Who am I?
My name is Meagan. By day, I’m a communications advisor; by night, a freelance editor, a hobby musician, and devoted devourer of books.
I keep busy playing the piano (I’m not very good at it) and correcting other people’s grammar (which they actually pay me to do). I’m a mercurial introvert with a ton of excellent friends who love me anyway, and a wonderful husband who somehow manages to put up with my quirks.
I procrastinate like all good writers should. I love all creatures great and small, cute and fluffy. I really, really love chocolate, and I really, really hate bugs.
In other words, I’m a lot like you…
Oh yeah, and I’ve been blind from birth.
You might be thinking, “Wait, what’s that you said about being a lot like me?”
Unless you hang around with blind people a lot, you probably can’t help thinking that there’s a certain otherness that characterizes people with visible disabilities like blindness. In some ways that’s true. We definitely stand out. We walk around with long white sticks (or maddeningly cute doggies you’re not allowed to pet), and we possess a lot of devices that talk. And blind people like me, who have other, less visible disabilities on board, deal with a lot of little-known issues we simply don’t discuss often enough.
That said, we’re just like you. We have the same fears, hopes, aspirations, and ambitions that “normal” people do. We go to college, and work, and have kids, and play sports, and keep house, and hang out with friends, and do all that “normal” stuff.
So, you may ask, and with good reason, “If you’re exactly the same as everyone else, why write a blog about disability?”
For too many years, I believed I had to play up the “normal” bits of myself to the point where I was practically in denial when it came to my disabilities. I believed that a “good disabled person” had to behave as though her disabilities didn’t exist. If they did exist, they were no inconvenience at all. No big deal, I can function just like everybody else, maybe better. I am capable disabled gal, hear me roar!
What I’ve learned since is that, while it is very healthy not to centre my life around blindness and my other disabilities, it’s equally healthy to acknowledge that they’re really damn annoying sometimes.
They’re inconvenient. They make life harder, mostly because of the way people react to them. They’re not divine gifts that make me a better person. They’re just parts of me, undeniable but not all-consuming. And I want you to know what it’s like to live with them.
I want you to know that I routinely deal with questions like “Where’s your dog? You should have a dog!” and “They let you work here?” and my personal favourite, “How can you possibly have a life? How can you be happy?”
I want you to know that I occasionally run into doorways and walls and cabinet doors with frightening force. If you see me with a black eye, it was an inanimate object, not my husband, promise. Sometimes I drop things and then crawl around for a dog’s age trying to find them. Sometimes I miss spots when I clean my house. Sometimes I accidentally throw whites in with my coloured laundry. These are the minor things.
I also want you to know that it’s really tough to get hired because so many believe I can’t work. Sometimes, people treat me like I’m invisible or inhuman, because they perceive me to be fundamentally different and, by extension, inferior. Sometimes, people talk about me like I’m not there. Sometimes, people complain because I’m “a drain on the system”. Sometimes, I feel desperately lonely and misunderstood. Sometimes, I really, really resent being disabled. This ain’t a picnic in the sun…sometimes.
Mostly, though, I want you to know I’m pretty “normal” and happy, like I said.
I’m writing this blog because if I can make one person understand what my life is like, then I’ve succeeded. If I can make one person realize that we’re not so different, inferior, invisible, then my time hasn’t been wasted. I don’t speak for all disabled people, but I do know that my story is very much like many others.
If you’re still with me, stick around. Who knows? You might learn something; and if you don’t learn anything, I might at least make you laugh.
But wait–where’s my dog?
I don’t have one, … and that’s okay.