Why Bullying isn’t Healthy for ANYONE, a post intended for Karen Kabaki Sisto (Trigger warning for everyone else also I cussed a bit))

I know I have not posted in some time but the surgery I had and slew of failgivers and bad agency issues took my writing spoons for survival. I am just getting settled with my new carer from a new agency and this article has come out that I cannot even finish. This post like most of what I write has a trigger warning for a reason.  Here is the article by the person I am chewing out below.

Dear Karen-

I am calling you out. The initial title of this post? You better run bitch. Why? The internet is coming for you. You see you did something stupid. You wrote an article that promotes bullying. The idea that bullying is acceptable for anyone is already disproven. Children die daily because they cannot endure bullying and the pain it is caused. These are not just autistic children but children across the human spectrum, some of whom fall into the category of normal. People of all ages are bullied for skin color, eye color, hair color, weight, ability, and so many things I cannot list it all. Bullying is always arbitrary and boils down to psychological trauma that sometimes never heals. It shatters confidence.

The article, as far as I could read sounded like my mother. I deserved to be bullied because it would make me stronger. I was weak because I couldn’t take the pain. That is bullshit. I am not weak. Medically, I admit I am, but mentally I have dealt with things people should never be able to imagine coping with, and I am still alive. I have spent my life aware of death itself because of my body and more so my family. My family of monsters. I am angry this was written because there will be people who do not think before they act, and will traumatize already fragile people. Autistics get bullied all the time, this simply removes potential resources. Of course this is also from the people who created the ABA system of abuse. They call it therapy but I mean mother fucking abuse.

In the end I cannot stand by and be silent on this. Bullying caused me to cut myself. With my medical conditions this could be fatal. I thought between my parents and the other children I deserved pain. I thought that if I cut myself maybe they would stop. If I hurt just a little more I would be purified by that pain and worthy. Some of this is through the lense of absurd religion but not all of it is. I am crying as I write this because I know out there people are dying a slow death from bullying and this article will cost them dearly. I am crying because I cannot protect them if I am silent. So I am roaring.

Here are ten effects of bullying regardless of autism.

1. PTSD- Post Traumatic stress is not a choice there is no pushing through it and it can forever undermine self confidence. Avoiding triggers is the treatment, and like avoiding allergens to not die or spontaneously combust into hives and anaphalaxis this is not really effective because its impossible. Anything around at the trauma from a scent, lighting, touch, voice, words, or even clothing can become a trigger and you will not know until you find out the hard way.

2. Lowered Confidence- Confident people succeed. We do. I had to rebuild myself and am lucky I could but not everyone is able to do that with or without help.

3. Depression- This too can feed lowered confidence and can get you bullied. Don’t feel u p to anything because you hurt so much and are sad? People WILL bully you for that. Depression is hard to live with and bullying is a cause. Depression is also painful and often causes people to kill themselves.

4. Lower grades- You do notlearn when afraid, you learn less when stressed. There must be a safe place for people to go to learn. Living without one creates a priority of survival not education. You can’t focus on algebra because you are focused on not sitting wrongly, or the physical threats that bullying can entail. Sometimes people even drop out.

5. Social Isolation- Bullying makes it harder to make friends. Cliques aka human herds are social. While not every autistic is social many are, and this deprives them of the opportunity to make friends, to learn because a bully takes out your friends too. No one wants to endanger themselves for a stranger. Sometimes not for people they know. Bullies are dangerous, predators even.

6. Health issues- Bullied for weight? Well you may just end up anorexic. Bullied with physical violence? You could end up with serious physical trauma that disables you. It can also be BOTH THINGS. Bullying can even cause sexual dysfunction, increase the trauma of having puberty, and living in stress is also just bad for you. Hypertension, heart issues, bad diet, inability to sleep just to name a few.

7. Violent Retaliation- I have written about it before, but I nearly blew up my high school to kill everyone so allthe pain stopped. I also realized this was not healthy and stopped myself. Not everyone has that ability and sometimes these victims make more victims in a violence chain reaction. School shootings, the shooters are often bullied. This isn’t once or twice. Its not “Just Columbine”. Its also not always so clear cut. I became so afraid of bullies and had no safe home and ended up hurting the only friend I made before I was an adult because I didn’t have the ability to think past the fear and she touched my food. Yes I was also abused at home but a lot of bullied kids are, not just the bullies and sometimes those bullies have healthy home lives despite what the Film Industry/TV Industry tropes are.

