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Holding my tongue

March 3, 2010

When I started this blog, I thought I’d write about madness on Monday and work on Wednesday, because, well, it’s alliterative and it might help me. No more! These things are increasingly merged together. Today is no different. I was at a community meeting today and it really struck me how much disability affects our professional lives (or lack thereof!).

I know how privileged I am. I have a job, an education, all the trappings. I am so well hidden that I got quizzed today on whether I was “really” disabled. “Yes,” I assured the woman. “I am.” Inside I was shaking because it was the first time I’ve said those words and I said them to a room of strangers.

It could have been a teaching moment: “the disabled” aren’t all the same, just as any other category of people has a continuum, so do we. Disability can be invisible, I could have said. I could have pulled apart the stereotypes. But I didn’t. I held my tongue, so shocked by her question and by my response that I had nothing more to say. I could have said, the minimum wasn’t enough for me either — I want to be more than average, more than the stereotypes, more than the statistics. I didn’t say that either. I held my tongue.

This post is short, and a bit circuitous. I am tired and it has been a hard day. I am still sitting back in that moment where I said yes and turning it over in my mouth. It tastes unusual, I think.

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