The Generic Title that Misses the Feeling

How can I title this blog post? There is no title sufficient for what it is that I am getting to write about. I am home. I am free. I am safe.  No, it is not perfect but a perfect life was not what I pursued. A safe home was. I am sitting on my couch, in my living room, looking at my cats and the art on my walls and all I feel is this burning sensation that is a mixture of relief, joy, and grief.

I grieve for what was lost. The sanctity of love itself is no longer something I can cherish. I may find it again but I will never truly heal from the betrayal of my heart. In fact, this betrayal has given me new layers to my PTSD. Simple things, as those of you who have PTSD know, can trigger it and I must learn my new triggers. Foam Cups. They make me curl into myself and want to scream. I know the reason but that doesn’t make it any better. Time sheets. This one is a problem as I cannot escape time sheets even though I can escape foam cups. I will adapt, I will heal, and I will grow.

I do not know how to explain it but the grief shrinks by the second. William has not run into a wall once here. He did attack the cable guy, who rolled the attack off without harming William and with a smile. I really had a most amazing cable guy. He was patient, he didn’t make me feel unsafe, and the cats response to him was something he found amusing instead of upsetting. He even moved a piece of furniture so it was out of my way. Not his job, he just wanted to.

I have my ramp already too. The last place fought me tooth and nail and refused to put it in. They won, as far as the ramp goes. Little do they know that there will still be an investigation by the Fair Housing people. I may be moved but the investigation will reveal much. The ramp was put in last night, and this means I can go out and in. Right now using the manual chair is hard but it is freedom. There is so much to say. I spent the last week without anything to do, my mind is in a frenzy to be used for more than imagination and organization.

I even dreamed nonsense happy dreams. No nightmares. I actually slept more than five hours, despite my bed not making the trip in one piece. I have crashed on the couch and I do mean crashed. Until two days ago the instant I was alone I would fall asleep. I am still exhausted, the bone deep type that seeps into your marrow and leaves you loathing the waking world for having energy. My bed will be put up tonight. My friend M replaced the mold filled mattress and broken bits, my mother is bringing some strong young people with her and they will fix it.

My mother has come through for me, in such a way that it surprises me. I wonder now if the Zillas our mutual attempts to communicate, or if I am setting myself up for heart break. I think it is both. I cannot however turn down much needed help. Nor will I. My mother’s own trials continue and I can help her if she will allow it. There are specific ways too. I have not fought my last battle either, the place I am living may have fair housing violations, though I managed to get what I needed. If there is discrimination it is based on Race, and I suspect this has been confirmed by my needs being met and others who happen to be another color being denied. It is sad, but, I am the ally of the truth. The truth will come forth, and that is the best that can happen.

I am bouncing from topic to topic again, my poor mother didn’t believe me about the mold inside my waterbed, and her work crew tried to siphon out the water, and now one of their number who sucked that moldy water into his mouth is very sick. I feel sad for him but I am surprised that there is no guilt. I did tell them so. They wound up dragging the mattress outside and cut it open to find it was worse than what I had suspected. I wasn’t there for that but each of them was made sick by the smell. My new water-bed is going to be treated with care, so that it lasts forever. The mattress isn’t gold this time either but is green. I look forward to sleeping on it. No pressure on my body just the softness of a warm cloud. That’s what a good water-bed feels like to me, my pain may even vanish for the first few nights. Perhaps it will vanish forever, as the bed will not harden with mold. The mold had almost burst the other mattress, it was that bad.

I am eating real food too, not just making ends meet. My foodstamps card arrives any day now, perhaps even Monday. My mom brought me Bacon when she heard me mention how that was the first thing I would buy, so now, I am free. As my house comes together I find that my sense of tension is receding, more so now that I have an outlet for my mind. That was a slow torture, I tried to hold it back but when my book reader broke, I was suddenly trapped with just a cellphone for the world. Still, most of what helped was the fact that I could sit outside. No sunshade, a bit risky for my health but, I needed some sun. It’s been five months since I could just be outside without an excuse or worse was trapped exclusively inside.

