culture

Special Needs

Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to have disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled. ~ Wikipedia

I made the mistake of reading comments on an Instagram post in favor of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They were mostly positive. But, there was one naysayer who stood out for his initial lack of vitriol. He was just mildly snarky. But, it was like he had committed some heinous sin, instead of posting a disagreement rooted in ignorance.

He was immediately under attack. Mostly the responses remained as snarky comebacks. However, one of them made me cringe.

It sounds like your boss is good at hiring people with special needs.

I couldn’t scroll past without addressing it.

Back in the day, the insult used was, “retard,” frequently accompanied by a physically mocking action. Much like 45’s mocking actions regarding a reporter who experiences a physical disability.

Another one is, “riding the short bus.”

However you frame it, it’s showing a prejudice toward people with disabilities, especially intellectual ones.

How about how mental health challenges are referred to?

What are you, crazy?

Man, that was INSANE!

She’s so bipolar.

That one’s not right in the head.

Or the fact that so many movies and TV shows portray mental health patients as dangerous killers and all the shootings being reported as someone with mental illness, before an evaluation can be done?

The stigma and prejudices against people with physical, developmental, and mental disabilities is real and insidious. Just as we need to recognize, call out, and address racism, in all its forms, sexism, genderism, and sizism, we need to call out ableism.

It isn’t about political correctness, it’s about human rights.

For more on my perspective on ableism, go here.

Mommy needs a time out . . . (part 2)

continued from Part 1

As a person of faith, I know that God is with me and that I am provided for.

However, not only were we created to be in relationship with God, but also to be in relationship with others in this life. I think that’s one of the reasons why most faith systems have instruction in their holy books about how to relate to other people and reminders to take care of those who are not in a position to take care of themselves without assistance . . . which truthfully describes every single, living, and breathing human being, whether we realize it or not.

For a lot of reasons, many of which have to do with my own history and habits, the few relationships I have are primarily one-way.

Jerry is out on the road, doing a job that not many people can handle, and struggling with the stress and uncertainties involved in that position and whether or not he’s going to be able to fully provide for our little family. Homesick, missing the light of his life (and me too, I’m sure ~ smile, it was a joke), and no idea how or how soon he’s going to get his few days to spend with us, he is not well positioned to offer practical, rubber meets the road support for me.

Marco and LaLa my adult children are adults living their own lives and trying to make their own way in the world. 25 & 19 year olds should be moving ahead and into whatever future they are building for themselves. Marco and I are still navigating the rocky terrain of the dysfunctional childhood and adolescence he was raised in.  There are very deep feelings there and he has to be ready to engage in two-way relationship with me and he just isn’t there yet. Our conversations vibrate with both of us treading and tiptoeing around a lot of pressure bombs that could be triggered by either of us.  Things are improving, however slowly.  LaLa is repeating my past mistakes in her unique ways and all I can do is stand back and let her, while making sure she knows I’m here for her.  We probably have the least tense relationship, but it’s still a parenting relationship for me to a large degree.

There are people who care enough to ask what’s going on, occasionally.  They offer some encouragement and support,mostly verbal.  However, with one exception, the closest “true” friends I have live everywhere but here.  The two nearest friends I have are really not positioned to give me practical assistance, although they have the sincere desire to do so. I haven’t been able to build friendships outside of the times I show up for service at the tiny, budding, church we became involved with a couple of years ago.  The pastor has called to check on me a couple of times and everyone is genuinely interested, sincerely asking about our lives, when I do manage to show up.  Yet, aside random status updates on facebook, I have no connections to anyone there during the week.  I take that back.  One person brought soup a few months ago when Jerry first left for his job and both Luna and I were home sick with bad colds.

No insurance and limited funds mean I’m seeking my own services as a counselor and a therapist.  Life has been my educator: a variety of experiences receiving therapeutic services, multiple books and classes, and numerous healing and recovery efforts have all been part of my growth and development process. Thankfully, all of these things have given me many tools for dealing with my feelings and navigating the challenges.

None of this is intended to seek sympathy or imply my life is crap, because it isn’t.  I live in a beautiful city with many resources, services, and opportunities.  We have housing, clothing, and food. I may have physical and mental health issues, but I still have comprehension, intellect, and know how to help myself. The relationships and people I have in my life are amazing and committed to sticking around, even if they are difficult and challenging, at this time.  There are so many others in the area I live in, not to mention the world who don’t even have this much, I’m blessed, I truly am.  As I stated at one point last week, being my level of poor in the US, just means I’m less privileged.

This is just me reminding myself, that feeling drained, tired, and in pain is valid and not the manifestations of the symptoms of my illnesses. I will get through this, I’ve gotten through worse, with less and as in all things, this too shall pass.

Mommy needs a time out…(part 1)

An hour for each year + five extra hours might do the trick.

48 hours just to myself.

No having to monitor my thoughts, words, and actions for appropriateness or for the sake of others’ needs, wants, issues, concerns, demands, or expectations. No putting on a “front” to belie the pain I feel ~ literally and metaphorically.

No non-stop demands and obligations of being responsible for someone else’s needs and care.

No interruptions of thought, creative flow, reflection and the process of honoring my need to just be.

I love my family.

I am learning to love my life and myself.

I just need a time out.

It’s like building muscles and getting physically healthy.  It’s a process by which new patterns and new habits have to be exercised in order to create conditioning.  The breakdown and destruction of existing, unhealthy cell structures is a pre-requisite for new, healthier cells to form.  Light weight with a series of repetitions performed in sequence for a set number of times to break down the surface cells. Then rest a day and allow the body to eliminate the broken toxic debris and for new cells to form.  There is soreness, tenderness, and occasional pain as the body goes through this process.  Rest a day, sometimes two, then do it again, being careful not to overdo any one muscle group and allowing enough time for good recovery.

The same thing needs to happen for mental and emotional processes.

However, life, culture, society, and family don’t stop or allow for that.  There’s no time, we’ve got to move on now…

Recently, I watched an episode of Eureka when one of the characters experienced great loss of the one person and relationship he’d never hoped or expected to have, but was blessed with died, in a situation where he was completely unaware.  When faced with the knowledge of this loss, bewilderment and grief set it.  As happens in Eureka, some freak of science experiment happened and required all hands on deck and he decided to fast-track himself through the grieving process.  The resulting fall-out made for funny and entertaining television, but it makes for crappy and dysfunctional living.

I’m in the midst of huge transitions in my life’s circumstances, which are uncertain and seemingly endangered on a weekly if not daily basis.  At the same time, I’m actively seeking to change multiple layers of myself into a healthier version of me.  I’m working hard to carve new neurological pathways, redirect and change 40+ years of psycho-social-emotional conditioning and response.  I’m actively seeking to apply new behaviors in my parenting and intimate relationships.  Meanwhile, life goes on, bills must get paid, garbage needs to be taken out, and Luna needs to get loved, educated, engaged, disciplined, bathed, fed, and rested.

And I am alone.

Well, not completely…to be continued in tomorrow’s post