8. Alchohol and Drug Abuse- Oddly bullies tend to be more prone to drug and alchohol abuse in some studies than their victims but compared to non bullies/bullied people both parties are much more likely to drink. Bullying is not just bad for the victim but creates bad mental hygiene for a life time.

9. Criminal Records- I can vote because my mistake of assaulting my friend came at the right age but not everyone is so lucky to get help and both violent responders to bullying and bullies still have to live with the consequences of their actions and reactions for life. I can’t forget, even with two brain injuries, the realization that I nearly killed my friend. I have to live with that feeling forever. Any time I think of her, it is there. A reformed bully joins me there but often they continue to escalate into other criminal behaviors, as bullying is another word for assault in MANY areas.

10. Missed Opportunities- Bullies and their victims both miss opportunities. Later in life the victim may be successful, needing to hire someone. The bully applies and… I would not hire them if I was in HR. This applies to non work things too. I have forgone games and social outings because an abuser/bully was there. Sometimes I tell the bully/abuser to fuck off, but I am an adult and aware of my power. I am the rare person who despite all of the crap they endured is able to do so. Its not common.

I am I think the sort of person who inspired this false and illogical article. I am strong. I am tough. I kick asses and take names. I push myself and sometimes I can’t get past the bullying. It still hurts me. That isn’t stronger. Stronger would be less of that. If I had not been bullied at school I would have had a refuge. Not having that? I tried to kill myself a few times and failed. I didn’t get found or helped, I just didn’t do it right. I am glad of that but telling me that I am stronger because of this is an insult to my intelligence, common sense, and every autist on the planet. I understand the writer wants to justify their being a bully, but I hope ANYONE with children near them runs, because this isn’t a red flag. This is a sign that reads: I am an abuser. I will hurt you. I will hurt the ones you love. I will forever scar the minds of innocents. I am also not qualified for anything. Not even McDonalds.

No one should be bullied. Autistic children are much more vulnerable, as we still cannot even be guaranteed education, access or care. We are discriminated against at all levels. I have been denied access to medications because of autism, endangering my life. I have been denied access to necessary law enforcement. Autistics are already trained to obey everyone, by ABA which the author supports. We can ill afford more of the same. It is much arder to stand up and say no. A lot of the reason Autistics struggle with these things swings back to being bullied. Bullying is abuse. Calling abuse healthy is assinine. A lot of this post was edited to remove the word fuck and many other unfriendly epithets to the originator of that piece of shit article. I am still cursing in it because frankly, that fucking piece of trash article deserves to be called exactly what it is.

Karen Kabaki Sisto M.S. CCC-SLP I hope you read this. I hope you understand that this paragraph was originally cursing and I hope you learn something. Bullying doesn’t give any perks. Putting the burden of the victim on making it about team work, autism awareness every month, claiming we learn verbal skills when we are terrified of being harmed, grow stronger, gain friends, and a better well being shows me you have NOT looked at the effects of bullying at all and are either high or stupid. Self Esteem is often low in autistic children because of bullying. Please, quit your job. This is not said lightly but quit your job. You don’t belong near vulnerable people.

I will be blogging extensively about your article and I hope you get this on your “other folder.” I also hope you read my article. As an autistic adult I am more qualified than you are to deal with autism and you have proven to be the least qualified hack  since Jenny McCarthy. For your education here is a link from me to you, about the risks associated with bullying. I didn’t consult it, because I know them by living them.

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.

Personal Space

Before I set into writing the latest post, which proves of all things I am still alive and kicking I have a few updates. First, the biopsy came back, and I do not have cancer. Second, I just painted seven paintings in five days. My hands are sore. Why would I paint seven paintings in a week? One was for fun, six were for a contest. I really want to win, but, only time will tell if I actually do. I am certain a few of you will want to see these pictures. The contest was run by Overground EIC, and as I cannot draw yet, I used their line art. The seventh picture was drawn by a local comic book artist named Paul Ziomek. He’s a really nice guy too. So, here is a link to my gallery on DeviantArt and just in case you want to support artists who are local (to me) here is a link to 7000BC, a local comic book group. They have some really cool stories.

