If someone was to ask me to give them a list of some of the more unique and recent accomplishments that I had achieved, what would I say? What would the list look like this? What are the things that some people never experience at all, or never stand up for themselves for? I could make a list. I mean, not literally but I could probably come up with a few things. Relationships, toxic work environments, discrimination, harassment. Also, public performance art, emotional speaking engagements and formal presentations.
Things like challenging a toxic workplace to leaving a relationship, those things are hard on their own for anyone. Getting on a stage can be terrifying and does require full focus, also for anyone. Doing things that require physical and emotional strength, bravery, motivation and more fortitude considering the existence of epilepsy are really… something.
If I asked someone else, and if someone told me their list (whatever is on it), I would think they were amazing and rad and be very impressed that they made the changes that they needed to in their lives. I would be so thrilled that they took on their own fears and overcame them. It does not matter what those things were specifically: what matters is that it meant something to them.
Quite often though, I just cannot seem to say that message to myself. The mirror is spine-chilling.
When I have seizures, sometimes I don’t have the option to be strong or not. If I have a seizure and am in a safe place, I can sleep for days. If not, I get up and keep going. Neither option is better than the other only; sometimes the need and requirement are different. I still have to come to terms with myself. That means coming to terms with my body, scars, injuries, and the physical insecurity. That means coming to terms with my brain, the source of my condition, my “arch-nemesis”, the reason for any limitations.
When it comes down to it, I am a runner. At the same time, I am a runner with a chronic physical illness. I have more scars from falling down when running than I can count. I see them in the mirror. I consider every single day without a seizure a victory. Even if I have a seizure, that’s the time I can remind myself that I can get back up again, wipe the blood off my knees and keep running (literally or metaphorically).
This is something that took me 22 years to achieve. Not all at the same time. My first experience of being ostracized came when I was 14 and became epileptic, which I will likely have for the rest of my life. Even now, when I meet new people, part of me definitely still assumes that it’s just a matter of time before they will drop me and I always relate it to my epilepsy. Whether they witness a seizure or not, whether they have epilepsy or not, whether I tell them right off the start that it exists in my brain, I feel like it will happen again and just as easily as it did when I was 14 years old. Still, that mirror.
That being said. I don’t know what kind of person I would have become had I not become epileptic. One thing is that having known what that moment of abandonment felt like, and some subsequent times where I was turned down for jobs or dating, I am comfortable knowing that I would never do that to someone. I could have become the kind of person who does do those things. I am not that kind of person and that makes me happy. So literally, becoming epileptic showed me that people can be hurtful. It also showed me that I never wanted to be a hurtful person. At the same time, I will not accept toxicity. Mirror.
For 22 years I have experienced the insecurity about rejection because of my epilepsy. For 22 years I became stronger and braver because of my epilepsy. As it turns out, I would rather know and develop even if it meant times of fear and uncertainty.
What can I do? I know that I can leave a professional or personal environment which is unhealthy. I can get up after an injury. There are other things that are possible just because once I knew it was possible, it stopped being a threat. I know the things I can and cannot do. I cannot go back.
You cannot recork a champagne bottle.