Dating A Hippie Who Isn’t Actually Very Hippie.

I just got out of this shitty relationship. Shitty because, when it was good, it was really good, and when it was bad I wanted to stick my head in an oven. The guy? Dude’s name is actually Tim Kitz–I won’t be complicit in the protection of abuser’s identities. Stay away from him, friends.

Anyway, Tim seems like a hippie in the hippiest of ways, with trademark unkept hair and a commune-like living style. The type that cleans out plastic cups so he can recycle them, and turns dinner conversation into a deconstruction of capitalist ideals.

On paper, Kitz seems fantastic.He knows all the relevant feminist-progressive ideals and when to slip them into casual conversation. He, like me, seems to have a huge hard-on for radicalism and equality, and enjoys analyzing the places where the two intertwine. He’s also super affectionate, and spends more time touching me than, well, not touching me when we’re together.

When push comes to shove though, he is not even close to being the things he portrays and purports to care about, and it’s become more and more evident that a lot of his radical thought and progressive beliefs in things like “listening and validating others” and “not being a manipulative fuckhead to women that you’re sleeping with.” are nothing more than lip-service that he spouts when it suits him. Yeah, remember that part about wanting to stick my head in the oven?

So anyways, both of us have known for weeks now that things between us should be over. On my end, things are done because he’s incredibly manipulative. On his end, I don’t fucking know. He says I don’t listen to him. On our Last Night Ever Getting Back Together, he just kept saying that–over and over, in between other shit about how I’m a liar and a hypocrite and a user–“You don’t listen to me.” Even though I’ve spent hours upon hours listening to his rants about how I’m actually awful. Even though he guilts me for doing the very things I should be doing– hanging up, kicking him out–I should’ve never listened.

Before he derailed every one of my concerns into being about how don’t listen to him, he made it about how I always give up too easy. He said I never have ever given him a chance, and that when I ended things (which, I tried to do on average once a week), I was just giving up again. During one of his worst railroad rants he told me I’m a quitter, among other things, for ten minutes straight. No exaggeration.

O

All said, I’m sure you see the toxicity here.  Label it what you like–I’ve tried to compartmentalize it under “bullshit that seeps in to my soul, even though I’d rather never think about again ever,” but it’s tough. It’s tough because the first few paragraphs of this post still remain true.And those hooks, they’re deep.

Even though every fight somehow became about him and his pain, he’s the only guy who’s walked around the city with me, holding my hand. He’s the only one who gives me space to talk to strangers who assume I can’t talk, or talk to him first. The only one who said, “Fuck you,” to a passerby that said he was a “good man,” for holding my hand.

They’re are countless reasons why people put up with abuse. As a disabled woman, I think one of my reasons in this scenario was the way I simultaneously felt totally seen, and not seen at all. I felt a lot of love, and then I felt the rug slip from underneath me. I felt like people had no choice but to confront their ableism when we were out together, and that felt a bit like crack. I loved feeling like a real person.

Maybe one day I’ll feel it again, without a price.

 

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This is what it feels like

I don’t know about you, but my last few months have consisted of men’s bullshit, and my minimization of said bullshit, as a means of survival.

But today, today I say fuck your bullshit.

Fuck the time you laid in my bed, right after I clarified that none of the hanky-panky would be had, stuck your fingers inside of me and said, “I want this.”

Not, “I want you” Not, “I’m attracted to you,” and definitely not, “I want your consent,” just this, and your stubby fingers in my beautiful vagina.

Fuck the night leading up to the morning of your intrusive fingers, when I said I was too tired to sleep with you, and you kept kissing me anyhow. Fuck the fact that I said at least 3 times that I was sleeping, and kept my eyes shut as you penetrated me with your penis regardless.

Fuck the fact that when you left the next morning, after your fingers had been inside of me and your penis had gone soft twice, (to which you blamed the speed crash you were having, and not the fact that you were trying to fuck someone who wouldn’t even open her eyes for you) the last thing you said was “You could’ve been more playful, you know.”

Fuck the likelihood that many of you will read this and wonder why I said “I’m tired” and “I’m asleep” over and over, instead of “No.”

Fuck the reality that I wonder that too.

Fuck the fact that you still text me.

Fuck the fact that you don’t know what you did wrong.

Fuck the knowledge that I’m a statistic.

Fuck the way that knowing you for a year changed nothing.

Fuck the way that all my wisdom on consent, and violence, and self-care couldn’t change a goddamn thing.

