I had planned a very different blog today, it's the last day of the year and I wanted to write something about new year's, resolutions - a fairly typical post for this kind of year. But then I got a very thoughtful comment from Bendy Girl on a post called 'Us' that I wrote a few days ago. It was a critical post, not written out of anger but in deep thoughtfullness. I have a 'way' of dealing with criticism. My 12 step process.
1) Anger: Who the hell does she think she is?
2) Self Pity: Don't people realize that I really put myself out there and can be hurt by what they say.
3) Decision: That's it, I'm never writing the blog again.
4) Anger 2: What have I ever done to her?
5) Defensiveness: Well that's the way the world is for me, I'm free to comment on MY world an way I want.
6) Denial: It's just a bit of criticism, who cares?
I'm in a huff, blood is pumping, adrenaline rushing. Then an hour or two later when I'm thinking of something else and the comment pops back into my mind ...
7) Realization: You know she kind of has a point.
8) Minicapitulation: OK, well I'll think through what she has to say.
9) Capitulation: Actually she has a point.
10) Self Immolation: You are a worthless piece of poop that needs to be careful about what he writes.
11) Self Degredation: You have no talent to write, why bother.
12) Self Evaluation: You aren't defined by this comment, you wanted people to talk to you, and you've probably learned from this, it's a good thing.
So, I'm a little tender about getting criticism - who isn't? Actually, I'm ok with criticism that I don't agree with (I just blow that off ) but with criticism that I need to hear in order to grow, that's the stuff I have trouble with. You'd have to read her whole comment but she begins with
"I'm glad that you have all the equipment and access requirements around you to make life the way it should be for all those with disabilities, but for many of us, that is an unimaginable luxury. "
And ends with the fact I need to consider 'privilege' in my writing.
The post had me describing my house as being set up for me, thus reducing my experiece of disability at home, Bendy Girl, in her comment gives a dramatic description of how that is so not the case for her. Well, in fact, we bought a home with a ramp, it has a walk in shower. But as for the rest, we've adapted. We found that the kitchen wheelchair fits well under the counter and I can help cook from there. I've got a kitchen wheelchair because someone who had a 'fat chair' no longer needed it and gave it to me. It's huge, it's comfortable, I took it eagerly. I have a wheelchair in my bathroom because my old wheelchair was destroyed by travel and I use it to get around the bathroom. My toilet is low with no bars, but it is positioned right by the shower and we've put a tall stool beside it so I can use the stall and the stool as grab bars. We really need a tall toilet and grab bars but haven't been able to afford them.
There are other inconvienices in my home but they are more minor irritants than they are major impediments. I haven't written about my frustrations about being disabled at home because frankly I don't want to. This is my home, for better or worse, it's my home. Both Joe and I recognize that we are going to need to sell this house and move to Toronto, living in the country in a wheelchair is incredibly limiting. But I've compartmentalized that. I'm good at not thinking about things, tucking them away, bringing them out when need be.
Other commenters have mentioned that I have a fairly 'sunny' disposition to disability and a fairly optimistic personality. Well that's true. When the glass is half full ... My God A Bird Could have a Bath in There!! Whoo Hooo. Part of this is the result that I am (and I'm not going on about this) a child of abuse. And every day as an adult that I am not hit, sworn at, wished dead, burned or otherwise scarred - that's a very, very, good day. I was judged to be almost ineducable at one point in my schooling, the bar was set low for me. I amaze myself every day by putting on matching socks. Out of all that could come bitterness. Then I met Joe. I don't know how many readers know him, but Joe laughs at everything ... that's everything. When we met it was like a dark shadow walking into bright light, I didn't disappear, I just discovered that I was not the shadow, I was the person casting the shadow. I didn't know that relationships - that people - could be safe. So under Joe's direct influence I moved from despair to hope. My world view changed. I became aware that life could change, that it was possible to be safe, create safe places.
But as to Bendy Girl's comment, she was right, I do present the world a little unrealistically because of how I focus my writing. I want people to read about the joys of living with a disability as part of a counter attack on 'you're all so miserable, wouldn't ya wish to be dead?' crap that you get from so many. I didn't want to feed into that kind of stereotype yet I want to write about the challenges as well. I clearly didn't do a good job on that post, and I think, honestly I've made that mistake before.
So Bendy Girl, I thank you for your comment, I've taken it seriously, and I hope it will affect my writing, will help me grow deeper in my analysis. But I warn you, I am an optimist, I do believe that the world can change if challenged, I do beleive that disability is just another way of being and should be respected as such - none of that will change. But my expression about the real world frustrations will attempt to be a bit more accurate.
This is not a resolution, it's a realization -- and for me, realizations are always the greater prod to change.