History never really says goodbye. History says “see you later” – Eduardo Galeano
Between dealing with the “normal” aging process of a non-conventional body and watching the erosion of disability rights I have been withdrawing into a numbness. I feel like I have been fumbling around a dark tunnel for the past three years while searching for a light at the end of the tunnel by feeling along a wall that seemed never ending. It is a slow process pushing a wheelchair while continually stopping long enough to reach out and touch the wall. The ability to feel that wall was the only anchor to hope one had in the darkness.
Each time I perceived some light at the end of the tunnel a mist would creep in to blanket out that light. Often that mist was the creation of the erosion of rights or the neglect to access. Systems that were established thirty or more years ago to make life easier for a segment of the community, those with disabilities, had slowly evolved into a wall of stress that turned those needing the supports to a product for a system of jobs for administrators. By keeping those needing the supports the most in the dark these workers were protecting their futures.
I stopped writing, I stopped socializing, I was overcome with darkness and met nothing but further rejection whenever I attempted to speak out. I had entered the twilight of depression and allowed the mist of solitude to envelope me. I was questioning my purpose continually. After over 45 years of fighting for rights I was taking on the mantle of failure. I was personalizing the failure of the social safety net and creating a vicious circle of entrapment. I started to realize I had to adapt or succumb. I am not good at succumbing or quitting so I took a lighter out of my pocket and shone the light forward.
I was beginning to see a light at the end of that tunnel but it required me taking action I had been denying. It meant giving up on others and focusing on myself. As a life-long advocate I have always been very good at finding solutions for others while ignoring the personal barriers I may have faced. I had always overcome my barriers by opening doors for others. That was my strength and that was the light I needed to see. I had to return to the beginning and get back to basics for myself. That meant me leaving the situation I was in rather than trying to make the situation fit me. There was no option for “fit” so I had to remove myself from the situation, I moved. Continue reading