The Cliche of Anger

I am tired, in massive pain, and yet I still am riding on the waves of fulfillment. I worked an entire week straight. I am taking a few more days to get back to my standard however, and reminded myself why I do not work in a traditional manner. I would have been fired today for being unable to wear standard clothing for one, and my attitude for another. Every action I take, every interaction I am bogged down by references to the past, lessons, and reminders. I hear my mother’s voice most clearly, and that is not something I welcome. I want to be an individual not the product of my family.

I wasn’t going to post until tomorrow but I was reading a few pages over at Womanist Musings. The proprietor of Womanist Musings has recently outed herself as being amid the disabled. She is beginning to run into the challenges of being suddenly unwelcome, invisible, and at times hated for merely existing. Today one of the commenters told her that she should start a civil rights movement, ignoring the fact that the disabled community has been pulling for equal rights for as long as other civil rights movements have been in effect. Before we go on, I want to remind you my dear reader that every single civil rights movement hasn’t ended, and that the fight for equality is on going no matter what your ism is. This reader seemed to think that a few protests fix everything.

This ignores the protests in New York, the individuals who do sacrifice their energy and at times sanity to try and force businesses to comply with the laws, and it ignores the fact that there are those who came before you and I. This is an erasure of our history. I responded with snideness and sarcasm, ignoring for the few moments it took to suggest a hacksaw so she could remove her legs as “easily” as I can get off of my scooter, the voice of my mother. “All disabled people are angry, they think they have rights.” I am aware that it is the events of today that shape the memories that seem to nitpick at us. Before I was disabled my sexuality was most often the harbinger of a Mommy Memory. “Bisexuals are selfish, they just want to have sex with as many people as possible.” Every time I went to flirt with a woman or a man, I heard something like that.

The myth of anger is just that, a myth. It erases the happy moments with friends and family, it erases the moments where competent and open minded people realize that everyone has rights. The myth of anger is often used to subjugate. Stop being angry, so that I can continue to oppress you. That is what I hear. The expectation that an entire group of people must never feel one emotion is ridiculous yet this is foisted on women of color, the disabled, homosexuals, and countless other oppressed groups, all to control us. Anger is forbidden.

Many times when I am smiling, I am told, “This inaccessible area will be fixed soon, we swear!” The tone is always frantic, that hint of “Oh god she will be mad that we haven’t done this yet.” It doesn’t matter that I am smiling and just nod and say, “Great, thanks for letting me know.” The fear of my anger, which is some how more toxic than their anger or fear is there. I still don’t understand it, but, I see this often. The times when I am angry, I am also not heard. It’s enough for me to want to go back to trying to be Super Cripple, but, I won’t do that.

My anger is valid. Your anger is valid. Anger is not a reason to oppress, discriminate, or subjugate. Anger is not an excuse to not build the ramp in an accessible manner, and anger is not an excuse to try to “just get rid of” someone. I am tired today, and I am trying to seem reasonable. My mind is far from reasonable. I am in truth alone, and am having a small tantrum every time I need to get up to move. My fiance forgot to feed the cats, which merited an hour of sitting there whining about how I wasn’t sure if I could do it, I can’t bend, and their bowls are on the floor.

It wasn’t anger that had me make a really big mess trying to feed them either. That was love. They were hungry so I fed them, without bending. (Sorry honey, but the kitties have to eat too!) It won’t be anger that I let him know he forgot either, but amusement. Every emotion that I have is not anger. The lessons that our parents teach us, may shape what we see but it is the choice that I made in my first experience with disability as an adult that showed me otherwise. I chose to not see anger.

It’s really that simple. Demeaning an entire group of people does cause anger. If you fear our anger so much, stop discriminating. If you come near me right this second and discriminate I will show you anger, but I won’t run you down with my scooter. That’d hurt me too, and you just aren’t worth my time or pain.

To my friends, allies, and fellow disabled persons, don’t forget that every moment that we are alive is the revolution for our people. Every time we are seen out of our homes, with our assistance equipment, service animals, and even having issues, this is our revolution. VIVA LA REVOLUCION! Free my people!

