Monday, November 21, 2016

Not Fade Away

     I've been in a state of shock/anger/mourning/disbelief since the election, and many of my friends and family are in the same place. I was going to write much sooner, but I couldn't stop my thoughts long enough to get a coherent sentence together. It's still a struggle, but keeping away from social media and 24/7 news sites helps; there's just too much for me to process right now, and my anxiety levels are through the roof. I'm not going to get into ninety-nine of the one hundred reasons I desperately didn't want the current president-elect to win that title, because that's not what this blog is for. Right now, I'm taking it one issue at a time, and looking at this through the lens of my husband's disability.

      The first thing my husband said to me once we realized the election results showed a picture we couldn't believe was true, was, "Well, I guess I'm officially just a useless cripple again." I could have cried, and if I wasn't so stunned by what I was seeing on CNN, I probably would have.

     For me, I suppose it goes back to seeing the current president-elect at a campaign stop mock a physically disabled reporter. Are you kidding me? The fact that he a) did that in the first place, and b) that it didn't stop people in their tracks from considering him a viable candidate for the leader of the country just kills me. Does the disabled community really mean so little to our society as a whole that this open and ugly mockery passes by without significant comment? That's what my husband took from it, what he felt when he saw it - that he was not valuable, that he was not a contributing member of society, and that he was not worthy of respect; the actions of our fellow countrymen just validated those feelings, in my opinion.

    Beyond the practicalities of what this administration may mean for people like my husband and I, what does it mean for us on a more personal level? I can tell you it's certainly changed how I view those family members who I know voted for the Republican candidate, and that has nothing to do with his political affiliation, though those who know me know I'm much closer to a liberal Independent than I am anything else. I am not dead-set against any affiliation, and even though I disagreed with almost every opinion our most recent Republican president had, I still thought he was an inherently decent man who believed he was doing the right thing with the choices he made. No, it has everything to do with actively supporting someone who so clearly does not value or respect those in the disabled community. To them I say, "How could you?"

     I'm not interested in rationalizations, I'm not interested in hearing about how you want "change". At what cost, though? What price are you willing to pay to bring about that incredibly vague "change"?  Are you willing to forgo basic human decency and love for your fellow man to achieve the end result? Are you willing to step on the backs of some of our most vulnerable to get what you think you want? I think you are.

     I think that deep-seated dislike for and distrust of the disabled (believe me, it's there) that exists in our society at large has been given a legitimization, and a face, and a name. I don't think it's any one face or name in particular, but there is now more than one in power from which you can choose. Now, you can point to someone and say, "See? He did it, and it's not that bad, it was just a little thing." The hell of it is, though, that it's NOT a little thing, and it IS that bad. My husband is a goddamn human being, with feelings and friends and value. He's worked hard since he was sixteen years old, and even now, though he would easily qualify for Social Security Disability, he works. He gets up five days a week, whatever level of pain he's in, wherever his head is at with regards to his anxiety and depression, and he does it.

     Part of that is practical, because we simply can't survive on one income. I know many, many people think that there is a whole section of society that just collect disability checks and live like kings, but that's not actually how it works. Maybe I'll get into the details of it all at a later point, but not right now. The bigger part of why he does it? Because he lives in fear that if he does, the rest of the world will then view him the same way he sees himself - useless, a part of the population that's nothing more than a nuisance to be dealt with. The great irony here is that, despite his best efforts, it's happened anyway.

     We've talked about it many times since November 9th, and we've both agreed that it's changed how we see people. Our friends, our family, strangers, doesn't matter who. I myself am having a very difficult time with close family members who say they love my husband and I, and would do anything for us. I don't doubt their love, but I'm not sure if it's the same love I thought it was. You say you'd do anything for us - anything but stand up and add your voice to ours when push comes to shove?

      So, even though I just want to disappear into a book for the next four years, I have to keep working, keep talking, keep trying to move the conversation along. The tiny, tiny, tiny silver lining that comes from this is that it's given me a renewed sense of drive to keep up with this blog on a more consistent basis. I know how very tiny my corner of the internet is; I'm not delusional, just pissed off, sad, and scared. As they say, though, one tiny spark can become a fire, if you don't let the light go out.

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