Aug. 30th, 2016

rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
This morning I filled out a survey for the Census Bureau. I kept snorting derisively at my answers to the questions. Gosh, yes, this is a family of four, one mother one father two children (one boy one girl, at that!), living as an individual family in our own house with two cars, nobody's ever been divorced or remarried or blended into other families. Yes, every one of us is white and non-Hispanic, and our ethnic backgrounds are the patchwork of typical European cultures boasted of every white non-Native American whose family has been here for generations. It's disgustingly cookie-cutter, yes.

Then I got to the disability questions, and the laughter changed to something charged with a little more hilarity. "Does this individual physically, mentally, or emotionally require help with walking or climbing stairs?" "Yes," I said out loud, thinking of my extreme klutziness, and my daughter's somehow even MORE extreme klutziness.* No, I checked in the box. I knew what the question was really asking. We're all perfectly capable of walking.

"Does this individual physically, mentally, or emotionally require help concentrating, regulating emotion, or making decisions?" "YES," I said with an even more hysterical laugh. This whole household is a mess of Attention Deficiency. But again, I only actually MARKED Yes under the boy's name, since he actually gets government aid for home/school wraparound services. Whatever his dad's and my problems, it isn't like we CAN'T make decisions. It isn't like we need someone signing our paperwork for us. We accomplish things. We hold down and even excel at our jobs. We are perfectly capable adults.

One hour later I was sitting in my therapist's office, sobbing about my incapabilities, while she reminded me that I should stop beating myself up for failing to be everything to everyone, that it's okay to ask for help even if you think you're SUPPOSED to be able to do it alone.

Does this individual physically, mentally, or emotionally require help concentrating, regulating emotion, or making decisions? I thought again as I sniffled through an attempt to schedule my next appointment, slowly realizing a scheduling conflict and catching it just before the receptionist printed it out. I don't need an assistant to make my appointments for me. But this interaction took a great deal more energy to accomplish than it would for an average person. Just because I'm capable of making my own appointments doesn't mean I don't need to REST for a minute after doing so.

I thought of the Spoons thing that goes around Tumblr and the like, that code for the amount you have to give. I'm not sure the analogy always works for me, but I understand the feeling behind it, and that's what I thought about now: just because I'm not obviously disabled doesn't mean I'm invincible. Just because SOME people aren't as sensitive as I am doesn't mean I SHOULDN'T break down over "stupid" things. Just because SOME people are neat freaks doesn't mean
I should instinctively keep a tidy house. Just because SOME people communicate through shouting doesn't mean I shouldn't be totally uncomfortable and shut down in such interactions. Just because making a telephone call is a thing MILLIONS of people do without trouble every minute doesn't mean I should be able to do it without scripts and deep breathing exercises and a reward for myself when I finish.

Just because it seems like nothing to most of the world doesn't mean it's not huge for me. But it's only a problem if I pretend it isn't.

I am exceedingly fortunate. There is so much I can do, so much I'm even good at. But that doesn't mean I SHOULD be capable of EVERYTHING. That doesn't mean my weaknesses are failures. I'm just Differently Abled.

This is me. I'm a good writer. I'm an excellent children's librarian. I'm empathetic and thoughtful. I'm highly sensitive. I'm demisexual. I'm a good cook but hate deciding what to make. Oh, just in general, I'm indecisive. I'm scatterbrained, inclined to be late, and very, very messy.

Take me or leave me. Don't demand I be anything else.


----
*So last week my cell rang at work and I saw it was the school calling. When I answered I heard someone saying in a pitying voice to someone in the background "...smashed your fingers in the door..." and before I could stop myself, before even saying hello, I said, "This must be about Madeleine." Of course it was. She has a gift, I assure you.

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