Concepts, Controversy

The Burden of Explanation

I briefly mentioned in my last post that it wasn’t on me to educate others or explain to them anything related to living and dealing with my disability. That act of explaining or educating someone who doesn’t really know what it’s like to live while disabled can frankly be a burden. It’s not on me to carry such a burden, and I can’t stress that enough. I shouldn’t feel obligated to explain the things that are difficult for me for someone else’s benefit.

I mean, the amount of times I’ve had to answer the question, “What’s CP?” to an adult in my life just blows my mind. Here’s a little secret: personally, having to answer that gets really annoying. If you don’t know what CP is, perhaps you should look it up for goodness sake.

Now, as an aside, if a child asks me about my crutches or why I walk the way I walk, I will answer them regardless of how it makes me feel, because children are so little and just don’t know any better. However, getting questioned by an adult is honestly just plain irritating. First of all, asking me what’s wrong with my legs is rude and second of all, it’s none of your business.

I know, I know, I write this blog, which can be considered educational in some aspects. Wow, the irony, right? Wrong. Like I said, I write this blog mostly for two reasons: 1) I enjoy discussing my life experiences and 2) because it’s fun, not because I necessarily want to teach everyone. If you happen to learn something by reading this blog, that’s on you, not me.

Which brings me to another point I’d like to expand on: just because I have CP doesn’t mean I speak for every person who has it, too. Every case is as different as the individual it affects. I’m definitely not anyone’s poster child. I’m just a writer who identifies as disabled, and I am fulfilled by writing about it.

I also understand that folks could just be curious when they ask me questions, and not necessarily ignorant about my condition. Curiosity is fine, I suppose, if you’re seeking knowledge and trying to understand. Ignorance is not OK, in my opinion, and I think most would agree with me.

Of course, ignorance is a huge topic and worthy of its own blog entry, but just for argument’s sake, here’s a very subtle example of the ignorance I deal with on a daily basis: last week, my best friend and I went to get manicures and pedicures at the nail salon. Note, it wasn’t our local nail salon, since we decided to meet up somewhere else for a change. I mention this because those that work at our local nail salon are familiar with me. They know that I can’t wear flip flops after a pedicure because they fall off my feet without fail and make it much harder to walk; that I have to sit at the first pedicure chair instead of one in the middle because there’s much more space; and they even help me go from the pedicure chair to the manicure station, just to name a few details…but of course, I can’t expect the same experience at a different salon with workers who don’t know who the heck I am.

The very first thing I noticed about this new salon? It wasn’t accessible. There was a huge step to get inside the building. I did struggle with that huge step, and when I finally got inside to tell the worker who greeted my best friend and me that we wanted manicures and pedicures, the worker gestured to me and asked, “Are your feet OK?”

I’ve gotten many, many pedicures in my life up to this point and not once has a pedicurist asked me if “my feet were OK.” Not ever. I mean, sure, when I get pedicures it can sometimes be uncomfortable because of my high muscle tone and spasticity, and I can appear “jumpy” or as though I cannot relax, but still. How would somebody unfamiliar with my disability know or expect that? To even ask such a question about my feet? How did they even appear to be “not OK?” Just because I walk with crutches doesn’t mean my feet aren’t alright, and even if they weren’t “OK,” I wouldn’t be in a nail salon if I thought I wasn’t able to get a pedicure. Jeez. I just can not with some people.

I could have said, “It’s not my feet that are the problem. It’s your storefront’s inaccessibility that’s the problem here,” a nod to the quote above that I re-posted on this blog’s Instagram account (which you should follow if you haven’t already, by the way). If that stupid step wasn’t so unbelievably big, I wouldn’t have had such a problem getting into the salon to begin with. Maybe, if the storefront was accessible, the woman wouldn’t have thought to ask about my feet, and maybe wheelchair users could frequent the salon. I’d definitely bet that wheelchair users like to get their nails done, too. Am I right, or am I right?

Regardless of my own frustrations, though, I answered the woman with a simple, “Yes.” This might be an indication of how accustomed I am to such questions; how bored I am of them. Or… perhaps how I just didn’t feel like launching into a whole diatribe about how my feet are just fine. Probably because I just wanted to get a pedicure like everybody else. I mean, what the heck is so difficult about that? It’s an activity that I enjoy, and should be able to enjoy without feeling tired or bored or frustrated. OK. Rant over.

1 thought on “The Burden of Explanation”

  1. Honey, some people are just &#]#+#! You have had many pedicures, stick to the Salon that knows how to treat you.
    You should not have to explain anything when you enter a salon. Some people are just ignorant period.


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