I am crying my eyes out while watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ on a Sunday morning instead of writing my neuroscience paper. No, it’s not because Sally finally found the bling she was looking for and got her mom to agree with her choice. In this particular episode, a bride came in who has recently been in an accident (I missed what kind), and is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She cannot walk, she wont be strolling down the aisle. She lost it when they gently asked something about what she wanted to do about the train of the dress, and who would be pushing her down the aisle.

The reality of her situation hit me hard. That could have been me. My dad could have had to wheel me down the aisle, my future husband always bending to kiss me, carry me, bath me, change my diaper. Loving me would be a whole different ball game. It’s a difficult story to watch for anyone in any situation, but I know very intimately what it’s like to NOT be independent I’ve been paralyzed, literally unable to lift a finger, or even drink from a straw. I had diapers as an adult (albeit only for a few weeks). I’ve been helpless. The thought of not being able to be thoroughly independent scares the shit out of me.

This kind of emotional ambush happens every once in a while, as I have mentioned once or twice before. This morning, I went for a run on my TWO working legs. Yes, I hate running and yes, I run with a limp (one of the remaining effects of the stroke) and I don’t go very fast. But I do it because a year ago I would have given ANYTHING to be able to go for a run like it was nothing. I would have given anything to be able to complain about how boring cardio is. And I am in this weird place of feeling incredibly lucky to be here and be able to do all of these things, but also completely freaked out about how close I was to losing it all.

But, here is something else I’ve learned. I am not my face. I am not my body. I am so glad I get to run and dance, but doing so is not who I am any more than not being able to do so defines the girl in the wheelchair. We do not need to be someone else’s idea of perfect to be perfect.

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