This is Wikipedia’s definition of the word “gaslighting” – a word that I never really knew the definition of before the past few years when it seemed to explode into the zeitgeist.
As a person living with a disability, I’ve had many experiences where people have not just minimized my experience, but have actually made me question my own thoughts and feelings about that experience. I think all of us in the disabled community have.
Our society constantly makes us think that if we get angry about the way someone treats us or if we ask for accessibility that the problem is us and not the other person.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve expressed my frustration with what someone has done or how I’ve been treated when it comes to my disability, only to have the other person dismiss it or try to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. I’ve often left conversations with people thinking it was my fault that I felt the way I did. That I was taking it too personally or being too sensitive, even when the other person was clearly in the wrong. I’ve spent most of my life blaming myself, even if I’ve gotten mad at someone for abusing an accessibility option meant only for people with disabilities.
Here’s the thing about your experience as a minority, it’s your experience and no one can tell you it’s wrong no matter how hard they may try. And even if they do, there is absolutely nothing wrong with how you feel about or how you perceive the experiences you’ve had. We experience everything through the lens of having been treated as second class citizens for most of our lives, for being made fun of, for being told we aren’t dateable or lovable, for being told we’re flawed or damaged. For not getting the help we need and for living in a world that’s mostly not set up for us. And then on top of that, we are made to feel like we are asking too much, being too emotional, or taking things too seriously when we have bad experiences or ask for things to be accessible.
We have a right to be angry. We have a right to want better for ourselves. To be treated as humans and as equals. And if we aren’t, we have a right to be upset about that. Plain and simple.
And please no gaslighting me on my explanation of what it’s like to be gaslit as a person with a disability.