Fuck the perception that I’m vulnerable, as a disabled person,and its tangible, undeniable, non-socially-constructed truth.

Fuck the fact that after you’d left, all I could do was lay there, with my face in your pillow and your smell lingering, thinking about how it was bound to happen to me sometime.

Fuck the truth that so many girls have been here, and can’t read this without crying.

Fuck the fear that this won’t be the last time I experience this.

Fuck the fact that this isn’t even what I wanted to write about.

 

A Letter to Survivors of Sexual Assault

In honour of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here’s a letter to those that have experienced sexual assault. It is all the things I wish I could say to you over a hot cup of coffee in a quiet, undiscovered (but somehow accessible?) coffee shop.

I believe you. Every last word. You are not “crazy.” What happened to you is.

It’s not your fault Ever. If you’re a survivor of multiple assaults, not one of them has been your fault. I’m sorry that this has happened to you, no one deserves to go through that, and nothing you did could warrant sexual violence.

You are strong. So fucking strong. Even if you don’t feel strong. The fact that you are reading this, (er uh, sharing with me over fake coffee) makes you strong. Being sexually violated can be devastating, and completely debilitating. Just living through it makes you strong by default.

Your healing process is 100% yours. There is no proper timeframe for recovering from abuse. There is no limit to grief. If you are having trouble doing the things you used to do–are feeling depressed, angry, unfocused, cloudy, confused or indifferent, know that you are healing. You are refuelling. You are resilient–you’re a fucking butterfly-in-the-making, cocooning from violence, preparing to come out beautiful when ready. You will heal as you know best–how you do that (and who you allow to be part of your healing) is entirely up to you. My guess is that any way you do it, you’re doing what you need to to get by.

Flashbacks and anxiety are common. This is a frequent reality for people that have experienced violence. It’s your mind and body’s way of processing your assault(s), of helping you cope. You are not alone, many survivors have flashbacks, anxiety, and/or night-terrors related to their assault. Some techniques that might help you through these feelings include grounding, breathing exercises and calling a crisis line for support.

*This upcoming point is about power-and-control dynamics as they relate to violence. Some people who have experienced violence might find this overwhelming. If so, scroll down a point.*

Sexual assault isn’t about sex, it’s about power. You might feel confused about what’s happened–especially if you’ve been assaulted by a family member, boyfriend (or girlfriend) or spouse. And rightfully so–why would someone who loves you force themselves on you? Were they just extremely horny?

There is a prevalent belief that sexual assault is one person being sexually aroused by another person and then forcing themselves on that person. This is inaccurate: One person is sexually aroused by power, and  then forces themselves on that person. Ergo, the person that has been assaulted has nothing to do with the assault,because it was not about them, or their sex appeal, it was about the assaulter’s plight for power.

So, your partner, or family member that has sexually assaulted you did not do so because it is how they express love. They did not do so because you were “looking all beautiful and batted your eyes” at them, or because they just “lost control” because they were so turned on. In fact the opposite is true: They did so because they found a way to gain control over you.  This is not your fault. You did nothing to deserve this, nor are you the reason it happened. It happened because that person decided to force themselves on you, because they wanted power.

If you want it, there is support for people that have experienced violence Everyone deals with trauma differently, so you are the best judge of whether or not you want (or are ready/ in a safe enough place for) support.Support comes in different forms, from online forums or phone conversations, to individual counselling, advocacy, or group sessions. I’m in the Ottawa area, so all of my resources are specific to this region, but if you are ready, you can reach out, wherever you are. Calling your local community centre and specifying the type of help you want is a great place to start.  If that seems overwhelming, you can try to put down what you’ve experienced on paper, or record yourself if that’s easier, or make art.

If you feel like talking, here’s a list of crisis lines in Ottawa: https://carleton.ca/health/emergencies-and-crisis/emergency-numbers/ ( and here is a list if you prefer to speak in French, or other languages).

And lastly, I wish you kindness and positive people in your journey of healing. I wish you hope. I wish you well-being. That’s what you deserve. ❤

Body Image and Disability/ My Diary.

Most times, when we read or discuss body changes, it’s around puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or aging, and it has an “it’s all downhill from here” feel to it. What we don’t see are articles on disability and changing bodies. Somehow, it all gets lumped under “aging” even though the circumstances of bodily growth with a disability can be vastly different than your average ablebodied Joe’s. Let’s talk about the way people situate themselves in relation to their body changes, when disability is a factor. And by ‘let’s talk about,’ I mean I’ll clobber you with personal examples..