Privileged

We live in a world of priviledge. White, Male, Able bodied, and sexual are merely a few. My awareness of my disability became a journey into the cryptic world of truth. This is a part of what has lead me to become a reporter for a local paper. The staff understand that due to my limitations I cannot always “do it” but in turn I understand they have questions about who I am. My questioning mind seeks information out, and I never stop analyzing. This means I also have some very high standards for my social interactions with people. I know what I like, and screw you if you cannot maintain a consistent approach.

Having a diverse friend base, this does at times cause internal friction though I have only told the people I am rejecting to go away. I resort to the screw you if I cannot get through to them with the concept that I am not their friend. This as an adult has occurred with two people repeatedly. Today I told my fiance about a woman, Cynthia McKinney who was kidnapped in a foreign country. He hadn’t heard about this. I admit since we rarely watch the TV this isn’t a surprising factor, though when I mentioned that not many others had, excluding the twitter users and bloggers none bothered to talk about her capture, he was floored.  He then said the most wonderful thing, for it filled my heart with joy that I live with a man who is aware of his privilege. “It’s disgusting. We have these rules, that allow people to do that crap and feel better. It’s a band aid over a slit throat that’s dirty, old, and infected. Sure, we think we’re fine but our body is dying.”

Our body is dying. I think on privilege often. Neither of us can ignore it. As a disabled woman, I run into privilege daily. If I leave the house it is there. Yesterday, I was told just how convenient my wheelchair is because it has a sunshade. In my brand new effort to not be Super Cripple, I said, “Absolutely, I only had to break my spine, become homeless, and develop an allergy to the sun in order to have this convenience. Want me to help you get one? I am sure I can find some way for you to become disabled.” I said it with a smile. The cold knife of sarcasm caused the cashier to falter, she looked down, and then I was invisible. She handed MY change to my fiance. He tried to correct her and pointed to me but she just set it down.

i made a choice to use the cutting words, yet this is not the first time that this same cashier has said this. She doesn’t seem to remember that she has done it, and I don’t need to be exposed to her ignorance each time. My fiance and i talked about it before I went home by myself, wanting the sun on my skin and knowing that the side walk was safe between the shopping center and the house.

He asked, “Are you okay?”

I replied with a frown, “Yeah, well no. I am so tired of that same behavior. I think I may write the store manager about it, though the other employees also do the same stuff.” Each time we go in, I have someone leaning on my chair, patting my head, and in general am treated like a child. This is a national chain, and my fiance having worked there knows that Walgreens prides itself on how it’s employees are given sensitivity training. With a higher than average rate of ableism in this store, I think the trainer was flawed.  Every time we go in, I am required to educate someone. It is a burden. I usually just need a cool drink to lower my body temperature so that I don’t faint. I may actually just want to get a candy bar. Why am I forced to deal with their ableism? I cannot do so in silence, or it will get worse, but it is exhausting.

He nodded, “Maybe you should offer to retrain them. For a fee.” I laughed but seriously am considering this. I also plan to detail for the management just how much we buy at their establishment. My fiance is lumped into a new category with me. Each time we are out he is given the pitying look by someone, and often has mostly older persons (yes, an entire generation of people oblivious to privilege exists) whisper to him how nice it is that he takes care of the wheelchair woman. Most actually say “Stupid cripple.”

Sometimes I relish his responses, how can I relish the pain and shock his refusal to blend in with other people causes? I think it’s the freedom it feels. I almost feel like I don’t have the right to do this and that is when I start super cripping. It’s a stolen moment of equality, a moment which by all rights is mine, but has been taken from me by the limited acknowledgment of generations before. My favorite response to a person doing this was actually a few days ago.  He was more frustrated than I was, it was July 3rd and we had to get food. Sprite was tucked up in my sun shade and was very miffed that we hadn’t gone home, but without food there would be consequences. All of the local stores were closing early.

