One of my past posts was entitled Longing to Fit In, in which I wrote that I longed to be in the “healthy mom/people” crowd. (Which you can pretty much figure out on your own, but if you chose to read that post too, I’m not saying no!)
Anyway, Tracey from Just Another Mommy Blog (love that title!) had this to say:
“I’m glad you have this space… I just want to say that not all of us are looking with morbid curiosity or pity or anything bad. Some of us are able to look at a person in a wheelchair and not really “see” the disability.”
Personally, Tracey, I enjoy pity but apparently most of us disabled/chronics do not!
I started to write her back personally but realized what I started to write could be a blog in itself, so, thank you for that, Tracey!
I told Tracey that if she could look at someone like that, not see the disability, that she was pretty amazing. (And I mean that in a sincere way!)
The thing is…even I always can’t, and I am often in a wheelchair or scooter of my own!
So, why do we look?
I don’t know all the answers and I guess I can really only speak for myself.
When I was well, I don’t know, you see a disabled adult or child and your eyes just GO THAT WAY, and I don’t know why I am so drawn to it. But it does not mean that just because I looked, that I was thinking that person was a freak; most always I just feel sad and wonder what is wrong with that person. I think that we who are in scooters or wheelchair, carry canes, etc. need to keep that in mind, that healthy people mean us no ill will, curiosity just gets the better of them.
Now that I am disabled ,I look at people using assistances and I just really want to know what’s wrong with them! Maybe they have Lupus like me, or Fibro, or Chronic Fatigue! I want to say “Me too!” Sometimes I actually have and it’s been a good thing and I have found someone with a related illness! I don’t know many disabled people in real life so it is sometimes nice to meet a fellow chronic!
How do I feel when I am stared at? Like, I said, I remember how I stared or still do and why and I do not let it bother me. Except when startled moms look at me riding a scooter with horror and quickly get their kids out of my way, fearing that I might run them down. (Which is probably wise, as I do find these scooters can be hard to drive sometimes and have crashed into displays, but never people.) So I do feel bad when I scare moms and kids.
To those disabled who really still don’t want people to stare at them, I seriously tell them, don’t look at them! I usually take this approach, then I have no idea if people are staring at me or not! This “don’t make eye contact approach” particularly comes in handy when I am putting up my handicapped placard around my rearview mirror, and what people don’t know is this perfectly looking healthy person is then going to get on the nearest scooter she can find!
If I have done anything in this post, I hope it makes healthy people realize that some sick people know you can’t help it and are even okay with it. And I hope that those readers who are disabled have been made aware that people who stare at you are not necessarily awful, prejudiced people.
Why do you stare? Or can you control it? If you are disabled, does it really upset you? Any “war” stories?