No matter how much you approach disability with a winning smile, positive attitude and hope, there are always times, for me at least, that feel unfair and upsetting.
I made my way through a pub today, eyes following my every move and whispering. I'm almost used to it now but it affects those around me who are not. I wonder why it's acceptable to stare, whisper and even point at someone just because they are rollin' on wheelz? People often completely stop on the pedestrian pavement when I'm moving towards them, almost as if they are scared I'm going to run in to them at full speed or that I should get a completely free path to walk on like the Queen - again - just 'cos my legs don't work as well as they should. Parents have scolded their children by saying I'll run them over if they don't stop running/walking around/being generally kids. I'm getting kind of sick of people pushing their thoughts and behaviours on to me, when I've got absolutely nothing to do with them or their lives.
Today, two women shouted at a couple to move out of my way. I believed the couple to be Muslim as the woman was wearing a Hijab.
"Get out of the way! Move! Can't you see this woman is obviously disabled? (she jabs her finger towards me) The disrespect in this country is disgusting!"
The couple pushed themselves against the shelves, looking worried. The other women stayed put, taking up most of the aisle I add. The man apologised to me. Twice. He called me madam.
I stopped, flustered and embarrassed. Now everyone was looking at me and expecting me to move. I felt like I had accepted these women's horrible accusations towards the other couple. They made me (and can I just point out I was actually waiting patiently for room to pass through, whilst browsing the cleaning products!) the reason for their thinly veiled racist passive aggressive rant and it was awful.
As the man apologised twice, I apologised too. I said "Thank you, sorry, no no, thanks, sorry..." like an attention-starved pet parrot. I wanted to be brave and tell these women that actually no, I wasn't inconvenienced for waiting a little while to move just because I'm in a wheelchair. That no, I didn't think the couple weren't showing respect by taking position in a laundry aisle in bloody Wilkos whilst they tried to move to another point of the store LIKE WE ALL WERE. But I didn't. I looked at the man and woman as I went past and they looked at me back, all of our eyes tinged with sadness, embarrassment and anger. I feel ashamed for not speaking up and this is something, especially in the society we are living in at the moment, I think is really important. I will be more brave.
As I said earlier, I try to approach my life with an overtone of positivity and happiness. I strive to see the good in people and I try to make the best out of quite a crappy hand myself and my little lovely family have been dealt but I'm sick and tired of people talking for me, taking action for me and assuming I want things that have nothing to do with them.
Now for something to celebrate that positivity I yearn for. Today, myself, my husband and our five year old bought some super soakers. We went into our shared garden after school and had a massive water fight. It didn't matter to anyone that I was in a wheelchair. No one assumed anything for me. We just dowsed each other in as much water and bubbles as possible and it was amazing!
Do you have anything that gets you down, no matter how positive you strive to be? Let me know below.
Who is Julie?
30 something, mother of two gorgeous boys, lover of one gorgeous husband, perpetually living in a dream world full of wine, chocolate and artsy crafty things.