Saturday, February 16, 2019

I'm Good With That

It lay there on the floor.

I was standing. I can stand. I can walk a bit. But I have to have something to steady me, a wall, a railing, and arm or shoulder. I had put my clothing in the laundry hamper and a receipt had fallen out of my pants pocket. It lay there, on the floor, looking like it needed to be picked up and put away.

I stood there and looked at it.

It's only been in recent months that I can reach down and pick something off the floor. I still have to be careful because of balance, but mostly, I can do it.

But I haven't had to do it for a very long time simply because I couldn't do it. In fact for nearly 13 years the floor and I have only had passing acquaintance. I could wave to it, to no effect because it never waved back, but that was it.

For years and years and years, I would simply let Joe know it was there and eventually, usually sooner than later, he'd pick it up and deal with it. He never minded, he was good with helping me where I needed help.

It's a complex thing being disabled. Because though I thought I wanted the skill of bending over and picking up things I'd dropped. It was really easy to simply let Joe do it. And 'easy' is something I can get used to.

I had a decision to make, pick it up, or leave it for Joe. If I didn't pick it up, he would never know that this was now about my laziness turning his help into servitude. He'd never know. But, shit, I would know.

I picked it up.

I'm no hero here, the reason I'm telling you isn't to point out how I made the right decision and Joe's day was lightened by a tiny little bit.

No.

I'm wondering if it happens with disability that habit destroys motivation. If it's just a habit that you help me with my shoes, then why would I be motivated to use the skill once I'd learned it. It's easy to live the easy life.

I remember working in a school tying the laces on the shoes of a little boy who simply let me do it. It wasn't until another staff told me he could do it that I realized that he had tricked me by my own need to be helpful and my own stereotype of what I thought he could do.

Teaching a skill and then giving the privilege of using it.

Discovering one's own personal power.

That's cool.

Very cool.

Joe won't know until he reads this that I had that little debate but I know when he does, I'll be picking shit off the floor for the rest of my life!

And ... I'm good with that.

7 comments:

clairesmum said...

Gym bunnies rule!

Lucy Longsocks said...

On the one hand, yes, habit and motivation are closely linked. Not less true when habit's linked to impairment than otherwise.

On the other, I think it's less that habit destroys motivation, than that something which is a habit requires much less motivation/effort than something which isn't. So not having the habit means one notices the motivation/ effort required.

Not to mention, of course one wants to be able. But who wants to have to? If the rotten thing would pick itself up, neither you nor Joe would have to. But you'd still be able.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

Being disabled is one thing. But being disabled and always exhausted makes everything far worse.

But I am still determined to do what I can. It's about self-respect. I commend you.

Girl on wheels said...

I find myself letting my partner do things for me all the time. Things I am well able to do on my own. But they are things that cost me extra energy, if I bend and twist to pick up that thing from the floor I will most likely pay for it later. But I can do it if I need to. He points out that picking something off the floor costs him nothing, it will take him seconds, he does not need to think about how best to keep his balance or concentrate on keeping his spine straight. It really is nothing for him to do, so I should just save that energy, prevent that potential pain. But picking up that thing makes me feel good, it gives me some of that lost independence back, after I straighten up I smile because I made a difference to my environment. Is that worth the cost of the action? Sometimes I think so and sometimes I think not. But I do know that when I get irritated with him it is because he did things for me without asking, things I am capable of doing, things I would have felt good about if I had done them. But some days I am not capable of doing those things, I would not be able to bend and twist, the cost would have been instant and completely disproportionate to the action. Those things still need to be done on those days. It is a tricky balance. But I think just asking me if I plan on doing the thing, at least then I have the choice. And if I could have done it and chose not, then that’s on me.

Mary said...

Hi Dave,
I’m a DSW student and I’ve been reading through your posts especially for the purpose of an assignment. I’ve been extremely privileged to have found your blog because it was so incredibly insightful. Before coming into the DSW program, I really hadn’t put much thought into the whole notion of disability. But midway through the course, I realized how flawed my thought processes were. I am guilty myself of having thought about people with disabilities as somehow being not able of doing many things and that they require help with a lot of activities. I have assumed the position of a ‘care giver’ without even giving a second thought. But as I went deeper into the course and started following your interviews with Norman Kunc, I realized that a support worker’s role is to provide support to help people help themselves. I think it’s high time that people unlearn things that they have learnt. To assume that everybody is capable of everything and starting off from there instead of having a flawed assumption that people are ‘incapable’. The outcome might be so much better. Giving independence and control of life back to the individuals makes more sense to me than anything else. Thank you for your valuable inputs. It helps students like us to develop ourselves into better Support persons.

Jincy P Joseph said...

Hi Dev,
This is an inspirational thought you have passed to those who have disability and those who support people with disability. A person gets self- confidence, and self- esteem to lead a meaningful life by developing their skills and earning experience. It is observed that most of the people with disability are not even getting enough chances to develop their skills because people always do for them. So this concept makes changes in thoughts of those who are working with people with disability. Empower them to develop skills so that they can think and do independently throughout their life. I believe that every individual has sufficient ability to lead a quality of life. People with disability may need some support in order to acquire adequate skills. This is an important message to think and perform differently to enhance the quality of life of people with disability.

Jincy P Joseph said...

Hi Dev,
This is an inspirational thought you have passed to those who have disability and those who support people with disability. A person gets self- confidence, and self- esteem to lead a meaningful life by developing their skills and earning experience. It is observed that most of the people with disability are not even getting enough chances to develop their skills because people always do for them. So this concept makes changes in thoughts of those who are working with people with disability. Empower them to develop skills so that they can think and do independently throughout their life. I believe that every individual has sufficient ability to lead a quality of life. People with disability may need some support in order to acquire adequate skills. This is an important message to think and perform differently to enhance the quality of life of people with disability.