Everyone creates a story about their body—how it looks, what it does, whether or not it is of use to them. Body image is extremely underrated as an impacting factor of self-esteem, self understanding and growth for people with disabilities. My body narrative has always relied heavily on my petite body type—small enough to carry, small enough to meet standards of socially acceptable thinness, small enough to fit in my dad’s hand as a baby, but just big enough to keep on living. (This isn’t a brag; in fact, the “You fit in the palm of your daddy’s hand,” story that my family tells, seems to solidify my spot as Miracle Child.)

This isn't me or my dad, I stole this.

This isn’t me or my dad, I stole this.

Being tiny was great for everyone, especially me. At my 7th birthday party, we played Piggy-Back: a fun game where I took turns riding on backs of other 7-year-olds, as they ran up and down the hallway of our apartment (it ended in a concussion, still worth it). Later on, If I decided to do something crazy, like walking, or climbing (falling) off of a chair, or crawling up a flight of stairs, everyone would just let it happen, because I was small enough to rescue. Inevitably, someone would end up yelling “Come get Kristen.” to which either of my parents would magically appear and scoop me up.

At 13, I loved sun-tanning and looking at my own abs. I really thought I was hot shit, in my tankini and tear-away Addidas pants, with a mouth full of purple and blue braces. I could bask in the rays for hours, thinking about life, and whether or not I was really as pretty as I thought I was.

At 14, I grew (small) boobs and a (small) butt and everything went to shit, seemingly overnight. My body started to hurt, it became heavier, and more work for me to drag around. I felt like I was moving in slow motion, like gravity was impenetrable resistance. My spine became crooked from my natural weight gain, and the pain was pretty constant. My stomach jutted out because of my spine issue, and I soon looked pudgy. I didn’t feel like a silly, vain little girl anymore, I felt I was in a body that wasn’t supposed to be for me.

Within 6 months, I had a huge torso brace. I was slightly relieved, it held my body in place, so every move no longer felt like I was making my back curve worse. It also resembled a corset, except plastic, so my stomach was confined and I looked somewhat skinny again. On the other hand, the brace also caused a lot of skin sores and I was in a lot of pain whenever I took it off. I started measuring my thinness by how many fingers I could fit in-between the space where the brace closed. Half a finger was fantastic, I told myself that if ever I didn’t need the brace anymore, I could reward myself by wearing Britney Spears’-style shirts, baring it all because I’d earned it.

Kinda like this piece of body prison.

Kinda like this piece of body prison.

I don’t have enough discipline to develop an eating disorder, but I guess I played with fire. When I turned 16, I hated everything about my body. I would go as long as possible on fruit or half a sandwich. It felt good, I felt I was doing what I could to minimize my pain and the finger-gap where my brace closed.

Somewhere in this span of time I read an autobiographical book about the only other disabled person I knew about at the time: Joni Erickson Tada. Tada is a super-Christian, who became a severe quadriplegic at 17, after a diving accident. I don’t remember much about her book now, except that living in a Stryker frame for 6 months (maybe more?) sounded like absolute hell (I bawled and re-read that part many times, trying to figure out how anyone managed not to die from depression during that phase of recovery). I also remember that boys treated her like garbage (her first love ditched her soon after her neck broke), and that she loved Jesus. She loved Jesus a fuck ton. And now she has her own ministry, and paints really nice things, using only her mouth.

jonipainting

Painting Mary?….with watercolours.

In my desperation, I wrote a letter to Joni Erickson Tada, or more specifically, her big fat inspirational ministry. I wrote her the most personal, sad-sack letter, which went on for pages, but can easily be summed up as: “Dear Mrs. Tada, please help me. I hate myself and my back hurts a ton and I cry a lot in secret. Also, God hates me.” In fact, if I remember right, it was five front-to-back pages of handwritten self-pity and begging for answers. I cried a lo t while writing it, I still remember my fucking tear blots on the pages, which I’m sure I left there for dramatic effect.

Oddly enough, I also won the Optimism Award during this time, for being disabled and existing still. What a confusing time.

Anyways, weeks later one of Joni’s minions replied to my letter. They told me to “Lean not on my own understanding” and spent the rest of the reply expanding on Proverbs 3:5, as if I’d never read a fucking Bible in my life (which, if they’d even read my letter, they would see that I definitely had, and that it was causing me grief). I realized that no one gave a flying shit about my heart-felt letter, and that my last straw– the only disabled person I’d known about– didn’t have time to care.

