Many people with CP are known for their quick wit and comebacks. I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure that it stems from so many of us being picked on and bullied throughout life. It’s naive to think that it works all of the time, but it certainly helps.
Yes, being bullied or “pointed out” doesn’t end when you graduate from high school, or whatever schooling that applies. The only difference as an adult is that you get stared at more than teased, at least if you’re anything like me and the situations I find myself in.
It’s hard to pick one moment when I felt marginalized or stigmatized because I have Cerebral Palsy because there have been so many. There’s an entire four year period I could call one incident or divide it up by incidents, for example.
Thankfully people grow up and move on (and occasionally avoid people like the plague at the grocery store).
There were plenty of times when I wish I had the perfect comeback, or even a better comeback, in the moment. But as I’ve gotten older, not like I’m that old, I’ve realized that it’s just as important when you say something as it is that you say something.
I have the most difficultly with people in public (of course) I catch people, of all ages, staring at least once a day. The number is probably higher, but I’ve learned to block most of it out, or else I’d have some kind of psychological complex.
However if I do catch someone staring I’ll often stare right back (which stops them in their tracks). I know many people don’t think that’s the best tactic but I find it quick and effective.
Occasionally it will cause someone to say “hello” so I return the sentiment.
Sometimes a little kid will ask me (or whoever they’re with) a question and they’re hushed and rushed off before I can answer. I really wish people wouldn’t do that. It’s not like I’m going to bit the kid or something.
If I’m somewhere public with service staff, like an airport, I’ll alert them to my problem (within reason) and have them deal with the situation as they see fit since they have certain guidelines to follow (and I don’t want to cause an additional incident by taking matters into my own hands, if at all possible).
If I have an issue with service staff in public then I take it up with whoever is over their head, usually by email or by phone. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living and working in the adult/real world it’s that if there’s no paper trail then it’s harder to make people see the need to make changes.
I’d like to tell you that I’ve perfected the perfect comeback for every possible situation every single time one was needed, but I don’t. In fact I’m kind of glad I don’t have the perfect comeback for everything all the time, because that would mean (for me) that I’ve become too accustomed to being marginalized and that I need to be on the defensive all the time.
I’m taking part in The Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge this month (also known as #HAWMC).