I was a very sensitive and caring child. So much so that “don’t take things so personally” became a daily reminder from my parents. There’s one thing I can’t seem to let go though, and that’s that many of the people I know in wheelchairs are being euthanized in their soul. Euthanized because discrimination against our people makes them feel invisible. I was made sensitive to this at a leadership camp for those with disabilities when I was 16 years old.
After gaining a certificate in crisis counselling, I recognize that what I experienced that week was the emotional version and symptoms of those who experience sexual assault: severe depression and anxiety, self–blame. (Richmond, Geiger, & Reed, 2013. pp. 443, 448, 450).
It was 10 years ago, and things have changed. Why can’t I let go? I have support in advocating my point of view; my family has always been there for me; my faith keeps me strong; so why can’t I let it go?
Because it’s not right what’s happening to us. It’s not right that young women, even in a safe space, feel it necessary to crush the positive perspective of the youngest, whether by browbeating, or mocking physical differences—even though they share the same thing.
It’s not right that they felt so crushed themselves that they did not speak up when a counsellor was being cruel by setting off my startle reflex for his own game, except for one quiet comment.
It’s not right that “I’m going to learn to walk” is the only thing that stops the reality training.
It’s not right that the response to me finding the strength to advocate following the depression is met with “I’ve lost my fight” from someone who actually took critical disability studies. Or feeling like a freak because my advocacy makes someone so uncomfortable that, even when I apologize for being pushy, I do not exist.
Why does this world make it so difficult for us to keep our hope?
I should not be having flashbacks just because my voice is becoming stronger. I should not be feeling like a freak because I actually have hope.
I want to live, not just to try to prove a point, but to love life.
When I was 16 in that camp I was emotionally assaulted, or rather, what I thought was going to be an intimate meeting of the minds turned to doing the dirty emotionally.
I’ve tried to go back to normal like it never happened. That it was for a good reason that I just don’t know. But the simple truth is I can’t go back. The Creator never meant for this to happen—people made choices.
I choose not to let this go.
I choose to fight because this is personal—people are dying.