Feeling Bitter?

Are you feeling bitter? Lately I’ve noted that there is a bitterness to some of my feelings. The thing is, this isn’t actually a new feeling but one I refused to let myself feel as if somehow bitter is not an actual feeling but a horrible crime. A lot of my feelings had to be “allowed” and I am now starting to realize bitter is actually anger, which isn’t such a bad thing.

I feel bitter that I have to wait for my gate to be switched around, so that despite my new wheels I am stuck in my yard or I risk damaging my chair. Do I damage my chair for freedom? That is a no. I want to say yes, and then there it is, that bitterness. If X person wasn’t a lazy (censored) then I wouldn’t have to wait. I know I am going to have to fight it, and once I write the second letter going “HEY” I will give in on that housing complaint. Out of Bitterness. I am bitter because this is truly unfair. I know it’s been a total of four days since I asked but when I was able bodied I could’ve done this job in about an hour, and that would be me being slow and lying to myself about ability. I am missing out on something tomorrow because of the damned gate. A part of this bitterness is that same fear of fire. Sure I can get into my yard but what if the YARD IS ON FIRE? There is only one way in or out of this apartment as well. Another hint of the bitters? The wheelchair accessible apartments are rented to ABLE BODIED people. Yes there are other disabling factors but their bodies work so why do they get the wider doors and gates? No, I wouldn’t get one. There are other people who have lived here longer that are in chairs and would come first for a move into another apartment I think. Still, it was months of pulling teeth to get grab bars put in. I can’t stand it. I’ve waited so long and I want to go DO something. Bitter.

I noted a lot of my bitter resentments are about disability discrimination. Most of it has nothing to do with lost ability. I google for things to do that are accessible in my town and only get home healthcare, nursing homes, and places to buy wheelchairs. Varying search terms included wheelchair accessible (home town), accessible (home town), disability travel (home town), and so on. I also found out via this method that the museum in my city no longer allows residents in this county to enter for free but any other county in the state gets a day of the month where they can go and visit for free, so no museums for me. Not when I have to pay the paratransit fees or risk the side effects of the bus if the bus even picks me up. Not when I would have to cover the fee of the caregiver, I think I may be wrong on that? I am not sure. Still. Resentment.

I do not feel bitter when I think of some of the awesome places where I am treated as a person, or some of the people that don’t condescend at my mere existence. A lot of my bitterness is about my mother. I am still dealing with the emotions in realizing that YES SHE IS AN ABUSING (CENSORED). I am bitter, because I spent years trying to be good enough for my mother’s love. I am bitter and resentful of the fact that there is nothing I can do and all of the negatives she taught me about myself were lies. I am bitter because I cannot change her to make her a better person and she so often spews toxic ick at me. I took a step in stopping some of this however.

I told Mother Dearest to stop forwarding me anything that is racist, political, or talking about any form of sex life she may have. For some reason my family members think that my bisexuality and in the case of one member my being a Dominatrix means I want to know or participate in their sex lives. True secret as to why one family member wants nothing to do with me. I screamed ew, incest, and told them to go get some mental help. Three some with your sibling = how sick are these people!?

I am bitter in some ways because of opportunity itself. I feel like it’s just outside my gate. I sometimes feel  a bit bitter reading about other disabled people too. The bitterness is at how much anger they share over things that are out of their control, aren’t the biggest issues ever, or how they show their internalized ableism and use that internalized self hatred to hate on others.

I am also tired of disability etiquette posts. If an able bodied person really was going to read your post listing that we aren’t wheelchair bound but are some variety of wheelchair liberated (Hmm need a shirt that says “Member of the Wheelchair Liberation Front..) then they would already have read the millions of others. Instead of writing about it, tell the person that pissed you off face to face. Don’t post about how you feel embarassed when people discriminate. DO something. The discriminator should be the one that is embarassed. Do you think I felt embarassed at first when I went to a bar with my walker and had to fight for a place to sit because the bar decreed their dart game at the far end was more important than I? Who had already paid a cover fee? Yep. I was less embarrassed once I got the cover fee back, watched the Wrestlemania event, and realized that this meant I may have to fight less for my rights at this location.

