I realize that I don’t often call myself disabled, that the people completely removed from my disability are more concerned about what to call me than I am. I don’t need “person first” language because being disabled doesn’t make me less of a person. If you find yourself uncertain of what to call me, maybe just call me Julia..
When I call myself disabled, I am embracing the multifaceted aspects that make me who I am. The pain and yearning I feel for the body that was will continue to be something I tend to. There are days that more than just my body is left paralyzed. This disability has taken a lot for me, but it has given me so much more..
I won’t deny, and I want you to know, that my presence dismissed, the experiences I’ll never have, the opportunities denied, the condescending actions and comments, the uneasiness on people’s faces when they go to shake my hand and are met with a floppy paw, the limitations that are placed on me by others, still affect me. But they pale in comparison to the doors held open, the food cut into bite sizes, the remembering I need a straw in my drink, the extra thought put into ensuring an accessible experience, the invitation to participate, the taking the long way with me to find an elevator or ramp, the stretching my tight, tired legs, the list goes on and on..
When I call myself disabled, I transform my shame and unworthiness into pride and loving acceptance - feelings of shame and unworthiness that predecessed my disability. Never in my life have I felt so grateful, so fulfilled, so me..
Thank you to @crutches_and_spice for giving us all a platform to be heard, for bring to the forefront the beauty and light that shines from our community. And to @anhonestquad @sitting_pretty and all, thank you for being a constant source of strength and inspiration.