…I’m a gimpy doctor and THAT especially in beginning freaked everyone out. Now I am quite at home with my profession and found in the sweet nook of academic pediatrics that my disability is nearly an asset or at the least a neutral aspect of my professional life. I spent the better part of my 20s talking people into this concept. I refused to believe that I couldn’t be just as good as a pediatrician as anybody else and I worked my tail off for it.
That said, while I refused to believe that lie that society told me. I believe others and as I emerge from the cocoon of medicine in this final year of formal training (which is code for I HAVE FREE TIME) I find myself in a web of misconceptions that I have neglected to deal with since college.
I recently have had the attention and affections of a boy in my life. I find myself cynical and pessimistic. I find myself thinking there is no way he COULD REALLY LIKE ME LIKE THAT because why would a guy like a girl like me. And when I say a girl like me the vision in my head is my most awkward disability moment of the week (dropping my pager in the running water of the sink or mishearing something or how much I hate my pointy elbows…) Seriously these are the words that go through my head. I know, I know I sound like a 15 yo higher schooler….. I am developmentally delayed.
In my intellectual life, I know all about stigma, I have studied it in different languages, cultures and flavors. I can tell you that stigma is so powerful that causes African mothers to hide their disabled babies in a corner of a hut never to see the sun or that in some places it leads to being abandoned on the side of the road to die or beg or whatever happens next. I know about the folk lore of disability from vampires to Tiny TIm…to Ann Coulter Intellectually I know all about stigma and the monstrous lies it weaves…and I don’t believe them….
Ok yes I do. yes I really do.
Spiritually, I know all about the curse not of disability but of its misunderstanding. Of faith healing, of exorcisms, of drowned babies, of witch doctors and shamamens, of oppression, of beggars at the temples and cathedrals of the world or our inspiring testimonial pedestals and everything else that compounds the life of those who are different in our spiritual lives. I know all about disability and I know the truth of Christ’s redemption and kingdom. I don’t believe the lies….
Oh wait…yes I do. I believe them….
My heart is still human and fragile and wary of monsters…. Wary that while my community did not abandon me on the side of the road, they don’t quite value me beyond the inspirational freak show that makes a nice testimonial or life time movie special I don’t trust easily, I lack faith that people really see me as an actual regular human being who is not just a tagline for making themselves feel like maybe their life is just not that bad. …And yes I have my share of pity dates in the past….
So this is all new to me. This believing that I can be valued in this way. I know I am behind a decade. I know I have been believing lives.
but sometimes truth takes time. sometimes we have to fan the flame a bit and stare into its glow and warmth before we can believe.