My mother meant well when she tried to explain my disability. I knew that perhaps even from the first time I asked her why I was disabled. It probably wasn't that sophisticated a question though. I didn't focus on the details or the name "Cerebral Palsy", all I cared about was why I walked funny.
That's what the other kids I said. I had to take their word for it —to me I had only ever walked perfectly normally. Upon entering school, however, it became clear that I was different. In a world where difference can be very harmful, of course I wanted to know why God would do this to me. I hadn’t given much thought to god, but being raised Catholic and attending Catholic school I knew enough to know that He was the one responsible.
There were multiple reasons my mother gave me over the years as I asked 'Why?', from the standard "God works in mysterious ways" to the Job-esque "God never gives us more than we can handle", but by far the most well-meaning and most infuriating was that God "wanted to teach those around [me] tolerance and compassion for people with disabilities."
As I got older and heard that answer more often, I became more frustrated with it. It didn’t seem fair for me to be disabled in order to teach other people a lesson. While the idea that my problems were for the greater good is a lofty one, at 13 I was simply not that altruistic. Today at 35 I’m still not.
Of course maybe there wasn’t a purpose behind being disabled at all. That thought had occurred to me as well. It wasn’t any easier to accept than the lesson concept. At least with that my struggles weren’t for nothing. I wanted to believe there was a purpose, but at the same time, being someone else’s lesson was a level of condescension that I couldn’t handle either.
In the end I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t really matter why I am disabled. The why of it all doesn’t change anything. What matters is how I deal with it, and understanding that may have been my lesson.