"DO YOU SEE ROADBLOCKS OR OPPORTUNITIES?" the abled male said to the disabled female.
Updated: Jan 14
I love when the abled attempt to use their simple metaphors on the disabled, and then run in a cricket-chirping fashion when we respond.
"There are two types of people," he said. "Those who only see roadblocks and those who see opportunities. Those who are happy and those who are unhappy. Which type of person are you?"
I thought about that for a little while, turning the metaphor around to peer at it from several different directions.
Then my eyebrow raised.
It was the left one. (For the uninformed, that eyebrow is not the snarky, playful one. It is not the Spockly One. It's the other one.)
At last, I replied: "I’m a 'go under, over, around, around the other way, blow the thing up, knock it down...and if I can’t do any of those...I learn how to walk through walls' person. When learning such magic takes a long time, I turn a roadblock into my north side castle wall if I have to get comfy there for an extended period."
So now, enlighten me. No, seriously. Please abled-mansplain, because I would love to know the opportunities that have been presented to me in the middle of a seizure. Truly. I would love to be able to see that situation from another perspective and gain a reason why having a seizure is a positive opportunity for me that I should be happy about.
After the seizure is another matter. I now have the opportunity to legitimately tell the world to Piss Right Off because I need a nap.
I have the opportunity to perhaps gain a little compassion from said world for my abrupt need to tap out on life as I go perform a quick rendition of a corpse. The world, at large, does tend to give some leeway for the word "seizure." (In contrast to the lack of compassion that often greets me while I'm trying to prevent brain symptoms by tapping out on activities and napping in the middle of the day before they happen, laze-about loafer wuss that I am.)
Oooh! Does anyone have a good opportunity for someone in the midst of a migraine????? Any good job postings for that? Any idea how I can turn that to my advantage? Heck, maybe I'll do more stuff that induces them, if anyone can give me a new perspective on how my requirement to hibernate in the dark and silence with the covers pulled over my head is an opportunity, and not a roadblock to everything I had planned to do that day.
Well, sheeee-it. I guess I better get on that whole "being unhappy" stuff then.
Because when it comes to things like seizures, migraines, neurological meltdowns, blackouts...yeah, I see those roadblocks very clearly. Kinda hard to miss them when they slam straight into my face harder than my ex's fist.
I should clarify: on fortunate days I see them clearly.
The really bad days happen when I, alas, don't see them well enough in advance and I go careening off the cliffside because I didn't employ the brakes in time. Thus it behooves me to keep on the lookout for them, and to surround myself with people who know the warning signs for the days when I lose the capacity to self-monitor. (That's another common TBI symptom, BTW.)
In order for people to know these signs, I have to...um...talk about it and keep them appraised of my ever-shifting landscape. That's always fun.
Because I wasn't injured that one time back in 2000 and now that's how it is. I heal, I retrain, I heal, I get other injuries, I have bad and good days, I have weird spontaneous healing with no explanation, I retrain and re-route more. It's a process and a lifestyle. Not a one-off event.
So while the symptoms are happening, I don't see much opportunity to do something except STOP what I'm doing, then go lie down and sleep.
In those moments, am I happy to be symptomatic? FUCK NO. And anyone who expects me to be happy about it can bite me. The symptoms are weather. Not the climate.
Wanna know when I most often wind up having these types of conversations? 1) In martial arts. 2) Dealing with producers who ignore my list of Disabled Dos and Don'ts, then get pissy when I can't deliver what they hired me for.
And the kicker...the most frequent inciter of this conversation:
3) When I'm speaking with guys who really wish I'd shut up about my life and get to all the sexxxy talk. Better yet, to all the sexxxy meeting up, even amidst a pandemic.
Or another frequent conversation deteriorator between me and Dudes Who Think They Wanna Date Me: experiences I've had being treated like a burr on a butt because I'm Dain Bramaged and riddled with bodily injuries, yet I'm still determined to figure out ways to participate in all the things I love.
In other words, when I'm receiving simpleton platitudes from the abled, whether well-meaningly clueless or condescending.
They point to the kid who is missing his leg from the knee down, rolling and whupping ass in BJJ.
Yup. And he is one of my heroes at that place.
But here's the kicker--you can SEE his disability.
