One of the things that I have been acutely aware of since becoming disabled for some reason is all the ways the world around us directly and indirectly teaches us that unpleasant feelings are “bad” by telling us we should not have them, think about them or feel them and if we do there is something wrong with us.
We hear, “I used to complain about having no shoes until I met a man with no feet”. We are reminded that “there are so many people with much worse problems” and to “think of the starving children”. You know, I have heard those tired sayings my entire life and I attempt live my life respectful of others, be a responsible, giving sharing person due to this accident of birth.
Still when I think about it, it’s no wonder some of us never get any experience feeling feelings. Every time we have one that is considered unpleasant we are told and trained to push it away, to think of something or someone else in a worse situation.
It reminds me of when I realized I couldn’t feel any of my girly parts after my
last spine surgery; you know not only my buns, but everything else was numb
too. At one point neurosurgeon comes in to examine me and must have seen
my anxiety about my girly parts. He then shares a story with me about a patient
he was treating whose penis went numb after he hit a tree wrong in a
parachuting accident, so it really “could be worse”.
What the hell? What did I care about that guy’s numb
dork? Of what possible use was that information to me then? NONE. So I
told the doctor I didn’t care about that guy’s numb weenie. I wanted to know
when I was going be able to feel my ass again. It was dumbass thing to say to
me. Of course, the doctor was trying to comfort me but make no mistake he
was also very uncomfortable with my unpleasant, anxious feelings about my
own numb girly parts.
What is often more amazing than the stupid shit people can
say to you when they are uncomfortable with your physical or emotional
whatevers are those who have a disability and want to control the world around
them because they have problems. One such
person made themselves known to me recently.
Anyone who knows me or reads this blog knows I am blunt. I
am direct. I say what I mean and I mean what say. I rarely have difficulties
getting my point across, especially with the written word. When it comes to
that, I rarely fuck around. Having said that, know that I participate in
several online women’s groups. Some of
them are spiritually oriented some of them are not. I am the same in all of them.
Well, there was an issue in one of them and I voiced my
feelings and opinions about this issue clearly, directly and civilly, if not downright
polite. I was told in no uncertain terms to put up and shut up or choose to
leave because the list owner, who is disabled, was “very responsive to stress”
and said stress weakened her. Because of this she could not allow anything she
construed to be negative or uncomfortable on her list because it stressed her
out. I do not know this woman personally. I do not exchange e–mail with her. I do not IM with her. I see her only within
the online group. She is for all intents and purposes a stranger to me.
Since when is it ok to make others responsible for managing
our disabilities or their symptoms? Was I asleep when they passed the bill that
allows others to censor our words and curtail acceptable behavior because it
stresses someone else out? Some may want to remain a victim of their
disabilities, that’s up to them. I don’t
even allow mine to victimize me. Why do
I have to be a victim of someone else’s? WTF is that about anyway?
It is not the world’s responsibility to make me more
comfortable and stress-free because I have a disability or because I have some
stress. I take responsibility for myself and my disability without holding
everyone else around accountable by demanding they do what is comfortable for
me at their expense, online or off.
My stress level is mine to manage. If a situation is
too stressful or unmanageable, it is up to me to remove myself from it if I
cannot accept it, for whatever reason. Unless it is abusive, I do not expect
nor ask others to modify their speech or their behavior simply because I don’t
like it. Everyone in a woman’s community has a voice and a right to use
it, even if I don’t care for what they have to say or the way they say it, so
long as it is not abusive.
If life has taught me nothing these last years, it has
taught me that all feelings are ok, even the ones that don’t feel so hot or
make others uncomfortable. It’s what I do with them that makes the
Quite honestly, there are times when thinking of those
“many people with much worse problems”, doesn’t mean diddly-squat. Maybe
I am more fortunate because I got sober before I became disabled so I had a
system already in place to help me cope with life’s Frankly, sometimes (and it
sounds funny as hell), the only thing that helps when I am dealing with a
bout of, let’s say, incontinence is working the first step on my butt. Yup, “I
am powerless over my butt”, becomes a sort of mantra. No shit. Ahem.
Even at my advanced age of sobriety (20 +) working the program gets that simple because
if it was any more complicated, I’d probably rip my tits off and fling them at
the nearest innocent bystander and while calling them really foul names; just
because they are waiting for the next bus and breathing while they do it. I’m
telling you, it gets right ugly up in my head sometimes.
Anyway why I felt compelled to share that, I can’t tell you.
I just felt the nudge and so I followed it up. I know a really neat lady
who has an HP called Consuela; maybe it was her. When all else fails, blame it
Sometimes life just sucks and sometimes, it’s damned beautiful too.