Whenever I would hear someone say, “I don’t even see you as disabled” or “It’s so cool I forget that you’re disabled,” I considered that a huge compliment and felt like I was truly winning at life. I didn’t understand why being disabled was something that needed to be overlooked and forgotten, but I sensed that this was important in order for me to be accepted, so I felt proud of my ability to hide the reality of my disability.
Little by little, comments like these began to pile up, and over time, I became less and less comfortable with myself. The confusion was palpable. It was impossible for me to put into words why something I considered a compliment left me feeling so bad about myself. Underneath, I wondered what was so awful about being disabled that people couldn’t just accept me as I truly was. I worried that, if someday my disability became too obvious to them so they couldn’t pretend it didn’t exist, they might not like me anymore.
It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I figured out that although I believe it was well-meaning, telling me they don’t see me as disabled is not a compliment. Going through the process of figuring out who I was in a world that I didn’t feel I belonged in was a struggle. While brutal at times, the struggle provided growth opportunities that helped me become comfortable and secure in who I am and the space I occupy in the world.
Sharing our stories gives us so much power and potential to help others. My intention in creating this website is to share my stories about staying centered and grounded in myself through the oppression, exclusion, and marginalization I experienced (and still do experience) and remember who I am in a world that doesn’t often value my disabled existence. My hope is that it will offer a spirit of friendship to others who have gone through or are going through similar experiences.