Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Differing Perspectives

I think most people with visually obvious disabilities have probably experienced the thing where people off the street or other people you've just met come up to you and tell you how by simply living your life and doing day to day stuff you are inspirational and a hero and all that other sort of general crap.  And often they go on to mention that they "could never do it".

It's a perspective issue.

They see the disability and see it in comparison with their own lives.  So, whereas from my perspective it's no big deal from others it seriously is.  They find it hard to come to my point and I find it hard to accept theirs.

Because of the frame of reference from which they approach it.

I'm also sure that most people have had one of those conversations where you're chatting with a friend and the subject of another person you both know comes up in the conversation.  Maybe one of you hasn't seen them for a while and asks the other if they have, do they know how they are, that sort of thing.

I had two such conversations with two friends about two different people over the last sort of six weeks.

Both times my friend has had an observation about the person we were talking about and it was something i'd never seen in that person before for example, a bit lacking in confidence or easily discouraged or "glass is half empty".  And I was sat there astounded.  I'd not seen that before but as soon as they said it it made so much sense.

But from my perspective it wasn't there.  Even though it was right in front of my face.   That person could do with being given more encouragement or whatever.  And knowing that, seeing it from another persons perspective has helped me to try to be a better friend.  To try not to take everything at face value.

People do that to me.  I try not to do it to people I see on the street.  It's time I stopped doing it to my friends.


yanub said...

Oh, good resolution! I have an acquaintance who has several times marvelled at how I am "so together." I have laughed in her face each time, telling her that I am far from together. But I know she's not the only one who has ever had that impression of me. I have no idea how I could give that impression to anyone. When MD was a child, and I was a single parent, working and going to school and coping with chronic illness and MD's growing disability--how did anyone think I had it together? I would tell people point blank that I needed some help to do this thing or the other, ask them for their assistance--and...nothing. When I fell into severe depression, when people found out, they were shocked and most people never found out at all, not even when I told them. People want to believe what they want to believe. The first step in being a good friend is believing what really is. It is not helpful to either think someone who does have it together is "being brave" or that someone who is struggling "has it together."

David McDonald said...

As someone who has been a support person for people with disabilities for a long time, I've also been "accused" of being some kind of saint at times. The truth is that I aint no saint.

If the broader community could learn that disability is natural and ok, maybe they'd stop feeling sorry for people with disabilities and putting their caregivers on pedestals.


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