I’m truly almost at a loss for how to express my complete and utter inability to be complicit in the broken construct of stigma. Especially the stigma of people with disabilities that are completely unable to defend themselves. This overwhelming sensation comes from many sources. Honestly, from my own experience with hiding from the spirit crushing weight of stigma. Now, seeing my own children’s light being dimmed due to their perceived lackings and lastly a very unfathomable statistic that was shared by my supervisor at our special education opening meeting. She reported that through reserch it would most likely take a jaw dropping 150 years for the stigma of disability to vanish. I thought even if they are only half right that’s still 75 years and most likely I and quite possibly my own children would never live long enough to experience this day. It became a bone crushing reality for me as I sat there next to my husband whom between the two of us have worked for a combined 40 years to improve and enhance the wellbeing of this population. To meet them where they flourish and to give them freedom and a sense of enjoyment. To adapt their world to expand independence. I looked around the rest of the room and quite frankly couldn’t stomach what the actual number of years would add up too that we all had worked together to foster these environments. I simply am unable to accept this as truth! To be honest the way I see it is that the most vulnerable must be the easiest target otherwise how in the world could this be perpetuated for at least two more generations? So to me stigma of any kind is based on fear of differences. It’s destructive, divisive and propagated by being a living example. It is a quick and easy way to shine the light on perceived lacking in others, so you can deflect your own deep feelings of lacking. To me it is a broken down rusty construct that hurts people sometimes irreparably so. I see this most prevalently in the very accepted cultural view that achievement is the end all be all goal. This notion to smile and support a natural achiever and to frown upon and build a sense of lack in a person who may have to work very hard for every small gain. I have strong opinions about how this accepted structure treads upon both ends of the continuum from achiever to the challenged. It robs them both of freedom and self worth. This gives all children the strong sense that they learn early on that their support is very conditional and if they do fail there will be the negative consequences of shame! I ask in the history of civilization has turning on someones sense of fear created an environment of openness and learning? Does continual repetative negative lens create open space for curiosity? It’s simple, fear and stress close down the front of the brain where learning occurs and then turns on the lower portions, where hypervigalence and survival take place. I have personally witnessed this occur. I have watched a child full of wonder, a sense of expansive freedom be single handedly crushed and internal sense of lack be turned on overnight. This may have life long consequences and can often can feel insurmountable for decades. The wondertime of childhood joy and openness is too quickly ended and the eyes ceased to shine quite as bright, quite possibly never again! I believe we are just beginning to see the consequences of this accepted infrastructure of expecting perfection. A direct reflection is the suicide rate skyrocketing in our youth. I feel I have entered a place where I am simply unable to not speak up. It’s difficult to feel exposed, but if I don’t then I just find it impossible to live with that. In my belief this can only be overcome by telling the truth. It has to be seen and questioned and in the end, all of us will need to look deeply within ourselves at our own sense of lacking. Why do we hold these beliefs that separate and divide us? How does this constant guarding of our own image keep us from true connectivity? It is a deeply engrained trait in all humans to avoid being vulnerable, to have an endless stream of thoughts about how to control other’s perception of us. This is perpetuated through culture and it seems so worn out. To me it is a broken notion that someone has more value based on anything. I spend time working with unconditional beings who don’t measure their relationships and in my opinion if we need to measure things, maybe this should be measured as having more value than containing judgments and shaming?
Published by One True Breath
I am a wife, mother and a pediatric occupational therapist for almost 20 years. My great hope is that this blog will be a guide for anyone seeking refuge from life's difficulties. It is a distillation of my life experience, profession and whole hearted search for peace. I wish you a wonderful and joyful journey! View all posts by One True Breath