Hi Babes! I have a couple quick things to talk about today. First, you may have noticed that this newsletter is a day late. That's because I'm just SLAMMED with client deadlines, and I fell behind. Plus I found out a couple days ago that I have to move to a new apartment, and that news made me emotional and - frankly - a bit scared. So I've been juggling lots of personal and professional responsibilities!
My point is this: I'm human, just like you. I'm a sick chick, just like you. So sometimes, prioritization means that even things I LOVE to do get put on the backburner for a day or two. That's the breaks, babes. Sorry to be here a little late, but I know you understand. The good news is: I'm busy with awesome clients, I'm confident I'll find a fabulous new apartment, and I'm proud of myself for pacing my activities to meet my physical (and emotional) needs. It's the ChronicBabe lifestyle in action!
Now, to my thought of the day (actually it was two days ago, but...see above.) I was entering my neighborhood Target through the accessible door and a woman in a wheelchair - about 10 feet away - started screaming at me. "You're not handicapped! You're not allowed to use that *&%^ing door!" She went on in this way, causing heads to turn. I popped out my headphones and approached her. "Excuse me," I said in a fairly loud voice. "You have no right to scream at me like that. For your information, I DO have a disability. It's an invisible illness. I can use any door I want, and I wasn't keeping you from using it." She responded by continuing with the profanity, flipping me the bird, and banging on the wall as she stormed out.
WHEW. I was upset, and so were the folks who saw it go down. I tweeted a rant. Essentially, I was angry that those of us with invisible illness and disability are continually blown off and ignored. And that she wouldn't have a reasonable discussion with me so we could perhaps educate each other on our perspectives.
The next day I discussed the scenario with someone who has more experience with the complicated politics, emotions and practicalities of similar situations. "Keep in mind, her attitude might not have been about you," she reminded me. "She might have had a really rough day. She might be feeling disenfranchised and you just represented something she is mad about." Hmm, not about me. Yup, definitely something to think about. "She might just be a jerk," I was reminded. Well, sure. A-holes are everywhere, including in wheelchairs.
"Try to have some compassion for her," she said. But wait, she didn't have compassion for me! Grrrrr...but my trusted source was right. Even if I don't receive it, I can still give compassionate treatment to others, knowing I'm doing my best in that moment.
The bottom line: We ALL need support and accommodation at one time or another. We ALL should be standing up (so to speak) for each other's rights and needs when we see someone being neglected. We ALL have a responsibility to educate others about the needs of ChronicBabes - those who use assistive devices and those who don't. And we ALL are part of the same community, ONE UNIFIED group of people who are living the best lives we can in spite of illness.
I still have mixed feelings about the incident, and I will continue to process how I feel about it. I certainly received a diverse reaction to my Twitter rant. So I posted this article on the website today...and I hope you'll weigh in with your comments and thoughts about how I might have reacted differently, or how you would do the same. I look forward to that dialog!
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