused me to become physically disabled, and changed my life forever.
As you can imagine, this definitely caused some angry issues at a young age, to basically have to let go of things I hoped for my life and future and totally start over. Because of this, I really struggled with accepting my disabilities and myself for awhile. I didn’t like who I was and used anger and bitterness as a constant defense mechanism. As a result, I was an awful person to be around, always grumpy, negative, and constantly irritated. But as time went on, I realized this anger wasn’t healthy, it was weighing me down and infecting every part of my life. One day I came to the conclusion that I could either stay angry at my doctor or have the courage to forgive him and move on with my life. My anger and resentment was keeping me from accepting my disabilities. It was also a catch 22 because technically the radiation destroyed the cancer and I was alive, it just wasn’t what I expected. As I slowly forgave him, I started embracing my “new” life. I started to think that this whole being disabled thing wasn’t all that bad. It made me become a stronger person, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Being disabled gave me a completely different perspective on the world, one I never considered before. I realized through my disabilities I could help so many people, inspire so many lives by my example, and maybe even change how people view others with disabilities. I know most people think I’m crazy for saying this but I am thankful for my disabilities. They make me who I am and are part of my identity. For the first time, I started to actually feel thankful that my doctor messed up my radiation. It was with the realization of this that I started to forgive him.
Forgiveness is not easy, it is so much easier to hold onto resentment and grudges but when we forgive, it is like a breath of fresh air comes into our lives, creating a new attitude on life and letting go of what happened in the past. Even if you don’t think someone deserves your forgiveness, it is better to forgive instead of holding that hatred inside for all your life. Holding onto anger and resentment only creates a rift or brick wall between you and another but through forgiveness, we can truly love one another like we are called to do. Forgiveness allows us to say goodbye to anger, to let go of what happened, and start over anew. So as I said goodbye to being angry at my doctor, I say goodbye to my shoes and hope to start fresh with a new pair. Where in your life do you need forgiveness and a fresh start?
If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.Mother Teresa