I recently attended a party while my MS was acting up in a very obvious way. Using my cane, and my husband, to steady myself, I managed to mingle for a few moments before zeroing in on a landing spot. I decided to forgo wine and settled for a soft drink, to avoid adding more drama to my already wobbly state. After sitting for awhile, I took another stab at walking around, doing a bit of weaving in the process. I was convinced that any observers would assume that I had too much to drink. For some reason, I always find this particular type of situation amusing, so my laughter flowed easily, as I enjoyed the inside joke on myself.
The fact is, I am not always in a positive frame of mind and I definitely do not walk around with a permanent smile plastered on my face. I am quiet and not exactly the life of the party type. But how do others see me?
That evening, I was the recipient of two very interesting comments. One woman I have known for several years took me by the hand and told me that she was very grateful to have me as a friend. She said that she was inspired by my positive attitude, my laughter, and constant smile, even when my MS was acting up. The second woman is a recent acquaintance, and someone I expect to be socializing with on a regular basis. She surprised me by saying, “I'm so glad we met. You are such fun!” Fun? Me? With my ridiculous gait and inability to mingle? I laughed openly at being considered fun and quipped that I'd never actually been accused of that before.
Over the past several years, I have been in a position to observe disabled people in public and most of them, by virtue of the fact that they ARE in public, doing what they have to do under trying circumstances, have earned my respect and admiration. Unbeknownst to them, they have inspired me to push forward. Even so, I never stopped to consider what it is that other people see when they look at me.
In one fell swoop, these two ladies made it clear that they had observed my problems, but appreciated the way I choose to deal with them. Rather than taking pity on me, they enjoy spending time with me! How about that?
A few months ago, my niece sent me an email which comes to mind now. She had heard a song on the radio, which caused her to reminisce about when she was a little girl and I had made her feel special. I was filled with joy at the thought that I had made such a lasting impression on her that 30 years later, an old song on the radio would remind her of the time I spent with her.
From now on, when I am inspired by someone, I think I will make it a point to let them know. It just might make their day.
We just never know, until someone decides to tell us, what impression we are making. So I'd like to take this opportunity to send a message to all my MS friends -- you may be affecting someone else at this very moment -- with every step you take and with every subtle gesture -- someone may be watching, or learning, or inspired -- by you!
Published On: April 28, 2008