This may be the most emotionally difficult thing I have ever written about; perhaps the most emotionally devastating thing I have ever realized. Bear with me as I try to put in words ... I wish I could write with text the colour of bruise.
Joe and I were nearing the corner, just down the street where I live, when there was a sudden commotion and then a huge bang. The sound came from a big bag of garbage hitting the post I was passing. It hit about three feet over my head and then split open. Garbage exploded from the bag and rained down on me. I was hit only by dry garbage, the wet stuff landed just in front of me and just behind me. Joe, who had been walking behind me because the sidewalk space, as I go past the post, doesn't allow room for both of us, was able to jump out of the way entirely.
People, who were crossing the street, all turned to look for the source of the sound, saw me covered in litter frantically trying to get it all off me. Their eyes then noticed the angry man yelling at someone out of sight. I turned the corner, finally free from the trash that had rained down on me, looked at the man and said "You threw garbage at me, I don't even know you, what the hell were you thinking!" He glared at me and said, "You should be watching where you are going." Then, because Joe was insistent that we not stop and engage him, it was over. So apparently I'm supposed to be on alert for bags of garbage flying at me. I suppose that, along with watching the ground for obstacles and watching out for pedestrians who aren't watching where they are going, I'm supposed to add 'flying bags of trash' as well.
Believe it or not, this isn't the bad part of the story.
Later, when we were in the pharmacy picking up medications, I was chatting with the pharmacist and I told her what had happened, I was laughing as I told her. She looked at me horrified, absolutely horrified. A fellow shopper, a tall thin man who I've never seen there before, overheard the conversation and joined in saying that what happened was outrageous and unconscionable and the two of them expressed surprise at my relatively calm telling of the tale.
I was calm.
And I was a bit surprised at the vehemence of their response.
I should have left it at that.
But no. That's not me. I have to worry it and worry it until I figure it out. Why wasn't I outraged? Why wasn't even slightly experiencing hang-over anger? Why didn't it really, really, really bother me? Or even just really bother me?
And then I knew.
And knowing hurts.
I am used to people throwing things at me. I'm used to people rolling down windows of cars passing by so that they can lean out to throw 'piggy piggy' sounds at me. I'm used being hit by trash, regularly, 'fatso,' 'lardass,' 'pigface.' I'm used to people throwing stares at me, I'm used to glances turning into lances and cutting me open. The other day it was so bad I had to touch Joe on the arm and say, "I've got to get out of here." And I fled home. Eyes down. I couldn't take it that day. I wasn't emotionally strong enough to be me and to be out and to be the easy target. That day, about twenty minutes before fleeing for cover I had waited in the record store near my place as Joe made a purchase and three women walked by, one glanced in the door and saw me and yelled out, "That guy in there is a big fucking horse!" The others, who had passed by without seeing me, were pulled back into view and then they all stood looking at me saying things like, "How the fuck did he get like that," and 'I feel sorry for the fucking wheelchair," I was right there I could hear them. I was right fucking there.
They fling, fling, fling shit at me.
The wheelchair made it worse. I didn't think it could get worse. It did. People attack my need of space, my need of time, my need of air. People huff and puff because it takes me a moment to back into an elevator. Impatience mixes with hatred to create a toxic mix - that I am expected to drink with a thank you on my lips. Attitude aims and prejudice pulls the bow ...
They fling, fling, fling shit at me.
And when I talk about it I'm told I'm too sensitive, I'm told that I am misreading what happens around me, I'm told that I have to be tolerant of people who purposefully hurt me because they don't know better. THEY FUCKING KNOW BETTER!! I'm given advice that would never work, I'm told by the teller that they would handle my life and my situations better than I do. BETTER!!! I am a fully employed, fully contributing, fully involved person who only rarely cuts bait and runs. BETTER??? I am in a long term relationship. I attempt to make the world better. I invade public space even when, every time I do, it's dangerous. I am no coward.
A bag of garbage exploding over my head. Trash flying around me and raining down on me. That's nothing man. That's fucking nothing.
I'd rather have a boxful of garbage burst over my head every day than experience what I experience each and every fucking day that I live. Every time that I go out.
Never once, not once, in the last 7 years, since I became a fat wheelchair user, have I gone a single day in public space without many someones engaging in social violence. Bullying isn't strong enough a word, it's social violence, plain and simple. Not one day. Not one fucking day. Not one. Ever.
"He's fat and lazy and that's why he can't walk," one mother explained me to a son who hadn't asked a question.
"You better be careful or you'll end up like him," one friend says to another ordering a doughnut.
"God, they shouldn't allow people like him out, it wrecks your day," says one passerby to another.
I CAN FUCKING, FUCKING, FUCKING, FUCKING HEAR YOU!!!!
But I know that they know and I know they don't care.
It doesn't matter because I don't matter.
So when that trash burst over my head, I was a bystander, an accidental victim of another's rage. And it was just a relief not to be the target.
Because I'm always the target.
Dave, I'm so sorry.
