I’ve been thinking for a few days about how I’d like to wrap up our celebration of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The matter feels sort of weight-y, to be honest. I don’t want to just gloss over everything and tie it all up with a pretty pink bow. I don’t want to approach disabilities with a “one-size-fits-all” mentality. And I certainly don’t want to discount all the progress and strides that we’ve all made — and will no doubt continue to make in the future.
It all means more than that. At least, it does to me. In interviewing all these incredible women, I’ve come to see just how powerful of a force we can be. We’re a fierce set of fighters who refuse to back down, especially when the going gets tough and all the odds seem to be stacked against us. Sure, we may have had some curve balls thrown our way, but we never let that stop us.
And still, I’m aware of the possible slippery slope of this “Be All” mentality. It doesn’t help anyone — disabled or not — to place people on such high pedestals, to hold them up as representatives of everyone else. That’s a lot of pressure to live up to, isn’t it? I began to believe I was alone in my thinking, and honestly, I even felt a bit guilty for feeling the way I did (but, as always, in the name of complete honesty…) — almost like I didn’t have a right to feel like that. Then, I read this little gem from Anna Scanlon in one of our email exchanges…
“People with illnesses/disabilities are tasked with being both brave and inspiring. People seem to always want to hear about you being upbeat despite your setback, never that you’re sometimes super pissed off that you have to live with this. I would feel patronized if someone referred my inability to live a normal life as “unique” or called me “differently abled” instead of disabled.”
That’s sort of a light bulb realization, isn’t it? I read that and immediately thought, “YES!! Finally, someone who gets it.” We shouldn’t be afraid to be honest and admit that sometimes, we struggle and get frustrated and feel discouraged.
Really, I’ve always felt as though our stories and our lives weren’t that different. My story could very well be your story and vice versa. I don’t have all the answers; I’m just trying to figure it out like everyone else. I’ve often talked about how this is the story of a woman with a disability looking for love, but maybe that’s not the whole story. Maybe it’s not really about me finding my soulmate or the man of my dreams. Maybe it’s about me finding the inner love I have for myself and coming to terms with my disability.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that everyone’s story is different and everyone’s story is worth telling. And those, my friends, are the stories we should tell. And keep telling — to everyone who will listen. xoxo
[Photos via That Kind of Woman]