January 24, 2010

What Disability Teaches

(Obviously not universally applicable...)

Think about what 'it' has taught you. Break up the task into small manageable parts -- if there's one thing having a limited number of 'spoons' has taught you to do, it's to break work down into small manageable chunks.

There are other things it's taught you as well. In relation to yourself. In relation to your family, your friends, and all those other acquaintances who populate your life.

It's taught you that you cannot ever assume that you will have the energy to do all (or even a small fraction of) the things which you might want to do whether you want to do those things just because you feel like it or whether you want to do those things because it is imperative to do them.

It's taught you to keep your feet very firmly on the ground and have a strategy for everything you do because you know you need to plan how to use your energy which could well be truly limited on any given day.

It's taught you to prioritise and to not waste time or energy on the unimportant, on the unachievable, on the unchangeable, on the unchallengeable because you need to focus on what's important (and "doable") and get it done (or at least try to) before your energy runs out.

It's taught you to pick your battles carefully because you don't have energy to expend on fighting about things if you know that such a fight would be fruitless; you don't want to spend what limited energy you have on anything that would be unproductive.

It's taught you to be more patient with other people simply by forcing you to recognise the very real possibility that others could have disabilities and liabilities and impediments which force them to ration their energy in just the way that you do, and that those disabilities and liabilities and impediments of theirs could be just as invisible to you as yours could be to them.

It's taught you to be realistic about goals, about deadlines, about what you can do, when you can do it, and just how much of it you can do, because you know that if you're not realistic every single hour of every day, you're going to have to pay for having over extended yourself in the next hour, or on the next day -- not ten years down the line when you have a heart attack that you somehow simply didn't expect.

It's taught you to be self-reliant because experience has taught you that people may not want to be around you when you're not 'well', because you know that you live in a society which demands wellness, a society whose gurus advise others to get rid of negativity in their lives with negativity often including the requirements of people who are not healthy or able-bodied.

Then again, you could paraphrase all that it's taught you by saying that it's taught you not to dream, not to take things as they come, not to play it by ear, not to recognise and treat unacceptable behaviour as being unacceptable, not to be idealistic, not to have faith in your relationships with people, not to believe that anyone would stand by you if the need arose.

And you're not entirely certain which interpretation to choose particularly since you know that what you've learnt remains unchanged regardless of what light you choose to see it in.