This was a really great article I read today that rang very true. A lot of times when I get upset that people don’t try to help me up when I fall or even acknowledge it, people play devil’s advocate and say “well maybe they just didn’t want to embarrass you” or different versions of that. This is probably true and I understand we all want to give each other the benefit of the doubt sometimes or understand why we do or act the way do. But sometimes I think it’s ok to just listen and/or say “yep, people can be assholes” too.
I think Carly really hit the nail on the head when she said “if you wouldn’t want to be asked about it, don’t ask me about it.” People don’t always have ill intentions when they ask about my limp. In fact, most times they probably don’t. But it’s a common courtesy thing. If you had some sort of physical difference would you want someone asking you about it? Even if it was out of concern? Probably not. So please don’t ask me about my limp. Yes I realize it seems contradictory that I don’t want people to ask about my limp but I expect them to ask if I’m ok when I fall. But for someone with a disability, they are very different things. When I fall, I could actually get hurt and I’m not physically able to get up so to just walk by me when you see me struggling is different than pointing out a physical difference just because you might feel entitled to know what’s wrong.
Another thing that often happens when you’re living with a disability (and I’ve talked about this before): you don’t often occur to people. Your needs, how things might affect you…these don’t even pop into the minds of people who don’t have to deal with it personally. And oftentimes, when you do assert what you need or ask why someone didn’t think of you, you are seen as a nuisance or high maintenance or a complainer. To give you an example: when I was in college and moved into the being able to live in on campus apartments stage, I enlisted the Disability Services office at my university to help me get a place. My only request was a 1st floor room if I ended up in a building with no elevator. This request was met with a response from the head of the Disability Services department to Residence Life saying I was trying to use my disability to get special treatment. So when I had a meeting with someone from Residence Life to go over what my options were, she was not very friendly to me because she was going off of what Disability Services had told her. Needles to say, when you’ve been dealing with this kind of shit about a 1,000 other similar situations you’re whole life…you’re more than allowed to say if something isn’t ok, especially if someone never factored your needs in to begin with.
No one is perfect and we’re all learning. That’s why I blog, to help people learn and know what it feels like to be in our shoes even just a little bit. But the moral of this story is: leave the limp alone…just because you can see it doesn’t mean you are entitled to ask about it (in fact, it might hurt the person’s feelings if you do) but if you see us lying/sitting on the ground, clearly hurt or unable to get up, then an offer of assistance is greatly appreciated. We also have every right to assert our needs no matter how much you might think we might just be complaining. This has been a public service announcement.
photo credit: Rianne van de Kerkhof – eyeFramed Photography Wandering through the mist of the unknown – EDS Reality series. Please read! via photopin (license)