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.

Emotional Agony

So often, I find myself belittling my emotions. This is another practice from childhood, and it can defeat me. It sets me up for failure, infects my heart with discord, and leaves me acting as an Angry Cripple. It is a challenge to fight the urge to tell myself how little my pain matters.

recently I have been displaying some of the life long bits of my soul here, many of which bear bruises and scars. This is painful. There are over 100 posts that have been written but you will never see, because they hurt too deeply. Some have been rewritten, to remove the deepest secrets, hiding them.

I realize this is not something that is unique to me, and is instead very common especially with Women who have disabilities. A disability is anything that interferes with functions of daily living, and therefore I do count mental health issues as disabilities. Not all disabilities are so severe that you alter your life and build it around them, but, that does not mean your reactions to those “minor” disabilities have any less validity.

I am writing this post, because I have heard five times in the last two days, read it twice, and tried to deny a growing anger that these words cause this lovely statement, “Just looking at you, I realize how little my pain matters.” This is crap. This sort of thinking and self devaluement leads you down the path towards self hatred. Self hatred is usually just a mask for inner pain, layered with anger and other poisons. Stop it.

I know, my body is a very good example of what you do not want to live in. My body is not your body, and although my pain is epic to me, there is someone out there who has it worse. I can name names, I know of faces, and there are people who walk, that still have it worse than I do. My pain is equal to yours, not less, not more. Equality in Pain is a concept that I learned about when I met a girl in the mental health ward. I was actually addressing the issues of my sexual abuse, and, she tried to empathize, revealing why she was there.

To me, the reason, not revealed because of confidentiality and respect of this person, is small. It is insignificant in my estimation of abuse. To her, it was earth shattering. Her world exploded. It took me a lot longer than my stay in that facility to understand the concept offered there. What we experience shapes our views. I cannot show you what I see, but I can try and paint a picture for you.

There is no reason to compare experience. Identical Twins rarely share the same outlook in life, every person is as unique as a snowflake or a butterfly. None are identical, despite outward appearance. It is rude to devalue them or yourself based on your own experience. This brings us of course to racism, ableism, and sexism.

When you say that racism does not exist, it is not truth. It is perspective. You deny someone else’s experience and that wounds you both. You might not understand their anger at your words, and they might lose respect for you. They may not understand too a lack of experience. This does not justify your denial of racism, but, the caveat is that you can learn from the responses to such statements.

Equality is in my estimation impossible. I am an idealist however, and fight for the ideal. Someday, I might just be proven wrong. I do not remember the author though I think it was Vonnegut, but I once read a science fiction story where everyone was made equal by devices that made everyone see, hear, and think at equal levels. They even ate the same food, very bland, all people were the same. This world was horrible, everyone was in pain, tormented, and unable to function.

This was normal for those characters, until one could not be contained. He was above average, so far so that the devices could not contain him. He became violent, lashing out to try and wake the people up. It did not end well. I think of this story often when I forget why people are different.

I do not want to be just like you, and you definately do not want to be made physically equal to me. I would not wish this body on anyone. I also wouldn’t trade it for yours. I couldn’t function with another body or mind, this is what I know. Your pain is pain. Your anger is valid. Your tears, your joys, all of them have as much importance as mine.

I have said this outloud to people, before. Trying to make them stop. Sometimes people devalue their pain in an attempt to pity me. I need no pity. I am a brilliant star burning in the sky, and I know it. No person needs pity. Those who pity are merely blind to the simple fact that everyone is valid, necessary, and capable of something important.

Before you protest, stating that people with cognitive disorders cannot be productive in society, let me correct you. Autism counts as a cognitive disorder, though, it makes my world absolutely brilliant and colorful. I couldn’t trade up, just down. Downs Syndrome doesn’t make a person invalid. Every person with Downs I have met experiences more joy than I can comprehend. You point out that those in vegetative states do not add anything, and, I say bunk. What they did before their brains were injured counts. Every living person has a right to fair treatment, health care, and love.

Emotional equality too, prevents the need to debase someone, to be better than they are. It merely exists, as we do. I exist. You have the right to exist. I am angry for those who cannot see it. I mourn, for this knowlege is powerfully freeing. I dance with butterflies, I sing with the birds, I exist merely as I am and can be nothing else.

You are valid. Go love yourself.

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