When You Walk Into a Room

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Walking into a room full of people, especially strangers, feels like the following. First, you’re trying not to notice the people who suddenly stopped their conversation right at the moment you walk by because they just noticed your limp. You try not to notice the people who are blatantly staring at your limp and resist the urge to say “take a picture, it’ll last longer” (sometimes that resistance doesn’t work out so well on this one). Once you sit down in your chair/on the sofa/etc., then you can’t think about anything else but how you’re going to get back out of said seat and if anyone is going to notice or say anything to you about it.

Then there’s the other internal brain stuff that’s going on. You know on the outside you “look” like everyone else, but inside you don’t feel like it. No matter how hard you try. Yes you’re all human beings. But to you, you’re still different. You don’t feel like you can relate to any of these people sitting around you. They can seemingly sit and enjoy this experience you’re having mental panic about because everything is difficult from getting up, walking, god forbid you might fall and then what. If you have to go to the bathroom and there happens to be a crowd of people around, then what? You’re afraid to walk through them because what if one of them doesn’t see you and knocks you over? Then, if you actually make it to the bathroom, you hope the handicapped stall is actually open so you don’t have to find yourself not being able to get off of the toilet.

You tell yourself just to let go and enjoy the experience and for some moments here and there, you can. But then something inevitably comes up to remind you that you’re not like everyone else in that room. It reminds you of your disability and that carpe diem comes crashing down like a bookshelf full of vases in an earthquake. It makes you more and more hesitant to go out and do things even though you know you should. Even though you know you need to do as much living as you can. Even though you know you can’t just hole up in your house so you never have to deal with living with a disability, as much as that might be the route you want to take.

You see, walking into a room is never really just walking into a room for you. It’s walking into about 5 million other things too.

photo credit: dmitry_ryzhkov DR151004_0915D via photopin (license)

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4 thoughts on “When You Walk Into a Room

  1. Reading this made me cry this morning. Not only is MD physically exhausting, but the mental game seems overwhelming. You’re ALWAYS thinking, as I’m learning with my son. I’ve long said that my mentally tough days (usually at work) are more depleting than just physically demanding ones, and you’ve illustrated how every day is both for you, all the time. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Wouldn’t it be great if people stopped making assumptions?

    1. Oh no! I didn’t mean to induce tears on this one. Though I knew it certainly wasn’t a real pick-me-upper as I wrote it. What you said is spot on though, we are always thinking. My head is really my worst enemy sometimes, not even my body. I think sometimes people don’t understand why I’m anxious or hesitant about social situations or meeting new people but it’s because of everything I outlined in this post. Nothing is just fun and easy. I’d love to say I could take over my mind and rid it of any thoughts or worry but that’s just not realistic when you live with a disability I don’t think. Or maybe it’s just not realistic for me. And even if you can somewhat control your thoughts and worry, that doesn’t stop people from making assumptions like you said or just being insensitive assholes. There’s so much out of your control, including sometimes your own mind. I totally agree the mentally tough days are much more wearing than the physically demanding ones too. Thanks as always for reading. I always look forward to your feedback and I’ll try not to make you cry with the next post 🙂

  2. Jackie I loved reading this post, it really put things into perspective. It reminds me of an assignment I did in school where I had to spend a day in a wheelchair. I was outright shocked at how I was treated. I felt so isolated and almost dehumanized by the way I was looked at. Every time I went down an aisle, customers would turn and walk in the opposite direction. Reading your post, made me think of that time and I can’t even imagine how you feel on a daily basis. I wish that more people we sympathetic toward those with a disability and treated them with respect rather than stare as you struggle to get around in the community.

  3. Jackie,

    I can’t imagine how hard it is going into a room feeling like everyone is watching. It angers me how people are so close minded that they unconsciously make someone feel different by directly staring. It’s the fact that people are quickly making assumptions about you without even starting a simple conversation with you. It would be easier if people would just be more accepting and open-minded that a casual conversation can go a long way. Thank you so much for sharing.

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