Fast forward two (three?) years, after my digestive system started failing, and I eventually had surgery to straighten my spine. This meant much less pain (after intense recovery), and that I went back to being small. I have two memories after waking up from nine hours of anesthesia: One is my dad saying “Hey Kiddo,” and grabbing my shoulder as if to say, ‘glad you made it out alive,’  and the other is feeling my stomach, to make sure it was flat for real.

Achieving my ideal meant I could go back to being vain and focusing way too much on how I looked. It also meant I could eventually start eating like a human being again, and work with my body to be as able as possible. It was really fucking great, when it all turned out.

My wish from this self-concerned diary-like entry is that we talk about these body issues more readily. Those 5 years that I wore plastic were torture for me. I couldn’t think about much outside of my physical circumstance and my pain. I didn’t see a future for myself, I tried to eat as little as possible, and I didn’t know how to talk about it beyond crying and over-analyzing. I felt very much alone, scared, and insignificant.

Truly, I want there to be more (or any) ways for people with disabilities to discuss their body differences, and how they cope (or don’t cope) with them. Here’s a list of things I want to do/wish existed:

  • Reframing: As in, someone had suggested a different way for me to see myself, other than “disabled but somehow still small/pretty enough.”
  • Suggesting support for coping mechanisms for pain and discomfort, and the way we think about that.(I know there are specific support groups, for certain degenerative disabilities such as MD, and I have so much appreciation for that.) But It makes me super sad to think that some wheelie somewhere is mistreating their body because they can’t talk about it.
  • Safe spaces, that include others with disabilities, where discussion is encouraged. The amount of disabled people that commit suicide is heartbreaking (American link, but interesting to note). The issues are complex, but being able to relate to another on the basis of physical circumstance, makes things that much easier.
  • Fucking life-panning: I just recently heard about a program that helps disabled people (mostly people with developmental delays), gain essential life skills, like riding the bus, writing cheques, and cooking. Two of my best friends went to these gigs, and I envy them. I didn’t learn to bus alone til I was 21. Oops. I think that some of this life-planning stuff should be mingled with self-esteem/body image stuff, in that it’s all somewhat related to quality of life and general “success”.
  • Disability-Centred Grief Counseling : Your body changes differently than others. Shouldn’t counseling be adjusted to reflect that difference?

Wheelie solidarity is important, especially around issues like bodily change. Thoughts are welcome, if you’ve actually read this far.

Asking for Help When You’re Sick

If you’re like most people, you turn in to the Devil when you’re sick. You re-polish and re-purpose all your favourite curse words and manners are a thing used only by the healthy. A simple “Please, could you just,” turns easily into a “Fuck you, can’t you see I’m dying here?”.  Your usual brand of “Oh ya know, same shit different day,” becomes, “Death, imminent.”

In more graceful terms, Emily Dickinson wrote of the state of pain, saying:

“Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.

It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.”

In short, pain fucks you up, steals your judgement and predictions, only promising more pain. This can really screw with a person, and when you sprinkle disability atop pain and illness, well, you know where this is going.

A major struggle with needing help when you’re disabled and sick is that it usually adds to the long list of things you need when you’re healthy. These added needs effect both the caregiver(s) and the PwD, as imagined:

“Hey mom, I need to roll over again. And also, throw up.”

“Hey kid. I love you, but I’m sprouting grays faster than Jack and I haven’t showered in four days”.

“Oh. Well. In that case, I’ll just swallow it back down.”

Basically, it’s hard on both parties, and usually both parties realize it. This means the caregiver is tired and burnt out and the PwD is acutely aware, once again, of their dependencies. It seems somewhat natural when the caregiver throws their own personal care out the window for the sake of their child, and the PwD throws some of their needs under the rug too. And everything goes to shit, really fast.

Another issue is that disability often crosses over into the realm of illness, and the two can be mistaken for related, even when they are separate.  This is most overtly seen in hospitals, where doctors and nurses are often overbooked and understaffed. This misconception can go either way, making all of a disabled person’s symptoms about their disability, or leaving it out of the equation entirely. It’s a human flaw, to compartmentalize things in the most digestible way possible, but it often causes professionals to be dismissive or over-looking in the medical setting:

“Well yes, these symptoms are common with someone of your disability.”

This phrase, heard over and over by many people with disabilities, is something that instantly tells the disabled person, “This is your sentence, and I’m not working to change it.”

