I’m Challenged, Not Dead

The level of abusiveness out there has really reached critical mass. I’ve mentioned before that I was part of the early BBS crowd, before the Internet, so I’ve been communicating by modem/online since 1988. Back then we saw an influx of bravado that was really misplaced, stalking, people who felt they could say anything they wished because they felt there was a lack of consequences – and never a thought about it being a real person that they should respect behind that username and number. As sysops (admin) we had the hard job of trying to regulate it, both in posts and in chats, and it wasn’t always easy to control. People would simply create a new account if you deleted them and return to start again. Some BBSes we started doing ID checks to try to prevent those problems and to keep minors out. That was sometimes quite a chore too. When the Internet began to take over, it only got worse. People who had been running rampant out here spilled over into what was left of the BBS world and tried to act the same as they had in the broader arena where there is such anonimity. Every time I see certain types of behavior, my memories of that time creep in.  We knew it wasn’t going anywhere good when the private BBS world died. I feel old sometimes, thinking about that. At the same time I have the privilege of saying I was part of a community that had standards and a belief in protecting members and treating others well. There were always jerks. The majority of us were good people.
The really sad thing now is… we have a clear window into the thoughts of some of the most biased, unbelievably arrogant members of society on a daily basis. I usually cringe when I see the word “ableism” used, but today it keeps popping into my head and I can’t deny that it’s a very real thing. I don’t like to pigeon-hole people when it’s avoidable but OH MY GOD. A simple ad for a finger guard for cutting vegetables can bring out the worst in some people.  What is happening?  I pointed out to a few in a conversation thread that a knife is a tool, and unless you’re willing to go back to gnawing your vegetables with your teeth instead of using a knife, you have no place criticizing someone that wants or needs to use a guard so they don’t cut themselves while chopping their food. Why is it any different? Circular saws have guards, but I don’t see anyone calling people names for THAT. There is apparently something wrong with wanting to be self-sufficient in the kitchen though, and if you’re not capable of curling your fingers “You shouldn’t be chopping.” I guess we should hire people to take care of that menial task for us. I can’t wrap my mind around it right now.. how incredibly self-centered some people are when they’ve had good health, and all their parts in place, and never had to face muscle fatigue, misfiring nerves, inflexibility, or any type of impairment.
You do not have to experience a challenge to understand what it does to a person’s life through observation. You do not have to know what it feels like in order for you to use your eyes and your brain to figure out that the provision of assistance devices is necessary for a VERY LARGE percentage of people out there. Where did these perfectionists come from??? I’m cutting a lot more slack than most people who have disabilities will, by the way, because.. they are angry.  I see it every day.  They are tired of being mistreated for things they can’t help and shouldn’t have to feel bad about.  They feel like it’s not possible for someone that has not personally experienced our lifestyle to understand one bit of it, and that is directly resultant from the people who are so abusive in the things they say.  When did it become vogue to shove human beings in a corner and tell them to do nothing just because they have to adapt and do it differently?  Is this impatience, or is it just a general lack of regard for someone who is seen as damaged goods?  I try not to “go there” often because my focus is always on positives and what I can do, not what I “can’t” do, or dwelling on the emotion and frustration in how I constantly have to adapt in order to keep moving forward.  That’s both for greater goals and my simple daily life tasks.
I have ZERO complaints about the hand I have been dealt in life, in all seriousness. I’m not mad about where I’m at, because I am on a path that simply is mine and one that gives me the ability to reach others going through the same things. IT’S OKAY that my life isn’t perfect. This is all I know is challenges and adapting because I’ve been doing it since birth. I’m not new to illness. I’m just mad that so many people seem to think that someone is useless damaged goods if they have to find a different method to accomplish any task. In fact it makes me so mad that I think I’ll do MORE. There are things I have felt might be out of my reach. I have no hesitation in admitting that. I’m so pissed off right now though that I think I changed my mind on a few of them. Since I was a toddler I have always been that girl that you do not want to tell me I CAN’T do something because I will, and I will also bypass any bar you set for yourself or anyone else in the process, JUST to show you I mean it.  I am absolutely that stubborn.  Let me tell you.. if that includes using tools and assistive devices, you can bet your bottom dollar I WILL.  I don’t care what it is.  I’ve been off my feet and needed a wheelchair.  I have crawled when I had to.  I’ve needed and used canes.  I’ve been through round after round of painful and frustrating physical therapy.  I’VE DONE ALL THAT.  So far all of the BS prognoses about what I would not be able to do again has been proven wrong, so what else you got??  Shouldn’t be chopping, indeed. 
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t do something just because it doesn’t meet their standards of acceptable methods.  They don’t have to walk (or roll) around in your body.  They don’t know.  They’ve probably never had something basic taken away and wondered if they would ever get it back, or had to realize that it was likely or even definite they wouldn’t.  I know I have written about this before.  It bears repeating.  That conversation stirred some embers for me.  If I bought those lies I wouldn’t be out hiking and getting my fitness back.  I’d still be on the floor.
If you’re able-bodied, be grateful.  If you’re not, still be grateful.  Whichever you are, if you have some preconceived notions about the definition of a challenged life or life with a disability, and you think that there are hard limits at every turn, please bother to educate yourself better – for your own good as well as respect for others.  There are far more things that we CAN choose to do than those that legitimately can stop us from participation.  “Can’t” usually really means won’t.

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