This morning, as is my habit, I sat down to read the comments left on Rolling Around in My Head overnight. I enjoy the discussion that happens in the comment section and read every single comment that comes in, some I read several times over. One that came in last night struck me. It was from Mary. She said:
My comment was going to start "wow, I'm so lucky that my friends are..."
then I wondered where that sentence was going to go. I'm so lucky that
my friends are... friendly to me? That my friends are nice to me? That
my friends are considerate of my needs?
I'm so lucky that my friends are prepared to behave like friends. Hmmm.
I understand exactly what Mary is saying here. When you have a disability, any kindness that you receive is often attributed, by others first and eventually yourself, to luck. It couldn't be that we, as disabled people are deserving of kindness or the rightful recipients of love.
I have been told that I'm so lucky that Joe stayed with me after my disability.
A woman I know, a wheelchair user who requires a fair bit of personal assistance, is constantly barraged with people saying that her husband is a 'saint' for not leaving her, for still loving her. She told me once, in a private moment, that she began to feel that the weight of other's perception of her as his burden began to crush her. She began to distrust her husband's love, began to see it as coming from a sense of duty, not a sense of affection. It was only after she admitted these feelings to him that she was able to hear, from him, from his heart, that he loved her. She says she does not feel lucky, she feels loved.
For parents of kids with disabilities there are thousands of subtle ways that tell you that your child is sent to you because you are saintly - heaven's special child chosen for you - and the message is, yours is a kid that no one would want but that you got stuck with so pull out the saintliness and get to work. When you express that you love your child, as is, the sentiment is often, 'Your child is lucky to have a parent like you.' A child is lucky, LUCKY, to have a parent that loves them? Yeah, luck.
I am worthy of love.
I am worthy of respect.
I am worthy of affection.
I am worthy of consideration.
Those sentiments, I think, are hard for most of us to actually get to. But for people with disabilities they are a radical statement of personhood and value.
I am not lucky.
I am worthy.