Thank you for being kind, for loving people without reservation. Thank you for loving unconditionally. Today, those are the rarest qualities a human could have. You sought to understand even when others did not understand you.
Thank you for being a teacher. You gave us power, hope, and strength. Thank you for allowing yourself to be soft in a hard world. Thank you for never taking crap. You kicked ass literally, figuratively, and when you missed, you knew how to laugh at yourself.
Thank you for working towards loving yourself unabashedly. Your body was beautiful. You helped us love our bodies, guiding us towards the understanding that our "custom made pieces" and scars were a part of what made us more perfect beings, just like you.
Paul, we met in 2015, and I know I failed you as a friend. You sent me the following pieces (in their original formatting, completely unedited,) over a year ago to feature on Frill-Ability. I have no excuse for not posting them. You are an amazing soul. Thank you for trusting me with them. Your soul is eternal as is your message. You are with me always.
Life in the cripple lane
If you never used a wheelchair/braces and crutches for more than an hour or two you probably don't have a clue what it's like living life in the cripple lane. If you never had everyone telling you, you can't or shouldn't do something and end up believing it for most of your life, and having to work harder than anyone you know to prove to yourself & others that you can. Determination and strength, the ability to overcome all the obstacles life throws at me. Life in the crippled lane is hard, it may seem like its a lot of fun to ride in a wheelchair all day, but that's because it took years to build up the person that I am. It took years to have all that determination and strength, to accomplish what most people don't even consider a challenge. It takes years to build up a positive attitude toward whatever seems to happen to you. I get asked all the time if I could change one thing about my life what would it be. Nothing because if I change one thing about my life, that changes everything that I am as a person. My personality comes from the challenges in my life. My attitude comes from all the stuff i have overcome & people I have met . People ask me do I wish I could walk my answer is why fix something that isn't broken? I believe that God is using my disability. I do everything in life everyone else does maybe a little different therefore having the ability to walk is pointless. My wheels/braces and crutches are my legs. My arms are my strength. My mind is my heart and soul. I'm not broken therefore I certainly don't need to be fixed. This came to me when I made a video about what people have said to me throughout my life
Don't Forget To Be Perfect
Self-acceptance is hard for me…
allowing my value
to be dictated by my flaws,
trying to fit into a world
where I was once
thought of as less-than.
It is hard to get the words
of others out of your head…
“You’re on crutches and braces.”
“You use a wheelchair.”
“You can't play with us.”
“You’re my disabled friend.”
“You won't have a real relationship.”
“Those scars are gross.”
Looking to God for comfort,
only to hear…
“You don't worship like I do.”
“Your God is different from my God.”
So I spent the better part
of 10 years running from God,
trying not to piss him off.
I looked around and I saw a perfect world.
No one that I perceived as smart,
good-looking, and Godly was disabled.
So their words became mine,
my internal dialog
“I'm not good enough.”
“I was in special education, so I'm not smart.”
“I lusted and got drunk and no I’m going to Hell.”
Now I'm 3 weeks away from my 43rd birthday.
I run a non-profit organization Criptaedo.
I speak to other disabled people,
encouraging them to live
an active and healthy lifestyle.
Hoping that I can help them not to feel
what I felt about myself for so long.
I still visit those feelings
but they get shorter
as I learn more about myself.
See you on the other side, Paul.
Sorel Estrada Volpe