Tag Archives: self esteem

Disability is not a Time Capsule

I interrupt this ignorant transmission to deliver an important public service announcement: I realise I have a disability but I’m not Peter Pan, I have grown up!

  

Ok, I am the height of an average ten-year-old so possibly that has thrown you but let me make this very clear.

 

My life as a disabled child was very confusing.  Most of my extended family refuse to acknowledge the fact that I had a disability, (apparently this was just too embarrassing). 

 

I remember one day sitting on the floor watching TV when suddenly my uncle appeared in front of me angry that I had ignored him. Apparently, he had been trying to get my attention, but as he was standing on my left (aka deaf) side and I was facing the TV, I didn’t notice him.  When I told him this, adding that this was part of my disability I was subjected to a lengthy telling off.   Actually, I was not disabled, just very rude.

 

Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I was never allowed to admit that I had a disability. But, I was never allowed to do what the other kids did because, “don’t you realise you can’t?”  Not surprisingly I developed an identity crisis and severe depression.

 

As I got older, this did not improve. In my late teens and early 20s (even though I was almost completely self-sufficient) I was still being treated like a toddler.

 

On one family occasion, I remember we were all eating roasted chestnuts. A different uncle was feeding said chestnuts to his toddler grandsons by inserting them directly into each child’s mouth one after the other.  Then next thing I know the same slobber-laden fingers were in my mouth too.  EWWWWW! 

 

I pulled away and told him I didn’t want any. But he could not understand why what he had done was inappropriate (I was 24). I struggled with this issue for many years. In the end, I realised that you can’t argue with stupid, and in order to preserve any remnants of my self-confidence I cut all ties with this side of the family.

 

A lot of people (myself included) suffered because of this decision and I felt a lot of guilt. But I have no regrets. I did what was the best for me for once. I know this was my family, and in their eyes, they were helping.  But this is not a good enough reason as it made me feel belittled and inadequate.

 

The problem wasn’t so much what they were doing but rather their disregard and lack of respect for me as a person. My dignity was never taken into account.

 

No one has the right to make you feel bad no matter what relationship they are to you. Your self-esteem and sense of self-worth are precious.  Guard them with your life. 

 

It is a big thing to cut ties with someone though, especially if they are family.  So, if possible, try and explain to them why what they are doing is causing you so much anguish. Sometimes, it will help and the problem will resolve itself. 

 

But if it doesn’t, know that you are not alone. I understand.

 

XOXO 

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Let’s Hear it for the Jerks!

make blogsThe other day a woman took a selfie with me without my permission. I was sitting outside the supermarket waiting for Damion, minding my own business, when a woman ran up to me (nearly knocking me over), snapped a selfie and ran back to her friends giggling. It pissed me off but I said nothing.

 

I chose to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was just really into walls and the blank white one that I was standing in front of was particularly alluring to her.  We all have our fetishes…

 

Then there was the older gentleman at a party I attended recently. He came up to me and shook my hand for no other reason than because he admired me. I thought that was weird.

 

Then, he came over for a chat and spoke to me so slowly, that at first I thought he must have been having a stroke. Alas, he was not.  This too pissed me off but again I said nothing.

 

 

And why not? Because I did not want to seem rude and ironically, I didn’t want to hurt their feelings or embarrass them.  This pissed me off even more.

 

I went to the football a few weeks ago. The match was between Fremantle and Collingwood at Domain Stadium and took place just days after the bombing at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester.  Security was tight and we were told that we had to present our belongings for inspection before entering. Fair enough.

As we approached the front of the line a security guard approached us and asked if he could inspect my handbag. The problem was he asked Damion not me. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how this made me feel…

 

I have thousands of stories like this and each time I recount them, people try to placate me with phrases like, “they’ve just never seen anyone like you before, they didn’t know what to say/do” or  “they probably just thought it would be easier for you if they spoke to me.” This is not good enough!

 

Sometimes my disability exhausts me. The fact that people are either overwhelmingly inspired by my presence (this is possibly an exaggeration) or constantly in need of being taught how to be good humans is a lot to take on. I feel as though I am either walking around in a spotlight or completely made of cellophane.

 

It is very simple not to be a jerk. Billions of people do it every day so stop it, now! Your jerkish tendencies put me in a very awkward position. I was not put on this planet to teach you manners. And, I am just as entitled to feel comfortable anywhere as you are.

 

On the other hand, if it wasn’t for jerks I would have never started this blog in the first place (see Inner Musings of a Funny Looking Kid: the origin story).

 

After all, its people like this that make the rest of us look awesome!