I am actually hoping to start a weekly web comic with someone, so if you know any artists who want to audition, let me know. I will be hosting a contest soon. I already have a few scripts, and it doesn’t take too much time for me to write. In fact, I might even update the blog more often if I do that.

Now, here is the actual blog post for today:

Personal Space:

The issue of Personal Space comes up frequently when we are children. We are taught boundaries, we are taught that we cannot just touch strangers. I was taught this at least, and reminded often that my own space was worthless, but I had best not encroach on anyone else’s territory.

As an adult this was the norm until I started using assistive devices. It was then that I learned another facet of ableism included touching these devices, leaning on them, and even hitting them. Would you ever touch a person’s purse? The answer is usually not without permission. Why is it alright then, for people to smack my chair, try and take the key, or even tell me just how cute it is that I use a wheelchair?

You are probably confused by their actions as much as I am, and you also probably experience versions of this as well. I am not sure why it has become the norm for people to tell me that my wheelchair is cute. I understand the perspective of another person who is shopping for a chair deciding mine is really cool and asking me questions, that is perfectly reasonable, and is something I have done myself. I understand a child needing to ask me what I am driving a miniature care for. I do not understand walking up to someone and smacking the top of their chair and telling them how cute it is that they have a sunshade on their wheelchair.

This happened at a Walgreen’s that is just a block away from my house. My Person and I were there, getting some snacks and were going to rent movies after. I was in glee as I had found lotion I could use with minimal reaction, my arms stayed red for only an hour and eyeliner that I was not allergic to, could use properly, and is hard to obtain. This Walgreen’s carries authentic Egyptian Kohl. I am so excited by this that I actually spent all of my extra money on make up. We were about to check out when the Cashier gushed at me, “Oh how cute your chair is.” I looked at her and told her, “Excuse me?” She repeated it. Then, another employee smacks my sunshade and tells me it’s cool. I decided then and there to put a stop to this.

“Do you really think it’d be alright to smack someone’s cane? Do you think I would go around telling you that your crutches are cute if you broke your leg or your cast is cute? Don’t patronize me, don’t touch me or my assistive devices. I happen to think it’s a shame I no longer get to walk through your store. I happen to think it’s a shame you think that acting like an idiot is going to make me want to shop here. If you touch my chair again I will report you to the management, and if you,” Gesturing to the other person, “Speak to me like a child again, I will also report you to the management. This is not how you treat a customer, or any other human. I am sure you think less of me for saying this, but I think much less of you for behaving in an inappropriate manner.” The woman looked as if she would cry, and the young man who had thwapped my chair had backed up considerably. It took a lot of will power to not curse at them. I wanted to. Instead the woman said, “But it really is cute.”

My person knows I dislike advocating. I don’t know anyone who really enjoys it or wants to spend all their time arguing with people about their own right to exist, but, he has accepted that I will and must. He also has accepted that at times, he must as well. He spoke up then, “Don’t patronize her. Trust me, you don’t want to continue down this path. It’s not a threat, it’s just a warning from a fellow Walgreens Employee, that she knows her rights, and you are infringing on them.” He used to work for Walgreen’s, and as a result I know that the staff are taught to be courteous. I am certain that these two people have never really had to interact with a disabled person.

I am not proud of having to put them in their place or making sure that they feel a little bit less than but, I am still reeling with confusion at their actions. It has been almost a week but I cannot figure it out. This isn’t the first time people have told me just how adorable it is that I can shop, or function in society. Each time I have explained, to the best of my ability and as calmly as I can. I have also learned that it is alright to show anger. Any ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ or able bodied person would be angry if I told them how cute their flaws were, or how cute it was that they were absolutely stupid. I am learning that I have the right to anger.

I will go back to this Walgreen’s. It is a very nice store, and they actually measure their aisle displays for accessibility. I caught them in the act, the manager was correcting an employee on the placement of a standee that held some make up, “You can’t put this here. People will be unable to pass.” The employee walked around it, “I can get past it just fine.” The manager then said, “What about people who can’t walk or use a walker? How about this, if you don’t move it, using this measuring tape for a 28 inch radius, you lose your job. I don’t want anyone to sue me over the ADA or anything like that.” He added something else too, “Oh and what about customer service? It’s gotta be a pain in the (censored) to have to ask for help to reach a bottle of lotion.”

