I recently completed an interview in which a question was posed to me asking how did I feel about coming out as disabled. On first read, I thought it was a strange question. After mulling over it a bit, I realized that there was a coming out of sorts for me.
I openly admit to being a person who never gave much thought to the word disabled because it didn’t apply to me. Did I know people with disabilities? Of course. I had family and friends with varying disabilities in my lifetime and I never viewed them as anything other than people I loved.
But the reality is, when I learned my diagnosis, I was devastated. Not only was I devastated, I was certainly in denial about my circumstances. Why? Because in my eyes, having a physical attribute that put me at a disadvantage to have access to things other people did made me feel less than. So basically I was in absolute denial about the word disability.
I want to tell you that a beautiful montage occurred in which I was able to see the beauty of disabled bodies and miraculously at the end of said montage I was more enlightened. But I can’t tell you that because that’s not what happened.
The work that had to be done to accept my circumstances was just that- work. I had to be rigorous in unpacking my ableist views. And even once I was able to reconcile with myself what disability meant; I still had to prepare myself for the way that other people saw me.
Yea, yea,yea; I know, what other people think about me doesn’t matter. But this is real life, not an after school special. While the opinions of other people don’t matter, they can have an affect on how you feel about yourself. It doesn’t mean that I will dwell on that feeling forever; but I certainly had to prepare myself for whatever impact it made.
Most people asked questions, especially those who knew me. Occasionally there’s a troll lingering on social media who assumes my disability is directly linked to my size. But even with all that, I have to say that accepting my limitations has been liberating.
Sounds strange, but let me explain.
Over the course of my adult life, I’ve been advised by an elder or two that I need to be modest. And by being modest, they meant accepting that I had limitations and could not in fact do everything I put my mind to. Contrary to popular motivational speakers opinions; limitations are a real thing.
This process of dealing with my own disability taught me to be okay with not being able to do everything that popped into my head. It was as if there was an invisible pressure to excel at every idea melted away. Learning my limitations has been gratifying and rewarding.
I am able to rest without guilt (for the most part, I still have moments), learned how to prioritize my chores and tasks for the day, and even have become more communicative with my family and friends about what I need and what I cannot commit to.
So is disability something I highly recommend 10 out of 10? Uh no. However, it’s not something that I am going to allow make me feel as if I am not as worthy of this life simply because things have changed.
Besides, my rollator is decked out with glitter; how can I not feel fly with a disability?
Until next time,