There are a lot of - perhaps too many - pieces that make up my identity, but first and foremost I am a freak* and proud of it. And while being a freak (to me) means there is an inherent flexibility, I'm finding that some of the changes in my health are forcing revisions I'm not happy with...
I still have a hard time thinking about myself as disabled, but the reality is I am. My body is broken, and at this point I don't expect any permanent fix, I just hope to gain a more control over the problems. However, that's a small part of who I am, and the rest of me is constantly chafing against the broken.
The other big pieces of me are: the angry "dainty punk" club kid who loves to dance; the terminally shy girl who none-the-less hosts good parties, who enjoys sharing food and drinks and conversation with lots of friends; the smart kid in class, who learns quickly and doesn't study or pay attention and still blows the curve; the geeky bibliophile; the fiercely independent "herder of cats" who does everything she can to help her friends and family; the adrenaline junky; the queer, polyamorous, atheist who tries to be an active voice and an ally.
And all those other pieces, the core of my identity for as long as I've known who I am, are impacted by my broken.
Getting dressed up and going to the club is the part I fight for the most; dancing keeps me centered and helps me let go of the anger. But there's a price every time I win that fight; I hurt more, sleep too much, have no energy the next day. I miss being able to go out dancing 2-3 times a week, but I count myself lucky that I can still dance. And I'm glad that the club I love doesn't make it harder on me; no-one questions it when I get carried into or out of the club, when just getting there is my "one thing" and I nap on the couch for half the night, when I limp off the dance floor to the patio or the girls room. Being in a space where I can be myself without worrying about how I look or having to answer a thousand questions about my limp or my meds or my memory loss is something I'm thankful for every week.
The other pieces are slowly getting used to the problems to some extent. Shared food/drink usually happens out at a restaurant or at someone else's place now, and my ability to help others is limited by finances and pain/energy and the fact that I don't get around as well as I used to. As for the adrenaline junky - well, that's hard to satisfy, but I can still go ride rollercoasters if I have the spoons for a day at the amusement park.
I'm trying to accept that the intermittent memory loss means I don't learn or read like I did before, and that needing help doesn't make me less of a person. I'm getting used to the idea that no-one wants to hire me as I am. But it's hard to lose so much of my independence, to need to rely on other people.
In the long-run, I'm sure my identity will bend to encompass my broken more gracefully, but I will always be a freak. And I'm not going to stop dancing or enjoying life or being myself to fit into anyone's picture of disabled either.
*Freak - one who is different, who does not fit into the role or appearance dictated by society, who accepts that by virtue of looking and/or acting the way they do that they will be an outsider, and who is happy with that distinction