My mom promised to help me get my garden set up in the Spring. My rosebush and tree need some love, but they will be well tended. I am also going to grow my own strawberries and I was considering pansies. There is much to do before Spring is here but I can dream about it, little flowers all in a bright display right there just for me.

Too this is the start of preparations for Halloween. Today I bought shoes for Winter, I found an amazing two pairs of shoes that fit and then went to the Dollar Tree, a true dollar store, that carries the same stuff as Walmart. There I bought a few decorations for my favorite Holiday. My faith also allows for Halloween to be a very special day. I am going as Snow White. There will be pictures. I can also get my corset now that I am moved, and curtains. I also have enough room in my living room and bedroom for more art. I am going to someday get Nene Thomas’ art for my home. She’s my favorite Artist, I found her work when I was younger and was hooked. I have other favorites but she is the foremost, and her work is also not all that expensive. Some artists want 100 dollars for a print, but I can get small prints for five or ten dollars. How smashing is that? Something that if I budget wisely I can afford.

I have an electric bill now too. I have bills. I cannot hold back the glee that bubbles in me. I have bills! I have almost everything I need and there is little that I want truly. My wishlists already seem outdated and overly full. I need a blender, I should get a recliner that helps me stand (replacing my couch that broke last night) and maybe another book shelf. That is it, excluding wheelchairs.

I even have a big screen TV, it was here when I moved in. I found a windchime in my boxes of stuff too, one I thought long broken, and so I even have music in the wind. There is so much that I am getting rid of, I may be able to cover the blender after that sale.

I will write more later, I have to write a How To with caregivers, as there is some information there. I am changing agencies, and that will be the source of more knowledge. K my wonderful caregiver and I exited the honeymoon period. The change of Agencies shouldn’t cause me to lose her however. We worked out the really minor issues and the main stress with having a caregiver has to do with the paperwork and scheduling. That means I can leave that over with someone else and be much calmer.

Now I plant the seeds in my soul, for my soul and heart are entering a glorious spring after their long winter. The seeds will grow into happiness, joy, and a further understanding. I will share the fruits that come from these with the world as I have shared all I am and know. The changes that he wrought will only make me stronger and my inner garden more beautiful.

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?

Updates and a Contest

I updated the Catnips page. I finally found some people who merit the Accessibility Awareness Award! This award has been gathering dust for over a year. I hadn’t given up on it but I had stopped actively hunting. I found both places in one day, and there is a third that is pending processing. (This just means I am making certain the company approves of their being posted online with a write up, to respect their image.)

Each business gets a subpage in the Catnips section, linking on both the side page or you can find them via the Catnips Page.

This brings us to the second order of business, the contest.

First, what I offer you. A page about you on the side bar, permanently. Linking to your website if you have one, or when you get one, and finally spreading access and awareness of you. If you win, I will also post an interview on this blog about you.

Here is what I ask in turn, I am asking for artists to draw, paint, photomanip, and create one of two images, you can enter with both. Either draw Super Cripple, defending justice and advocating for equal rights or the Cork Screw of Justice! If you want specifics from me, ask, and I will post them here for all to see to keep the contest fair.

If you aren’t an artist feel free to pass this around to someone who is. If you are, I am not worried about skill level, just do your best and have some fun!

Now, the first person to draw Super Cripple did so on request, so, I present access to the art page of a friend of mine. Rich also known as Realmis also known as Soulstarisborn draws some really unique work. I hope someday to buy his comic books. In honor of the Watchmen Movie he offered free Super Hero drawings so I dropped him a line and he drew Super Cripple for me. He renamed her Libra, partly because he understands the concept of isms, and how some words can only be used by people they were once used to Oppress.

Super Cripple as drawn by Rich

Super Cripple as drawn by Rich

Edit: I forgot to put the deadline in. You have until May 1st at Midnight to enter, and, to submit either post a link to a DeviantArt Page or email the images and your personal details to Textual Fury and include the words Art Contest in the Subject!

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