I had just cursed someone out (I really said the”f” word) to get her to keep her hands off of me, and it took the threat of bodily harm via the Scooter to get her to step back. I was seething, then my person, my wonderful person comes and gets what we need off of that aisle. He doesn’t know it’s the same woman, as we are walking towards the next section she sidles up to him, I allow this because I am sure she’s about to tell him how evil I am. She says, “It’s so nice you can tolerate that thing.” Thing. Dehumanized in one sentence. He turns a bit red with rage, but she’s about my mother’s age, old enough that hitting her is worse somehow than hitting someone in our age group. He wanted to, it was there. We were both seething with exhausted frustration. “I mean, cripples are such burdens.”

I heard his response though I dropped back. In all honesty and openness I was considering how hard to ram her, and ifI should try to break her hip. I wouldn’t really but at times the visual is so wonderful. Imagination can be a great equalizer. He replied with anger, “She’s not a burden. If anything I am a burden to her. I don’t always pick up after myself, I sometimes expect her to do things she can’t and she does this with grace. She’s not a thing. That’s my wife.” He likes to call me his wife and I really do like it too. “My wife is a real lady, unlike you. She deals with people like you every day and she hasn’t killed any of them yet but she’d be within her rights.” Sometimes I want to and I usually share this with him, to let off the steam. “Another thing, if she’s a thing so are you! You have the privileged of a working body, it isn’t a right. You can be in a wheelchair like that.” Snapping his fingers he then sped up. I zipped past her, and rode beside him with great pride.

We talk about in this house often. There are no children to educate, it is merely something we both see. He has grown, as I have. In fact, he often tries to subvert is priviledge where he can. When he sees someone no matter who they are, having a bad day, he allows them in front of us in line (barring so low energy that this is a danger to my health). He does this to try and brighten their day and does this regardless of gratitude. Most of the time there is a grunt of anger or acknowledgment and that is it. He doesn’t stop. I note most often he does this for women, children, and persons who are most often ignored, allowing the men to wait. I am not sure if this is an expression of privilege but it is also the sort of person I would leave waiting, so if it is it is one we share. He is a joy to watch in the world. I often feel a separateness from most people but not with him.

How many white men who are so privileged to be in their 30s and still have a credit card from their parents usually see their privilege? How many white men usually can see it? In my experience it is the able bodied white man who fears this awareness above all. I know, too, that a requirement for being with the man I love, is this awareness.

I don’t talk about this often, but, some of the exploitation of the disabled that we see includes the cost of being disabled. It is very expensive, especially when the insurance companies don’t want to cover the cost of a wheelchair until you cannot leave your house, and then you still may not qualify for the one you actually need. if you need a bathchair, it is almost impossible to get a prescription for it, where we live. The cost increases as the economy makes money tighter.

What is my fiance doing to try and bring equality to the playing field? He is using his skills with repairing wheelchairs (he has repaired mine when the manufacturer failed) to try and help. He charges cost of parts, because we have to in order to eat, and a loaf of a specific gluten free bread or two dollars per hour, which has so far been used to buy a single loaf of gluten free bread. This fee is even negotiable. It is an expression of privilege that he CAN negotiate yet, it is also something that he wants to do to help people who may “lose their legs” and not be able to get their wheelchair repaired. I live with a man who knows his privilege. Yes, he is still learning about it but, the fact that he is willing to take that journey is by itself a fantastic thing that is the truest show of love he can offer me.

For more reading about privilege, I recommend checking out two places out of the thousands that you could check first. Start with a peak at http://www.womanist-musings.com/ followed up by http://thewhatifgirl.wordpress.com/. Renne, the proprietor of Womanist Musings is a wonderful writer, who has a life long experience with privilege. I find her writing more direct, and often much more clear about what privilege is. She also often reports on news you will not find elsewhere. The What if Girl has recently begun to discover her privilege and is exploring that. On top of this, she is also a fun read. I enjoy both of their blogs daily. You can find further resources at their sites, if you do not enjoy their writing specifically.

