It is true, I can't walk, well or much. But that is not my disability.
It is true, I can't bend, well or much. But that is not my disability.
It is true, I use a wheelchair, a reacher and an adapted bus. And as I do these things I can see people classify me in their heads. They think they see my disability. They're wrong.
I only began using a wheelchair three years ago.
I've beev disabled all my life. I did not enter humanity easily. Coming from a home where violence ruled, where hope was stranged by and angry mother, where expectations were cut off at the knee. Where my mother's major goal in parenting was to have me finally get the answer right to her most common question, "Who do you think you are?" The right answer, "No one."
Carrying the weight of parental disapproval and disappointment would wear out any set of legs. But, as adulthood came along, as life's current took me far from the spawning grounds, I found that I simply couldn't shake the constant feelings of inadequacy, of inferiority, the words used to my face at birth, to my back at leaving, stayed with me. Stupid, ugly, they were what began tirades ... you'll never amount to anything ... were the words that would end them.
Fear isn't an emotions, it's a crushing disability.
Even now, when something goes wrong, those words pound, pound, pound in my head. I keep on, struggle to go on, but the beat of those words is strong. It's even worse when things go well, when my first book was published I had such fear that I would be exposed as a fraud, that others would know that I type but do not write. Then other books followed. Each book I was sure to be my last. Each book happening out of chance.
Anxiety isn't a way of life, it's the way of death.
But it's the lectures where I have most difficulty. I have always had terrors of public speaking, it is a shock to me - and to those who knew me from childhood - that I ended up talking in front of an audience. I entered adulthood as shy as the day is long, I didn't want to center myself out. Didn't want to be seen. Being seen led invariably to being hurt.
Nerves clog my mind and I become convinced that I am going to embarrass myself. This gets worse and worse, the longer between lectures, the more painful this is. When I'm lecturing day after day like B.C coming up, like England in November, I get into a ritual and a routine, these protect me from the insecurities a little bit.
So yesterday I was in Adrian Michigan. I hadn't given a lecture in over a month. As we drove to Adrian, fears visited me. I could hear my mother's voice jeering me. Taunting me that I would look stupid ... and, after all, 'who do you think you are?'
Joe knows all this so he gives me support quietly. I sat there in front of all these highly expectent faces. Felt their desire for me to begin. Felt their trust in me to give them what they needed.
It was these voices that called out my best, drowned out the fears. And I was off. The day ended with a wonderful success. In the car on the way home Joe said, 'It begins' and he's right, today I'm doing a lecture for the people over to visit Vita from the British Isles. Next week Manuela and I are doing a lecture, for the first time, on how to create a safe agency for people to live in ... the fall lecture season is here. And I am now ready to greet it.