Before I became disabled, I was perfectly aware of access issues and of the diversity of barriers that I would face. True, I had no idea about the constancy of experiencing one kind of barrier or another. I knew these things because for a little over a year I was a pusher. I worked with young adults in their final years of high school, all of whom had one kind of physical disability or another. I also knew it because I had friends who used wheelchairs and we often went out together.
Pushing the chair and being in the chair are very different experiences. As pusher I got the kindly looks, others didn't see me - they say my generosity and my caring spirit (puke). Sitting in the wheelchair gives a different world view. So I came to know hostility as a barrier that I would not have identified. I came to understand that the world was not mine and that any space I had was 'given' by others, never rightfully my own. I came to understand that difference and disability are at fault for the social awkwardness and social cruelty of others.There is such a strong social convention for blaming difference for the punishment it receives, it's hard to avoid that trap. So some of this kind of thing was new to me.
I pledged to myself.
I promised Joe.
That, when we were going somewhere, I wouldn't start thinking about the difficulties of managing my way over uneven curb cuts or through narrow just fitting doors or the anxieties of dealing with the social aspects of disability become a reason for deciding against going somewhere. I knew that actual physical, can't get in, barriers were a different thing. My pledge was that if I could go and wanted to go I would go.
I almost broke that pledge yesterday. We were talking about something that we do on occasion, something we both like, and as we talked I began to think of all the ways that this was difficult for me and, part of me just didn't want to go thorough it. I could do it, I wanted to do it, but ... I didn't want to deal with what I'd have to deal with.
I began to say 'no' knowing Joe would think I didn't want to, but I did, I could have lied and said I was tired. But I didn't, I started talking about all the myriad barriers to going.
Joe gave me a hard stare.