This final stage started sometime after eighth grade began for me. I was tired of being depressed, angry, in denial, and living on a bargain that I wasn't sure would happen. I had done some serious soul-searching right before eighth grade began. I did not want to have or keep the bad attitude I was holding on to. I prayed about not wanting to live like this any more. These next three memories helped me significantly as far as accepting what was going on with me, and having confidence on who I was.
The first was when I was in English class, and we were learning how to conjugate sentences. The class was asked by the teacher to make up a sentence, and to share it with the class if you wanted. The teacher would write it on the chalkboard, and as a class we would conjugate it. I sat next to one of the girls I went to church with. I showed her my sentence to see if she thought I should share it. My sentence was "I have a disability called Friedreich's Ataxia." People from my church knew what was wrong with me. I never spoke of it though to any one. I do not know what came over me. My church friend thought it would be a good idea to say my sentence. So I did. I felt very nervous, but raised my hand. As I said my sentence it went silent in the room. The teacher gave me a double take as she asked me to spell FA. I think I shocked everyone including myself. The teacher asked me what FA was. I told her and the class what I knew, and this time I left out the part about getting hit by the tornado when I was born! At that moment I felt that I did not have to hide behind a story anymore. Just being able to talk about it openly with the others gave me confidence. Some of the teasing did stop for some people had an explanation as to what was wrong with me while other people knew it didn't get to me like it used to so it was pointless.
The second memory happened shortly after. In middle school we had a morning homeroom class that we would go to hear announcements, study, or to talk and have fun. There was probably 15-20 kids per room. Everyone had a playful rival for the other homerooms. Every now and again we would have contests and stuff between each other. Only eighth grade homerooms got to participate in a little game called Wheel of Fortune during this time. Each homeroom had to designate a student to play the game. Our homeroom played each other to see who would get to be the person to represent. You will never guess who made it in our homeroom? Me!! I loved the game and would kick butt on it at home, but couldn’t believe it was me! There were about six people playing against me from other homerooms to win a trip for the entire homeroom to see the courthouse in Oklahoma. I am sure the other students from my homeroom were thinking the worst about sending me to represent our class. What pressure! The eighth grade homeroom classes filed into the auditorium. I was so nervous about having to get up out of my chair to walk over to the microphone to guess a letter that I didn't even think about the puzzle. I would have been more nervous if Pat Sajak or Vanna White were there! Thank God I never fell. The auditorium was full of people watching us. My homeroom was setting in the front, and I could see them good. One of the guys in my class knew the answer and mouthed it to me. It was very funny. The puzzle was "Bill of Rights." He knew by the look on my face that I read his lips and knew the puzzle. We were all just waiting for it to come back around to my turn when J Lo and behold for it did! I answered the puzzle and our class won! I wasn’t in any way popular, but felt people not looking at me like I was only known as the drunk. I even got myself in the local newspaper! That made me feel good. I was just hoping while we were at the courthouse they did not stop and arrest me for not being able to walk a straight line! LOL.
The last important memory of my eighth-grade year was being a student teacher for a day. One of my favorite teachers in middle school was Ms. Teresa. She taught science and she was so nice and pretty. She did not remind me of what I thought of when I pictured a teacher. She had long blonde hair, and a nice figure. She dressed very in-style (for the time), and not all teacher like. So I signed up quickly before anyone else to teach her class. I got it! She had five classes during the day. I was very nervous about standing up in front of the class. Ms. Teresa setup the plans for the day for me to show the class a video half of the class time, and the other half was to answer questions about the film out loud. She discussed the plans with me before so that I would be okay with it as well. I told her I did not want to do any thing on the chalkboard for my chicken scratch was horrible! I never would have thought that I would even enjoyed being a teacher, but I found it not to be as intimidating as I imagined. Students already respected her as a teacher, and because of that I felt they didn't act up with me like I thought they would. Not to mention my voice does not have a lot of authority to it, so I expected to get walked over more than I did. I still did some, but not to the extent I was thinking of. I wore a dress with dress shoes the whole day, and again I never fell! The experience of it all was great, and it gave me a better appreciation for what teachers deal with day to day. However, it did not inspire me in anyway to want to be a teacher. Having these three positive experiences in my eighth-grade year let me accept the fact that I had this disability. I even let my guard down a few times to ask for help in walking. I was a very independent person who did not like to ask for help. I would just hold somebody’s arm for balance. I would do this more during the end of the day as I was tired. The students who would help were not bothered by this for we got to leave class 5 mins early to beat the rush. Other students would come up and ask to help just so they could leave class early. KIDS!!
Due to the fact that FA is slowly progressive, and has many symptoms I have never been able to completely stay in the acceptance stage. It is a never ending cycle for me, but the initial acceptance of having a disability made all the difference in the world as far as things that are going to happen. FA is not only rare, but everyone is different. There has been things that have happened to me that have not happened to others. All in all it still sucks! I still make time to laugh though.
What are some of your best memories that taught you something about who you were? Thanks for taking the time to read, Miss S