World 2020: Welcome to disability. Can we help you?

Historically the weak, the lame and the blind are at the begging end of society. Familiar with loss shock, unfair limitations, loss without goal posts and usually finding acceptance and a new reality of finding some peace in the pain of it all. This is our normal. COVID has now made it yours too. Can we help you?

View of railway tracks through a crystal ball
See the way in an upside down world

Living through COVID has a lot more in common with disability. Everyone is facing loss of some Kind. For some it is unfortunately the loss of life itself. For most it is the loss of independence, loss of employment, ability to connect with others, inability to see faces or expressions behind masks (similar to early stage macular degeneration) and adapting to a whole new way of performing daily tasks. Everything takes a little longer. We are familiar with this.

The disabled community is made up of 3.2 Billion people worldwide. We are the largest minority group and hidden in every community, no matter what class race or creed. While the pandemic has made many things far harder for us physically, we are accustomed to  living with loss. For those of us with degenerative diseases this comes in perpetual cycles, like milestones of realisation when you struggle to do something today that you managed quite easily last month.  It is sad, but it’s ‘okay’ – it is our reality.  

That ‘okay’ means the process of getting to acceptance as quickly as possible so as to move on with emotional health. It is first the awareness that there is a loss, then identifying the feelings that go with that loss (the more specific the better), then the hardest part for me is actually feeling those feelings and staying with them, crying, talking or ranting with a chosen person who agrees to offer that safe place.  Then only, is it time to mop up, choose a helpful response and reach out to others in your community and ask for help or practical advice from others with your specific disability . There is always someone who has gone through something ahead of you.  No brownie points for doing loss alone. 

HereIn some ways, being part of a group of people with a common brokenness is really refreshing . No one has to pretend to be perfect or even coping. I rue the years I struggled using clever coping tricks so that no one would know I could not see properly. I avoided the emotional pain by partaking in every sport and risky activity as possible. I spent hours just running. See article:https://goingblindwithinsight.wordpress.com/2015/09/18/run-run-as-fast-as-you-can/

 It was exhausting trying to avoid the constant stress, anxiety and humiliation every day just to appear ‘normal’ (whatever that is) and avoid asking for help. 

Who said that asking for help is a weakness?  Why did I believe that for so many years?  And why is weakness such a big deal? We are all weak in something. We all need others so we can be strong together. We are designed for community. Perhaps COVID has toppled the towers of self importance and leveled the ground to make us aware of the importance of life, of relationships of just being human. 

Loss can attempt to wrestle our identity to the ground, especially  if we are known by what we can, or can’t, do. We are used to being called, ‘the guy in the wheelchair’ or ‘the lady with the white cane’ just as much as you may be used to being called ‘CEO’ or ’Manageress’. COVID may have erased your title, or reputation, but don’t let it erase you. We are all human spirits who have been given a name, usually by our parents. We had life before we could do anything and it is no less valuable now. No label  of ability or disability is more important than you. You are here, now for a reason. Search for it, find it. Someone needs you. 

As we navigate this strange time in  history, let’s forget our labels and be there for each other. Work is a privilege, we can all do something, whether we are paid for it in money or not. We all have something to give – even if it is kindness,  gratitude, paying for the groceries of the person in front of you in the queue or a disabled person offering to listen to the heart of someone who is new to facing this debilitating loss. 

What blindness has taught me is that it is not so important what we see, but how we see. Loss always looks backward. Fear looks ahead. To break both, we can be present. How? What can you be grateful for right now? Say thank you out loud… to God or the air or the cat! Now call or tell someone what you are grateful for, and your eyes will start to see hope, to see what you do have. 

Ask for the eyes of your heart to be opened and use your ability to do something random for someone else. 

May COVID un COV-er real life in us.

4 thoughts on “World 2020: Welcome to disability. Can we help you?

  1. Fran Webster

    As always I so enjoy your writing. I connected with
    The words “ loss toppling identity “ . How true. The losses experienced when we left Zimbabwe. My teaching career especially had me groping for a new identity so carer became the new status. After my three loved ones passed it was all I had to fall back on but the life of a live-in carer is designed for a younger person. One who is not herself scarred by loss. I know it is time for a change. But what? Artist? Author? So, like you, I have been focusing more on living in the present. Being grateful for so much in the day. COVID-19 has taught me to get on with all the things I aspired to do in the future. Do it NOW. if you can’t do what you dream about doing, change the dream. Thanks Jenny. Xx

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    1. jenniferwebster Post author

      Good point Fran. I enjoy exploring new thoughts, but seldom take the time to write. It is a treat when I make the time for it. There is no time like the present.

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  2. Kerstin Kuhlcke

    Jen, you give me insight into your world every time I read your blog. Thank you for educating me and giving me an opportunity to let my heart respond! My cat would be delighted if I talked to her even more. 🙂

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