How The Disability Blame-Game Works

Having a distinctive trait that separates you from “normal” can easily become a go-to excuse for all of life’s problems. When that trait is living with a disability, it can soon mean that nearly everything is fair game to be blamed on physical impairment. Much of this blame may be legitimate, like “Oh, I can’t go to your house because you have stairs, no strong people to carry me, and you’re just another jerk who won’t build a ramp.” Or, “Oh, no, little child who wants to play in my wheelchair, you can’t because I actually can’t get up”

These physical/spacial barriers in life (stairs, small spaces, hilly places, inaccessible bathrooms, secret coves) are the easiest to pin-down as #disability problems, but from there on in things get a little messy. As a wheelie, I have time-and-time again asked myself “Is this me, or my disability?” usually pertaining to issues of employment, schooling, friendships, sexships, everything ever. It’s a burning question, and is always sitting comfortably in the back of my mind.Here’s a breakdown of ways disability can bare the brunt of blame for issues other than physical blockades. Keep in mind that this blog is based mainly on my experience and the experiences of other disabled people who have been kind enough to share their thoughts with me.

Jobs/ Job Problems:

Negative internalizations about disability are a real bitch. In the realm of employment, if you get a job, you often wonder if you only got it because the company had to fill their disability quota. If you don’t get the job, you might wonder if it’s because the company didn’t want to take-on whatever accommodations you may require–be it more office space or general awareness of your disability issues.

Either way, if you’re accepted or rejected in the employment world, it’s almost impossible to figure out what’s your fault as a person and what’s an unchangeable result stemming from your disabled status.

Another thing encountered in the work environment is genuine surprise when you complete a task well. This is not meant to bash anyone, but sometimes I think people are unwittingly baffled when disabled people are actually being useful, as it doesn’t fit with engrained stereotypes, and our perma-spot as the “needy wheelie”. When this happens, it causes the PwD to question themselves in a “Did they expect me to fail?” way. It also plants doubt about whether compliments are genuine, like, “Did I do good by human standards, or wheelie ones?”(which are inevitably lower, since your life is harder—we expect less of you, don’t worry).

If you take disability out of the equation, it’s a little bit easier to breath. When you get rejected, it’s because you weren’t qualified, or your bedside manner sucks, or you blew the interview, like the fool that you are. All of these reasons are manageable things that can be improved upon/changed. Disability not so much.

Relationships:

I feel bad about addressing this, because I write about it often, and also because I suspect I’d be nearly as awful at friendships and relationships if I were able-bodied. The questions around social relations with others revolve (again) around not knowing whether your excluded because of your disability or your personality. I only went to one high-school party in my entire 4 years, and the whole time I was beyond baffled that I had even been invited. Sometime during my high-school period, I had 2 child-like high-school “relationships”, who I thought of as: “people who liked to look at me, laugh at my jokes, and make me terribly squeamish by holding my hand”.  Clearly, thriving in the social world was not my thing, and while I was well-liked, I was never really accepted.

It remains a mystery how much disability has contributed to my social troubles. My inability to achieve peer acceptance could be two parts Kristen’s really fucking intense and one part I’m disabled, how does socializing happen? In truth, I just don’t know what’s what, and it’s really tough to know when I need to take on the task of self improvement.

I originally wrote more, but this post is becoming overly self indulgent, so its ending here. Knowing the lines to draw regarding what is and isn’t a result of being disabled would help me individually, as well as helping other PwD to acknowledge and understand the roots of some of their struggles better.

…And for this reason, they should have shrinks who dedicate themselves entirely to clients living the wheelie life. I’d pay big bucks to be a part of that.

Blog?Here’s My Diary

You know that feeling when your solving Soduko and you’re like three squares away from figuring the whole thing out but you just can’t because, well, you’re dumb? That’s how I feel about people. My facebook page is a testament to me, in all forms–duckface-me, drunk-me, I’m-so-witty-me, self-deprecating me and you-only-hope-i’m-joking me.. I have no problem defining me. It’s Other People that give me grays.

I was talking to someone recently, someone who’s known me quite well at pretty crucial times in my super-important life. As risk of labeling/grouping we’re both thinker/feelers (sorryyyyyy). Within the confines of this simplistic categorization, he is more thinker, I am more feeler. He sees problems and solutions. I see vodka and tears.

The other day said friend and I got on the subject of connections with people, and he suggested, matter-of-factly, that you can never really know someone, not even those you love, and that levels of “fake” behavior vary among person and situation. I nodded, agreeing with this solid fact of life when he added that many will fake just to appease. I don’t know why, but my heart dropped.  I’m pretty sure I had an emotional stroke–my cheeks drained and I just wanted to pee my pants and die–when he looked at me with slight shock.

“Oh no. Please don’t let that bother you.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m ok”

“Nope. Let’s talk about it, you look like you’re never gonna talk to anyone ever again.”

From this point on, he made his logic more Kristen-cry-proof, saying that if I did agree that he was right (which I admittedly did, but shamefully struggled with that), then the upside is that human connection  becomes fully about us. Connection isn’t about others–since their feelings towards us are unreliable, connection becomes solely about how we feel, regardless of whether or not the other’s  intentions are kind or positive or not. Excuse me while I insult every person who actually knows anything about anything, but this logic reminds me of the moral relief provided by nihilism. In fact, the first time I learned about nihilism I reacted similarly. After four days of reading all Nietzsche mixed with some semi-advanced Marxism (I had a test in critical theory that I took way too far) I went to aforementioned friend’s house and told him all about the cocktail of depressing philosophy I had learned. He recorded it on his phone to laugh at later.

In sum: How can human connection be about us when it is about connection? If we do connect for us and us only, then how is the connection maintained? Last I checked, people don’t stick around to be used for very long. What is the fine balance between selfish, and genuine connection? WHY DO I SUCK AT FINDING A MIDDLE-GROUND FOR THESE MORALITY CONFLICTS? Having 50 concurrent “learning disabilities” is a circumstantial cow.

Oh well, if nothing else I have my privileged white girl level of self absorption to fall back on.