Over the years, many people have said some odd things to me. In having a disability, you kind of just get used to it. ‘Are your shoes comfortable?’ ‘Oh, can you drive a car?’ and there has even been the times where people have asked me if I can have sex – not with them, just a general question as if people with disability have had all of their genitals removed. As I said, some really weird things.
And yes, we are all different and have our own little quirks about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. For me, I don’t mind if people say I am an ‘inspiration’, you can take that word in many ways. The way I look at that word is that it makes me feel like I may have ‘inspired’ them to think differently about something, or better yet ‘inspire’ them to take action. To me, that is a good thing! Others do find it offensive, and I can certainly see why.
However, there is one I cannot accept – ‘You are SO brave’. Let’s get this straight, I have not fought in a war, I am not any kind of warrior nor am I one to state I have no fear. Fear is what keeps us alive, it is what makes us keep going – an adrenaline that holds us on from one day to the next.
So it was an extremely peculiar experience when I saw a stranger walking towards me in the street. It was like the woman was watching me, gazing intensely and trying to piece something together. She looked me up and down. You know the feeling – where you just know they are thinking you are a freak or something? As we got closer in moving toward each other, she cut in front of me. Like she wanted to say something directly to my face.
And so she did. ‘YOU ARE SO BRAVE!’
Taken aback by her bizarre words, I couldn’t help myself to ask her why on earth she would think I was SO brave? This is someone who had not met me before, as far as I know had only laid eyes on me just minutes before. What on earth could I have done to give her an impression of bravery?
Well, to my horror she responded with ‘You are so brave for walking!’ What? Sorry, for what? The mind started to boggle even further. I am brave for walking? Did I hear that right?
In delving into her strange statement, I was apparently brave to walk with prostheses. Now I don’t know about you, but I think I would be ‘braver’ if I ‘walked’ WITHOUT my prostheses??? I pondered for a moment and asked her the question if she actually knew what prostheses were for? We just needed to be clear that the actual purpose was to WALK with them on. I mean I know I like them pretty – but they are not just there for decoration!
In all honesty, I think we just stood there for a few minutes confusing each other. I’m not sure she appreciated my sarcasm nor really understood it for that matter. But really, it was one of the most stupid things anyone has ever said to me!
So, the ‘you are so brave’ is just one of the most ridiculous things to say to a person with disability. It is about stopping and thinking it through before you come out with labels and statements, no matter what they are. We are all guilty of saying and doing stupid things, but sometimes if we just think about it before we speak – it might just save us some embarrassment! 🙂 What do you think?