I’ve never thought of myself as a disabled person.
Instead it was a label placed on me and I’ve learned to embrace it.
I came into this world with it and that’s how I’ll leave. It’s normal to me. So if you asked me, until recently, if I saw myself as normal or disabled I’d tell you normal. More than likely I’ll still tell you I’m normal, with a disability.
My disability was not acquired. There was no accident. There was no stroke, Cerebral Palsy can be caused by a stroke but mine was not. I don’t have a story about when my life changed. I don’t have time segmented with before disability and after disability.
Technically I’m handicapped. A handicapped person can be classified as someone who did not acquire a disability but has impairment or some kind.
However if the situation were different I suspect my thoughts on this subject would be different. Would I wear it as a badge of honor as some do? Or would I gripe in my struggles? I can’t really say. I haven’t been there to say. I can tell you all about what I would like to be like, or what I might be like, but those are just guesses at best.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how mismatched I am for the life I see myself having & what makes me the happiest.
Disability has become the more socially acceptable term so I’m subjected to rules, laws, red tape, and type face that does not apply to me, if you’re looking at it though the lenses of the definition of a handicap rather than a disability.
These days the only time you hear the word handicap without worrying about the onset of a riot is in reference to golf or a parking spot.
I’m not putting out a call for a change in terminology, but I am asking you to simply consider this for a minute or two.
I’ve made a semi-offhand comment, on multiple occasions no less, that I missed the memo about people with disabilities being cubical people, because that seems to be the assumption and there is some truth to it.
Unfortunately I’m defining my own truth. Actually how is that unfortunate? If I have to redefine assumptions then so be it. I may not be able to do everything asked of me at any given point, but can you name one person who can? That doesn’t mean I have to sit in a cubicle, or even a corner office, all day and be bored within an inch of my life.
My body doesn’t match what my brain likes to do. My brain doesn’t believe my body shouldn’t do some of the things it probably shouldn’t and even can’t do. And it really is 50/50 as to whether my brain or my body wins the battle.
I’m a born and raised New Englander. I’m less than 2 hours from New York City by train. The Big E is a major event in my life every year & the letter R becomes an afterthought if I’m being too casual or I’m really really angry.
My mother’s lived in the same house my entire life, and so has my grandmother. Everyone pretty much left Ellis Island and liked it here in these parts so much that they decided to stay. My dad’s mother is from Chicago and still managed to make herself a New Englander. So I’m pretty positive none of my folk joined any wagon trains and ventured west.
However I’ve had a fascination with the west ever since I can remember. I’d sit and stare at my U.S. puzzle and wonder just what was out there. New England, a composition of 6 states, is just one puzzle piece. All other states have their own piece. And the western states are the biggest pieces, just what was in each of these places.
My friends would tease me for watching rodeo events on T.V. calling it low class or culture (oozing with sarcasm). I didn’t understand what I was watching the majority of the time but I was fascinated enough to keep watching. After all rodeo is the only sport with its roots in an actual occupation, and that in itself deserves some additional respect.
I don’t remember the first rodeo I watched but it was on T.V. and I’m not sure why I put it on. All I know is when I started watching I thought I was watching insanity on display but by the end I was hooked. By the end I understood the motivation, even if I didn’t understand anything else.
I ventured west on a 757, well maybe not, but it was on an airplane. I had just finished reading a book from the Love Comes Softly series, which I find much more enjoyable than Little House On The Prairie (for the record), so my brain went straight to wagon trains and pioneers. This was my venture west. My family may not have the desire for such a thing, but I did and now it was happening.
I found a new home in the Northwest. I still had my New England accent, did things way too fast, and found the friendliness of people strange for a while. But it became my home. In fact when an administrative assistant asked if I had “grown up here” and I almost said, “Yes.” It wouldn’t exactly be a lie if I had said yes; I mean I did grow up there. “Yes,” would be the short answer, and the long one.
I’d love to live and work in the same place (and to some extent I do, now). I’d take manual labor and the outdoors, or at least an unconventional career path, over a corner office (or telecommuting) and paperwork any day. I’m in love with a lifestyle that’s dying out.
You see, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m mismatched in several areas of my life. But it’s only a matter of time before I find my match. If I don’t find a match, I can always make one. After all isn’t life making something of yourself, and the world around you?
*A similar version of this post was written on May 17, 2009