In googling for people like me I've come across a lot of great blogs about disability. How people with disabilities (PWDs) are treated, how they live, how they work through the system and how they live their lives without the ease that temporarily-able-bodied people (TABs) have.
I took that ease for granted. I never thought about accessibility. Why would I? I have had very few people in my life who had a chronic illness or a disability, so I had never even considered the perspective. That would be my privilege showing, I suppose. Now I know.
Now I know that the reason PWDs have to sue for access is because usually, no one will fix it otherwise.
Now I know that disability is common and varied, and often invisible.
Now I know what it is to be shamed for having a disability, to feel guilt for it, to feel less than. And I know that it's not right.
Now I know that disabled benefits are really not enough to live on, despite the welfare queen myth.
Now I know what it's like to be hungry.
Now I know what it's like to be pitied, dismissed, marginalized, condescended to, ignored, disbelieved, and misunderstood.
Now I know what it is to be judged.
This knowledge makes me more aware, more sensitive to other marginalized groups, the constant struggle of this life on the other side of able-bodied privilege. Most of us turn a blind eye to it, because (society says) homeless people are lazy, chronic pain patients are all addicts, and people with disabilities who accomplish things are inspirational, and unless you have the life experience, you (I) might not be able to spot the heavy layer of prejudice that coats those phrases. You (I) might even assume that they are true, because a nicely dressed man on television tells you so, and the lady next to him with the doctorate and the cute shoes is nodding emphatically. But homeless people are not inherently lazy, pills do not default to addiction, and accomplished PWDs can be inspiring, sure, but let's not reduce people to Lifetime movies, shall we? (There's a whole bingo card phenomenon which is both hilarious and seriously disturbing.)
Becoming disabled by chronic migraines is one of the worst things that has happened in my life. But also, and I hate to say it for fear of feeding the cliche, it's made me a better person.
Now, the pain... that's had an altogether different affect on my personality. But that'll be another post.