To the One Who’s Facing Injustice

You feel like your life is shattering around you, splintering in the wake of chaos.  You feel like you are dancing on broken glass, shards jutting into the tender soles of your feet.  As the shards of glass pelt the earth in a torrent, you feel like the damage to yourself — to your reputation, your psyche, and your life — is unavoidable.  Inescapable.  Irreparable.  But you must remember that you are neither glass, nor china, nor clay.  You will not be broken forever.  Your soul is not permanently fractured.  You can — you will — be made whole again.

You find yourself constantly, obsessively attempting to explain the unexplainable — wondering, worrying. Why me?  Why now?  What did I ever do to deserve this? You are a frantic sleuth in hot pursuit of evidence — desperately, rabidly searching for answers, fabricating false memories of your own wrongdoing and attempting to transform injustice into justice by blaming yourself.  Your mind is a broken record, scratching its way through an endless loop of undeserved self-criticism.  However, you must know — you must believe — that the very nature of injustice renders its recipient inculpable.  You are faultless.  You are blameless.  You are innocent.

You feel exhausted, tired of preparing for a battle you have no business fighting.  The desire to know why stirs deeply inside of you, then promptly dissipates, like a brief flicker of light in a decrepit building.  Your fear of how others perceive you — of how they will somehow justify the unjust — manifests as apparent apathy.  But you are far from apathetic.  Your anger and frustration with the unfairness of your predicament sparks your desire to fight for yourself in the name of justice, fairness, and truth, then quickly gives way to an overpowering sadness, which causes you to crumble — to surrender the fight.  As you struggle to fight through your emotional blockade, you desperately wish you could stop advocating for yourself in the pursuit of justice.  After all, you reason, this never should have happened to me.  And since this never should have happened to me, I shouldn’t have to fight it.

You are right — injustice, by definition, ensures that you should not be enveloped in your present situation — completely demoralized, whole-heartedly desiring a resolution, yet half-heartedly fighting for the truth to emerge.  However, you must never stop advocating for yourself in the pursuit of justice.  Self-advocacy is the most effective means to a desired resolution.  Self-advocacy vanquishes voicelessness, drives out powerlessness, and paves the way for truth.  Self-advocacy draws you closer to the unwavering beacon of light in the midst of the storm.  Although choosing to fight for justice may seem to place a challenging, undeserved burden upon your shoulders, it not only validates the gravity of your emotions, but it also proves that your predicament is, indeed, unjust.  It is wholly acceptable to acknowledge that you should have never found yourself in this position.  It is crucial to recognize your sadness, your hopelessness, your anger, and your frustration. However, regardless of how you feel, keep advocating.  Keep fighting. Your tireless, fearless pursuit of justice will ultimately be rewarded.

You find yourself rapidly losing faith in humanity, losing trust in others, and losing hope for the future.  Your belief that people are fundamentally good is slipping away, like grains of sand sifted through your fingers.  The soft whisper of your thoughts crescendos to a shout, roaring inside your mind.  How could anyone do this?  Why does no one think about the repercussions of their actions?  Does anyone care about the difficulties I’m facing, the hopelessness I feel, or the lack of control I have?  Clearly, there is no good left in humanity.

It is tempting to blame all of humankind for the attitudes or actions of a few, but to do so is to make a gross generalization — to ignore the kindness, care, and hope left in the world.  You feel as though you are drowning without a lifeline, subjected to a jeering audience of onlookers watching you sink, but you must understand that someone will pull you to the surface.  Someone will restore your faith.  Someone will heal the brokenness you feel.

To heal from the injustice you have faced, you must recognize the benevolence of others.  Seek out the good left in the world.  Notice the small acts of kindness others show you.  Look to those who fight for truth and justice.

Accepting goodness back into your life after your faith has been shaken and your trust has been shattered is not easy.  It will be the most challenging step in the process of reclaiming your life and restoring justice.  But once you begin to relearn the magnanimous nature of humanity, you will no longer feel like you are dancing on shards of glass.  The torrent of chaos will dissipate.  Your wounds will heal.

You will restore faith.

You will regain trust.