I hadn’t had to advocate to them, but I was watching. I was paying attention. I know that the management at this Walgreens cares. If when I return this patronization happens again, I will bring them into it. I will also offer to train their employees. The only reason I did not have to fight them more was that I had left Sprite the Service Cat at home. She wasn’t feeling well and I wanted to go out.

It was still a lovely afternoon, but, it left me chewing over the concequences of their actions and my reactions. I am proud to state that I did not punch the man who touched my chair. I almost did, but I managed to catch my impulse in time, and used my words instead. I have been having a lot of trigger issues with men and my chair lately. They come up behind me and I want to run them down to make them go away. I haven’t given in yet, but, when the strange males who trigger me then touch my chair, all bets are off!

I haven’t much else to say on this matter, beyond, advocate for your personal space. I didn’t at first. When I used the walker and my abusive roommates would pile heavy objects on it so that they didn’t have to carry them, or when they kept dumping things into my chair so I couldn’t use it when it was brand new, I at first kept my mouth shut. I was so used to staying silent so that they wouldn’t punish me or decide to expose me to even more allergens. At first I let people do things like this out of the house too, because I was afraid. I feel less fear when I advocate. I also worry at times that I am being too sharp, too harsh. There have to be times when I am the gentle advocate, and there are. I worry over it even when I am putting in extra effort to not hurt people’s feelings despite their refusal to let me have my basic human rights. It sounds preposterous when I say it or write it, but it feels right to try for extra kindness.

I am also learning that my Autism may factor into my need to not be touched. I have always been extremely sensitive to touch and texture. I like to control what things feel like around me. I once could not adopt a very adorable and well behaved puppy because his fur felt too stiff. I found him a good home but, I couldn’t cope with the texture. Sometimes texture can even cause nightmares. This adds to my unwillingness to let strangers touch me. I don’t hug people often. I do make sure to touch my Person, but sometimes it takes massive amounts of effort. He is understanding when it comes to my reticence, but I also want to make sure he has nothing that he wants or needs for.

What about you? When you advocate does it help your anxiety level or make it worse? Do people infringe on your personal space? This goes for those with sight issues or hearing issues, do people at times touch you just to try and make you function the way they want? What are your reactions? If you are an Autistic, do you also have touch issues? What forms of contact ableism are you familiar with?

Blogging Against Disablism

I have restarted this post twice now. Part of it is my pain clouding my mind and a resistance to taking my pain meds. I have not shaken the habit of taking them only when I cannot stand the pain. This has left me fighting off a meanness that the pain brings up. I don’t even feel it at first, but, then I realize I am harboring a great deal of anger. Once I accept that I can take my pain and that it is alright to take the little pill that lets me do more than just deal with it, I can resume living.

I see this as my truest handicap. I am at risk of pushing people away because I fear being addicted to a drug. I am dependant on the morphine, but not addicted. The dependency is my need to actually have a life. I am starting a business, I am following my dreams which I had presumed dead and lost to me for years. I am also using my handicap to my advantage.

I listened to a speaker last night who came to the United States from China. She has not shed her accent, nor should she. In her speech she explained the prejudices she faces as a result of sounding foreign in the united states. This racism that she deals with overlaps ableism. People look at a disabled woman and see her as stupid, inferior. People hear her and presume she is stupid, inferior. They presume that neither set of people has the capability to do brilliant things. We are raised with this belief system. We are told even if not directly by our parents, by the world we live in which segregates the special children, or forces students to take English as a Second Language courses regardless of need based not on their actual language but on their race.

