This has been on my mind for a few weeks now, so I’ll just lay it down CSI-style again…
FACTS: I am a woman. I am physically disabled.
SITUATION: I downplay my disability so as to show everyone I’m a woman just like the millions of other women out there. In this case, I feel like I’m denying my disability. So…I speak about my disability, yet that only makes me feel like I’m letting it define me and separate me even more!
EMOTIONAL RESPONSE: GRRRRRRRR! ROOOOOOOARRRRR!!
QUESTION: How do you walk that tight-rope? How can I blend the two into one cohesive goodness??
You know, I do the same thing with being a homosexual. I try to be visible, but I don’t want to let it define me. I’d like to be a person apart from being gay, not have it be my main defining characteristic, you know? And yet, I’d like it to define me enough that I can talk about it and show people that the gay community is their community as well.
It’s terribly difficult. I’m with you there.
As far as advice goes? Just be true. I know, not much help, right?
How about this? Stop doing what you just said you do. Don’t downplay it and don’t define yourself by it. Accept and treat it as you do any other part of your life.
It’s part of your life as are many other aspects of you. Just like those other aspects don’t make you less of a woman neither does your disability. So get rid of that association in your mind and it’s likely that you won’t feel a need to downplay it anymore.
Then, hopefully, you won’t feel a need to overemphasize your disability as a way to compensate for downplaying it, because hopefully you wouldn’t be downplaying/denying it anymore. Easier said than done I’m sure. But still possible.
I believe the less issues you have with it the more naturally you’ll incorporate your disability into your presentation and perception of yourself and the more at ease you will be.
In my opinion, it all starts in the mind. Change the thoughts that are the root of behavior that troubles you and the behaviors will change too. Or, fake it till you make so to speak by changing the behavior as if you already have changed the thought. Eventually the thought will truly change too as it starts getting in line with the changed behavior and its effects. At least that’s been the case in my experience.