Archive | June 2015

A DEEPER MATTER

When I was in college, I had one of those moments of revelation that impacted me for the rest of my life:
I was beating my way along a street with my white cane, when I heard the words, “Either you will overcome this disability or it will overcome you.”  My decision was made in that instant.

 

For years, I understood that this had to do with blindness, but it is only more recently that I have caught the deeper meaning.  Not seeing is simply a matter of methodology; having a solid identity as a whole person in the face of all the social struggle is quite another thing.

 

Experiences that insist I am less than a person come from all directions:  Family members who avoid me to the point that they’ll get up and leave if I try to start a conversation with them; parents who don’t want me near their children because they’re afraid I’ll hurt them; admiration over normal life activities, such as getting up and dressed in the morning; people who don’t include me in casual conversation at a gathering; those who talk down to me in a voice that is much louder than necessary, or talk about me when I’m standing right there with them…  Many are more subtle and less related to what others do:  Being in a large group, unable to tell what is going on; having to ask for rides or help when “normal” people don’t have to do that…

 

The most important message is the one I give myself.  Experiences can tell me one thing; what I believe is another.  This requires that I get time away from circumstances for reminders.  I really am the expert when it comes to me; what others think is secondary at best.  I can tell when I need time away:  I begin to feel the weight of being an “other.”   I also become discouraged or upset at people; then I tend to “bite.”

 

Through the years, I have learned to guard the treasure that is me.  I have resigned from being the “public educator” I have been told I am.  Instead, I share the important parts of my life  with people I come to trust.  I am not out to change the world; only those individuals who matter to me.  Some of the people, by the way, with whom I don’t share are family members who prove to be unsafe to me.  They don’t want to know; I don’t try to inform.  That may sound harsh; but instead, I find that I honor them when I refrain from trying to engage them.

 

So who am I?  A person, woman, family member, friend, neighbor and citizen.  I have a flourishing garden.  I’m a musician.  I love to go to coffee with friends…oh, and I can’t see.  People who really want to know me are welcome.  I’ll be courteous and respectful to the rest.
Others may have disabilities or conditions that can be hidden; mine is right out there for all to see.  I don’t know that this makes much of a difference:  They still wrestle with the same issues.  My advice?  Choose the truth that really fits you; after all, you’re the one who has to live with it.  When you find yourself feeling weary, discouraged and sensitive, get some time away to regroup.  You get to choose:  Will you be a “public educator,” trying to teach and inform the world about your disability?  Or will you share with those  who are closest to you and leave the rest to learn as they are able?

IN MEMORY OF…

Annne was 15.

 

Her birth mother had been on Meth when Anne was a fetus.
When the time came for her birth, she got pushed out into the Hell of drug withdrawal.  She spent her first six weeks in the hospital, going through pain and illness; fighting for her life.

 

Once she was through that, she went home with her adoptive parents to begin the work of growing up.

 

Anne had some neurological problems, mostly hand-eye cordination and spacial perceptions. Otherwise, she was the average child in terms of intelligence and academic performance.  Her parents poured every resource they had into seeing that she would succeed, especially time, attention and love.

 

Anne did have some other challenges that people would not normally recognize.
The one that had the biggest part in ending her life was poor impulse control:  One day, Anne learned that her boyfriend was going with another girl.  Without thought or warning, she went home and hanged herself.

 

I wish I could say that she was the exception.  Sadly, there are many young people like her, who struggle because of the drugs their mothers were using while they were in gestation.  Poor impulse control seems to be one of the most common.

 

I would be writing all day if I tried to make a list of every challenge these people  face, so I’ll identify a few examples:

Developmental disability
Learning disabilities of all sorts
Blindness
Deafness
under developed limbs or worse yet, organs
Poor impulse control
Absence of ambition or ability to be motivated
Emotional lability

And on the list goes…

 

To potential mothers:  If you think your choices won’t impact the baby you carry, think again!  EVERYTHING you do will have an effect on that child.  Choose well:  Leave drugs, alcohol and cigs alone; eat properly; get exercise and sleep; deal with things that distress you.

 

To the rest of us:  These children are now part of our community.  Let’s do the research and learning needed to bring them up, support their families and see that they become the best citizens they could possibly be.

 

To families of young people like Anne:  I’m so sorry.  May you find solace, comfort and courage.