After Falling, I Pick Myself Up and Bend My Armor Back Into Shape
The glint of armor demands attention.
The jousting lance was slung to the side of a great black horse. The rider, shield in hand, mounted the stallion and paraded about a wooden bleacher. The horse coolly pulled one leg up, then the other, muscles rolling with each movement.
Silver boot heels clicked, and the charge began against a more decorated knight. The lance lowered, making contact with the shield across a wooden beam separating the two knights. A flimsy shield buckled, cracked, and shattered. One mounted warrior fell hard to the ground.
Like that knight, I find myself on the ground. Pride has served as my shield, and it’s broken.
It’s common for those with Becker muscular dystrophy to fall. Sometimes it happens with warning, and I can catch myself, but other times, I cannot. I’ve fallen enough to learn the art of plummeting down without a parachute. “Tuck and roll,” as they say. Thankfully, I’ve not had any major issues when these falls occur. However, moments like these make me question if I’m a knight or if I’m simply the jester.
What do you think of when it comes to knights in their shiny armor? Many would say the knight is a champion of the people, a person with a heart wrought from rough iron and courage. But what if the knight was a champion for themselves rather than a champion for others? What if the knight was someone who had a valiant heart molded from personal resilience and tenacity instead of training and warfare? That knight would be the champion of their own story. The cheer of the crowd would be replaced with positive personal reinforcement.
Once I’ve fallen, I contemplate what happened. Sometimes, I can anticipate the fall if my legs lock up. Other times, falls occur without any sort of precursor. At this stage of my progression, I don’t fall often, but each tumble still has a consequence on my spirit. My spirit has endured many of these falls, and yet, I remain resilient. While I will eventually progress further, I’ve found combining an active lifestyle with my Becker leads to fewer falls.
Our personal armor keeps us safe from judgment until it is damaged and falls to pieces, making us feel exposed. When I fall, my struggles are laid bare and I am left to collect my broken bits of armor. Even shattered, the armor I have crafted with encouragement and positivity can still serve its purpose of protection. Despite the growing embarrassment, my armor can be remade.
A human puddle spread across the ground, I have a choice to make.
I can choose to be upset and feel embarrassed about things I cannot control, letting the feelings of shame well up and frustrate me enough to make me question my very existence. Certainly, this would be the easiest route to take. Frustration is human, especially in circumstances requiring us to feel stronger than we identify ourselves to be.
The other choice is to take a moment to assess if I’ve seriously injured anything (again, tuck and roll). I can get up slowly, dust myself off, and move on. I inevitably face fall challenges, but I get to choose whether I let these uncooperative parts of my body define my character and whether I accept the world as it is.
I try not to hang on to those negative feelings for long. A hooded figure wearing black presides over the tournament, beckoning me to the darkest parts of my heart, urging me to admit defeat. In that moment, I decide if and when I go to that place. It’s up to me to continue fighting back. It’s my chosen destiny to stare down the figure, to recognize the flame still burning in my chest.
When I’m found on the sandy arena floor, I get back up and mount my horse again — he will carry me with determination to victory at the next duel. The armor I carry will protect me. I defiantly place my helmet atop my head. I will not give up this tournament so easily.
If I let the armor rust away in the sand, buried under the autumn leaves rolling into the arena, there is no tale to tell. The armor will be entombed with time. I have a story because I pick up the armor, bend it back into shape, and let the dent tell the history of this day. I may not feel like a victor every time I fall, but I can be brave enough to share a new campfire chronicle at the night’s feast.
It turns out I’m the knight after all.
Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.