Disabled, and Differently-Abled

I have a chronic illness, a hidden disability that sometimes causes me to be utterly incapacitated to the point where I can barely walk or even move. I’m in pain 24/7 to varying degrees and each day greets me where I have to force myself to push past it to just get out of bed and feed the dogs. But I do it. I do a lot, considering it’s a constant battle against the entropy and the “You Can’t Do It” demon in my head and it’s minions out in the “real world”.

Those of you that also have disabilities know that demon. The one in your head that questions whether you can actually do a thing that you’re actually in the middle of doing. If you have difficulty walking, and are enjoying a day at an outdoor event with a lot of ground to cover, that demon is saying things like, “Are you SURE you should even be here? You’re holding up your friends. They’re moving slower, waiting for you and your cane/walker/chair. People are looking at you.” That guy…Gods, I hate that guy.

But his minions out in the world are worse. You can ignore the demon in your head, but his minions inhabit humans and what do you say to them? How do you tell a person that thinks they’re showing concern for your well-being that they’re actually undermining you? That they’re being ableist by saying things like, “Are you sure you should be doing that?” or “Maybe this job isn’t for you.”  What are you supposed to say — unless it doesn’t matter whether you ream them out, because believe you me, I can tear someone to shreds when I want to. But I’m at a loss with this one especially since I’m pretty sure it’s unintentional.

I’m already on SS disability because I CAN’T work a full time job due to my disabilities. But I do some part time work, have a small (very small) business making dog collars, and volunteer where I can. I do what I can when I can because I NEED to be a productive member of society and have a lot of skills from when I was in the workforce. I have a college degree. I don’t want to be a drain on resources, or someone that’s pitied or looked at with scorn. So when I say in conversation that my body doesn’t always function the way I need it to and that it’s frustrating, I’m not looking for pity or sympathy — and I’m definitely not looking for any type of response like, “Isn’t there someone else that can do __________ for you?” The answer is, no, there’s not. It’s just me, but that’s besides the point — that question shouldn’t even be asked.

Do not presume what I can or cannot do, I’ll be the one to determine that. Sometimes, I’m not even sure. It changes from day to day. Today I might be able to run a mile (hahahahaha). Tomorrow, I might not even be able to walk to the bathroom. We are all differently-abled, even those without any kind of disability. All it takes is ONE injury or illness to knock you out, and you can find yourself in the same boat as I and many others — begging for a chance to prove oneself worthy of consideration and equality.

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Do to Live

I got out today.

I forced myself past the pain. Past the desire to stay in bed and wallow. I pushed against it.

The abyss beckoned, said, “Stay here. It’s more comfortable”. (Such a lie. It’s not easier to stay in the dark with you. That is the lie you tell me to make me a slave to your whims. )

I got up, shut out the agony, closed it off as best I could. No, you will not get me today. I’m going. I am going to live today.

Out I went. Out into the world, into society. Which tells me I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m NOT ENOUGH. Or maybe it’s me telling myself that. Either way, the abyss is always there telling me not to go out there, it’s scary and horrible and safer to stay home in the darkness.

No, I went into the world. Just for a brief moment, I went into the light.

I’m holding onto that small pinprick of light. For the next time the abyss beckons and lies to me, “Stay here with me in the darkness, it’s easier than going out there. Nobody wants you out there, but I want you here.” No. I have this… I went into the light and kept some of it. I have that. I DID that.

And I’ll do it again. You just wait.


On Finding Compassion

Compassion. The dictionary definition is: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

Such a simple concept isn’t it? Another is suffering, and I wish to heal them of their suffering. It differs from empathy in that empathy is when you feel others’ distress but don’t necessarily work to alleviate it.  To feel compassion necessarily includes feeling empathy, but empathy doesn’t always include compassion (although the western world often conflates the two.)

Compassion has been spoken about a lot lately by my yoga teacher, by other yoga and Buddhist friends and teachers, and has come up a lot in discussions with other friends of spiritual dispositions – from ALL different paths. We’re all in agreement – the world and the state it’s in is a direct result of the lack of compassion between human beings. So why is it so hard? Why is LOVE so hard? Because that’s what compassion is — loving others through their pain and suffering, through your own, and wanting them to be healed. Even if those other are the cause of your pain and suffering, showing compassion for them will be healing to YOU, if not them.

There’s a video making the rounds of Facebook, saying that racism is a form of mental illness, a type of PTSD. Racism, homophobia, xenophobia — any of the forms of hatred — stem from a lack of empathy (and ignorance) and compassion for others. Buddhist thought would say that this is indeed a form of illness, of suffering and through compassion and understanding, we can help those suffering from this and heal them thereby healing society and ourselves. We can even take it outside of Buddhism into the Judeo-Christian realm — Jesus preached love and compassion even for the least of us. As my dear friend (a southern Baptist. Yep. The Witch has a close, CLOSE friend that’s a southern Baptist) said, “But as a Christian how can one justify hate? Which directly conflicts with the edict in the BIble they swear by to care for widows and orphans? Because as far as I’m concerned you can’t claim to “follow” Jesus and hate you can’t do so and deny any responsibility for your fellow man. JESUS would probably tell them that one never wins anyone over with hate and force and if they wanted to “win” believers they are doing a piss poor job by showing a picture of Christians that looks a whole lot more like Pharisees than followers of a man who lived his life preaching love and tolerance and forgiveness.”

Compassion. Something so lacking in our world lately. (Or maybe all the time, it’s just a lot more noticeable what with the Leader of the “Free World” tweeting threats and banning entire segments of the population and threatening war with anyone that disagrees with him.) Compassion seems to be the one thing that is truly separating the “liberals” from the “conservatives” these days — and I don’t even want to use those terms anymore because they almost don’t apply as the political lines are blurring past the point of recognition.

Those that have compassion are protesting the mistreatment of others, not because they want illegal immigration to continue unchecked (I agree that there needs to be some kind of immigration reform but a blanket ban or a WALL? No, that’s not going to work but that’s a whole different post altogether) but because they think human beings should be treated with respect. ESPECIALLY those that are already vetted and have green cards and have been in this country for years, LEGALLY. We marched on D.C. the day after 45’s inauguration because we know his policies and cabinet and SCOTUS picks will do harm to the minorities of this country. White suburban women, tardy to the party, finally found their compassion and stepped up and said, “No more”. Even those lucky people who will likely not be affected too badly by the coming tide of fascist authoritarian changes (the few white cisgender heterosexual christian males of moderate and stable financial means, long may he remain with us) maintain compassion and try to stave off the tide of hatred.

But….why are we doing this? How can we continue when “the other side” is so hellbent on destroying us? Logically, rationally, it makes no sense to look upon the face of an “enemy” and feel compassion for them when you know they feel nothing but enmity for you. Because if we don’t, we become just like who we’re fighting against. We must maintain our compassionate stance, even when it’s hard. ESPECIALLY when it’s hard. Change may never happen, there may never come a point where we reach an understanding  but remaining a compassionate person amongst the hate and turmoil is  good for *us*. It’s self-care against the tides of hate and chaos. You might not end their suffering but it’ll change you and potentially help you find an end to yours.

So don’t give up. Breathe it all in and love it all out. And remember that there is nothing more fierce  than unconditional love, more courageous than compassion. This is our strength.

Peace.

http://theslot.jezebel.com/this-is-not-normal-1791911524

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You’re absolutely correct. None of this is normal.

 

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