The past few weeks we have been examining the moments I felt different. Something happened in those stories that made me aware of my physical limitations. If you missed any of the posts:
We began the discussion with why I don’t see disability and what I know in my heart.
We visited two stories: when I missed school for back surgery and when the bus driver didn’t listen to my words, but someone else valued my opinion.
We looked at what happened when classmates argued over helping me. There was a clash of perspectives, identities, and unasked questions.
There have been other moments, such as the time I visited my dream college and my tour was completely different. They put me in a group by myself because the normal route wasn’t wheelchair accessible. I wanted to ask, “Why can’t everyone else come along this other path?” That place never felt right to me.
From the beginning, I wasn’t seen or accepted as an equal. But I found my place of belonging and loved it.
In all of these stories, I simply hoped for acceptance.
An acceptance of perspectives, whether my own or those around me. We needed to learn from the other. Conversations or situations weren’t always handled as well as they could have been, but I grew in understanding as I experienced these moments and as I looked back with older eyes.
An acceptance of the person first and perceived abilities (or lack of) second. So many cultural assumptions are attached to visible limitations. We will explore this another time.
An acceptance of expectations and not always having them in common. How I envision community and inclusion may differ from what others expect. Our journeys overlap and we can relate, but every story is still unique.
We have to learn to love our stories and recognize where we belong.
That deep place of belonging is where we don’t feel different. It’s where we know normal.