You will reclaim hope.

You will no longer feel confined, broken, or alone.

Believe in the benevolence of humanity and you will be free.

*Previously published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com.

Kelly is an avid writer and mental health and disability advocate with a focus on personal growth. She is passionate about using her life experiences to help others. Her ultimate goal is to make a difference in the world — no matter how small. When she is not writing or educating others about life with disability and mental illness, Kelly can be found listening to music and cuddling her cat.

A Pennies Worth of Happiness

Back when gas was under a dollar and man and his wife would spend their Friday evenings people watching at the airport. Having little money and no tv this was their entertainment. They would stop and put five dollars of gas in the car.

One Friday the man filled up his tank to the normal five dollars. When he approached the window to pay he found that he only had four dollars and ninety-nine cents. He asked the attendant if he could just give him what he had. The attendant said no he needed the one penny. Grumbling under his breath the man went back to his car and searched for the one penny. After several minutes he found it. Took it up to the window and shoved it through the slot giving the attendant a nasty look.

Driving to the airport the man was fuming. Muttering to himself and grasping the steering wheel so tight his knuckles turned white.

“Was the worth it?” His wife asked him.
“What? Worth what? What do you mean?” He replied.
“Your happiness. Was it worth that one penny?” She said.

How often do we let something small get to us and dig under our skin? Where it festers like a splinter from an old piece of wood.

Take a moment to think about one of those times…Perhaps it was when we’re driving down the freeway. I don’t know about where you are but where I am the speed limit is 65 miles per hour. Most people here do about 75 or more, yes they’re that crazy. Anyways. You’re cruising down the road doing a solid 75 and you come up on a car that is in your lane and you slow down to their speed to find them going 66 miles per hour. You’re screaming and telling them to move over. Your face is turning red and now you’re upset because someone was going slow. All the mean while, off to your left and right are lanes that have no one in them. Wide open.

We missed the lanes because we were so focused on what was in front of us. We let something small get to us. We let a slow driver take our happiness. We let hurt take our happiness.

If you’ve read some of my other posts you’ve read that, I’ve been going through a breakup. Honestly I freaking hate it. Everyone agrees with me that breakups aren’t fun. I don’t think anyone likes to go through breakups. It’s be over eight months now and I am on a constant daily struggle to move forward. I have been hung up on a relationship that no longer exists. Hung up on what is now only in my mind. I can’t control what my ex feels and what she does. I can’t make her feel something she doesn’t. Naturally I hurt from it all, anybody would. While at the same time of dealing with my first breakup, I had to deal with other relationships falling apart. People who I thought were friends turned out not be who I believed them to be.

I let so many pennies stack up and continuously buy my happiness. I’m not saying that the hurt and heartbreak I am feeling isn’t right. We all know that it’s natural to feel hurt and heartbreak.

However, I am allowing it to buy my happiness. I am allowing it to take joy from my life. I have so much to be happy about. I have to admit that I have failed to see so much of what good is still in my life.

I have a family that cares for and loves me. Two wonderful parents who are helping me get back on my own two feet and not charging me rent (always a plus!). A little sister who looks up to me and says I inspire her. A big brother, yes I am the middle, who shows me everyday what real success in life looks like.

A small number of friends (special shout out to them) who have allowed me to hurt. To vent, text late at night for hours, and process everything. They haven’t once told me to just get over it. They’ve said “you need to hurt, get it out, I am here for you.”

There’d be days where I’d wake up and it felt as if the worlds biggest penny laid upon my shoulders. I’d go to work pretending there was nothing wrong and hiding the facial expression of I don’t want to be here. I’d sit in training and find that I had to force myself to pay attention. Keep myself from drifting. I knew that I wasn’t gonna wake up one morning and all the hurt would be gone. I had to work at letting go of the pain. One morning I woke up and I heard a voice in my head say “Today, I choose to be happy.”

I repeated that all day, wrote it on my notes over and over. Today, I choose to be happy.

Choosing to be happy is something I have to work at everyday. I allow myself to still hurt, but I work at not staying hurt. I get myself refocused on something that makes me feel good. I look over my writings for Project Wednesday. I think of a new topic to write about. I message a friend and talk.

