The vine bears three kinds of grapes: the first of pleasure, the second of intoxication, the third of disgust. – Diogenes
Last night after my pilates class and treatment, I met a friend for a drink. She had wine and I had water. When we parted ways and I walked down the street alone, a stranger mistook my limp for drunkenness. I told him I had a physical disability and he said I looked drunk. I was more frustrated than hurt. I wondered if my limp was ‘that bad’ or ‘that obvious’ for someone to mistake it for intoxication. I’m certain that other people have thought my limp was drunkenness but had the sense and sensitivity not to ask me. I texted a few of my friends and asked them about the apparentness of my limp because it’s not something that I feel or notice. My body and condition feel normal to me. I don’t feel my limp in day to day life or during physical exercise. The only time that I ‘feel’ my disability is when I come up against a challenge like an escalator or steep stairs. My friend Beth texted me back and expressed what my father has told me before: my limp is more visible when I am hurrying somewhere or tired. Otherwise, it isn’t that bad (and doesn’t look like drunkenness).
This is why I want someone who is not a trained medical professional to look at my body and tell me what he sees wrong with me. I want to ‘see what other people see’ of my disability and to understand what would drive a stranger to ask if I am injured, hurt, disabled, or drunk. I would like someone to honestly point out noticeable evidence of cerebral palsy, like stiffness in my legs or a curve in my back. I just wish I knew what my body looked like to other people. I think it would give me more compassion and understanding towards curious strangers rather than a response rooted in frustration and sadness.