This line stopped me dead in my tracks, in the middle of a workday no less. The article was written by a parent of a child with a disability, about the loneliness of loving someone that most people would never want to have (Link Here to original article).
I dropped everything I was doing. Paused the webinar I was reviewing and stared at my computer screen for a few moments, feeling my eyes singe from the screen light and my heart pounding in my chest. The truth is it is a lonely world out there, not just for parents of children with disabilities, but also for those of us that have something the world actively and fiercely does not want. When you live with a mental illness or a physical disability it's so common to hear people talking about how they want the opposite, and it's acceptable. We hear it most with individuals having kids, when most people say 'as long as their healthy.' As if health was a choice and there's something so wrong with us that they'd never want to be stuck with one of us. It's not a matter of receiving support after the fact or that there's almost 50% of the US population living with a chronic illness. Loneliness has very little to do with being alone, loneliness comes from a craving that we have deep within us, one that is rarely fulfilled in an ableist world.
Ableism is a huge problem in our society, and I'm not saying whether saying you only want a healthy child feeds into that or not, but it's truly a lonely place knowing that no one wants to be challenged the same way as you. On a personal level I can't say I wouldn't say the same thing. Would I want anyone to suffer the same ways I have? Absolutely not. But here I need to stop myself because I realize that there's an unconscious bias in that statement, and it is something that feeds into ableism. I believe that we all have different challenges, different but in the scheme of things I believe we are challenged equally. We are given things that are unique to us, things that might seem impossible or easy for others but they are our challenges. I believe that. But when it comes to seeing my challenges on someone else, despite knowing that everyone will face difference challenges, a part of me wouldn't want that. What I'm unconsciously saying by saying that is that people are better off without my challenges. And that's ableism.
In reality my challenges have been the best things for me long term. I am no less than anyone else because of them. I am appreciative for them all, even as I'm struggling through them. I understand their purpose and need, and know that I will learn so much from them and that I will become a better person because of the way I deal with my challenges. So maybe it's time for me to refrain from saying I wouldn't wish this on anyone. And it's not that I wish people to have five mental health illnesses or anything like that, but everyone is going to face challenges, and no challenge is any better or any worse than another. We may perceive them to be, but when have we ever perceived things right? Instead of focusing on the challenges though I want to wish people the ability to accept themselves, their challenges, and make the best out of any situation, regardless of the challenge or how it's perceived by society.