Tuesday, November 18, 2008

See Me for Me

What causes people to stare at the unknown? Fear? Curiosity? What causes people to react differently to those with disabilities? Unacceptance? I know what it's like to be stared at. I know what it's like to have people stop in their tracks just to get a glimpse of the unknown. Why can't people just see me for me and not my disability? Why can't they just accept who I am and what I'm about. I may not look like everybody else, but that doesn't give others the right to stare. These questions and thoughts inspired me to write this poem:

See Me for Me

I am alive.
I am here.
I do exist.
Yes, I look different.
I have a disability.
I am paralyzed.
I am in a wheelchair.
I am on a ventilator.
Does that matter?
Apparently it does.
I don't like staring.
I don't like gawking.
I don't like whispers.
I don't like pointing.
See me for me.
I like people.
I have friends.
I have caregivers.
I have family.
I make a difference.
I am friendly.
I care.
I love.
I speak.
I write.
I paint.
I am me.

I know this post may be shocking to some people or a wake-up call to others. I wake up every morning and say to myself "What can I do today to make a difference? Who am I going to inspire?" However, I get interrupted by curious and fearful people who choose to stare at the unknown. Stare at someone with a disability who is just trying to make it through the day. I am here to tell all those people to see me for me. See others with disabilities for who they are. I would rather have someone come up to me and ask me what happened; ask me who I am and what I'm about; ask me how I got to where I am today. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of the challenges that I have overcome. I am proud of what I've accomplished. I am proud of the person I am today. And I will tell you that; if only you would just ask.

Now, most of this post has been kind of negative. I guess I'm just letting go of some of my frustrations. It didn't used to bother me as much as it does now. Maybe because I'm starting to notice it more. I used to just ignore it. Even though I think it is rude, I don't usually get upset with the people who are staring. I know they are just curious. Many of them have never seen someone on a vent before. Especially little kids. Sometimes I just smile at the people who are staring. However, I need to come up with some line or a sign to put people at ease; something to fulfill their curiosity. I think I'm going to put a sign on my wheelchair that says "I was in a car accident". That would solve a lot.

Jenni

1 comment:

spiritdances said...

Jenni,
I am so glad for your insights into the very lonely world of being stared at, not for who we are but what we have. I call it the cruel stare. I have had a medical condition my entire life, but it is not who I am. My body limits me in many ways, but it frees my mind and spirit.

Karly