Reality of Choice

It is unfair that we must bear a responsibility to take up slack for people who want life spoon fed to them. It is wrong that we must be better advocates than anyone else around us. It is wrong that we must fight for our basic human rights constantly. No one chooses to be disabled but here we are, fighting anyway. I am tired of wearing the Super Cripple label. I am tired.

Today I was reminded that it is important to be human. I didn’t know I had been working on being Super Perfect again. I do this without thinking. It comes from the need to survive. Growing up without a diagnosis for any of my differences including Autism left me with a need to be extra normal. I used to fail on purpose so that no one would hate me for being smart. They hated me for being me anyway.

I have spent my life trying to blend in with the able bodied and normal. I have never quite managed. Even when I am trying to seem normal, passing as if the only disability I have is my spine, something other shines through. Maybe it is the way I wince at something no one else can hear. Maybe it is the way that I curl my hands up and hold them at my sides. I try to not. Maybe it is the way I look at people, without looking at them. I haven’t made real eye contact in years. No one notices… or do they?

The first paragraph came from my responding to a post on another blog, the blog that forced me to begin writing. It is a post that commiserates with the service animal users, and offers support. Every day every disabled person has to advocate. People tell me often to not get angry. I am tired of not being allowed to have a real emotion because it might upset the normies. I really want to cuss right now. I want to let those words fly out because that’s what the normies would do. They use weird language, from my vantage point. Awkward tones, words that can make less sense because to them the idea of making sense to someone else is ridiculous. The idea that someone could be prejudiced because you do not use a word improperly is foreign.

Today was a good day, if exhausting. I woke up to illegal action by my apartment. The apartment is supposed to give a twenty four hour warning before entering my home. We had three. We also had to avoid being here due to the risks of exposure to allergens and their pesticide use. William spent the entire day in a carrier, just as panicked as I felt at the squeal of brakes, the cacophony of traffic. Sprite was her usual self, thoguh she panicked a few times too. My head still hurts from being next to a bus that had squeaky breaks. I can still hear it, over the TV, over the silence if I turn it off. There is no choice for me there. I cannot escape the overwhelming sounds. I cannot escape the pressure in my head.

I cannot escape the texture of my blanket. Tonight it feels like sand paper. Yesterday it was the softest cloud. The reality is, others have it worse than I do. Others cannot coherently string words together to express themselves. Lately I have been wondering how much “real” autistics suffer. I have been wondering if any other autistic person feels as normal as I do. I don’t feel like I am anything but normal. Anyone else knowing me might not think so but that is due to work.

The reality is I spend every day choosing between fighting for my civil rights or acting normal. I can’t do both. If I act the way that the dominate, able bodied men want I give up my rights. If I do not fight for my rights I will starve. Today I found out that Section 8 is no longer taking applications. This means thousands of people are going to be homeless. They are trying to close the program. Don’t we need more help with housing not less? I am tired of living in fear. As a minority, the disabled face their funding being cut. Do we have a choice? Yes. Is it a good choice? No.

What is the reality of choice? The reality of choice is simply that there is no choice. If you are disabled and able to push for legal accommodation it is a duty. You might not like that idea, but, think about it. Every time someone oppresses you, they oppress a dozen others. Every time you fight back and calmly advocate for your rights there is a benefit, there is a decrease in the oppression of others.

I do not know any disabled person who is unaware of their oppression. Those who face the fear of institutionalization. Those who have the memories of it. Those who try to ride a bus. Those who try to buy groceries. Those who wrok. Those who want to work but are not able to train for the job due to discrimination. All levels of intellect and worldly awareness. We all know we are being oppressed. We might not know the words for it, but the feelings are there. We all feel the changes when someone becomes educated as well. We all benefit from even one moment of advocacy.

I often hear parents disparaging their disabled children with in earshot. Sometimes they do not bother to try and hide their loathing. They all want a cure. This is very common with autism. The people wanting a cure want me to die. I would not be me without my autism. I am not sure what the suffering is that I am supposed to endure. All of that suffering comes from outside. Some of it is not actual violence against my person, some of it is just the experience of the world itself. It can be painful. Most of it is however the doing of man. My parents sending me away because I was different, drugging me to try and make me appear like they wanted. This was painful. It still is. I am familiar with pain. I am not finding any specific pain that Autism caused.

Some people may feel pain. I know that some autistics are violent. Some harm themselves. Instead of curing the entire mind, throwing out the person, shouldn’t we focus on trying to help them to learn how to not hurt themselves? Spending years without a diagnosis because I could do what it took to not die, I could blend, my perspective is different. Who would I be with a diagnosis and proper developmental treatment?