Granted, this has its own dilemmas. But most reasonable people would agree that anyone who doesn't have compassion for his disability is a dismissible troll not to be fed. Or maybe they lack the neurological structure for empathy and compassion, and are therefore given their own kind of pass. Trolldom is then TBD on a case-by-case basis.
You can't SEE my disability.
It only shines through when I glitch, or pop off with weird things, or say, "Nope, can't do that." So I wind up having to explain it over and over and over, and then people get sick of me talking about it when I'm still trying to get past all those abled roadblocks that they can't even see.
If you don't know, then you can't know.
That's why I educate people.
Oh. No, wait. I talk about it so much 'cause I'm a whiner and I want people to pity me. (Sorry. I keep forgetting that.)
Interesting side note: my symptoms are greatly reduced when I can deal with my disability in an understanding and welcoming environment with people who are willing to make a few simple adjustments, rather than also battling common human emotional reactions to being stigmatized, ostracized, condescended, attacked, or chastised.
I don't know many neurotypicals who react well, much less "happily" to that either.
Let me assure you, when it gets bad enough that you cannot miss my disability--well, first, it often gets written off as something else. Childishness. Inappropriate behavior--and I am old enough to know better. Assholery. Laziness. Craziness. Scawey weirdness.
But even when people do "know" what it is, nobody wants to be anywhere near that shit (me most of all), much less figure out ways to keep me involved in the activities. If my disability is to the point where it is explicitly noticeable, it means I CAN'T participate in the activity anymore right now. It means I simply need to be put to bed or taken out into the parking lot for a good cry like an overtired four-year-old. (That's my neuropsychologist's metaphor for brain injury, BTW.)
Who wants to deal with a fifty-year-old, 5'6" four-year-old who knows how to break bones with her flailing fists and has a voice trained in the theater and cheerleading?
And when I talk about that? When I speak bluntly and honestly about living with this neurology and damaged physiology? Even the very existence of this blog equates to "I Must Be Unhappy."
Actually, I'm not. There are a shit-ton of circumstances in my life over the past fifty years that I am unhappy about. I currently live with a bunch of them.
AND OVERALL, I HAVE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER IN MY LIFE.
Because I'm no longer choke-chaining myself into silence to keep people comfy.
Because I'm no longer shackling myself to White Knights who don't like me very much and had no clue--even when they were pre-warned--what they were signing up for when they said, "I loooooove you, I wanna take care of you, please marry me."
Because I'm no longer surrounded by people who want my assets, but who have no interest in dealing with the reality of ME in order to take advantage of and enjoy them.
Because I'm no longer forcing my brain to work in jobs that it can no longer healthily and competently perform.
Because I'm no longer surrounded by eye-rollers giving me abled and/or mansplaining platitudes like the one that inspired this post.
👆 All that makes me MF happy. 👆
So yeah. My life as a disabled person is a constant series of roadblocks. Some are erected by my body, including my brain and its neurology. Far more are erected by the Abled World in which we live. (Additional sidenote: many abled societal rhythms don't work very well for the abled either.) I see the blocks. I acknowledge them. I make it my main mission to figure out how to detour or to incorporate them seamlessly into my shining, treasure-filled realm.
So if there are only these two types of people, then I guess we've just gotten Example #2649 that at last proves the theory:
I am, in fact, an alien.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
--UP NEXT: Well, my country has apparently lost its ever lovin' mind again. Joy To The World. I'm not going to abruptly change topic so I can discuss my thoughts about it today. I am disgusted and appalled. I am not at all surprised. I don't trust anything either side says, and I don't trust society to genuinely have the back of somebody like me. But if you've been with me this whole time, you know that's been the case since about 1977.
That said, I do need to switch gears from Dain Bramage and my first car wreck. I told you that I've been reading through my journals from 2000-2001 in order to compile the timeline of events and to remember alllllll the myriad things my brain didn't store as memories.
That project is so huge and it consumes vast quantities of energy. I can only do it in stages. After completing that Holiday Hell, Don't Drink & Drive Anniversary Series, I need a palate cleanser. I'd actually like to get back to that Dance Series I had started just before the last time the world exploded. But in order to do that, let's first bridge the timeline gap between Junior High and college.
OR if you'd prefer to stick with Dain Bramage, Bodily Injury, and/or Healing, you can find all those posts here: