• Kendall

Is the Grass Greener Without Friedreich’s Ataxia?

I am a freelance columnist for Friedreich's Ataxia News. I was recently published on my column, My Darling Disability, and I wanted to share it here, too. You can either read it by following this link, or just keep scrolling below.

I keep thinking about the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side.” This is usually thrown around when you wish for something.

We get it set in our minds that if we could just cross the figurative fence, grass would be greener and life would be better. “If only it was September already,” “I wish I could find Mr. Right,” “I wish my hair was curly,” “I wish my house was bigger,” etc.

People often reference this conundrum of accepting your current circumstances with the other classic line, “You always want what you don’t have.” Most of us are in search of what would make life better. This leads to a dangerous tendency to compare with others and resent what we do have.

I get wrapped up wishing I didn’t have Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). I think that without FA, my life would be so much easier, better, more adventurous, less complicated, happier, and so on.

I’m sure the grass is legitimately greener on the healthy, non-FA side of the fence, at least physically. Running around in lush, green grass certainly sounds more appealing than stumbling around with a walker. Yet I must remind myself that every time I envy someone, that person probably craves their own greener grass. Generally speaking, we are unsatisfied people craving the next something that would make life perfect.

When I start with this train of thought, I think about how different my life would be without FA. Besides the obvious big changes in being able to function safely and independently, not battling chronic fatigue, and not dreading further complications like cardiomyopathy, it’s easy to get wrapped up in thoughts of how much happier I would be.

I wouldn’t have to fight my body for every move I make. I wouldn’t wrestle with “mobility envy.” I would get excited when I think about my children’s futures instead of worrying about the logistics of how their “disabled mom” will be there for them. I wouldn’t have to deal with the relentless heartbreak of a progressively degenerative disease that I have no real way of fighting.

We can all agree that life on the non-FA side of the fence certainly would be greener. Yet, while it might look easier, I don’t know if I would appreciate that lot if I hadn’t had to endure this side. I wouldn’t have become the person I am without spending my life trudging through this treacherous FA grass.

While FA has changed my body, it also has changed who I am on the inside. I have learned so much about myself since my 2013 diagnosis. I am stronger than I ever thought I would be in ways I never expected. I appreciate the good things in my life on a different level than before. I have made many wonderful friends in the FA community that I wouldn’t otherwise know. I have been given opportunities to share my story and inspire strength and hope. And most importantly, my faith has been tested and redefined.

For now, I will keep fighting against my tendency to long for an easy, carefree life, because that life doesn’t exist for anyone. I have big plans for the day I do get to cross over to that greener, non-FA grass, but until then, I will keep working to blossom where I’m planted and enjoy what I can with my current lot. After all, there are so many beautiful flowers here.

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