Finding Acceptance

Nancy Mairs’ On Being a Cripple article really resonated with me. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for everything she has to go through. It really put my life into perspective. I like how she starts out explain why she calls herself crippled. She describes “‘Disabled,’ by contrast, suggests any incapacity, physical or mental. And I certainly don’t like ‘handicapped,’ which implies that I have deliberately been put at a disadvantage” (Mairs 46). I have always wondered what people feel about those terms and which term I should use to not offend anyone. When I think of the word cripple I can’t help but think of the olden days. I feel like cripple is not a word people use every day.
I was astonished at the fact that she has not always been crippled. She was diagnosed at such young age of twenty-eight. I feel like having the ability to walk and do normal things would be bittersweet because it will soon be taken away. At least she had a chance to live a normal life without the fear of what she might not have the next day. Her disease of multiple sclerosis seems so horrible especially because there is no cure. I love how she tries to be optimistic saying, “Every day for the past nearly ten years, then, has been a kind of gift. I accept all gifts” (48). She is grateful to be still living even though her standard of living has changed forever.
I can relate to her trying to laugh things off like when she falls even though it may be painful. Her story of falling as she was getting into the car was really funny up to the part that she actually hurt herself. I had a similar situation happen to me with my friends. I was walking behind them and ended up slipping on water on the floor and falling. I was so embarrassed! I quickly tried getting up as soon as possible but my friends turned around just in time to see me try and recover my fall. They were so surprised I fell because I didn’t even make a sound. We ended up laughing about it but later on, I noticed my knee started to hurt a lot.
One quote I found interesting was that “In our society, anyone who deviates from the norm had better find some way to compensate. Like fat people, who are expected to be jolly, cripples must bear their lot meekly and cheerfully” (Mairs 51). I feel like the stereotype of fat people being jolly comes from Santa Clause because he’s fat from all the milk and cookies but is always jolly and nice. Of course, not all fat people are jolly; some may be depressed because of how they look like. She tires to be cheerful because she is a cripple but I think she has a reason to be grumpy.
Her motivation and determination is really moving. One quote that stood out to me was, “What I hate is not me but a disease. I am not a disease. And a disease is not-at least singlehandedly- going to determine who I am, though at first it seemed to be going to” (Mairs 52). This is so powerful because she has accepted the fact that even though she has a disease, it does not change who she is. The ending paragraph moved me as well. She wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone and is content in what God gave her.

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1 Response to Finding Acceptance

  1. Interesting post, Julie. I can’t even fathom what Nancy Mairs must have experienced and how everything changed for her after learning of her illness. Her narrative makes you realize that the things that we take for granted everyday–like walking, being autonomous, and other quotidian aspects of life–could be gone in an instant. You mentioned at the end that Mairs accepts that she has MS but that it does not define her. I can relate this to Lucy Grealy’s “Mirrorings” and how, in sharp contrast to Mairs, she is defined by her misshapen face. All her life, Grealy struggled with not only being accepted and loved by others, but also accepting and loving herself. Why do you think some people who are terminally ill define themselves by their illness, and others do not? Why did Grealy suffer more from her condition (especially the aftermath of her surgeries), while Mairs did not suffer and be tormented by it as much?

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