(Not) Dealing with Ableism

Content Notion: Internalized ableism



I don’t cope well with facing ableism every day. I spent thirty years thinking I was a bad person, and as awful as that was (is), it’s at least something I’m used to. I’ve practised blaming myself. Over the last years this has changed and it’s a good change in many ways, but I sometimes think that it was easier to deal with life when I thought that most of the bad stuff that happened was my fault. This might seem weird but there’s actually a logic to it.

If something is my fault, it means I’m in power to change it. This is not true but it’s what I always assumed. Every time I had a meltdown in school, screwed up a relationship or didn’t manage to pay my bills it was something that I thought I could fix by just stop being so lazy.

Now when I see things differently, it doesn’t seem like problems are easy to fix any more. Experiencing sensory overload in the waiting room to see my doctor, despite wearing sunglasses and earplugs? Not that easy to fix. A couple of times I have actually asked if the music could be turned off in waiting rooms but a lot of people moving, their phones ringing and the flickering lights from the ceiling is really not anything I can change. Crying my eyes out because somebody is disappointed with me not attending their birthday party? When I have told the person repeatedly that parties with a lot of people are hard for me and that I’m too ill to be able to handle the drive to their house and they still insist on celebrating with 50 people in their home, then it’s not in my power. Not being able to pay my bills because a company sends me a bill on paper even though I chose to get it emailed (to be able to copy and paste the numbers) is really not my fault either. Or more commonly, not being able to pay my bills because the energy I hade reserved for it was spent on emailing my kid’s school to make sure my kid will get necessary adjustments that we already have agreed on.

I spend a lot of the little energy I have on trying to change things. I’m doing what I can to change society, schools, healthcare and so on. But facing ableism every day means facing a lack of power every day. It means facing that I can’t protect my kid. It’s too hard and I still haven’t figured out a way to cope with it.


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