Content Notion: Internalized ableism
I’ve just spent a couple of hours enjoying blogs, tumblrs and Instagram accounts that are as free from ableism, hatred towards LGBTQI-people and other kinds of oppression as I can possibly imagine. For once, I didn’t check out Twitter, newspapers or any of the other mainstream media platforms that I usually follow. The effect is quite astonishing.
I feel so much better about myself. Giving myself a break from the constant reminders of what a burden people like me are – it was well needed. I was emotionally exhausted from the descriptions of people who are ill and disabled as problems, not worthy of respect and love. So why don’t I do this more often? Honestly, I don’t know. I forgot about it at some point during the last couple of years, since most of my time has been about being ill and fighting to get through the day and creating a good life for my child. I’m so used to being told what a burden I am that I take it for granted and very often I don’t realize how much harm it does.
Being told that I should be grateful for not being punished for who I love and desire (even though I have been more than once), being told that I should be grateful for receiving healthcare (even if it’s worsening my condition or making me feel bad) is making me feel horrible about myself but it wasn’t obvious until I took a break form it. I internalize so much ableism and I want it to stop. I thought I knew a lot about fighting internalized oppression from my time as an LGBTQ-activist but since I didn’t know I was disabled at that time, and since it was a fairly ableist community, my own internalized ableism was never addressed.
I want to spend more time exploring all the interesting virtual spaces that actually celebrate people like me. Fighting oppression is crucial to me, and having a good time can be a way of fighting. I need to never, ever forget that again.
I want to write about writing. To be more specific, I want to ramble a bit about how frustrated I am with my own writing at the moment.
When I write in my first language, I usually don’t know what I’m about to write until I start. A phrase just pops up in my head, I write it down and keep on writing to see were it brings me. That’s how I understand what I’m thinking and feeling, and it’s a way of helping my sensory processing. Sometimes it makes me understand what I’m trying to communicate to somebody else, sometimes it’s just a way of processing information for myself.
When I write in English it’s different. It isn’t smooth. I have to actively figure out what I want to write about, I can’t just let the movements from my fingers on my keyboard carry me. I lost a big part of my vocabulary in both English and my first language during a major collapse a couple of years ago and my English vocabulary is still stuck somewhere. It’s not far away, I just can’t reach it. This frustrates me because there are certain topics that I know better in English than in my first language. Topics that I used to read about, talk about and write about mostly in English, therefore English feels more lika a first language in certain mental contexts. Losing my vocabulary meant losing a piece of myself.
What’s bothering me right now is that at the moment I’m not even capable of writing what I want in my first language either. Usually when I’m angry it fuels my writing and it brings me to the core of my thoughts, but not now. So I’m frustrated and it feels like I’m boiling with anger but can’t get it out of my system.
I spend most of my time trying to understand power and I have been doing that since I was a teenager. All of my university studies were about power, all of my time in different NGOs and networks has been about discerning and changing power dynamics. Trying to understand power dynamics has been a big part of trying to understand an extremely confusing world.
I understand perfectly well that everybody else isn’t this interested in trying to understand power dynamics. That’s fine, people have different interests. However, I have a hard time dealing with situations were people are in positions with a great deal of power without paying attention to it. I know that it’s very common not to see the power we have, but I can’t shake it off when people like doctors are blatantly careless and uninterested in the power dynamics that goes on in a patient-doctor relationship. When it’s being treated as something unimportant.
Doctors have formal power to make decisions about treatments and that seems to be hard enough to talk about. Trying to talk about all other kinds of power dimensions, like being considered experts, having the right to define the truth, having control over what should be labelled ill and even controlling what information that is considered relevant and worth discussing – that seems to be simply impossible in many cases.
How is it possible that people who posses positions like doctors can get away with refusing to put their own part of the power dynamics under scrutiny?
Refusing to talk about power dynamics can be an efficient strategy for keeping your own position unquestioned, consciously or not. I know that. A part of me just can’t grasp that so many doctors can get away with doing it.