Choosing Joy

By: Kacee Neria

Imagine never being able to kick a soccer ball, or drive a car, or run the mile in P.E. I am unable to do any of these things, but that hasn’t slowed me down one bit in the last 25 years. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, and face numerous challenges overcoming adversity on a daily basis. I never have worry about any of it though, because I have tons of friends and a loving family supporting me every step of the way. it wasn’t always so sweet however.

My dad is an emotionally abusive person who puts down and disrespects my mom and I all too often. Sadly, I have come to realize that he probably isn’t going to change. My mom loves, sometimes, so hard that it turns into harsh criticism. My parents pushed me very hard throughout academia, always telling me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Because of these things, I grew up a people pleaser. I would constantly push myself toward my goals, many times so hard that I would be sick from that stress.

One day all of their criticisms took hold of my emotions. Suddenly, every time I made a decision different from theirs, it felt like it wasn’t good enough for them. This translated into my feelings of inadequacy. Throughout my late teen years I began internalizing all of it. I hated my body. I hated my disability. I hated everything about myself. At this time I started to believe what my mom said about how horrible my skin looked, or that I could stand to lose a few pounds or that I lacked ambition. She would always make those dreadful comments like “I wish you..” or “You should..” I would get upset with myself when she made all of those hurtful comments.

I have buried myself in my feelings which made it hard for people to see me. This got worse as I entered my 20’s, because now my dad could treat me just as he had my mom; with next to zero respect for my feelings…  Often calling me names when he disagrees with me, and being just plain mean when things didn’t go as planned. Put downs, manipulation and more name calling.. Although unfortunate, he almost never apologizes for what he says or does to bruise our emotions so deeply.

Despite all of the chaos I remain positive. Because even when I don’t feel joy, I believe that joy itself is a gift that never stops giving. I guess you could say ignorance is bliss, but bliss doesn’t stay silent out of hurt. It screams from the rooftop overjoyed. I am much more joyful these days because I realized that I don’t need man’s approval to feel valued, loved, or respected. After almost 2 years of therapy I know that real honest self love starts from within. Once I realized that, I began to look at the world with a brand new perspective. Others opinions do not make up your worth. Your uniqueness makes you beautiful!

Enter So Worth Loving. I never realized carrying these 3 words on my back would help me so much. Just knowing that I was part of this beautiful community of people who shared many of my struggles meant the world. I no longer feel alone. I have been a part of the SWL family since 2012. Though I still struggle, it is no longer constant.