I recently watched the movie Hidden Figures. Phenomenal. Go see it already!! It was an absolutely inspiring true story based on the lives of three black women who were faced with so much adversity, prejudice, and personal trials. (Check out review here.) I will not give this story away as you really just need to see it, but it has propelled this particular blog post into a subject that has bothered me for some time.
How do we handle things when life just isn’t going…or hasn’t gone our way?
There are so many things that can go wrong when you have a disability! Depending on your disability, the lists can vary in the details, but I assure you there will still be a list. Transportation is a huge issue for those who cannot drive. Although government agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation are helpful training and finding jobs, employment is still an issue because it is hard to get to a job without transportation. HUD and Section 8 housing helps provide affordable housing solutions, but there are so few handicap accessible units that waiting lists can be as long as 5 years! Healthcare is unsure because we are not sure insurance will even help pay and we are not sure we can afford it. We are not sure we will get the same physical examination as others because we cannot get on the tables. We are constantly struggling to get medical equipment approved or to keep it working – whether that is a wheelchair, a van lift, or a shower chair that decides to rust out! We are put on hold, shuffled to other departments and told 17 different answers to the same questions. And none of these things are even about our disability! UTI’s, spasms, pressure sores, nerve pain, unending fatigue, weakening bones, throbbing necks and shoulders, digestive issues, bowel and bladder issues (and accidents), swelling, spine curvatures….and on and on are secondary health complications that seem to constantly pop up. Those just cover my particular disability and not anyone else’s. This paragraph doesn’t even begin to touch on the emotional loneliness and segregation so many still feel or the financial hardships most live under.
All of these things have been uninvited intrusions to our lives. We didn’t ask for a disability. We didn’t ask for drama. We didn’t ask for problems and complications. We didn’t ask for lack of accessibility. However, they are ours.
When you have been around for awhile in the disabled community, you quickly learn there are two kinds of people – those that shine and those that whine!
In the disability community, you see the “solution people” and then you see the ones who want to cry “FOUL!”over every single thing that upsets them.
You see those who have no incentive to do anything with their lives, and then you see those who press on with unbelievable odds against them.
You see those who take their frustrations out on everyone around them, and you see those who are gracious to humanity and their misunderstandings of our disabilities.
You see those whose lives and actions cry about their disabilities, and then you see those whose lives and actions shout their abilities!
Articles are written that offer guidance and help, and then there are articles that just help enrage feelings but offer no solutions.
Videos are posted and shared where we tell everyone what they are doing wrong, but offer no education and kindness as to how to do it right.
I feel that many times, those of us with disabilities, can develop a really big chip on our shoulder about the injustices around us. While I do not endorse injustice, I do not think this strengthens us. I think it segregates us even more if all we do is yell how unjust it all is! We are now not only viewed as disabled, we are viewed as a bunch of disabled babies.
If someone opens a door for me (which I am capable of doing), I smile and say thank you! I am kind before I am disabled. I don’t need to prove my independence by grunting at them. I know there are the fringe people out there that can smother and be extremely rude to those of us with disabilities. But that says more about them than it does me.
Speaking calmly and actually engaging change accomplishes much more than screaming how unfair life is and feeling accomplished that we know how to scream.
The inspiring part of the movie (that started this conversation) is that these women did not spend their days yelling, posting, and crying. They were confident, ingenious, and pro-active to find solutions to the very society that so desperately tried to hold them back. Let me tell you, society lost.
There are many things that need solutions for some real problems. My encouragement is to spend your time and energy looking for solutions instead of whining about them.
Let’s not whine. Let’s shine!
Do you have ideas already? I would love to hear about them!