Do you think I was embarassed that I even had to make a fuss when that grocery store told me it wasn’t Sprite that meant I couldn’t shop but my being disabled? Nope. I felt this same level of resentment bitterness. The bitterness itself is a byproduct. It’s a byproduct of the endless challenges that shouldn’t exist. Tomorrow I am going to call the apartment manager and remind him I can’t get out. I am then going to remind him we had a fire that he told me was caused by ARSON. Not so sure I believe this, as this man tends to exaggerate threats to make himself seem tough (always to me makes him look a bit like a buffoon). I am going to point out that fire tends to burn up things like trees and rose bushes. I am then going to ask him if I will be able to leave my yard sometime this week. I may point out that I am missing someone’s graduation, but that seems like it may be laying it on a little thick.

My mother was wrong. Being bitter isn’t a bad thing. I feel the emotion. I do not let the emotion change my entire core identity, and instead I use that feeling, knowing I dislike it, to change the world around me. I am excited over so many things too such as living. Even with a hint of bitterness life doesn’t become unlivable. Instead, it becomes more like dark chocolate. The hint of bitterness makes the dark sweetness of life all the more luxurious.

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3 Comments

  1. I do have some first-hand experience with the kind of bitterness you describe. It is hard and enormously demoralizing to KNOW you have the right to do certain things, to see everyone else doing that thing, to KNOW that all it would take would be [insert ridiculously easy and cheap action here] on the part of [insert someone who isn’t you here] to enable you to do it, and STILL not be able to do it. Just because [referenced person or entity from previous sentence whose JOB it is to do referenced action from previous sentence] couldn’t be bothered.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to point out that you’re missing an event important to you because of this. I think sometimes non-disabled people NEED to hear, in concrete terms, exactly how it impacts the life of a person with disabilities when they fail to make reasonable accommodations. I think there is a long list of many reasons why non-disabled people don’t try harder to provide accommodations, including things like sheer ignorance (not realizing they need to) or negative attitudes (such as the dehumanization of people with disabilities).

    But sometimes they’re simply obtuse: even after being TOLD, “If you don’t fix the gate I can’t go anywhere,” some people still seem to have a great deal of difficulty parsing what that actually MEANS in pragmatic terms. They’re too accustomed to their own frame of reference where they are able to simply decide “I want to do X, therefore I will do X” and this decision is near completely within their own personal control. If X still can’t happen, then it happens for various types of familiar reasons that are likely to affect everyone else equally: they want to attend an event, but there is a record-breaking blizzard that day trapping everyone at home equally. So the idea that an issue that doesn’t affect 99% of the rest of the population REALLY IS an utter and absolute “no-go” barrier for a person with disabilities tends to elude many non-disabled people. They tend to vaguely assume, “Okay, I get that it’s harder for you because of the disability, but surely if it mattered enough to you there is SOME way for you to do it, yes? Why can’t you just [insert action that they have already been told is equally impossible for you here].” And they don’t get that, er, no, there ISN’T always another way around. Or if there is, the trade-off involves something unacceptable that non-disabled people would never imagine tolerating for themselves no matter how much it mattered to them. Some people need to be hit up the head with the clear statement that, “I wasn’t able to do [insert very concrete specific action, such as attending graduation] because of X” … and in some cases need to be hit with it multiple times before they really start to get it.

    Yes, someone working in a building where there are other people with disabilities SHOULD know better. But … there are volumes and volumes that could be written about how exasperatingly often the people who SHOULD know better just don’t.

    Obviously mentioning missing graduation because of the gate problem doesn’t guarantee that it will get through to him. Some people seem to have an amazing capacity to remain oblivious even after being presented with very plain, unmistakable facts. But for some people, it can be the sort of thing that just might help trigger some faint glimmer of a single Christmas tree light bulb of tenuous enlightenment flicker on above their head .

  2. I second what Andrea said. It seems like you SHOULD mention the graduation that you are missing because dammit, you are missing it because he is unwilling to come fix something that, for heaven’s sake, keeps you from leaving a very limited area and going out into the world. If I were in your position, I would not have the patience that you have.

  3. I did mention the graduation and my fire concerns. I explained why having no set date for when this happens was really uncomfortable, and made the manager commit. During our conversation he said he’s having to rewire an apartment due to the risk of an electrical fire, and he is also going to finally repaint our laundry room.

    On Monday my ramp to my front door will be made larger (It’s actually NARROWER than my chair at the moment, which makes my phobia of falling from a great height kick in at a bad angle), my bedroom door comes off so that I can wheel up to my bed when I absolutely need to (probably often, and definately when I need to shower) and drum roll… my gate shall be taken apart, resized, and then remounted away from my rose bush. He gets brownie points (but I get to eat the brownies) for not wanting to maim my rose bush. It’s in full bloom right now so there is clearly some TLC needed for the bush however.


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