Thursday, December 26, 2013

The power of telling other people's stories helped me heal from the inside out, and a dream job took shape!

“DREAM BIG”, something that seemed to be my motto as a little girl and going into my pre-teen years.  My family and friends never treated me like my disability was any big mountain that would prevent me from going for and reaching the goals I wanted.  So off my mind went into dreams of training dolphins, being a teacher, or an actress living in places around the world, having kids and a husband.  “I will have these things, I thought, whatever challenges I face, they will fade away and everything will be fine!“

It’s almost as if I went to bed one night with optimism on my side and then the next day, it seemed, my life came crashing down around me. I was a train wreck of emotions....I didn’t know the person I saw staring back at me in the mirror.  I hated who I was seeing!
The things I thought I knew about myself, my values, my likes and dislikes....all my goals and roads to reach those goals were cloudy and distant, filled with mountain-like boulders that I was in no way prepared to tackle!  Gone were the days in the latter years of being a teen when I looked forward to getting out of bed and on with the day!  I merciliously beat myself up over something everyday, and everything I did, I questioned: Would a guy love me someday?  Would I make a good wife?  If someone asked him who I was as a person what would he say?  What kind of a mother would I be?  If my mother was asked by someone about the kind of person I was, what would she be able to say?  Was I considered a good friend?  These and more filled my head and slowly broke and eventually shattered my spirit.

Each negative thought that spun inside my mind just made me more upset and angry that I was disabled in the first place.  Why do I have to go through this?  Why didn’t anybody tell me that it would be this painful to grow up?  Why didn’t I realize that I needed to take steps to be more independent?  I was riddled with guilt and despair every second of the day!

At one of my darkest moments laying awake in bed, I desperately tried to think of ways to pull myself out of this emotional  tailspin.  That’s when my dream of becoming a journalist started to form as one of the many things that would heal and restore me from the inside out.  The ability to push my problems aside and allow myself to learn from other’s stories and give them a voice for their pain and struggles.  A healing for them and a healing for me.  You become a snapshot in time, a memory in that person’s life as a journalist, for as long as you tell their story.  All the while, remembering that its not about the glamour of the job, but its about showcasing the power of the human spirit to be resilient!  Anderson Cooper, my favorite journalist, said it best: “Be honest about what you see, get out of the way and let the story reveal itself”

The most beautiful gift: The power of someone’s story being voiced, and through that, showing them that they are a valuable, beautiful person.....and through THEIR story....realizing that I CAN think the same of myself! :)

**** This article appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Unique Me Magazine :)

Michelle Fischer is host of A View from My Window, a podcast produced by The Arc of Indiana

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