My most recent example of a person using my disability as an excuse to other me comes from the grocery store. I went in with my Person to pick up some items for a road trip, with a client. I must protect myself from allergens and that was the solution. Sprite was riding behind me, tucked under the sunshade, and hiding behind my body. A woman came up, I am leaving out a description of her because when I write it, I other her. That is not acceptable either. She tried to pet Sprite. I didn’t bother explaining anything to her, I said in a very soft voice, meant to be calm, “Please go away.” She exploded. “HOW DARE YOU!” She got in my face, and I dropped the softness, but stayed polite. “Please go away,” She snarled, “You aren’t doing anything and you shouldn’t have a pet in the store.” I replied. “Please go away. I am doing my shopping and I am not here to befriend you, talk about your pets, nor am I breaking any laws. I do not wish to discuss this matter with you and have been polite thus far, despite your yelling and harassment.” I then floored it, my chair whipping around the corner and continued my shopping. Ten minutes later I hear the sound of my Person being pushed. His grunt of pain reaches me just before this woman is in my face again, “YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE RUDE TO ME!” That was when I stopped playing nice. I let myself snarl right back, though I did not yell, “Really? Assaulting someone who is not involved in our discussion is rude, trying to invade my space is rude, yelling at me is rude, and showing your own inability to grasp the rights of others is beyond rude. Get out of my way, I don’t really care what you want out of me I am not here for your enjoyment. If you bother me again I will call security.” She flounced away, and I finished my shopping.

As we left, the store manager who had the law explained to her as we entered was discussing the incident with this shopper. She had gone to the manager to have me thrown out. Instead she was told this, “I am sorry ma’am but you have no right to touch her, her wheelchair, or her service animal. The law protects her rights to shop here in saftey, as it does yours.” The woman replied , “She’s just a cripple, she doesn’t have any rights.” The manager was openly angry at this, which surprised me since she’d been a bit of a hard case about it all before. I left then, to the sound of, “She has just as many rights as you do, and if you continue to behave in this manner I will have to have you removed from my store.” The woman then threw herself on the ground and had a tantrum like a toddler.

I learned something from this, that was the point of sharing it. I learned that every person I edcuate becomes an asset. I did not feel this woman could be educated, nor did I feel prepred to try and spoon feed her the information. The burden of fuctioning with a disability is fighting for my rights. I use my disability as a tool to be under estimated. The woman underestimated the ability of not just myself but of others to actually see the humanity with in my body. She under estimated the ability of people to actually listen. I do at times too.

The secret to blogging against disablism? Is to do it whenever you write. The secret to teaching aout disablism? Is to live.

I know this post isn’t as wonderful as I wanted, I am still distracted and out of it. I am not feeling myself. I hope it does encapsulate an idea. By living and not giving up our dreams we fight ableism/disablism. By having lives we fight against disablism. I am partly distracted byt a disappointment with Obama and his failure to sign the Community Choice Act. I am disappointed with his inability to see the human rights that lie at the end of his pen. There is still time, but, his administration has openly stated that there is no reason for him to actually make the changes that free people from being forced into Nursing homes.

Beyond blogging against disablism, I call you to act. Go out into the world, be seen. Educate via your existence.

To read more about Blogging Against Disablism Day, please follow this link.

I live!

I hope you all can forgive my silence. Here is a quick rundown of why my blogging may become a bit more sporadic. I will try to not be so lack luster in my posting, and I have stories to tell!

1. I am starting a public speaking business. I will try to travel and blog, though until I get a laptop that might not happen. I will try to use the scheduler on WordPress, if I can figure out how to make it actually post.

2. As an ordained interfaith minister at times I perform weddings. I like to assist with the planning, networking resources, and it is another time consuming affair, also at times with travel involved. I am currently in the process of helping plan a huge wedding with in three months.

3. I might have cancer. This year I am getting a double cancer scare. I have posted before about the annual cancer scare. This time my doctors think I have both skin cancer and uterine cancer. I don’t think I have either but we are doing biopsies (which left me incapacitated for three days) and tests just to be safe.

4. I am trying to keep my commitments as well. I am helping to start a new Toastmasters Club at both the local University and one at the other end of town. I am also going to be active in my regular two clubs.

This is all between writing my novel, on the blog, working on my art and I will also be crafting things to sell at craft shows and as special commissions. A lot of this occurs around wedding time. (Feel free to book me as a minister, I can legally marry you in most states and as an interfaith minister am able to work with many faiths. I also perform commitment ceremonies for those who cannot legally marry their life partners in most of the US at this time.)

I will continue my activism as well. It never ends, and although I am tired when writing this, I still need to wash my face to remove the eyeliner Day of Silence writing from the protest, I am exhausted but content. I will try to write tomorrow, and due to the incliment weather might just have more time.