That is the reality. I chose to blend in. I choose daily to advocate. I choose every moment. I am hyper aware of my choices  but are you? What is the reality of the choices you make? Do your choices oppress someone else? Do your choices free someone else? What balance can you offer the world by making good choices? This is the reality of choice.

Beyond the Search Words

I normally name my posts before I type them out, it helps me to retain focus. Instead, I am unable to hammer out a decent title, or one free of curse words anyway. I decided, in my insomnia fit, to peruse the offerings of the internet with a few search words. Disabled and handicapped being the top two. I wanted to see what came up. I am not linking any of the blogs I found, because beyond what is already in my blogroll or private reading list (waiting for me to put it in the blogroll) disgusts me.

Ignoring the posts about disabled porn, ignoring the jokes at the expense of handicapped people I came across what appeared to be a journal of a trip by a handicapped woman. A cold and a broken leg are difficult but not disabilities, are they? The cold isn’t a disability but reasonably the leg could be a temporary disability. Not only does it effect your daily function but even after the bone heals there can be lingering damage. I still had a visceral reaction to the writing, and not in a good way.

I understand disability, and the challenges inherent in trying to maneuver in spaces that are cramped, dealing with prejudice, but writing an entire blog about how you broke your leg and that instantly makes you the most disabled person in the world is really not something I can get behind. Yes, I admit that the writer’s pain is important. However, so is their dignity.

It took me a long time to find out how to blog, because of that very thing. I did not understand the point of blogging, I did not understand that it could be done with Dignity. It was the need for dignity that lead me to posting that very first time, and each time it is the basis for my editing, rejection of some of the writing and my attempts to be open minded.

I strive for personal dignity and I work hard to not strip away the dignity of others. Reading about how cruel the world is for those with an obviously broken leg, the desire for pity instead of dignity frustrated me. So I moved on, another person was complaining about handicapped parking, and how rude it is for people who are handicapped to use it. I read about this one a lot, it sneaks up in most blogs at some point. The concept that a safe spot, with enough room to move a ramp out, your chair, and easier access to a building is beyond some people.

Moving on again, I had to do some deep breathing, refusing to let myself post cutting words to try and make them see. Attacking people, no matter how much I disagree with them is not something I want to do. That would lack grace on my part and could remove their dignity. Then, I found another post laying out another problem people seem to have with handicapped parking.

Did you know that “all handicapped drivers park crookedly, blocking me out of my car when I park near those damned cripples”? Not only is this a blanket statement making it a stereotype but, I often have to have our van pulled out, because there is rarely handicapped parking, and the cars by able bodied people are often parked just as poorly. I am not a driver, so I am not aware of how hard it is to parallel park, but with the monster chair that does not turn I cannot do it in a conference room. I perceive this act as massively difficult.

I am often tempted by magnetic signs that say “Please do not block access to this door, a ramp is contained inside and access is needed for my wheelchair”. I do not because of the local culture. It might qualify as a subculture, and yet it is dominant in my daily life. The culture towards the disabled springs from a lot of superstition and the very poor education available.

I know that the education offered to the American Children fails more and more annually, yet if you are slightly different or have any challenges you are shoved into a room and no one wants to see you. No one teaches you. I am primarily self educated, except for the teachers who actually cared enough to break into my world.

Being aware of this, and what was taught about disability in school, I know that they fear me. the ubiquitous they, in this case means the average New Mexican. The little that was taught about disability in my schooling included first, that disabled people could never function in society unless they were Franklin Delano Roosevelt, though we were taught he contracted Polio after his presidency. This is a fallacy, as I know now. Then, we were taught too, that no disabled person ever did anything of historical value. Disabled people are just evil. The contradiction in FDR’s existence never seemed to make a difference.

The superstitions continue, one of the local superstitions states that if a pregnant woman sees a horror or a disabled person, her child will be disfigured in the womb. This means if you are pregnant and stare too long at a person in a chair or even a person with a broken leg, you kill your baby. A lot of the pregnant women out here are teenagers, and a lot of the pregnant women teens and adults drink and smoke. yet the blame falls to the disabled.

The more I read tonight the more frustrated I grow. I did stop, but only to protect myself from festering rage. A cold is not a disability. Illness does not mean disability. A broken leg is a physical injury but injury does not always mean disability. Depending on the rate you heal, you might need a placard, temporarily, but that does not mean you quantifiable understand what it is to be truly disabled. Your pain is valid, do not use it to invalidate mine.

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