I’m writing this post from Desiree, my fiancé’s, office in the middle of the night. I took six days off from work and have been enjoying time with Desiree in Texas.
The Substance of This Post
It wasn’t an intentional thing, but I have spent my vacation much more disconnected from politics, advocacy, social media, and some of the things that are regularly big parts of my life. Stepping away from the frustrations inherent in passionately desiring a more inclusive, equitable society while living in a society dedicated to being as inequitable and exclusive as possible has been refreshing. Not having to work and being able to set aside the challenges and frustrations associated with work has been tremendous for my mental health.
Sitting here, there is a big part of me that doesn’t want to return to work. I don’t want to return to the frustrations of being the only blind employee in a workforce of roughly 6,000, where inaccessibility makes my job and life more difficult than most people’s privilege and ableism prevents them from imagining. Sitting here, a huge part of me doesn’t want to return to a life too dominated by advocating for change most people have no interest in making. Sitting here, a huge part of me doesn’t want to return to my typical pattern of fighting as many injustices as I can fight and still maintain my sanity. Sitting here, a huge part of me wants to hide in the days of peace and tranquility I have spent with someone who truly understands me and who faces the frustrations I face.
The last three days Desiree and I have been alone at her house. We have been able to live exactly how life is comfortable for us. We haven’t faced any discrimination. We haven’t spent one second wondering what the sighted world expects of us. We haven’t wasted any time thinking about how most of the sighted world, intentionally or not, judges us. We haven’t had to figure out how to make someone oppressing us comfortable because if we don’t make them comfortable many of them will blame us for their discomfort. We haven’t had to face the terrible feeling of interacting with people we know don’t really respect us and will never see us as their equal.
My break from my reality has left me feeling more hopeful, refreshed, and motivated than I have felt in a very long time. Even though a huge part of me would love to hide from my reality, my core knows the daily struggles are part of my destiny. I’m living my reality in this world so I can feel the pain of living in an ableist world. I’m feeling the pain of living in an ableist world so I can use the ability and skills I have to make the world more equitable and inclusive than it considers being.
I have no idea if I will ever feel successful in my desire to see the world become more equitable and inclusive. I have no idea if I will ever feel appreciated or respected for the abilities I have by a world that so often focuses on what it calls my disability and what it believes that says about me and my abilities. But I have learned an incredible lesson during this vacation.
I have learned exactly how priceless it is when you can honestly say you have found your life partner. There is no substitute for the amazing feelings that come with enjoying long, important, passionate conversations with someone whose experiences are like yours. There is no substitute for enjoying periods of comfortable silence with someone with whom you don’t have to impress or whose love and respect are always present.
Sitting here, I don’t want to face my reality. But come Wednesday morning, I will return to the fight. The fight feels like part of my DNA. I know one of my purposes in life is doing everything I can do to make the world more like the world should have already become. But this time when I return to the fight, I will do so with the priceless certainty that I’m not alone. Just as important, I will return to the fight with the understanding of how critical it is to step away from the fight. Best of all, I will return to the fight with the unquestioned knowledge that I have found someone who loves me for my ability and willingness to have the fight while simultaneously providing me the most comfortable, safe space to disengage from the fight when disengagement is what I need and until now was a step I was afraid to take.
Admitting fear isn’t fun. But the truth is that I have kept fighting when I would have fought better after a rest because I wrongly believed the fight was me. A few days of replacing the fight with love and relaxation has taught me that the fight is part of my core. The fight for a better world may even be what some people like and respect about me. But I’m here to love just as much as I’m here to fight. I couldn’t acknowledge that truth until I got so burned out and frustrated that stopping became something I spontaneously did as an act of self preservation. Fortunately, timing gave Desiree and I the rare chance to have days alone in our bubble of mutual acceptance and love.
So, I will return to the fight on Wednesday. But I hope I can find the strength to remember the truth that seems so clear sitting at Desiree’s desk in the middle of the night. My life is mutually about the fight for a better world and accepting and embracing the love I craved but which so often seemed impossible.
Important Thoughts About This Post
Previously when I have written things about the oppression and discrimination I face, I have finished the post feeling like I may have left the sighted people who I know love me feeling like I don’t appreciate their acceptance, respect, and love. So, I want to make it very clear that what I have said above doesn’t apply to Mom, Aunt Barb, and other sighted people in my life. There are even some sighted people at work I know respect me and see me as their equal. The acceptance, respect, and love I feel from those sighted people who do their best to understand a life so different from their’s and the respect and love they offer me is incredibly valuable. Their support is part of the reason I have made it to where I am and part of the reason I will go where I’m going to go.
The substance of this post is not at all an indictment of them or a reflection of how much I appreciate and/or love them. My comments above are related to the world as a whole and to summarize how impactful the last few days with Desiree have been.