For some reason I’ve found myself in the company of runners (at least in the last decade and a half). Occasionally someone would make a comment about my ability (or lack of) to run and I’d brush it off with an accompanying reason, like, “I’m not interested enough to invest that kind of money in a track chair, especially since they’re not covered by insurance.” It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t exactly the truth either.
All of the questions/comments were innocent but not all were eloquent, for example, “Blind people run marathons,”
Because blindness and Cerebral Palsy are right next to each other on the wide spectrum of disabilities…..
“You need legs to run. That’s basically my weakest body part,” was the only remotely sensible thing I could think to say (but “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR EVER LOVING MIND” almost came out instead)
Now I know you don’t really need legs to complete a marathon. Tatyana McFadden has proven that again and again and probably will again. But running using my legs were the context of the conversation so I went with it.
It’s the less than eloquent comments that make me think, am I doing too good of a job assimilating into able-bodied society? (I’m sure there’s a more eloquent way to state that, but I’m just going with my 1st instinct here).
I’ve always thought I wanted people to see past my disability, but do I really? Does seeing past disability mean that it doesn’t exist? If it does I don’t want what I always thought I wanted.
I used to think it was a compliment when someone told me they didn’t see my disability. These days I have 2nd thoughts.
I want to be seen as me “warts” and all; although I don’t see my disability as a “wart” (for the record).
Trying to not see someone’s disability, when it’s clearly visible, seems like a noble goal but it’s far from realistic.
If I’m going to go out with a group of friends “seeing past” my physical limitations can prove disastrous, both with and without my wheelchair.
The goal, for lack of a better word, for anyone and everyone is to be seen as who they are; not ignore or give any more attention to any part of themselves over another.
So are those with disabilities doing a bad job representing themselves if people forget that they have a disability? Is the able-bodied community overcompensating by telling people with disabilities that they don’t see their disabilities?
You may not need legs to run but you need to be seen as your whole authentic self in order to be successful.