My initial purpose of writing this piece was to talk about how we should let things go and slide off our shoulders. The driver going slow in the fast lane. The coworker who is always late. When our coffee order gets messed up. All things that bother us and get under our skin.

To me my penny has been rejection. I was bullied going through school. It didn’t end until I left high school and went to college. I was never popular or well liked. I was that kid who was made fun of for being smart or listening to Frank Sinatra.

When the breakup happened and friendships feel apart I went to my priest at the time to talk and get some advice. After explaining what I had been through lately and about my past experience with rejection, he couldn’t believe one person experienced so much rejection. Everything I previously stood upon was built on rejection and it all collapsed under me.

Rejection is something we all experience and struggle with to some degree in life. It’s how we work through it that matters most. 

All it is, is a penny.

We can work with a penny. Taken one day at a time.

Most importantly. You don’t have to carry this penny on your own. If it becomes to much for you, reach out and talk. Comment below or message me. I can’t promise an answer to your questions. I can promise I’ll listen. Sometimes we just need to get our pain out.

All it is, is a penny.

Positive Vibes & God Bless

Niall Covington
Born with a genetic disorder, Niall knows what it is like to be knocked down. He has been there several times and he has been able to get back up because of faith and a small number of friends. Seeing others getting knocked down, Niall offers a hand whether he has just fallen or is on the way back up himself. Volunteering as a summer camp counselor for children, teens, and young adults with the same disorder, Niall hopes to inspire them to overcome life’s road blocks. For Niall, writing for Project Wednesday is an opportunity to reach more people, and to help more.

What is my why?

For the past couple of days I have been thinking about a significant topic and I wanted to share my real emotions about it finally. This is where the subject of what is my why comes from and why I continue my journey as an author.

Honestly, this is a good question to ask yourself right while you’re in the middle of a major hurricane. Yes, for the record, I’m writing this piece with the no power and no AC, so it’s its very humid and boiling, but thankfully everybody in my family’s okay and we survived Hurricane Irma.

I have thought about the reasons why I started my journey of writing at the age of 16 when I first discovered I had a gift and a passion for writing.

I thought about my friends in the cerebral palsy community from all around the world, and I saw all their faces and all their smiles and thought this is my why. This is the reason I continue to write for eight hours a day, seven days a week.

Even through a major hurricane I still want to share my literature with you guys. In my message of inspiration to the world I feel like the more and more I write, the more awareness there is on the 17 million people that have cerebral palsy.

The more and more I write short stories and articles and books, I continue to get the rewarding feeling of my self-inspiring others, and that’s the message I want to get across.

If you do what you love and you find your reason why, life will never seem like a struggle. It will never seem difficult and you will enjoy your life to the best of your ability.

If you live with a positive mindset and an inspiring attitude, you will quickly find your why and your reason for doing what you love to do regardless of the obstacles in front of you.

I would be lying to you if I said it does not get frustrating being someone with a disability and an author at times, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Seeing all of the amazing CP warriors that go through so much continues to inspire me.

I don’t know where I would be if it weren’t for CP dream team and the rest of the cerebral palsy community.

Until the day I die, I will never stop doing what I love because you guys – the 17 million people world wide diagnosed with CP – are my why.

Tylia Flores
Tylia Flores is a 22-year-old born with cerebral palsy. Although her condition has affected her mobility, it has never affected her will and determination.

A silver lining with some rough edges

I don’t remember when I started doing it, but I’ve always answered the question the same way.

Someone: “There’s good news and bad news. What do you want first?”

Me: “Tell me the bad news, that way the good news will cheer me up.”

That’s just the way my brain works, I guess. I’m the silver-lining finder, the rainbow chaser, the bright side of life seeker. It’s not always easy, but it’s like my default setting. It might be a remnant of my childhood, when I spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals. I was born an Idiopathic Toe-Walker, but it took a lot of doctors and appointments to get to a diagnosis. My parents exhausted many hours and even more dollars to figure out why I couldn’t walk normally.