This train of thought—that certain ailments are common with certain disabilities, may hold all the truth in the world, but they also hold a bunch of sneaky expectations:

  • The expectation that, since you’re disabled, you knew this was going to happen.
  • The expectation that you know how to cope with said information. (Go on, just pull out your book on how to be disabled and ok with it.)
  • The expectation that you’re ok with giving up, have no desire to look into alternative options, and are ready to throw in the towel.

It also separates the medical professional from the PwD, intentionally or not. This separation happens the minute the PwD is told, “Well, someone with your condition will likely..”. It is not done on purpose, and may be done with good intent (defining risk, preparing people for future challenges), but it is still a category nonetheless; A lump of people grouped together because they are likely to experience similar health difficulties. It puts the disabled person in a league of their own, dealing with a life of their own…and I could write a whole other post on how creating space, “othering” destroys empathy, which ultimately, steps all over compassion.

As with the other posts on the effects of asking for help for PWD, this one points to the ways in which disabled people end up shoving their asks under the rug. It’s kind of all over the place, but the point remains that sickness “ups” level of need (just ask any grown ass adult who asks their parent for soup), and disability can make us swallow our needs in silence, in both home and medical settings. Both situations can be overwhelming, and both are relatively difficult to solve without more resources and a paradigm shift in some of core beliefs about disability. Sadly, this blog doesn’t have answers, only hopes to shed light and provoke questions. It is however, one of the reasons I think there should be counselors who work specifically with people with disabilities, the same way there are counselors for people with mood disorders, women who have been mistreated and survivors of war. Disability is an entity on its own, sometimes.

 

Needing Help During a Fight

When you need help in life, Life can decide who helps you, for you. This is usually alright, assuming you get along well with most other humans, especially the one who pushed you out of her vagina. But if you have a tumultuous relationship with the person helping you–or even just a one-off blow out with them, things can get more than messy. Here’s a few times when interpersonal conflicts can mess with asking for help.

Being in Conflict with a Parent

Everybody has conflict with their parents, it’s a right of passage that starts the minute you bust through the vaginal canal. In movies, teenagers with too much eye-makeup make fighting with  family seem like an art-form, with their precocious vocabulary and dramatic exits. When you’re a real-life teen with a disability however, this fighting involves a lot less grace and minimal opportunity for dramatic walk-offs.

Whatever. Ground me then. I don’t care,” Says you, with teary eyes and legs that twitch with the weight of your emotions, giving it away that you actually do care.

“Fine. This conversation is over,” says parent, who’s over dealing with your adolescent brand of Brat, and having a teenage kid.

Fine.” Remember when the last word was everything? You’d practically spit it out, and plan to leave triumphantly, only hahaha, you’re disabled–Leaving quickly just isn’t an option for you.. Don’t give yourself a heart attack trying to leave the room  quickly(while actually moving slower than a snail, because you’re mad and you forget what moving feels like). Joke’s on you.

The rough part about fighting with a parent is that your disagreements with them serve as a way to test  limits and try your hand at independence, and this is mostly true for everyone, regardless of ability. When you live with a physical disability, this assertion of limits can be elusive or non-existent, simply because you have to rely on a parent for basic things like bathing, eating and getting in/out of bed. Let’s say this quarrel happened right before bed. You may have eventually succeeded in leaving the room, but you still have to “let them” help you get undressed, or wash-up, things that many people take solace in doing independently, as part of quiet time.

This boundary-crossing is inevitable for most physically disabled people and their parents, if their parents are also their caregivers. I believe that it can make it tough to decipher how to “hold true” to your thoughts and feelings in the future. “I still need help,” starts to feel like, “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong,” even if neither of those things are what you mean to convey. It’s difficult to feel like you’ve drawn a line in the sand when that line must soon be wiped away due to physical care needs.

Interpersonal Conflicts With Significant Others

Should we discuss this? THIS ONE SUCKS. Depending on the nature of the relationship (healthy/unhealthy) the conflict varies. What remains the same is that you need help. The independent factor is the reaction of your S.O. to the fight, and their decision on how they will treat your needs afterwards. Saying, “So, I’m still mad but I need help with pants.” is like punching yourself in the stomach, and yet it has to happen, provided you’re not a nudist.

Add to that said S.O. might decide their anger is more important than your being dressed or mobile, and you have another reason to never make yourself vulnerable again.

