“In human psychology, acceptance is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognising a process or condition often negative or uncomfortable without attempting to change it.”
Throughout my life up until this year, the one thing I struggled with the most with regards to my disability is this concept of acceptance, acceptance of my disability.
You see I’m that girl who was born with Spina Bifida yet her twin brother does not have a disability.
I’m that girl that who was raised in a family that they did not treat me any different to my siblings or cousins.
I’m that girl who went to a special school for children with disabilities till my grade 4 teacher suggested I be transferred to a “normal” school.
I’m that girl who went to went to a primary school where I was the only student with a disability.
I’m that girl with a disability who went to one of the best privates schools in Zimbabwe for high school.
Bottom line is I’m that girl who was raised in a “bubble” and sheltered from the real world, i was made to believe that i was no different from the next person.
Reality sunk in when I moved to Melbourne in 2007 for uni, the reality that I am indeed different from everybody else. I hated my disability because it made me stand out everywhere I went. People from all walks of life, young and old stared at me on the streets. Yes people in Zimbabwe did stare at me but it never affected me. There was something about the way Australians stared at me that really made me loathe myself. I complained to family and friends about how much I hated having a disability in this country. Everyone kept telling me not to have a victim mentality. They did not understand me, they were not listening to what i was saying. They were just hearing the words “I hate this disability” but no-one could really hear the message behind those words. For the first time I was facing the real world without the comfort of my parents or anybody else who had done such a fantastic job of creating a normal environment for me growing up. My siblings whom I lived with at the time did not know how to handle this new responsibility on their hands as most of their lives they had attended boarding schools and we would only really spend time with each other on the school holidays. Even then, we had our parents to do things for me so I was well looked after and they never had to do anything for me.
Honestly I have no idea how I survived that time of my life cause I really hated myself, I cried myself to sleep countless times, I was so angry at God for creating me this way. I vividly remember one day back in 2007 standing at the traffic lights when a man in a white pickup truck on the other side of the road shouted offensive words at me. This was certainly not the first time it had happened but on this particular occasion those words hurt real deep. I became bitter, my soul was wounded. During this time I would not dare post any full length pictures of myself on social media, that’s how much I hated myself and my body. I would be in that state of anger and bitterness for the next five years and each year anger and bitterness intensified. Suicide ideation was also very high.
Fast forward to this year 2013 when a transformation began. It all started on Thursday the 4th of April 2013 at the Planetshakers Church Conference when Pastor Rob Morris was teaching on the subject “God’s Greatest Desire” and it was during the worship session when we were singing the song “Made for Worship” that God whispered to me and said “Colleen I created you for My desire, you were created to worship me, it doesn’t matter what your appearance is.” That moment, that very moment truly LIBERATED me and I felt FREEDOM I had never felt before.
From that day on, I accepted my disability. Whenever I express to people especially family the things I cannot do and will probably never be able to do, they tell me not to dwell too much on it. I’ve since come to realise that this new “acceptance” of myself and disability is very confronting for my family and close friends as they always viewed me as “not having a disability.” No matter how much positive affirmation they might use which I know comes from a good place, I am at the end of the day very DIFFERENT and ain’t nothing that’s going to change that and that’s ok too.
Below are pictures that my housemate took a few days ago when we went to Mount Dandenong. This is probably one of the first few times I have felt comfortable to post full length photos of myself.