What you are about to read was never intended as a monologue. These were real thoughts that I confronted during a certain period of my life. I wrote it in the form of an open letter, which essentially caused a firestorm amongst a lot of my friends. I have thought long and hard about whether or not to include this as part of The Gimpy Monologues… It is an intensely personal thing to include her, but the entire project is intensely personal to me; therefore, I have decided to include it as part of the project. Every person with a disability at some point or other, regardless of whether or not their condition is either degenerative, terminal, or considered stable will consider these types of things in their lives. It is for that reason that I share this with you all.
This isn’t some half assed statement. I thought about this a lot, and I’ve realized that overall, I need to learn to be kinder to myself. And the only way to treat myself more kindly, is to stop hiding the ugly parts that I don’t want to deal with. Mind you, I’m not talking about tomorrow, next week, or even next year. It is simply a statement that at some point I would like to make true of my own volition. It’s a decision I actually made a long time ago, that very few people know about… And the ones that do, have tried to convince me that I should change my mind. But I don’t see that happening.
I have seen death take many people that I’ve cared about in my short 28 years of life. Some of them were taken by a series of seemingly random circumstances, some due to natural causes, and others still taken by a series of horrible choices, of which they could not reverse the consequences. I’ve seen the struggles that come with old age in my own family. The senility, the persistent pain, the mood swings and so forth. This has made me think a lot about what I want out of my own life, and consequently, out of my own death.
I was born with cerebral palsy, and for those of you that don’t know, it is a neurological condition brought about usually after or during the birthing process as a result of brain damage, either due to slight hemorrhaging or lack of oxygen. The condition is not a disease… It is just that, a condition. It is not degenerative, and as far as I know cerebral palsy in and of itself is not hereditary. There are however normally other conditions that are present in cerebral palsy patients that are in fact genetic. The way this condition presents itself in me is that it affects my ability to move my lower extremities, and it affects the coordination of my left hand. This makes it difficult for some common everyday actions to be performed in a manner expected of a more able-bodied individual. This is the basis for my decision. I have seen the clutches of old age take otherwise vigorous and vital members of society, and reduce them to little more than children with a greater understanding of what they should be capable of. This places a burden on everyone around them, whether we lie to ourselves or not, the truth is that the burden does in fact exist.
This is why I have decided that I would like to end my life at the age of 60. Before senility has the opportunity to set in, and before further impairments to my movement can further degrade my quality of life. This is also one of the reasons I decided that I don’t want children. Not because I don’t love them, and not because I don’t think I would make a phenomenal father. I’m certain of both of those things. But I could not bear the thought of passing a genetic condition on to a child who may face greater difficulty than I ever could’ve surmounted myself. If I do have children, they will likely be adopted. There are far too many children in this world who go unloved, and uncared for simply because as a species, we thrive on the purpose of selfishly passing on our own genetic material. Whereas in my case, the likelihood of my genetic material being inferior as it is, is significantly higher. So I find myself not to be plagued with such selfishness, but rather only with the desire to show a child love.
The thought also occurs to me that I may never even have to make this decision to end my own life, because statistically speaking the average life expectancy of an individual in my situation is around the age of 51. So this forces me to ask myself, what do I want out of life? I have no girlfriend, at least for the moment. I have an amazing group of friends. I have a fairly rich social life, a fairly fulfilling means of employment, and then embarking on future projects that promise to be life enriching. So the only thing I want out of my life, is to live out how many ever years I have left in happiness with those I love. I don’t want to be remembered as someone who saw the end of their life embittered by the trials of becoming elderly. I want to be remembered as someone who inspired those around him, made him laugh, then cry, then laugh some more. I want to be remembered as someone who lived his life by one principle; the principle of unconditional love. I hope that admitting this to a group of people potentially larger than I will ever meet in my own life, will help me take that step to be just a little kinder to myself and in turn, a little kinder to those around me.
And I hope that to those that read this, even if you do not like what you’ve read… You learn to accept the art, regardless of the flawed artist that creates it. Please be and live well.