I believe in the power of doubt. As someone bound to a wheelchair eighty-five percent of the day, I know doubt intimately. Much of the world will forever see me as the girl with Cerebral Palsy, the delicate girl. I won’t shatter like glass if I fall, yet, there have been so many times I’ve been forced out of activities, because my ability was questioned.
I remember when I decided I wouldn’t live that way anymore. I was eleven years old and decided that I had to meet my hero, Shania Twain. Had my friends supported the venture maybe it would’ve faded into a distant fantasy, instead it was met with the same doubt I’d tasted a million times before, “you’re one in a million and you’re in a wheelchair…” So my journey began…
In the ensuing nine years I became known for my dream, mocked for it, but I pushed farther with every pair of rolling eyes cast my way. As tiny as I felt year after year, weaving Shania Twain and her music into my life where ever I could, it didn’t stop me from writing her or begging talk show hosts to help make my dream happen, or going to concerts.
Two years ago nearly forced myself and that dream to an early grave. I was eighty pounds, losing hair, always cold, and to afraid of food to feed myself. I was haunted by constant urges to exercise, and escape from food.. This wasn’t a mere setback, I’d had those before, and had always kept Shania’s music playing, through mockery, and even through a nasty cooking accident that left me with second and third degree burns. Not this time, for nine months I didn’t even think about Shania, I was ready to die of undernourishment. when I could no longer withstand the isolated death trap I’d set for myself, after nine months I ended the silence the only way I could. When the music hit my ears I realized, I ‘d long ago given up on myself, there seemed no way form me to fight fears I couldn’t even justify. Every time I closed my eyes after that all I could see was my eleven year old self swearing, “I will meet Shania!” If I died, I was no more then one shot in a million in a wheelchair, and that isn’t me..
Though everything changed when I was forced into treatment for my eating disorder, I found a way to manage this chronic illness and work toward meeting Shania, I have written more letters, made a petition and website, wrote and self published a book of poetry in her honor, and went to her hometown in Canada. Though it has yet to happen I continue fighting to meet Shania not just because of her fame but because I still hear the doubt of the world ringing in my ears, and doubt is a force to be reckoned with. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.