It is spring and SNOWING!

30 Seconds

Tick, tick, tick. That is the sound of the watch counting down on your life. A disaster is about to hit. You are going to have to choose between living or dying. Tick, tick, tick. You have thirty seconds.

Thirty seconds seems so short when you look at the length of the average human life. People live past 100 years of age sometimes. To them thirty seconds might just be the blink of an eye. Thirty seconds can also feel like an eternity. For me, life has changed in thirty second bursts. I am given two choices and neither is pleasant.

Tick, tick, tick, The choice between life or three deaths came. I broke my back in a car accident. I could have made a choice to not risk my back, but the choice was between my life with health intact or at least my life intact or dying along with two children. Tick tick tick. The clock slowed down. It felt like an eternity. I know it was sudden. The impact that jarred us forward, sending our bodies into a free fall. The chair that should have kept us from flying free loose, wobbling and stripping up. the bolts connecting it to the van coming free. The cries of fear were drawn out. I had time to shift down, bracing for the impact.

The thirty seconds ran out and I felt as if I had died. The van seat pressed into me. I pressed back. I felt crunching inside of me. My hips popped out of their sockets and then everything went too quickly. I couldn’t think clearly through the pain to advocate for my needs. I just knew I was hurt. The boys were fine. The basketball pole we had hit was up inside of the van, the driver was afraid and sped away. No one else was injured.

This was the first time that the clock stopped like this and I managed to make a difference. Many times in my life the clock slowed, I had more than thirty seconds to feel a fall, or to choose. Tick, tick, tick. It was just thirty seconds but two brilliant young men are able to change the world. They will never know what I sacrificed. There was no ambulence, I had to try and get to the ER alone. My legs refused to move. I made them. I made it to the bus stop and waited. The clock was ticking, but now it was silent. It was seducing me, allowing me to be lulled into the dazed sensations of pain. It took me an entire day to make it to the Emergency Room.

The clock slowed again, I waited for two more days to be treated. I was forbidden to eat or drink, because surely the doctors would want to treat me and if I ate or drank I would die if I needed surgery. I had no money for food anyway. I just sat, watching the click on the wall. The minute hand creeping forward slowly. They missed the broken bones in my back. I was told nothing was wrong and to go on with my life. No pain medicine, just the assurance that in a few days I would be right as rain.

It was a flood. I waited a few days then went to the dance troupe I was a member of. I looked forward to moving, because I hurt so much. Movement would stretch my muscles and I would feel better. I raised my hands up and started to move with the others to the music. The clock slowed again. My legs went away and I collapsed. The pain grew, my head burned with it and I drifted into a daze. They wanted to call an ambulence. I refused it. The doctors had told me I was fine. I had to deal with this alone. I hadn’t learned to fire them yet. I had not learned what it meant when time slowed down and the second hand sounded like thunder. I made the wrong choice this time. My spine could’ve been saved. I should have gone to the ER, to see if they could find out why i was still in pain.

Time sped up, too fast this time. I lost my job as a dancer. Months passed in a single tick of the clock. They did not want me to go but I was weaker and weaker. My job as a teacher was lost. My job as a retail worker faded out too. I was facing homelessness. I couldn’t make a good impression at the job interviews. I kept getting sick from pain and fainting. No one hired me. My savings drained out. A flood of green flowing away. Tick. Tick. Tick.

My shelter was gone. I had to choose. I could live with my grandmother, if I ate food that would make me sick. She didn’t understand allergies enough to care. I could obey her every whim. I could live with a woman who had no love for anyone. I could be on the street in December with snow on the ground. I went to live with my grandmother. That was worse than snow. Grandma doesn’t like people. She likes to control them. Grandma is like my father without a penis to rape me with.

It lasted until Spring. Then she locked me out for seeking peace. She locked me out again when I went to a bar. I wanted to be away from her. I danced with someone. I drank a soda. I came back to where I should be sleeping to torrents of abuse, accusations of theft, being forbidden to continue to work at a video store. I was devalued. The clock kept ticking, and my spirit faded out further. Tick. Tick. Tick. I wished I had died.

