I spent the past weekend in Sussex at a reunion. I had a lot of fun but I had to ask for a lot of help getting around, particularly with stairs. Nobody minded helping me, but I was embarrassed and frustrated. I don’t like asking for help and I don’t like drawing attention to myself and my limitations, but I realize that I draw more attention to myself given the fact that I constantly apologise for needing help, asking for help, and having any physical challenges. I hate that my mobility problems are things people have to keep in mind when they are with me. I hate that my disability doesn’t just affect me, but also other people around me. It’s part of why I requested a single en suite room for the weekend rather than sharing a room and bathroom with someone else. At the end of the day – especially when I have needed a lot of physical help from other people – I don’t want to further burden anyone else. I just want to be alone.
I went there this weekend with the intention of securing a job: teaching, administrating, publishing, writing, editing, digitizing, interviewing, or student-life-coordinating, but the reality of the ‘mobility issues’ hit me very hard and made me reluctant to consider working there. Where I would normally use an experience like this to motivate myself to work harder, I feel sad and angry with myself and inclined to hide in bed. I try not to be a self-pitying person and I try not to victimize myself when I come up against physical and metaphorical challenges, but I didn’t expect to need so much help or to have to ask for so much help.
One of the couples that participated in the reunion weekend brought along their brand new seven week old baby boy. I think it was very brave of them to bring him and that they are amazing parents. I watched them carrying him around and care for him and I couldn’t imagine myself being able to care for a child. I know for a fact that if I had a baby and I brought her on the trip from which I just returned, I would have needed a lot more help than I needed by myself, and I would have felt even worse than I did when I needed help independent of anyone else. I don’t think anyone would have minded helping me; in fact, I think they would have offered me support and help. It’s just embarrassing to need help. It makes me feel weak and ashamed.
When I went to yoga therapy this past Thursday, they advised me to focus on a restorative practice – rather than an athletic approach – while I am under stress and pressure. When I finish my dissertation and can take a bit of a break before I start my next internship, I think I will enroll in some vinyasa yoga and see if it helps my stability and mobility. I wish I could write that I am determined to work more effectively in order to develop what I lack, but truthfully, this experience has made me inclined to hide in bed and cry. I know I’ll be okay – I always am – but it’s hard to run up against my limitations. I wanted to go to that reunion and show the people who knew me a different and more capable person, but I think I showed them a weak and insecure person.