From day one, it was clear that the only way I would be welcome in your department was if I shoved all my limitations to the back. Sat up straight and used my hands and tried to look as normal as possible for your convenience. My disability would be tolerated so long as you could wax poetic about how much I "overcame". My strong self-advocate skills would be praised - so long as they weren't directed toward you. All the little things over the years....they should have been a warning beacon, a signal for me to get out now.
"Can you sit up, please?"
"I know you have motor skill issues, but you're going to have to be more careful."
"If you can't draw, how are you going to teach your students?"
All those words, all those implications, piled up like kindling, weighing on my back until you lit the match. This whole semester was a teetering tower of Jenga blocks and you removed the block to make it all come tumbling down.
How dare you. How dare you. How dare you accuse me of lying about my abilities and then try to sweet-talk your way into smoothing it over. How dare you try to tell me about how words hurt when you're ripping me open with yours. How dare you have a meeting about my "limitations" without even notifying me, let alone allowing me to attend. How dare you tell me I'm making excuses.
If self-advocating is now called "belligerent", then hell yeah, I'm belligerent. I have been burned time and time again, and expecting me to react kindly when you're telling me that my way of accommodating for myself is not valid is like poking a bear repeatedly with a stick and expecting it to not attack. With a slash of your dagger-tipped words, you ripped open all the wounds that have been etched into my soul like poison tattoos and set them bleeding afresh.
It's ironic, don't ya think.....on, oh, so many levels. Because the reason I chose this major was because I didn't want any child to have to go through what I went through. I thought that a department that taught about us would embrace my unique potential, and accept me for who I am. But it turns out they teach about us, without us. You can teach all the theory, all the rhetoric you want, but until you truly accept disabled people for who they are, all their little scars and beauty marks, you will never properly teach teachers how to teach those of us who learn differently.
What are you teaching the future teachers of America? That disability is all or nothing? That a disabled person can never be a teacher? You are not teaching them acceptance - instead, you are teaching them hatred and ignorance. I fear for their future students - bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to learn. But, oops, sorry, only kids who can do things in the typical way are allowed here, are allowed to learn. My mistake.
You won. You fucking won. Because I am walking, limping, gimping away and I do not - do not - have spoons for your shit. Is this what you want? To drive people away from your department, one of the most respected education departments in the nation? Because if you want that, congratulations, you succeeded. Do you take pride in knowing that you broke me?
You may have won the battle, but you have not won the war. Because I'm putting this out there, telling my story. They deserve to know what happened. They deserve to know what you did to me. And maybe someday, some brave soul with far more spoons and far more fucks to give than I will take this higher. Don't you see? I let you off far easier than I should have. I could have rang the alarm bells and got every disability advocate within the state of PA armed and ready to fire. Don't think I didn't think about it. But I'll get the last laugh, because someday when I'm kicking ass and empowering disabled kids in my own way, all around the world, maybe, just maybe, you'll think twice. Maybe, just maybe, you'll regret what you did to me. I hope, for the sake of all of us, that you will.
Note: This is my post for Blogging Against Disablism Day 2013. It also serves as an explanation of sorts for why I haven't been blogging as of late. Hop on over to Diary of A Goldfish and read all the excellent BADD posts which I am sure are much more coherent than mine is.