And Just When I Thought You Considered Me A Human…

Crack my head open

On your kitchen floor

To prove to you that I have brains

– Alkaline Trio

When you are disabled, much of your life is spent proving your humanity to others. Too often, disabled people are objects; objects of your pity, objects of your existential strife, objects that someone needs to care for, objects of your inspiration, I could go on. Objects are acted on and not interacted with. And when we get too comfortable with our illusion of humanity, someone will always be there to shatter it. Someone, so graciously, reminded me of my objectified existence today. They really deserve a medal for preventing this disabled chick from using her own brain.

The thing is, she meant well. Most people do. Long story short, plans were unnecessarily changed in order to accommodate my disability. No one asked me. They gave me a vague reason for the change. I was living in ignorant bliss until today. Then someone opened their big mouth and said “well, we changed the plan for you, because you know, your disability.” When I explained that the change was unnecessary, she replied “I guess we should have asked.” Nailed it! You definitely should have asked! You see, we could chalk this up to a learning experience and call it a day. That’s a part of what I will do. The other part is that I will do my best to explain to you, dear reader, why this is fucked up. I want you to be better than that.

These people forgot that I am a human! I am not a delicate flower. I will not whither if you offend me. I will not be crushed by your carelessness. And you are not an almighty force that makes or breaks me. We are 2 fellow humans so let’s treat one another as such.

Fear also factors into this. They were afraid of offending me. Maybe they were afraid of needing to help me. Maybe they were afraid of the discomfort of watching me do something in my own way. Who knows! The point is, YOU ARE BRAVER THAN THAT!

Through my time working in community mental health, I have learned a few things.

1. We are all just a few intensely shitty experiences away from the things we fear the most… Maybe that is living on the streets, or becoming terminally ill, dyeing, becoming disabled, etc.

2. People experience intense discomfort when faced with this concept.

I get it! It makes me pretty uncomfortable too. So what do we do? Truthfully, I do not know. But one thing we can do is BE BRAVE and remember one another’s humanity.

To illustrate my complicity, here is a story. I was on the bus the other day when a young guy in a wheel chair gets on. He started talking about how he was pretty newly disabled from a traumatic event. When he was sharing his story, I felt really emotional. I was faced with those really common/pesky existential concerns. I felt really bad for the dude. But I think what I did wrong here is that I made his stuff about me. I was not brave. I made him an object.I think it would be pretty accurate to assume that he has no interest in my pity. He is probably interested in being treated like a resilient human who went through some rough shit. He probably has lots of opinions, and favorite movies/bands/books, and hobbies. He is more than that disability. He is complex. We are all complex.

TLDR: Objectification is easy and weak. Be brave and recognize humans for humans.

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Ramblings Of Someone Who Is Figuring It Out

At the risk of being deemed a stereotypical millennial…

Who actually feels prepared for all of life’s offerings? According to my 24-year-old self, society does not do a great job at preparing you for various life experiences. To be perfectly honest, entering adulthood felt like a giant slap in the face. I remember starting my first adult job after graduating college. I was so pumped to be making $34,000 a year only to realize that I would still need to share an apartment with a couple of other people if I did not want to get shot while taking my dog out at night. I worked in an office where people could care less about my training or career. In the beginning, I felt so clueless and alone. Adulthood has a way of doing that to a person. I know I am not alone so why do we not talk about this stuff more?

Why do we not openly discuss smart financial planning? Why do we not talk about how hard it is to cook every night of the week? Why do people not tell you how frustrating it can be to raise a high-energy puppy? Why are we not real about marriage, in-laws and sex? I realize that some of this stuff requires real time experience in order to truly understand. But I do think we could be more raw, honest and real with one another. Maybe then more people would have better luck figuring their shit out. Interestingly enough, I recently attended a training for therapists about couples counseling. The trainer said something that really struck me. He said, “the idealistic expectations of young people in relationships are crushing them.” Is idealism just part of the human condition?

Here is an example. I met, dated and married a kind, smart and “mostly wonderful” man. Funny story… I frequently read an amazing blog, Blind Motherhood, where the author refers to her husband as “mostly wonderful.” As an unmarried person, I just did not understand why she called her partner that. I remember thinking, “shouldn’t you always think your partner is amazing and wonderful?” Bahahahaha…. Wow, I was so naïve. Needless to say, I now understand why the author calls her husband “mostly wonderful.” Ten months of marriage has taught me that marriage is hard. You are going to fight. You are going to disagree. You are going to dislike one another and say terrible things. Also, really difficult and challenging things just happen. Not everything can be completely wonderful and amazing all the time. Yeah, sometimes there are many joyful, blissful and seemingly perfect moments. But in the end, you are just 2 mostly wonderful people that come together to make a mostly wonderful life. Sorry guys… I’m kind of a pessimist. When it comes down to it though, I love my husband to the moon and back times infinity.

College was a place that made perfect sense to me. I took the classes and learned the things. My professors seemed to care about my success and helped me excel. Friends were fairly easy to come by and accommodations were within mostly easily accessible reach. I am not saying I did not have trials in college but I am saying that it was nothing like the real world. I remember seeing glimpses of the real world but I could just go have a girl’s night at the dollar theatre with my roomies and those ugly images would all just go away.

Maybe I am glamourizing my college life… Nostalgia often clouds the memory. But truthfully, I know for a fact that I did not feel prepared for the outside. I am not sure what really could prepare you for all the things that life brings. Maybe a go with the flow and figure it out kind of attitude? That is what is getting me through so far, despite not always being the best at it.

I look back on my younger days and remember being so idealistic. I know I am still young but my 24 years on this earth have taught me a few things. Life is hard and gray and messy and joyful and hilarious and sad. Some people care about you but most people do not; however, most people are doing their best to not be complete ass holes. So you know what? Give people the benefit of the doubt. Try not to be an ass hole. And above all… Go with the flow and figure it out! If you have any advice for this 20 something, please feel free to leave it in the comments.