How to Find Acceptance, Community and Purpose Through Music
As a kid growing up with cerebral palsy, I really didn’t understand what having a disability meant. Like many other children with disabilities, I didn’t understand the impact it would have on my life.
All I knew was that I was always at the doctors, always being hooked up to wires and always being asked to walk so people could observe me.
I knew something was going on, but I didn’t know what. What I did know is that I didn’t feel safe.
Through music I found safety and so much more. Read on to find out how a kid with CP found acceptance, purpose and community through turning on the radio:
I remember the feeling I got when we were driving home from the hospital and Hall & Oates came on the radio, it made me so happy. I couldn’t wait to go home and listen to Maneater on my Fisher Price record player. That was my first 45 that I bought and I played it every day. It was fun, it was safe, and the sounds would take me away. There was nothing wrong when music was on; it was peace, it was freedom, it was acceptance.
When you don’t feel safe in your body, it’s hard to accept yourself. There are no requirements or judgements when the music is on. Turn on the Beach Boy, Pet Sounds, and your whole life can change.
This continued as I was growing up, still not totally understanding or admitting that I was disabled. I would listen to music like it was food, I couldn’t get enough, it fed my soul. Music said the things I was unable to say. Melodies in songs would convey the emotions of pain and misunderstanding that I refused to admit. Music sang my truths when I couldn’t speak them. In some way music made me forget my disability and that carried me through multiple surgeries and fears of not being enough.
The best gift that music gave me were the friends that turned into family. I made lasting friendships with people who didn’t care that I was disabled, I was just like every other kid to them. They just cared if I had a Beatles record or if I wanted to go back even further, a NKOTB record or Run DMC. I found community, safety and acceptance within music and I will forever be grateful for that.