Thursday, October 7, 2010

Target

(Looking for warm-and-fuzzy?  Go here.  This long, angst-driven post is not for you...)

CL has been thinking a lot about life changes, poor medical care, people-in-need of social services, (mis)perceptions, beauty, sex and, well, LIFE in general. Many good things have happened, including new adventures and new strengths.   After speaking with her fabulous shrink about the Safeway and Whole Foods incidents, however,  CL has been "stewing" and "confused." 

Here was the conversation with her shrink:

Shrink:  So, how do people see you?
CL:  See me?
Shrink:  Yeah.  If you could describe yourself, and other's perceptions, what would you say?
CL:  I don't know.  I mean, I know the correct answer from my head, I can analyze their perceptions and my reactions all I want-- but I honestly can not define how I feel.  My heart is confused.
Shrink:  What do you mean?
CL:  Well, sometimes I feel invisible.  No one sees me.  They cut in line and ignore me, when I say "hey, I was here, first."  They try to run me over with their cars...they steal lights from the front of my house, so I can't use my wheelchair at night...they push me underwater, away from the rope, when I try to swim...you know...invisible...
Shrink:  They?
CL:  People.
Shrink:  What kind of people?
CL:  Arrogant,  self-entitled, I-would-call-them-pricks but I actually like the word "prick," so...you know...PEOPLE.
Shrink:  Not all people.
CL:  Yeah, not all people.  Just 90% of the world who live in their bubbles, ignore people in need, treat me like I DID SOMETHING WRONG.
Shrink: Anger.
CL:  You think?
Shrink:  And sarcasm.
CL: Really?
(pause) 
Shrink: So,  the "F" word?
CL:  Frustration?
Shrink:  Yeah.  Frustration.  So, tell me, how would you describe yourself, in these situations?
CL:  Besides angry and sarcastic? Fuckin frustrated?
Shrink: Uh-huh.
CL: Confused.  I mean, what do you say to people, when they make assumptions about your life?  When they chose to see you, and not ignore your existence?  When they scream out of their car windows, "hey fat girl, get off your ass and WALK outta that chair!"
Shrink:  What?
CL:  Oh yeah.  When people see me?  They are pissed off.  They think I put myself in this chair, I caused the tumors, I'm spending their tax dollars on services not really needed by a cripple.  I mean, one of my neighbors actually called the paratransit authorities to COMPLAIN about the bus, and how it was a waste of tax dollars to pick me up and take me to my appointments.  These are people with kids.   They should set a compassionate example for their children. Can you believe these people in suburbia, living their self-entitled, egocentric lives?  I mean, WHO DOES THAT?
Shrink:  Huh. Maybe you should move to Berkeley? 
CL:  Right.  A whole other kind of self-entitlement ass comes with Berkeley.
(pause)
Shrink:  True enough...so, do you feel like you have a target on your back?
CL:  A what?
Shrink: A target.
(long pause)
CL:  I don't like that word.  TARGET.  I don't like feeling as though someone has chosen me as a target for their rage. That's frightening.
Shrink:  Maybe, for the first time in your life, you are a visible minority. 
CL:  I'm a Jew in Walnut Creek, with a rare genetic disease.  Being a minority is nothing new.
Shrink:  The wheelchair is new.
CL: True.
Shrink:  People are making assumptions and treating you differently, because of how you move your hands and arms, use the chair, ask for help, try to swim, take the bus.  You're a visible minority, now.
CL: True.
Shrink:  So...do you feel like you are a target?
(pause)
CL:  I don't know.

5 comments:

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Sadly, we are convinced 99%+ of the world sucks anymore -

Sorry their ignorance makes you a target -

Truth be told, very very few - maybe .000099% could handle the shit you've been through

PERIOD

Khyra's Khrazy Lady

Ashley (the mom), Dixie (the Catahoula) and sometimes Lola (the Pit Bull) said...

Those people. That's what I call them. The ones who think that someone my age shouldn't even think of applying for disability. Who think I'm faking it or just a wimp and if I would just "tough it out" then I wouldn't need my chair.
I'll never get it. I'm getting better at not letting it effect me but that has been a long road.
I, for one, admire you and your strength through all of this.

Wild Dingo said...

Ditto on Khyra's mom's post.

I donno. I have a pretty low opinion of human kind. I alway have. It doesn't show. I make friends easily enough but I just never have felt, i donno, most humans just didn't have humanity or decency or common etiquette. We're self-centered and never really put ourselves in someone else's shoes. I am equally guilty and get angry at people all the time (tho I don't think i'd be angry with a disabled person)... still, I try very hard to step back and stop and think and put myself in their shoes and really wonder if whatever they are doing to piss me off was done intentionally toward me, or for some selfish fulfillment or just out of complete ignorance.

try as we may to set examples, not everyone gets it. they just don't. and I fear we as humans will only get worse.

are you a target? probably. but in some ways we all are for some reason or other. It just must be so much harder to deal with that concept when you have thousands of other adjustments to make to your new physical life.

what an honest post. I applaud it.

fosterdogblog said...

Yesterday I saw on the news a group of people protesting at the funeral of a young soldier who was killed serving our country. The group was saying how he and all the other soldiers deserved to die because god was punishing america for homosexuality.

They have a right to their "religious" beliefs, but the fact that they would spout such a thing at a soldier's funeral goes beyond human decency.

And sadly, there are callous, self-absorbed, thoughtless people like that in the world that make you think, "WHY are they doing or saying that? What purpose does it serve?" And of course the purpose is nothing more than to make them feel better about themselves by pushing others down. It's not about you or any other person they direct their hatred towards. You just happen to be convenient targets. If not one victim, there'll be another. It's really only about them and whatever it was that made them feel so insignificant that the only way they feel like they have some power is to kick a person who's already down.

We know they are complete scum and not worth a millisecond of our thoughts, but still, it's hurtful to be the target of their cruelty. Sorry you have to experience people like that. It's hard enough dealing with your health. It's beyond unfair and wrong that people full of hate have to contribute to your ordeal.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. The things that disabled individuals have to go through on a routine basis are not something I would have even thought to think about before. Reading your posts has made me more aware of the social and personal struggles the disabled community faces. The external forces working against you are heartbreaking, but your personal victories every time you refuse to let them break you are uplifting. And in hearing about your experiences, I hope it's made me a little more compassionate and embracing of others.

Mango said...

Sadly, nothing to be done about how people are. Momma has been reading a book all about how people have weird reactions due to primitive hard wiring in their brains. I think that the likely reaction to seeing you is fear. Fear that it could happen to them. And they try to distance themselves by making you something other than they are so that they can think they are safe from life's cruel twists. We love you! And we love that you can share your frustrations with us. Hopefully it helps at least a little.

Slobbers,
Mango