“I’m in conversation with an acquaintance who spent the better half of 15 minutes ranting about all the ways in which her child struggles and turned her anger towards those who celebrate Disability Pride.
She couldn’t understand how someone could ‘look at her son and be proud of how he lives.’
I let her rant.
I let her rail on those like myself who find pride in all they are, including being disabled.
I let her cry over her son.
I let her get it all out.
Because what she’s feeling has nothing to do with me.
I’m not taking on.
I don’t deserve to carry her anger, misinterpretations, ignorance, and confusion.
She will let all of it out, and I don’t think she will feel any better, but I will still feel the way I feel about the things I feel a certain way about. Because I didn’t let her take me outside of me.
Everything about Disability Pride, for me, is the journey.
And part of the journey includes all those parts she cried about. All those hard moments. All those trying times. All the fear.
I know every bit of it.
But I choose to find a way to make it in this world that would rather see me gone from it.
A world inhabited by a ruling species who would rather hide me away and hide from what will inevitably become their truth should they be fortunate enough to live long lives.
We all know disability in some form or fashion as we age. The closer we inch towards our end, we will begin to know.
And yet this world hides itself from this truth…and then makes it our problem.
The nerve of the person loving themselves despite all they are and all they will go through.
*insert gasp, clutch pearls or something*
Yes, I carry all the audacity. And I carry it well. Even when I don’t. Because it is part of my journey. The good and the bad. The in-between, and those parts I can’t quite name at the moment. All of it, I carry.
And I do not have enough strength left to carry how another feels about who I am in this disabled body.
So I do not.
I am who I am, and I know my story. And one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made was telling the story, my story, to someone who acts as though they wrote it first. Who will deny me my pen. Who will tell me I don’t struggle because they authored struggle in a different way, and I don’t fit what they wrote.
I see so many of y’all, trying to persuade those who would deny you your own story because you don’t fit what they perceive to be disabled.
That’s wasted energy. You owe no one your story.
All that ‘profound…’ All that ‘authentic Autistic…’ All their perceptions of who they claim me to be. All that stuff they assign to me so they don’t have to see me. All those attempts to divorce me from my diagnoses.
All those utterances if one were to display pride with being disabled.
I don’t wear NONE of that.
That ain’t on me.
They hurt. They feel sad. They feel scared. They feel anger. I feel those things too.
And I feel for them.
But I will not carry what they assign to me.
My pride is my own. It’s messy, chaotic, disorganized, falling in and out of love with the person I am and what this body can and cannot do.
But it’s also an indescribable strength to the best version of myself in a world that makes it so very hard to do so. It’s finding those pockets of beauty I hold in doing things I know I could only do if I held this brain.
It’s those wandering moments when I wonder what person I would be if not for these diagnoses? And answering that I truly don’t know.
Disability Pride is a journey, and it is my own. And no one gets to touch that.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tiffany Hammond from Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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