Misconceptions that Hit to the CoreJune 16, 2010 at 10:11 am | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | 1 Comment
Tags: disability, disability and love, disability and marriage, disability and relationships, disability self advocacy, interability marriage, Megan Cutter, personal care assistants
This week I had a conversation with a friend, but I was struck by misconceptions that hit to the core. As both Barton & I are in the midst of job transitions, this summer we are cutting back, everything that we can. At the moment we cut out morning help, something that we don’t normally like doing because it shifts our roles. But because of how expensive it is, we had to cut back. My friend responded by talking about how she understood, she took care of her family, and it’s like taking care of a baby, but a big baby. What? Are you serious? Really?
This comment floored me- absolutely floored me. Now my response was quite defensive, and if I had been paying attention I would have pointed out how sad it was that she was not able to see beyond the actual issue. Of course, instead I went on to defending my husband.
Yes, as we grow older, we lose our memories, our capacity to take care of ourselves, to be independent. Many of us take care of parents and grandparents as they grow older or transition into a state that is more child like. But this misconception hit to the core that Barton was a big baby because he had a disability and needed additional help.
Barton is an independent man, husband, coach, teacher, poet. His heart and service is invaluable and he has worked his butt off to get where he is. He doesn’t like relying on others, not even me, and works hard to be as independent as possible. He provides an example for others to open the space for them to see that they too can live fulfilling, independent lives.
Looking at those with disabilities as being babies is dehumanizing, demoralizing and strips them of any value or worth. It’s easier to think those with disabilities have no value in the community whatsoever where we could put someone in an institution or dismiss them altogether.
Often people tell me that I am so good to have married Barton, as if Barton had no say. Do they not know that he was the one to asked me to marry him? I am so privileged that he chose me, especially since it’s common that women swoon over his bright blue eyes and smile.
Would she have believed me if I had talked about how much Barton does to take care of me? I doubt it. Many people don’t see the ways in which Barton takes care of his family, work, service. They only see what they want to see, and often times, miss the heart that is right in front of them.
Later when I talked about adoption & fundraising we were doing for accessible equipment, she quickly assumed we would be adopting a special needs child because I was talking about accessible equipment. Her shock that Barton could take care of a child was clear. Again, the misconception that Barton could never be a father or take care of a child even though he’s in a wheelchair or has a developmental disability.
So much work is being done to negate these misconceptions, and just in the time Barton and I have been together, we constantly push beyond the barrier that people place around him, around us together as a married couple.
Yes, right now it is tough- it is tough for everyone hit by the economic turbulence. And we aren’t immune to that. But it does not mean that we can dismiss those with disabilities or devalue their contribution to our community.