Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Collar

Forever and completely alone.

That's how I'm seen.

Forever and completely alone.

The security guard at the museum approaches me in the children's play area, while I'm with Joe and the girls, and asks me what I'm doing there. I am out of place. A man alone amongst children. A disabled man whose behaviour might be unpredictable. He's nervous, the guard, not because he thinks he may be insulting me but because of the risk inherent in the interaction. I'm outraged inside but calm when I point out that I'm with the child hanging of my wheelchair. "Oh," he says surprised.

Forever and completely isolated.

That's how I'm seen.

Forever and completely isolated.

At the Pride celebration, twice. My wheelchair becomes stuck in one of the trolley tracks and two strangers converge on me. I am wearing a tee shirt which matches the tee shirt of the many and various people in our group. I am with my husband who was pushed aside. I am with Ruby and Sadie who are as wheelchair savvy as any two kids could be. The strangers begin to push and prod touching my back, my sides and my legs in the process. I say 'no' over and over and finally have to get rude and insist they stop touching me. Then Joe is able to help me and in seconds I am free. They look astounded that I, with my tee shirt matching many others, am not alone.

We are hungry. We stop for a hot dog. The sidewalk is congested with some going to the cash machine and some lined up for the hot dog kiosk. I tell Joe I'll wait on the street and watch people as they pass by. Moments after he leaves, a young man sees me see Joe as he heads off, but then throws his arms open, declares that no one should go without a hug on pride day and heads for me. I am polite, I say, that I'm good, I've been well hugged but I couldn't finish because he wrapped his arms around me. He work cologne, but all I could smell was the scent of pity. I pushed myself further out of the way, hiding from other people's needs.

Forever and completely lonely

That's how I'm seen.

Forever and completely lonely.

I have felt alone, and isolated and lonely. All of us have. But I am troubled by two things. People who support people with disabilities are surprisingly comfortable with lives lived in isolation. Alternately there seems to be a general stereotype that disability means loneliness and aloneness. I'm not sure about these conflicting views.

My guess?

Seeing me in relationship to those who love me is too challenging to the idea of disability as being a loveable state of being. Because if disability doesn't exclude love then the requirement of a fully functional heart is that it broaden to include all possible love. Love is restricted only by borders build through prejudice and preconception, truth can batter those down. So the truth of disability, that exclusion happens purposely, is something to be avoided.

I saw a quote recently:

Love has no boundaries ... unless I'm wearing that invisible boundary shock collar thing and then my love stops eight feet from the driveway.

Yes, I'm loved and lovable, fat, disabled, gay, old bald as I am, so ... take the collar off.


clairesmum said...

no, you are more than that..there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.....

sometimes it is hard to keep looking for the light when all of the faces of those around you have the darkness of fear/pity/contempt and the not the light of love/life/human kindness.

i hop that tomorrow is a better day, Dave.

Rachel said...

I am not discounting your experience at all, but this one I don't share, or at least not in the same way. Perhaps this has something to do with being a woman; few would see me being around a group of kids as being anything weird or possibly dangerous. Luckily I am as harmless as I look where kids are concerned. People seem to be more surprised to see me out and about on my own than if I'm obviously with others.

But seriously, a kid is hanging out ON YOUR CHAIR but you're automatically alone and therefore creepy? Obviously he knows nothing about chair etiquette on top of everything else. I guess what I think should be common knowledge just isn't.