To: Still in Hiding:
I do not know if what I'm about to do will be upsetting to you. I want to highlight your comment regarding the 'She Never Knew She Never Knew' video by making it part of a blog post. I usually don't do this without permission, however, I have no way to reach you. I finally decided that your comment was bravely made in a public space, therefore, it was intended to be read. I hope, I really hope, that doing this is OK with you.
To Blog Readers:
For those who did not read the comment, I am reproducing it here, completely without edits:
I was angry at you when I saw that video for the first time. I didn't
like to be made to feel feelings that I've stuffed away. I did not live
in an institution, I lived with something equally damaging. I lived with
being my mother's tragedy and my father's disappointment. They didn't
want a child on wheels. They never took me out, admitted to only a few
of my existance. I was home schooled, the call it now, but the experiece
was rather like getting education in a prison cell. If I left the
house, it was after dark, and we'd drive long distances to be in placed
where we'd meet no one we knew. I never knew about girlfriends, and
gossiping, and dances, and playing with others. The difference between
Arlene and myself? I knew I never knew. And it's left it's mark. I can't
go out without a sense of shame. People's stares hurt me to the core,
more than they should, because I know that my parents fled from them.
Mr. Hingsberger, I happened upon your blog while looking for something
else. I've stayed ever since. I've never commented. But I want you to
know that you have introduced me to a world of pride and self respect as
a person with a disability. I don't know why you write this blog, I can
sometimes feel the cost behind the words. But I want you to know that
for me, here in the rest of the life I have, you have made a difference.
Thank you. On the 23rd, I will hold a small funeral for my childhood.
Then, I hope, I can say goodbye to all that and begin to work on
beginning. I shall play this song as my prayer for the childhood, for
the life, I lost. Thank you Dana and Miles. Thank you for telling the
story of many of us.
To: Still in Hiding:
I thought of you all day yesterday. The image of someone having a funeral for their childhood registers in my mind and heart as a tremendous act of courage. Saying 'goodbye' and 'farewell' to one's past is one thing, but to say 'rest in peace' to memories is quite another. I have tried, many times, to bid adieu to hurtful moments, but they never listened. I had said 'Goodbye' but they had not listened. They trotted along behind me, weighing me down at some moments, catching me off guard at others. It wasn't until I did, as you have now done, allowed them to rest, to have their own peace that I began to feel free of them. I had to mourn their place in my life, I had to grieve the loss of the anger with which I had held them so tight, an anger that consumed me. The hurt was gone, but my limbs had grown weary from having carried them so far along the way. I hadn't thought of this process as a 'funeral' but I'm guessing that's exactly what it was. So, though you don't know me. I was there with you, several times yesterday, in spirit. I believe that many readers here, I have generous hearted readers, were with you too.
What I wanted to say to you, however, was that life is not to be lived in hiding. I know I am presumptuous to say this to you. And I may well be wrong. But, I feel this deep need to say what I have to say. Many, many writers in the disability community have written that the gay community and the disabled community are twin communities. That we are born into families much different than ourselves. Some of us are born in to families who accept our difference with love, others, deep in their hearts, would wish us different if they could. So, even nestled into our mother's arm's, even sitting on our father's laps, we are different. Part of the process of growing into pride, which is every bit as important as growing into adulthood (and adulthood may not be truly possible without it) is the 'coming out' process. Not 'coming out' to the world. No, that comes later, much later. We begin by coming out to ourselves. We begin by accepting who we are and what we are and how we are. We begin by rejecting the definitions that others put on our lives and begin for forge our own. We begin by acknowledging our difference in the face of prejudice, our difference in the face of bigotry, our difference in the face of bias. We lose the language of self delusion, we no longer say, 'I don't consider myself to have a disability.' or 'I only focus on my abilities' or 'I am just like everyone else'. Instead we begin to speak to ourselves of ourselves as people with disabilities - as members of a community, as part of a movement, as having a place to belong and a perspective to offer. We began seeing who we are as entwined with what we are and how we are and even begin to see then ... the biggest miracle ... why we are.
You signed off your comment on the blog with 'Still In Hiding' but, oh no, you aren't. By writing that comment, by peeking into a disability blog and by staying and by reading, the door was being slowly swung open. You have smelled fresh air ... welcome. I am honoured that you have come here to Rolling Around in My Head. I'd recommend, again presumptuous, for you to read fellow comment makers and follow links back to their own blogs. You will find here readers who are parents, who proudly love their kids. You will find here care providers, who proudly serve and wish to serve well. But, most importantly for you, you will find others with disabilities here. All of whom have made a journey. All of whom have decided to be publicly, and sometimes even wonderfully outrageously, proud.
I would love to hear from you again, sometime, even on my personal email, which you will find over there under the picture of Joe and I, or here amongst this tiny, little, loving community.