The transition from shame to the acceptance of disability. from shadow to pride is a long, traumatic path that many disable people have not yet completed. Perhaps it is difficult to understand who did it fully.
Surely the problem does not arise from us disabled, but, first of all, from those who educate us, from those around us.
Nadia Luppi provides us with fsuggestions to understand how the limits are a projection of external fears, sometimes not ours. And it is up to us to transform them.
Sometimes we are so used to hiding ourselves that we do not even realize it. We hide the hearing aids under our hair, we pretend to see even when we see nothing, or we find excuses not to tell about our visual impairments, we keep our weaknesses hidden by showing a security that does not belong to us. But is that embarrassment, that shame, that insecurity, really ours? Or on the contrary, certain fears and judgments cling to us and we carry them in without knowing where we end and where they begin?
On the pages of NoisyVision David, a hearing impaired Italian guy, writes: “It is strange and impossible for a child to feel uncomfortable on his own, because the children are all beautiful, simple, pure. If they feel uncomfortable it’s because we adults are unable to cope with diversity and communicate it for what it is, just one way of hearing ”
Beyond the excessive simplifications that would lead to an almost angelic image of children, I believe that there is some truth in these words. If we are educated to think that to be accepted we must be like everyone else, then we will suffer for what differentiates us from others. So if during childhood and adolescence, those around us at home or at school get used to thinking that only those who see well, hear good, run fast and speaks perfectly are good and beautiful it will be more difficult for us not only to welcome the other when it is different, but also to accept our own little limitations and weaknesses.
There is one of the roots of the fears and the sense of inadequacy that many people with disabilities (and not only) bring with them and transform in a multitude of different ways. Fortunately, that sense of inadequacy often turns into a desire to fight to give the best, but sometimes weighs on our choices and limit us.
Luckily there are less and less families where disability is hidden. But what happens when the parents – in the face of the child’s disability – are still afraid, though it is a normal and understandable fear? Often I have heard parents of children with disabilities confess the fear that their children would someday realize that they had cherished a wish meant to crush because of the visual impairment or other limitations. These fears are neither judged nor condemned: seeing their children suffer is perhaps the most painful experience for a human heart, and it is normal that those who take care of a child with a disability, try to protect him/her from the pain of a disappointment that considers inevitable. This is also love. And after all, if we think about it, even those parents who try to hide or deny the limits of their children do so only out of love, because they may have never been lucky enough to be able to trust themselves by accepting their own weaknesses.
Starting from this awareness we can observe our behaviors, our choices and even our desires. We have the opportunity to ask ourselves if we are following our dreams or if we are afraid of doing it because someone or something has made us think we are dreaming of the impossible. And in fact they areright. It is obvious that in some cases an objective limit conditions our freedom of action. And if we see little or nothing at all, if we do not hear or do not walk, our way of acting will not be the same as the others. As if to say that perhaps it will be impossible to do something if we pretend to do it as everyone else does. But perhaps we should listen to the desire and mold its realization on the basis of all we can do, rather than satisfy the fear of what is precluded to us.
And at this point, what do we do with those people – parents first – who have sought with sincere love to protect us from the risk of suffering? Because maybe they will continue to do it, with the same love. Perhaps they, like others, will repeat to us that it will not work, that we are disappointed because the world is not like that and we must be “down to earth”. And they are right. If it were not that the earth to sustain us above all when we follow our deepest desires and aspirations, however bizarre they may be.
Fears must be heard, not rejected. So must be the different representations of those fears take on in our lives. Those fears remind us that it will not be easy, but the choice remains ours. Do we want to recognize the love that gives life to those fears and welcome, embrace and reassure those who love us so much that they want to protect us? We want to ask ourselves how those fears resonate in us? Let’s try to listen to ourselves, deep down, when we breathe and walk on earth, what happens if we think about our dream, our project, our “something impossible”?
If to accept our limits means to be reborn, perhaps rebirth will mean to make the impossible become reality.
Disability and Traumatic Shame: A Way Out
The Journey from Disability Shame to Disability Pride
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