Yesterday, on my tube ride home, a woman right near me was standing up and reading a book. She didn’t have to hold on to a pole, a loop, a handle, or someone else’s arm in order to balance. She wasn’t even thinking about balancing or trying to stay upright. She was just reading her book as though she were standing in her kitchen or bedroom. It made me so furiously jealous and so sad that I nearly cried.
Now that I am sitting here writing about it, I can write a number of level-headed things: it’s okay that I can’t stand unassisted on a moving train, many people – impaired or not – can’t stand unassisted on moving trains, it doesn’t mean I am not doing well with my therapy, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, and it doesn’t mean I won’t keep getting better. In the moment, all I felt was despair, frustration, and sadness.
This is almost always the case with these sorts of experiences: in the moment, I am sad and extremely angry, full of self-hatred, self-blame, and disgust. Afterward, I do my best just to get on with things, even if I am still sad and full of loathing (which I often am). Writing things down is remarkably therapeutic, and I’m very lucky to have a supportive family, good friends, and a wonderful therapist.
I wish that I could stand up on the tube unassisted and read. I can’t, but I can always find a seat and spend my commute with my nose stuck in a book. I think I just have to have more compassion for myself and stop equating lack of physical ability with personal lack as a human being. I have to learn to forgive myself. My sister said to me last week, ‘I wish you loved yourself more.’ I think I need to work on that.