I can’t even remember how the conversation started. I was lying on the couch, and he was sitting on the love seat.
“Am I disabled?”
“No I’m not! Am I???”
I guess maybe I am. I just don’t want to be. The thought of that term applying to me, the thought of being label as “disabled,” scares me to death. The short conversation, and then I burst into tears. Tears I didn’t even know were there.
Can I admit that I have probably purposefully kept myself from thinking through this term and deciding if it applies to me?
There was a short discussion a month or so ago about an event where parking would be limited. Suggestions of a disability parking placard were thrown into the conversation, and I quickly responded I was not in any way ready for that.
And today, this conversation comes out of nowhere. Well, if I’m being honest, it didn’t come out of nowhere. The question has likely been lurking below the surface, finally to come out for air as my limitations become more obvious and increasingly more permanent.
I looked up the term disabled today, hoping that maybe, just maybe, I would fall outside the bounds. Unfortunately, the definition was broad and generalized.
“A person having a physical or mental condition that limits movements, senses, and activities”
Yes, yes, and yes.
I am a person. And I have a physical condition that definitely limits my movements and activities. But, I still feel the broadness of the term is a bit tricky. Certainly there are levels and shades of limitations, and at what point do you fall into disability?
Someone tell me what to do with this information. Do I embrace the term, accept it, and move forward? Do I accept that I am at least temporarily and partially disabled, with the hope that I will crawl out of the bounds of the term and gain back my ability to engage in lost movements and activities? Or, do I adamantly resist being labeled disabled for now? After all, I can walk for up to 10 minutes, as long as I rest on ice immediately afterwards. I don’t need mobility devices to get around. As great as my limitations are, many others have it much worse.
I do have a few thoughts on this. The first being the importance of maintaining every semblance of normality I am able. As best I can I still do the shopping, cooking, and as much cleaning as I possibly can. I stay up and about for as much as the day as I am able. I have had friends offer to take over parts of my cleaning, but I declined because the more I give up and the more I stop doing things that are hard but still possible, the greater chance of losing what I have. Resisting a label of disability is a way I can cling to normality, with the hope that one day normal may return.
The second thought being, perhaps these are not even the right questions. Perhaps there is little importance whether I decide if I am disabled or not. Perhaps terms are unimportant, and it is much more about how I handle this life I have been given. No matter what I am called, or what terms do or do not define me, my identity is not found in my abilities or limitations.
What do you think? Have you had a similar struggle wondering if this term applies to you?