This morning I woke up to find Twitter abuzz with excerpts of JK Rowling’s latest book, The Ink Black Heart. In this book she makes harmful and sweeping generalizations not only about trans people but also about disabled people. Some of that is existing in Britain where access to healthcare is more available than it is to the average American but some of it was blatantly harmful views being spewed from a highly revered platform. I wanted to take a bit of time to use this platform, not to signal boost her hateful rhetoric but to provide you real talk from an actual disabled person about the power of accepting that you are disabled and what allowing yourself to accept that label can unlock in your life.
There Is No Shame In Being Disabled
I want to start with the most critical part of the whole discussion, there is 0 shame in being disabled. With a lot of the avoidance of the word disabled, it’s easy to forget that disabled isn’t a dirty word. It means that you deal with impairments in your life. This can be harder to accept when you deal with invisible disabilities as you feel you are falling behind the ableist expectations of the world. But as someone whose disability is only partially and sometimes visible, I can tell you that the biggest way to get past the shame is to come to terms with what your disability is, how it affects your life, and let go of the shame you have around living with the disability. The shame doesn’t add value to your life and instead makes living the best life you can harder.
You Don’t Need To Prove Yourself To Anyone
This point builds on the last point. Often when we are ashamed of our disabilities, we try to prove that we are as disabled as we feel to the surrounding people. But proving your disability just wastes you time and energy on things that actually would improve your life. You don’t have to prove how disabled you are to anyone in your life. Unless they provide medical care or are providing accommodations, they don’t need to know anything about your health and you don’t need to prove anything to them to be valid. And if they provide medical care or accommodations, they can still be wrong. I’ve had a doctor google medication I was on and then turn around and tell me lies about the medication he just googled. Do your research, know who you actually need to get green lights from and know that you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone else. You are valid and statistics show you are more likely to fake being well than being sick or disabled. You have to live in your body and with your choices. Don’t waste time proving yourself to people who don’t matter.
You Can Design Your Life To Your Needs
I believe this aspect is where JK Rowling has been talking out of when she spewed her rhetoric. In Western culture we see this idea of a right way to do things. You start by graduating high school, going to college, getting married, getting a job and so on until you retire. But society has shown us more and more over the past few years how wrong the notion of one right way is. We waste our time and energy trying to live the “right way” that we often neglect to look at what way actually works best for us. We push so hard for goals that mean nothing to us or to live the way society taught us to live. But what if those ways are wrong for you?
Just like D&D, there are multiple routes to achieve the best results. Pick the class that works best with your stats and fits your personality best. There is no single best class, just the class that works best for you. In life, it’s the same idea as there are many classes and sub-classes to explore if you stop looking for the single right way to be. Give yourself permission to abandon the notion of a right way and carve out a path that works with what you need and want out of life. It’s your life, you get to choose what it looks like.
It’s Okay (and often necessary) To Have A Life That Looks Different
Building on the previous point, sometimes we need a life that looks different from the “right way” society taught us to live life. I physically can’t work over 40 hours a week. I often feel relatively sure that my cap is about 20 hours a week. But because I’ve allowed my day to look different, I can work til I’m tired, take a nap, and then do other things in my day. But that required accepting that naps are okay and not working all the time was okay. The funniest part of this is that I’ve found more success by structuring my life differently than I did when I was trying to work a job and building my business on the side. And with accessibility, usually the biggest gap that exists is the traditional workplace. There are many talents that are left unrealized because the traditional workplace acts as a barrier to us. Allowing yourself to have a life that looks different from most can let you share and earn money from your talents in a way that just isn’t possible when you work for a company or try to make yourself fit some kind of cookie cutter. When you let go of needing a regular job and even the need to work in something resembling a normal work setting, you can unlock a lot of possibilities that work for you and your needs. I split my bed in half and work over one half of my bed while I sleep on the other. Doing this allows me to work and simply lie down when my brain struggles or lags. I can push my desk out of the way and lay down when I’m exhausted. I can also stretch out if I feel like I’ve been anyone position for too long which helps me be less sore. Letting go of expectations and building your own needs into your life allows you to challenge ideas that may keep you from finding success.
What do you think of the benefits of letting yourself be disabled? Have any thoughts that I didn’t address? Have anything to add? Leave them in the comments below.