This is a tricky concept for me to write about, but it’s a conversation I’ve had many times with many different friends. (To be fair, I haven’t posed this topic to my friends without disabilities.) Though there may or may not be a psychological reason why, my friends and I seem to feel that having a disability seems to prevent us from being “allowed” to feel anything negative, such as sadness or anger.
I first felt this when I was in high school and had an argument with a boyfriend. I remember distinctly feeling that he wouldn’t accept me being angry. I just kept thinking that it was ridiculous that I couldn’t just be angry for a few days. Since then, I’ve realized that I prefer to keep feelings of sadness or anger to myself. If I do decide to share them, it’s with my other friends with disabilities.
Though I don’t think anyone is particularly comfortable around someone who is upset, it seems like other people are uncomfortable when I am sad or pissed off. Earlier this year, I was flying across the country and was just sobbing for the better part of my travels. I passed through three airports. With flight delays, I was in public for almost 7 hours. Out of the hundreds of people that I encountered that day, one person asked if I was okay. One person. That just blew my mind.
It’s been said that society views disability as a bad thing. When I’m sad I can’t help but feel that people assume my disability is at the root of it. Just because I’m sad, doesn’t mean I’m upset about my disability. Just because I have a disability, doesn’t mean I’m constantly feeling doom and gloom.
I often get told that I’m a very positive person, but what’s the alternative? I feel an overwhelming amount of pressure to show happiness and radiate positivity. I was once was incredibly unhappy at work, and I felt that it had something to do with getting mistreated because of my disability. I wasn’t getting opportunities that my peers were and I was often brought into rooms to be show cased. I didn’t tell my family about it until I switched jobs. They couldn’t believe that I had lied to them for over year about my discomfort at work. I just never felt that sharing with them would help me, if anything it would make me feel worse.
Sometimes I just like being sad. I enjoy feeling emotions that aren’t in my day to day routine. If my disability ever has anything to do when these feelings, it’s because I was treated differently that I felt that I should of been treated. Not because I have a disability, but because someone else made me feel like my disability was a reason to be treated differently.
If there is a lesson to be learned, it’s to let our fellow humans feel what they want to feel when they need to feel it. Disability or not, everyone deserves that.