Playing Defense

I wanted to start off with just a little note about the tragic passing of Robin Williams this week. There’s been a plethora of articles written and opinions spread across the internet about it but it’s such a sensitive topic that I’m not going to dedicate a full post to talking about my own views or thoughts on it. We can analyze it and argue it until the sun comes up but at the end of the day he’s gone and I just want to share the impact he left on me personally. He brought so many people joy but he literally was a part of my growing up. I never met him and certainly didn’t know him but the broad spectrum of his work came out from when I was a baby all the way to the age I am now. He made me smile and taught us all to find our inner kid in Hook. My best friend and I still quote Mrs. Doubtfire to this day. And you can’t forget Good Will Hunting and his incredible performance in The Dead Poet’s Society. I looked forward to getting home from work this past fall so I could watch The Crazy Ones on my DVR. He made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt sometimes. He wasn’t just a celebrity for me, he was a part of the joy I experienced as a kid and as a movie watcher and he was also a part of some of my best memories and for that, I will be forever grateful. 

But back to playing defense…we had an offsite meeting today for work and one of our speakers was going to have us do an exercise that involved squatting down. He said 3 times how we “must be thinking how easy that is”. I finally had to speak up and say, “well it’s not if you have a physical disability.” I will freely admit that one of my biggest problems living with a disability is I get super defensive about it and this was a shining example of that. Specifically, I get really irritated when people call things “easy” that I know aren’t for me or other people with MD. I hate commercials with people climbing and hiking and doing active stuff that I, or a large part of the population, can’t. And I really get irritated when you hang out with a group of people and all they want to talk about is the marathon they ran (and how many medals they got) or how much they work out. This will sound harsh, but I get so irritated with how much time people spend out here in SoCal running and biking and whatever else…never thinking that there’s people that will never physically be able to do those things. 

I know it isn’t anyone else’s fault I was born with this and it’s certainly not their fault that I can’t do the things they can. I’m sure there might be things I can do that they can’t. The root issue for me is just that people don’t sometimes seem to think that people that have disabilities exist in the world. TV and movies certainly don’t. I can’t tell you how many times the handicapped parking stall has been blocked by a car or had people standing in it because they don’t think anyone will actually need to use the spot. Sometimes I feel like a bit of an afterthought of society. It isn’t until I actually say something or assert my disability that people even think about it. 

I know I’m also just frustrated with myself. I’m frustrated that I can’t do those things. I want to be able to share in the experience and relate with people who run and bike and hike, but I just can’t. I thrive off relationships with people and with connecting with them so when the topic of being active comes up, I become an outsider to the conversation instantaneously. 

This is just something I know I need to work on. The world isn’t out to get me and people not thinking about others having disabilities isn’t necessarily because they don’t care. We all are guilty of just not thinking about others sometimes, or being self-focused. I don’t need to make an enemy of people or all of Southern California just because they enjoy something I’m unable to. I’m happy that my wanting people to understand what it’s like for someone to have a disability led me to starting this blog though. Raising awareness is never a bad thing, and the more I talk about it, the more people will be aware that there are people out there with different physical abilities than theirs. And wouldn’t it be amazing if in the near future, we could have more people with disabilities present on TV and in movies? 

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One thought on “Playing Defense

  1. Jackie, I understand you are frustrated. Channel that anger. Get in touch with your local or state’s ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) and do something. When I lived in St. Louis there was a very active chapter that organized wheel in’s and helped create awareness. They made the city comply to the law and fix curbs, enforce handicap parking spots, bus busses with lifts installed, and a host of other things. The most important thing that developed was awareness along with a sense of community.

    Peace,
    Heidrun

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