Bullying by my grade school peers became a daily struggle. When you’re a little kid, you don’t understand why the other kids are being so mean. Mom and Dad were wonderfully supportive, but that negativity will set in your mind like wet cement.

When I was ten, I spent weeks at what was then the Elizabethtown Children’s Hospital in Hershey, PA. The doctors were going to perform a relatively new surgery that entailed snipping my achilles tendons and stretching them out in an attempt to give me a chance at a life outside of a wheelchair. (Good News – it mostly worked!)

Before our first trip to the hospital, my dad sat me down and told me point blank that I was going to see children there that were in way worse shape than I was, and to not point or stare at the other kids. He made it very clear that I needed to consider myself very lucky and that there were kids who didn’t have it as good as I did. Dude – I could barely walk and was getting picked on every day. How could they have it worse than me?

It was eye opening to say the least. There were children with full body burns, major growth disorders, and maladies beyond my comprehension. He was right. I was lucky. Sure, I couldn’t walk right, but otherwise I was healthy and happy, with a good prognosis ahead of me if I put the work into PT.

Fast forward thirty years and it looks like that lesson has stuck with me. Teaching is hard, but it’s a good job that I love most days. I’ve gained some weight over the last few years but it’s because I quit smoking and drinking. I have a roof over my head, family and friends, and host of things to be grateful for. My dad was right. I’m lucky.

Sometimes it feels like I’m in over my head, but I won’t drown. Mom and Dad threw me a lifesaver when they taught me that coping skill when I was so young.

Karen Padden
Karen, Queen of the Paddens and first of her name. Teacher, Baker, Petter of Cats, Multiple Sneezer and Crocheter of Wubbies. Believes in kindness, always.

Hello there! You look like a bad decision

Destiny is shaped after the winner of the battle between indecisions and our inner voice overcomes the feeling of mixed signals.

Can we peek into the future and avoid regretting the outcome of making bad decisions? Can we follow a standard to address our decision-making process? Legacy is written everyday based on our wisdom, based on our acquired knowledge of life. The voice inside us has learned from our experiences to encourage us to take chances and risks. We need to be willing to be afraid and be aware of the beauty of making mistakes.

Our journey is the running path through time. The past is our training during our morning runs. The present is our current feeling of body and mind, the stage that is preparing us to our scheduled race. If we have done our homework and trained properly, we will be winners at making difficult decisions and we would deserve a medal for our courage of running thousand miles of pain.

Trying our hardest in life is the balance of facing decisions that feed our soul and living without apologies after closing doors leading to nowhere. We are always one decision away from submerging into the waters of fear, waters leading us to a future of uncertainty. Life-change decisions dictate the outcome of career choices and relationships. Our very optimistic brain recognizes bad situations by running scenarios, analyzing them and thinking about the positive outcomes. In the other hand, we listen and trust the decisions from our heart because very deep inside, it makes perfect sense.

Let’s embrace our opportunities because we may only have one shot at experiencing the best partners in life and the best jobs in life.

Life-change decisions come and go, and there are moments when we will never be ready for. We need to walk through dark alleys and scary places in our mind because right conditions are never aligned. Finding love is a good example of perfect alignment. I placed all the pieces together, I made the right moves, I followed my heart, I changed directions, and I gambled my hopes because there is no order for reaching a fixed destination.

Playing with fire may get us burnt. I wish I knew then what I know now. Can I just reset all my actions, undo the consequences and avoid the impact? Heart lessons hurt, forgetting hurts, but not knowing is the worst. If we are not willing to move on and walk away with victory and our heart at peace, we repeat and try harder.

Someday, everything will make perfect sense. For now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and remember that everything happens for a reason and the universe conspires, so bad decisions are very appealing to our eyes.

I am from Colombia and one of my great passions is life because I have walked this path through the eyes and experiences of others. I am an eager reader of science, poetry, politics, and music (yes, the meaning and composition of song lyrics). I have a great appreciation for art, languages, and the expression of everyone’s perspective seen from the lens of a camera. Astronomy is one of my passions and one day I will be in space. I am a Research Scientist in Corrosion Engineering and writing is a hobby (:

Other than that, I am a mere mortal.