“Happy” Anniversary (Trigger Warning)

Yes, that says “Happy”. I am not sure this anniversary will ever be happy. I chose today to teach a class. I am trying to wind my brain down from the horrors that are the sound of fireworks. I spent the entire day in my room being cranky with myself. I got over that fairly early actually and enjoyed a mental vent session by reading a site called http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com . Eight hours later I am feeling almost normal and great for a stressful PTSD triggering day. This was the first fourth of July where I did not get sick from the smoke.

I am still feeling like the world is made of sand paper against my skin, but, I can control my snarkiness now. It’s in my head, and that has always been the case. I like to think that even Spock from Star Trek actually thought vindictive things up. “Vulcan Blood. I’ll show you McCoy!” If not, well, I am definately not a Vulcan or a Half Breed so it doesn’t matter. I am just human. That has been the theme for the week. I am just human. I am not Super Cripple, Amazing Woman, or even Functional. Just human. In preparing for the class I am to teach in nine hours, I realized I chose this day on purpose.

This is where I pause, and hide the triggering things, so you have to click a link today to get to the rest of the juicy details. Continue reading

Turmoil and Surrender

This post was written on June 20th, 2009. I thought it was posted, found out it wasn’t after I posted my return to sanity post. Thanks for understanding about the error.

The Turmoil comes from daily life, being challenged. I am still in the middle of the Turmoil but I realized this is a chance to teach someone. That someone is me. I need to learn to be flexible. I struggle with change, one dime off on my budget sends me into an unreasonable panic, though that did not cause the turmoil. I listened to my doctor, and that caused the turmoil. I was not able to post because for the last two weeks I’ve been fighting insanity and insomnia. Literal insanity.

I officially have a seizure diagnosis. I found hidden malpractice, when a new doctor told me so. No one else had, because I had angered them by being right or whatever it is that makes doctors not give patients their own diagnosis, especially one that could make a difference in a medical emergency. My seizures might be adding to my pain. they might be making it worse. Since I have taken other medicine like Nuerontine before, and had a really bad reaction my doctor thought I should try Lyrica.

My adverse reaction wasn’t like anything he’d expected though I had a hint of a clue. The first night, when it was time to sleep I took the pill and it was as if taking speed. I could not slow down. I was having insomnia symptoms so wrote it off as potentially just a one time occurance. Second night, it grew worse and I started having trouble with focus, my logic was escaping me. The third day, I took it and then the hallucinations began. My fiance and I agree that I went through a forced manic, similar to what those with Bipolar persons go through. Needless to say I stopped the medicine and here I am over a week later still feeling it’s effects.

It disturbed the precarious balance that I created for myself. I stopped writing, I stopped painting, and I lost the ability to function. I am fighting to do what I must. My fiance and I ran into a further issue when it became, due to a mixture of circumstances neither of us can control impossible for me to eat or sleep. My brain and body are at odds. I cannot find emotional balance, I cannot find silence without the silence being too loud.

I am also mean. My thoughts, when I think something are not what I think normally but are bitter and vicious. I am feeling pain that does not belong, emotionally. I don’t normally obssess about the failing of my Sixteenth birthday but it is there, the desire for a parent’s love hanging at me, and choking me. It hurts, because it distracts further from who I am. I feel lost, and with in this turmoil I had to surrender to screaming, crying and curling into myself.

I am acting like a woman with multiple disabilities in pain. I am acting like a person with PTSD who has had their issues flung up. I am acting like the Autistic I am. Everything is wrong. I can’t seem to get it in order. I will but, I will. The scents. The smells. The whispers that aren’t really there. I know they will shift, but, I am not going to know what comes next.

The future is a barren precipice, and even home has been threatened. Shelter, food, none of it may be here tomorrow. All the graces that have happened, I am currently blind to. Tears are acid, and not pleasant. I hate crying. i hate shouting. I hate. Hate is not what I usually hold myself to. All the soft fur in the world feels like thorns too. There is no solace or comfort.

I have to fight my way back. My mind warns me to not trust my doctor, to not try again. All the joy I should feel, that I usually feel? I can’t find it. My treasures are buried and I lost the map. If you find it, please give it over?