Oh oh -I've been following you long enough to see you are in a trough Dave. Please remember the awards, the affirmation, the encouragement - please.
You are also handy - remember! You are loved.
Also remember that if you put yourself out there, whether physically or via blog - you are going to be under evaluation. Maybe you need to step back for a while Dave.
How about your faith in God? How about how much He loves you?
Don't turn the anger in or out - but up. I wish you peace.
I have no words. Yes your words are the colour of a bruise. And I so wish there was something that could ease that pain. Aside from my own outrage that you are treated with such social violence I don't want to risk trivializing what you have expressed here. Know that my heart is with you.
There is nothing I can say that will ease the pain you are feeling right now. There is no verbal bandage I can place on your heart and soul to stop the pain from flowing through you- I wish there was.
I will never understand why individuals think they are better than others- why they feel the need to express their hatred toward others. It has been said that people like that are to be pitied because they have such low self worth, that by verbally abusing another- somehow makes them feel better about themselves. I never believed that. There is NO EXCUSE for this kind of behaviour.
I grew up hating myself and the way I looked, I never verbally abused another. Maybe its because I knew how much words hurt... Physical bruises heal... it's the words and comments that are etched in our hearts and souls that continually cause us pain and heartbreak.
I am sending you warm hugs, Dave. I want you to know that for every piece of garbage that is thrown at you-that there is a bright red rose of love from those of us who LOVE you and appreciate all that you are and all that you have done to make us better members of society.
Love and Hugs,
Oh Dave.....this is a hard place.....your words are so clear, you do express the color of the bruise on your self. Remember that you are loved and you do matter to any many people. (((Dave)))
I don't often comment on the blog, but today I have to tell you Dave that my thoughts are with you!
Dave....no words from me today on this....just my love.
I think this should be required reading for everyone on the planet.
I'm sorry, Dave. Sorry if any of my previous comments/speculations about the intentions of others has helped bring you to this place.
I wish you could have a 6'5" badass bodyguard who could take on the thugs you encounter every day. Even moreso, I wish it wasn't necessary.
In my own life, I have gone from someone who absorbed the cruelty of others to someone who lashes back angrily and draws blood for every hurt I feel. I strongly suspect it's not the better path. But in a world where assholes seem to rule, what is the answer?
Wow people are such jerks! I read you every day because I so admire you, your words and the work you do. Easy for me to say don't let the jerks in the world get you down but I'm not the one experiencing that horrible behavior. All I can do is send my admiration and tell you how inspiring I find your work and the intentionality with which you bring kindness into the world.
Dave remember the number of people's lives you have changed for the better. You have touched so many of us. So now in your hour of need I send love.
I've been in a simular place. I'm sorry, Dave. Hugs.
Dave, you have been my hero since I first discovered you. It hurts to know there are so many ignorant individuals in the world and I hate that they have the power to cause you this kind of pain and distress. The world needs more Dave Hingsburgers and none of the trash throwers. You are incredibly beautiful to me.
Thank you for posting this. -Annie
Dave, I read every day, though I rarely comment. I know you are a kind, generous person who cares deeply about others. I feel your hurt and wish there was something I could do. I hope this comment will help in some way, perhaps just knowing that there are people who care and support you.
Also, have you considered filing a report with the police? When people cross into the realm of attempting or carrying out physical violence, that is a crime. Even if you don't report this incident, please talk to an officer to find out what your local laws are and things you can do in the future.
I just wish I knew what to say that could help. As if mere words could even help in the first place. My thoughts are with you, I wish there weren't so many people who find it so easy to be cruel.
Sending love to counteract what I can of the pervasive hate of the world.
Humans are horrible to each other - and for everyone who dares to speak hate or act hate, there are a million more who think it.
All we can do is to keep trying to overcome the natural tendency to put other people down to prop ourselves up, over and over.
Please keep educating ME - and anyone else who is trying to learn.
I have been fatter (a lot) and I have been far more disabled (a walker is even slower than a wheelchair for some things), so I know a little bit of what you face every day, but I still find myself on the aggressor side, even if only in my mind. And I am ashamed of myself when I do it, use it to keep trying to become a better human.
It is the work of a lifetime - but it is necessary. You have made me a bit bolder in protecting others, and a lot more aware of my own faults. And I'm supposed to be one of the good guys?
That does NOT excuse the others you run into daily. Their souls must be so black.
Uncle Dave. It's terrible what you have to go through every day, and I'm so sorry this happened to you.
I like the way you talked about how people (we commenters) tell you how you should have acted, and give you advice that would never work. It's true, we as a community of readers are guilty of that.
We have the luxury, reading your posts, of taking these events one at a time, as isolated anecdotes, or object lessons, in the midst of our day. You have the painful reality to live with - the accumulation of all the negativity and violence that rains down on you. It just stacks up and stacks up.
you made me cry because I felt your pain through your post.
Please always remember two things:
"One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
"For me some days you have wings and trough you being you you are beautiful."
Dave, this totally totally sucks. I 100% believe you. I am devastated at the horribleness of what people do - and CANADIAN people, moreover, who always seemed so much more kind as a society than my fellow Americans.
