I can fully understand wanting to avenge hurt and betrayal: that’s how I’m feeling at this moment.
I’ve used my blog at times to get stuff off my chest. Better than going for somebody’s jugular. Writing an honestly angry poem can feel like an exorcism, although it might not be the best poem in the world.
Right now, I’m just going to write out another piece of the story several kind and tolerant souls have been following.
I’ve alluded to the fact that I have physical disabilities, i.e. a deformed right leg, and PTSD and depression. I’ve also stated here and there that I am on disability with housing assistance.
For the past two years I’ve been on the barricades fighting for my civil rights in an unlikely venue: the courts themselves. I got myself in a little trouble and have had to try to find some “providers” to help me.
I’ve had to approach various agencies seeking their help, which everyone in my situation must do, and I have often had to be in the one-down position of negotiating something called a “reasonable accommodation.”
This is 2010. The Americans with Disabilities Act has been around for some time. The Act requires that anyone providing services to the public enable the disabled to participate. Sometimes this is a matter of designating a parking space. Sometimes it’s a question of meeting someone for an appointment in an accessible location.
Tonight I asked a therapist if she would mind if I brought in a raised toilet seat and kept it in a discreet plastic bag in her bathroom for our weekly meetings. I asked politely and carefully for what I needed and did not say one word about the ADA.
Her response was to fly off the handle, tell me she didn’t want her bathroom cluttered up, and that I should look elsewhere for a therapist. I was stunned and told her that I hoped it didn’t throw a wrench in the works to discuss these needs; she said it was a big wrench.
You can bet I mentioned the ADA then, chapter and verse. She then said I’d threatened her, and that I didn’t give her a chance to discuss HYGIENE, like I was going to pee all over her floor.
It’s too bad that people feel threatened when a disabled person informs an entity of his or her civil rights .
I tried to persuade the therapist that I was not threatening her, even though I had just been pierced yet again with the very sharp knife of invalidation and rejection.
It is very difficult for a disabled person to ask for what he or she needs. It is frightening and lonely. The ADA is all we have at times.
I live in a community where a lot of altruistic people call themselves advocates for the disabled, but none of them have the cajones to stand up to a landlord in making the provisions of the Fair Housing Act clear, or to invoke the ADA on your behalf.
Money Magazine has twice declared that Fort Collins, Colorado is the most desirable city in America and yet someone advocating for her civil rights is left to go up against powerful people and entrenched systems all alone.
I am furious. I am a degreed and published writer and former professor. I make a contribution to my community and to the world. And I’m not worth storing a homely little object that would protect my knees from further tearing– even when Title III of the ADA warns that to refuse to make an accommodation deprives one of equal opportunity and therefore constitutes discrimination?
There are so very many things I could say that are cutting and cruel. Here’s what happens when someone like me gets dissed this way: the trust required for a therapeutic relationship goes out the window. I had to e-mail the powers that be and remind them of the law, which makes me feel like I’m putting my head in a lion’s mouth.
I wrote this tonight because when I came home after “processing” it all with my very patient companion, I still wanted to put my head in the oven. Yes, discrimination is that painful. Sending someone the message that they are a bother and don’t matter is that terrible. In the past two years alone, some version of this same scenario has played itself out in my life a number of times. It hasn’t happened in a while and guess what: I’ve been feeling better, come out of hiding, got on with my creative work instead of beating myself for every breath to get people to honor the law of the land.
I guess it was just a little vacation from the terrible. So, I’ve girded my loins again. Here’s the problem: some people internalize things like this and really do decide to swing from the rafters. Not me. But a very, very bad idea to use my trust and vulnerability to make my life worse– you never know when you might find yourself with a bad case of ring around the collar– wearing a toilet seat around your neck in a public place– pilloried by the loo.