You keep telling me to accept my limitations, so why don’t we talk about yours?

Why can you only think of disabled people as substandard, tragic, less than whole? Why can’t you see us as parts of your life, community, family, lovers, friends, world? Why must we be super crips, stoic heroes, silently suffering? Why must we be a burden on our families, better never born, better have died in the accident that made us so? Why must we be inspirations overcoming the odds? Why must we be not trying hard enough, making a fuss, getting unfair advantages?

You need to approach me as limited because you need someone to be less than you. It is a relief to have someone to compare yourself with and think that you’re doing better than me, at least.

I don’t experience my world as limited, though others may find that a useful construction for their experiences. I have my things I cannot do, I have things an ableist world prevents me from doing, and I understand them better than you ever could, so your focus on them is strange to me. Do you think I don’t know, I need to be told, I am not constantly reminded as I go through the world? Don’t you have things you cannot do? You just want to set aside mine to surround with your pleasure-pity, your ‘so glad it isn’t me,’ and the world allows you to.

Those are your limits: you cannot understand people like us outside of your framework. You are trying to limit us with your ideas of who we can be.

I will not fit your limited narrative. I tell my own story, giving shape to my own experience.

[Cross-posted at ZatB]

6 thoughts on “Limits

  1. Why is it that people often feel the need to dictate my limits to me? As though I do not know my own full well? My body will break your narrative and eat it for breakfast with a slice of sangfroid on top. This has always deeply intrigued and frustrated me, Super Crip or not.
    .-= meloukhia´s last blog ..Day of the Peacocks =-.

  2. Once you admit that you are disabled, you give up your agency for most people.

    So you can’t possibly know what you can do, you’re just a child with no feelings.

    Of course, you run into it all the time. With the kidney stone announcement, I have been told twice (once in CAPS!!!) to drink water. I know my body, I know what kidney stones do. There’s advice and then there’s paternalism.
    .-= Kaitlyn´s last blog ..It’s so nice when one pic sums up your day =-.

  3. And on the flip side of the coin, why don’t you respect my limitations? When I say I am not able to do something on that particular day please believe me. And when I say the next day that I am able to do it, please respect that.

    I think Kaitlyn describes it well with the word “paternalism”.

    The bottom line is our experiences are our experiences and we are the experts on our own lives and abilities. Everyone has limitations, ours are just framed in a way that society calls “disability”.
    .-= KatieT´s last blog ..Just Saying =-.

  4. KatieT – “And on the flip side of the coin, why don’t you respect my limitations? When I say I am not able to do something on that particular day please believe me. And when I say the next day that I am able to do it, please respect that.”

    And don’t assume I was “faking it” on the bad day. Or that I’m “cured.”

    I struggle with this internally. Wednesday through Sunday was hell for me. Monday was kinda bad, really bad in the evening. Today? Some twinges. So now I’m beating myself up for coming home, for not going to class. Even though I’m 99.9% sure that if I were on campus and went to class, I’d regret it. It’s that .1% that’s making me doubt myself, making me cry.

    To follow up on what I said – I know my body, though I don’t always know what I can do until I tried it. (Like I didn’t know it hurt *that bad* until I got off the bed.) I also may know my body, know some of my limitations, but I don’t know what’s medically wrong. There’s still no damn diagnosis for the pain that has been dogging me for almost 4 years now. I’m not a doctor. I’ve asked for a new body, but to no avail. If I could do it with my barbies, why can’t it happen in real life? (Probably for the same reason that we don’t rip our heads off and put them back on or nibble on people’s feet. But still.)
    .-= Kaitlyn´s last blog ..Living at home does not make you a bum, Judge Judy. =-.

  5. Yes! This reminds me of Ballastexistenz’s “In My Language” video where she talks about how autistic people are faulted if they don’t communicate in neurotypical people’s language, but not vice versa. And everything amandaw has said about how “normalcy” has its down sides, too.

    Don’t invalidate the way I experience the world!

  6. THANK YOU for this!!! my son is autistic, but to me he’s just my quirky kid. I don’t see him as tragic or any less of a person, although so many other people do. He experiences the world differently, big time – and I’ve noticed the only time we really have problems with his “behavior” is when we’re out and about and people are expecting him to conform to THEIR reality. At home he’s a delight and just a fun, silly kid.

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