Sometimes it’s an explanation, an ice-breaker, a reason, an apology. There are days it’s a lament; others, it’s a curse. It’s grief over things I’ll never experience, people I’ll never be. It’s access denied, invitations rescinded, hands on my body in prayer without my consent. It can be a reminder to myself. It’s easy to forget why I’m different until I’m harshly reminded by someone else. Better to keep it top of mind.
Often, it’s a self-deprecating joke, either a portal to connection with someone otherwise prone to squeamishness at the thought of it or intimacy with a friend who really gets it and can laugh with me.
Then, there are times, more and more, now, when Disabled is a banner — an acknowledgement of my layered experience of the world. So big that I can’t get my head around it.
That’s when it gives context to the slow-moving nature of my body and the wiggle in my walk. It validates my fear of exclusion (so much FOMO, friends) and gives voice to the truth that the different-ness I’ve always taken such pride in is woven into every part of my body and mind and family and friendships.
It sums up in one word the source of my emotional stamina and desire to understand diverse perspectives. It represents deep connections and severed ties. It’s an illustration of the choice we make to bear with each other and sit together for better and for worse, a picture of you who’ve come alongside me and seen me and reminded me to take up space.
Disabled is never for lack of a better word. It’s never shame or stigma or stereotypes. It’s not embarrassing. I don’t say it sheepishly. It isn’t a euphemism and it doesn’t need one. My joy, accomplishments, independence, beauty, and intelligence aren’t in spite of it. They’re because of it.
Disabled is your friend, Arwen’s and Asa’s mama, Bryan’s wife. It’s a celebration of my whole self, broken though it may be. Written by Alex Wegman Photo Credit: @alexwegman