Guilt associated with your disability
My friend mentioned to me on NYE that in 2018 she wants to stop apologizing for things that aren’t her fault/out of her control. What up Sam, you inspired a post while you were drunk off champagne! Thanks for that.
I’ve been thinking about that pretty much every day at work this week. When I’m on my own, I love it because I feel like I’m finally getting a taste of what everyone else has by the time they’re a teenager. I always had someone around to help me, but now? I’m actually just going off and it’s on me to figure out what I’m going to do and how. I’ve always found it hard to describe it to abled people, but I promise it’s a really wild feeling.
Thing is, I might be independent in the sense that no one goes with me to work, but I’m definitely not just… independent. No matter what, I’m still going to need some people to help me out from time to time. Things like opening doors and getting things I can’t reach or things I drop. Nothing major, but I have to ask people to stop what they’re doing to help me out every day.
And it makes me feel so guilty.
It’s irrational because no one (at least not recently) has ever given me a reason to feel bad but I just feel horrible. I feel like I’m annoying them or I’m going to bother them by making them take a break from working. To be honest, most people have seemed low-key stoked to have a reason to stop working for a minute.
To be fair, this is really nothing new. I’ve been trying to deal with this ever since I was a little kid. I’ve always been quicker to struggle or opt out of something than to ask for help. Always for fear of being too much of a hassle because hey, what if one day that’s the reason someone doesn’t wanna hang out anymore? Or is secretly resenting me?
It’s hard to ask for help. It’s even harder when you have to do it basically all day every day. And it’s not just that, either. Having a disability can ruin plans you’ve looked forward to for weeks and it can make things overly difficult and complicated for everyone.
Obviously, I genuinely don’t believe this is something that any disabled person should ever feel guilty for. It’s not like we have any choice in the matter, and in the grand scheme of things? Not a big deal.
Even though I know this and I would argue it to the ends of the Earth, my brain is a jerk and likes to make me the exception to this. For anyone else? It’s fine, don’t beat yourself up. When it’s me? Wow, Karly, way to bring everyone down. Enjoy your heaping pile of guilt.
Internalized ableism is a real thing, and it’s hard to get away from especially when it’s something that you basically grow up believing in. It becomes so far ingrained in you that, once you recognize it, it’s exhausting trying to carve it out and replace it with kindness. Exhausting, but worth it. Like, 10000% necessary.
When you’re disabled, the chances are pretty damn high that at some point you’re going to need to argue your own worth. Harsh, but it’s the truth. And when you’re telling yourself that you’re a burden and letting those feelings of guilt dictate what you say/do, it’s pretty hard to fight for yourself.
Plus, like, disabled people deserve to be happy and carefree. We shouldn’t have to carry around all this extra weight because our disabilities might make someone else uncomfortable. That’s not our problem.
Sam has it right. We gotta stop apologizing for things that aren’t our fault. We gotta stop feeling guilty for things out of our control.