I chose to go back to the city, to the streets. I chose wrong again. There was no right choice. That first night I laid on the cold floor, shivering and trying to sleep. My pain saved me. My paranoia saved me. I had taken a fork from dinner to bed with me. They count the knives at that shelter. The men and women all sleep on the floor. No matter if you are disabled, no matter if you are all alone. You are sheep together for the slaughter of someone else’s profit at your homelessness. I thought it was a nightmare at first, when I felt hands on me. I opened my eyes. I remember noting he had no teeth. The fork I had stolen was in my hand. I stabbed him in the chest with it. I pierced his flesh, I was quiet. He wasn’t. He scurried away, screaming and trying to escape me. I kicked hard. My legs held for a moment. Long enough to bruise his testicles. He had wanted to rape me. I laid back and listened to him explain his screams. He’d rolled onto the fork, he said, during a nightmare.

I couldn’t move in the morning. My legs wouldn’t move. Two men hefted me up and set me at a table. They gave me knowing looks. They brought me food for two days, but, then I had to try finding a job again. I walked the city. My feet started to swell, my clothing too. All of the toxic food was making my body gain weight. My stumbling had me often called a drunk. I hid in the library. It was April. Easter was coming. Two days before Easter it snowed. I waited in the city, no one allowed to use the shelter in the day. Not even the blind and broken woman who could barely handle the chill. We stood for eight hours in the snow. I gave up my spot in the warmth to a woman and her two children.

I heard the ticking clock again. It was so hard to move. A married couple carried me into the bus. The driver had wanted to leave us out to die. Many would die anyway. I almost did. He didn’t want to lose his job. It took more than thirty seconds to get me on the bus. It felt like an eternity. When in the light of the shelter, someone screamed. My face was black. Not the black that the persons of color might be, not a gleaming and rich ebony. The blackness of dead tissue. My entire body was black. No ambulence. The bus driver had to drive me out. The same married couple came to make sure I would be alright.

The doctor was afraid. My Blood pressure was 66/80. I should have been dead or in a coma. I made bad jokes. I laughed to stay alive. I hurt. The pain in my back was worse. I could feel my legs, my face. The tingle of damaged nerves. All they could do was thaw me out, send me back. I had no shoes now. I could not walk. I went to another shelter. My anger was too potent for them. I refused to die. The other shelter had a time limit. I had until the Fourth of July to get a job and move out. I went back to teaching music, another community center.

My pain was bad, growing worse. It was a mile to the center from the nearest bus stop. A mile because no driver would enter the “War Zone.” Gangs. Drugs. Pain. I ignored my needs. I lasted two months. I walked out after my boss refused to tell a client he could not shove his gun in my face. I yelled at him for it, turned out he lead the gang. He didn’t kill me. He was too shocked that the little white woman would tell him off. I was trapped by that act with two abusers.

Years passed. I could do less and less. The clock kept winding down. It stopped. Finally the diagnosis came. “When did you break your back?” That thirty seconds lasted for two years. I could barel walk. My pride at being able to walk left me to push myself. The doctor wanted me on antidepressants. I rejected that idea. Without them I could not have pain meds, she said. I did not want pain medicine. I kept telling myself the pain meant I was alive. I wasn’t living. I was just flesh in space. I couldn’t figure out how to wind the clock.

Two years turned into four. I finally gave in and started accepting that pain needed to be deadened. I accepted it would never go away. Four years turned into six. I began to fight for my freedom. I fought for a wheelchair, for the use of a service animal and I fought for my person. Six years turned into Eight. Today is the anniversary of my nearly freezing to death almost eight years ago. This is close to the speech I am giving later.

I am only twenty four. The damage to my body over my life time has come in bursts that lasted just thirty seconds. Each one has taken me years to even begin to treat and that is just unacceptable. In thirty seconds you can run a Super Bowl Commercial. In Thirty Seconds you can make a difference. If I took back all of those thirty second bursts. I could have another life time. I wouldn’t change my choice on that fateful day, when I had to choose Disability or Death. I just wish I had known that in thirty seconds I would join a minority. Being unaware of disabiling conditions I already had, I wasn’t an actual member yet.

It only takes Thirty Seconds to become disabled. Don’t forget that. Thirty seconds can cost you everything you think you hold dear. Thirty seconds can be the difference between dancing in a movie or dying on the streets. Just thirty seconds.

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