Interpersonal Conflict With Unrelated Caregivers

Some of us people with disabilities are privileged enough to have attendants, people who come into our lives and help us with personal care stuff.Many of these people are great in a thousand and five ways, but there will always be those that rub us the wrong way. This is troublesome, as the nature of the attendant’s job is personal, and this means that any disagreements often find their way into your personal life for longer than it might otherwise. If you have a falling out with a friend, you can choose to leave their life. If you have a falling out with an attendant, they’re generally in your life until someone above them (their boss) deems your reasoning “enough” to not have to see this person again. And if that happens, bare in mind that substitute assistance might not be available when to you need it. Pick your battles. Learn to play nice.

Please note that while all of these things are factors that sometimes keep PwD from asking for help, they are not meant to assign guilt or blame. I think that everyone’s experience with disability is different, but that many of us can relate on some of these matters. As always, my intent is to discuss, not exclude. Let’s talk.

The Inside Scoop on Helping

The other day I wrote a blurb called The Price of Helping. Unexpectedly, a lot of people found it relateable, and as is such, I want to unpack it further. Here’s post 2 of 1,378 on this topic.

Why We Won’t Ask

A lot of academia on vulnerability talks about pride being a major block in our ability to ask for help/ reach out/connect (which, in Brene Brown’s research, are all very interwined, though I’d beg to differ this point). Pop culture is saturated in the idea that pride is what keeps us from admitting our weaknesses to ourselves, and holds us back from connecting, professing love etc etc. Here’s the thing though: Most of the time, pride is not the problem.  At least, not the whole one. Below is one  of the things I  think explain  some of our reluctancy to ask for  help, in more detail.

The Close Connections Between Laziness, Learned Helplessness, and Legitimate Disability.

These three are bed buddies when it comes to asking for help. They’re all over each other whenever a person thinks, “Shit, I might need help with [filing my taxes], [speaking a new language], [getting a boyfriend], [finding a job]” Immediately questions about whether or not you can actually do any of these things start tumbling around. You think: “Maybe I could do my own taxes, if I actually put in the effort, but maybe I’m too lazy. Or maybe I’m actually not smart enough. Ah, it makes me feel like death just thinking about it.” These are things everyone worries about, disability or not, and it speaks to the layered nature of the reasons we don’t ask for help–we wonder where our abilities intersect with our personalities , and where we’re just fooling ourselves.

Throw disability on the table and you’ve added another layer, the layer of stereotyping and other bullshit. When it comes to disability–physical, psychological or invisible– you’ve got a mothership of a stereotype that says disabled people give up on their lives. This is properly termed under “Learned helplessness” which more specifically refers to that moment in time when you could probably do something if you tried hard enough, but for whatever reason have opted out of doing so. Specific to disability, it defaults to disabled people deciding they can’t do much of anything, and as a result, said disableds live a quiet existence full of Nothing Much.  The dilemma is similar to everyone’s dilemma around asking for help, in that it’s hard to say where our abilities end and our bad attitudes begin, but gets more complex when you throw in the dash of judgement that comes with disability. Here’s an example:

Everyday, I shower in the interest of cleanliness. Every day it’s a bitch to do so and I wish being dirty was a realistic option. Everyday my attendant (carer, person who laughs at my jokes out of politeness and helps me live another day) watches me struggle, drunk with sleep and disability, moving from chair to tub to scrubadub chair. Some days, I want nothing more than the teensiest of help moving my crazy spazzy temper-throwing legs over the lip of the tub, and sometimes I ask for help. Depending on who’s helping me, the help will either be given or not. Some will look at me firmly and say, “You can do it.” Others will gleefully oblige, laughing at my zombie-state, and move my legs for me. Point is this: My disability is fluid (as disabilities are), there are good days and bad. Sometimes my spasms are worse if I’m angry, upset or highly emotional. Sometimes I’m just asleep. And sometimes, I’m a lazy motherfucker.

But every time, I’m reluctant to ask for help. I’m reluctant because of the judgement that fuels an “I know you can do this.” Because maybe if I ask, you might think I’m falling into a slump, as wheelies do.You might think I’m gaining weight (heaven forbid), you might judge me as a faker who makes their disability out to be worse than it is, and then I’d be considered disabled aaand “crazy”. All this considered, sometimes it’s just not worth the ask.

From where I am, it’s crucial that we examine the ways in which we judge ability, disabled or not, when looking to gage legitimate need. Think twice about what you think you know about the person asking for your aid, and why you feel the need to decide what is acceptable to help with.Chances are, if the person has willed the courage to ask, they are very much in need.