Shattered Pieces and Elmer’s Glue

Community. I have never really felt it before. Normally I feel isolated with in my art. I don’t connect well with people at times. Few actually notice, but I always feel like there is a glass wall between the world and myself. Those times I do connect I treasure more than any gems in the entire world. I am not sure if this is the Autism, the disability factor, or if it is merely the fact that I am more intellectual than emotional. I grew up and the kids who knew what Star Trek was would either call me a witch or a Vulcan.

I never minded being compared to a race of highly logical beings with control over their emotions, though I still do not think I do. I cry sometimes, I laugh, I feel anger and can show it. I believe that makes me just human. Humans are over all herd animals. Looking at the way we bunch up into groups, I think of horses and wolves. Humans are rarely wolves. They like to think they are, they like to try and hunt. The majority of humans flee at the sign of a threat. This doesn’t mean much of anything really but I don’t run well and have never understood that.

recently I reached a crisis internally and literally. I took a medication that caused me to experience a manic mood swing. I am not Bipolar but I know people who are. I now have so much more empathy for what can occur in the brain. I had no control. I couldn’t hide any irritation and it came out as not just anger but wrath. The type of wrath that causes Biblical Smiting. Happiness was minimized and sorrow was at an extreme. I even had suicidal thoughts.

Thankfully I am very secure with in my desire to be alive. My response to feeling that I should kill myself is always the same, and apparently is a core part of my identity. The response is this: “If I want the easy way out I can die, but then I won’t get to annoy my (insert person who caused child hood traumas here) by succeeding.” Followed by, “Plus then Sprite would kill herself.” Yes, I believe my cat would actually commit suicide.

She would probably eat a bird to follow me to the wherever we go after. She’s my life partner and my fiance even knows that she is a priority because she brings stability. Still this medication that changed the entire way my brain worked, it caused her to go to him for comfort when I could not hold her. I could not pet her. I wanted to but it felt like I was petting acid covered glass. It turned out I was having physical hallucinations.

During this two week long process, most of this spent trying to recover my normal self from the tattered ruins of InsanoKat Time, I learned how much I prize a few people. The entire point of writing this post is to share that. The people I prize are a mix of those I know online and those that I know offline.

I prize the Overgrounders, because despite being unable to access my internal creativity, I wasn’t told that I was a poser, instead I was reminded that everyone has writers block or a downswing in creativity at times. I was encouraged. As a result, when my creativity returned I created. I drew pictures that look like what I intended.

I prize both toastmasters groups I am a part of. TVC and Borboleta Safari both allowed me to miss a few meetings, and were safe places to make myself function anyway. I hesitated at first, but realized that my brain might not return to normal. The risk with mind altering medications is that the effects can be permanent. This is a huge reason as to why I am anti drug. My anti drug? Sanity.

My fiance, despite having his own issues springing up during this entire debacle supported me. We had some issues but I believe the kinks are working themselves out.

There are more people that I could list here but I don’t want to mimic the Academy awards. I am relieved to find my sense of humor returning. Having your sanity infringed upon is a great way to learn what is important to you, and I learned that my sense of humor really does make every day living better. If I can find a moment of humor, then the pain is diminished. When I couldn’t my pain felt worse.

Everything felt worse. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I could’t think. I couldn’t. I couldn’t. I couldn’t. It was a loop of failure. I failed before I tried because I did not see the point in trying. I was aware of my true self, the self that writes this but I couldn’t seem to connect to it. I could hear the soft whispers of “Oh don’t be silly, of course it’s funny that you stumbled and it looked like dancing.” I could hear the whispers of, “Wouldn’t it be great if we tried writing just a little?” I couldn’t seem to reply however.

I felt like I was two separate people. Two people so opposing to one another that they deadlocked.

I am back. I am changed. Perhaps this is the butterfly escaping it’s cocoon, for who says that we as humans cannot be caterpillars, returning to larvae periodically to grow again. A unique mental life cycle that few can appreciate. I am not sure I appreciate this experience but i do appreciate growing from it.

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