Hi, friends. An acquaintance of mine who also has FA posted an article on her blog about adjusting to her scooter. I related to her experiences so much that I immediately hatched the idea for this post.
In her post (available here), Kelly talks about her first time at the mall with her scooter. She explains that she struggled to navigate her new device around all the obstacles in stores. She spent the most of the trip lingering around the entrance of stores while her friend shopped, too frustrated to keep trying. At one point, she snapped on an employee who offered her assistance then burst into tears.
My eyes welled with tears as memories flashed through my mind–memories from the pre-wheelchair days when I, too, lingered on the outside.
I had this feeling an infinite number of times in high school and early college. There have been so many instances where I felt like a spectator of life because of my disability–sitting on the sidelines figuratively and/or literally. Here are two examples–
Left Out of my Own Trip
Near the end of my senior year in high school, a few friends and I went to the beach for a celebratory trip. [Don’t worry; my mom came, too.] When we all went out to dinner the first night, one of my friends ordered a crab sandwich; she was surprised to see the crab still shaped like a crab when the order arrived. So naturally, she wanted to throw the already-cooked crab back into the ocean…
The beach has always been tough for me to navigate because shifting sand + poor balance= disaster. Darkness is also hard (I have to watch my feet to take the correct steps). But everyone insisted on going over to the beach to throw the crab back after dinner.
All of my friends and my boyfriend left me at the house to play on the beach at night and have fun without me on my own senior trip.
Left Out of the Party
Fast forward a couple years to the early days of college–
Parties often presented obstacles; they do take place in the dark, after all. One night, I rode to one with a few friends. When we arrived and parked, my friends jumped out of the car and started walking across the uneven front yard in the dark. I awkwardly called out, “Hey, someone help me!” And one of them begrudgingly returned to walk arm-in-arm with me towards the backyard.
When we got back there, countless people stood in small circles, drinking and mingling. My friends immediately merged into the crowd and left me at the gate. I knew that I couldn’t walk around the backyard without falling, so I crept along the outside of the house and used that to make my way to the backdoor, attempting to appear nonchalant the whole time. I got inside and found my way to a couch.
For who-knows-how-long, I sat there alone. Some party, huh?
In both instances, a person might think my friends were jerks. I don’t think they were being cruel so much as just unempathetic. In both scenarios, a person could neglect to consider how I feel because they don’t know what I go through. Also, many people are just too busy thinking of themselves to think of others.
If you have a disabled friend or family member, go out of your way sometime to include them in an activity or trip. It is nice for a disabled person to not always feel ignored or like a burden!
I have tons of stories in my memory bank for various subjects, so let me know if you found this format entertaining!
Thanks for reading! Have you ever felt excluded? Do you share your kindness with a disabled friend? Let me know in the comments.