And if it's just the tiniest consolation, your blog has changed the way I think and act in the world, how I teach my children, what I expect from others, what I am looking out for and refuse to be a bystander or indifferent observer to anymore.
I know there must be many others like me, who have listened to your stories - wonderfully, powerfully told - and changed. It's not enough, I know. But it's something. Something YOU have done. (And Joe too, in his best supporting actor silent movie role on this blog.)
If I could I would throw my arms around you and wash your pain away with my tears.
The garbage (real or verbal) thrown at you is spewed from mouths/minds capable of little else. They talk about *each other* in the same terms.
If you were like *them* we wouldn't be here, sharing your journey. But here we are, because we like your company and you have something to teach us.
“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” ― Carl Sagan
So, I say, in gratitude for what you have taught me:
I love you in Big ways
I love you in Small ways
I love you this minute
And I’ll love you Always.
I just want to sit with your words....and vow again to speak up when I hear violence.
i am so sorry that you that you experience such hatred, violence and outrageous disrespect. the bruises (and more) come through loud and clear.
i agree with The Shorter Bloggess:
"I think this should be required reading for everyone on the planet."
i too, have been deeply affected by your writing and your work in the world. i don't comment often, but often talk to you in my head... i have been inspired by your stories and challenge myself to bring the courage and humanity, education and basic human kindness into my world, as you do into yours.
know you are so appreciated by so many. take care.
Most days I kinda wish that we were friends in real life, so that I could share in your adventures, stories, laughs, and just soak in all that is Dave. But today I kinda wish we were friends in real life, so I could offer a real life hug.
You don't deserve this.
Nobody deserves this.
You especially don't deserve this.
If it's ok with you, I'm going to save this post on my phone, where it's easy to access the next time the person I'm with is the one throwing trash. I'd like them to immediately have to read your words.
I am aching for you, for these terrible truths and your courage in posting it here.
Gently, gently, I am holding your heart in mine, willing yours to mend.
I am so, so sorry.
I am so very very sorry you experienced this, Dave. Yes, there are foul, horrible people in this world but also still some wonderful, caring, compassionate, kind loving ones too- lots of them!!! Embrace them and pity the others who live with so much hate it poisons their souls. I love the saying "Today, I will Choose Joy" hugs from the East Coast of Canada, Theresa :)ps people are waaaay nicer on the East Coast, this seldom happens here- we're all busy splashing at the ocean or spending time with our families :)
Oh Dave, my heart hurts for you :(
You are an inspiration to so many of us, especially those of us who are just starting out in the field and blundering our way through. You make me question and make me a better person and better support person.
I want to share this with you, even though it is directed to women, I think it's applicable to all. I really love the quote, "There's no wrong way to have a body" http://www.hanneblank.com/blog/2011/06/23/real-women/
I was teased and tortured so mercilessly in high school that I dropped out. I was sexually harassed and when I went to those who should protect me, I was told that I must be doing something to encourage it, or that I should be flattered because it was the popular boys. Just the other day I chose a different gas station because the one I originally pulled into had a bunch of young men all hanging out with their Fast and Furious cars. I had to drive out of my way to do so, but I got that gut clenching spasm when I pulled into the first station. Amazing how long the scars of words stay with us. I'm 42 now, high school was so long ago, but the emotions are still so recent.
I wish I could hug you.
I'm sending you love, Dave -- not just as a balm for the things that people have said and done, but also as a balm for the things they have NOT said and done. So much of the problem is that people don't call each other out on this crap. It's one thing for ignorant SOBs to actually say it; it's another for all the so-called civilized people to hear it and not say a word.
I'm so, so sorry. I'm sending you lots of love for who you are. Not for what you do. *For who you are.*
You do matter, your words reflect the trapped feelings of so many. <3
I just happened upon your post & this TED TALK today. I hope it encourages you. God bless!
Fu*k those spineless, heartless, piles of shi* who find joy in inflicting pain...FUC* them. I am so tired of those judgemental fools who need to find a place for the viciousness to land. We teach the people we support to deal with the daily bullying without screaming F.U. at the tip of their lungs...but maybe someday it might be a bit of a learning experience to just scream it our. F.U., F.U., Ok, that might be a bit much for Joe, best to leave him behind the day you decide to try it. I think there is an amazing thing that happens to women as we age, (and I hope happens to men too) we become more willing to just let loose on the fool who his showing his ass and call attention to it rather than just slinking away. Next time I turn back and find myself verbally assaulting one of those stupid little people....I will imagine you by my side.
It does feel quite liberating to drop the F bomb so many times in one paragraph. I can only imagine the fun it will be out loud!!!
Big love like you give every day can also have big hurt. I am so sorry you have so much of the hurt but your love will win. It will. Love always wins. I love you. You have helped me so many times. I tell people all the time you are my online crush. Seriously.
The world is better because you are in it. Nothing could ever change the truth of that.
Dave, you are my inspiration and mentor. I love you Dave, big hugs.
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