There are phrases that we who have a disability hear all the time without noticing how unusual, in fact gross, they would be if they were directed at others.
I’m not referring to the daily questions about where our disability comes from, whether it was due to illness or accident, whether we don’t see anything at all, whether we dream at night or how do you know if someone is beautiful without seeing.
There are countless curious questions that, depending on how and when they are asked and also who answers them, can be understood as natural and healthy or as invasive and irritating. Unfortunately I don’t have a prescription or instruction manual on how to talk to a blind person.
A few days ago I discovered that many more meanings are hidden in a speech as frequent as the previous ones, which are intended to demonstrate empathy, willingness to learn from each other and build bonds.
How many times, dear reader, has someone told you that they would make an effort to learn to deal with you?
If you have a disability, probably a hundred times. Heard things like that when he went to enroll in a course, went through a job interview, went to a travel agency, set up a date on a dating app. This if you were lucky, as there is also a risk that they would have said they would not know how to act in the situation and closed the door, suggesting that I look for an expert on people like you.
On the other hand, if you don’t live with a disability, I’d bet you’ve never heard anything like it. More than that, I would be very offended if anyone tried to show sympathy in this way, whether you are male or female, rich or poor, black or white, young or old. He will say, everyone needs to accept me as I am and knowing how to treat me as an equal is no more than anyone’s obligation.
Why do people with disabilities form a group that you can calmly admit that you don’t know how to deal, while others are understood as consumers, professionals, students, friends, and potential companions?
The exclusion that people with disabilities have always experienced in education, social life and work has led us to a situation in which we and the best intentioned people, willing to start a relationship with us, do not even realize how symptomatic it is to accept that we are still so far away that, without an effort for us to learn from each other, our deficiencies will be an insurmountable wall for there to be some exchange between us.
There are specifics in the way we who have a disability communicate, learn, move, have fun. Most people don’t know much about it and it really may be necessary to learn something in the first contact, that there is a warning that the right way to lead is to let the blind man hold the elbow of the person leading the way. And we are all the time hoping to find people receptive to our way of being.
But why is living with someone with a disability often seen as a humanitarian gesture by some kind-hearted people and not something that should come naturally to everyone? I think it would be much better to have a world where people knew and embraced these differences, if they understood and lived together naturally.
Instead, the blind person who arrives in a new space is often the destabilizing novelty. It is the person that no one had prepared to receive at the party, for whom they will look for a chair in the corner instead of calling for the dancefloor. Until one day someone comes along willing to learn to deal with us, to teach the dance steps hand in hand, and we are immensely grateful that they have remembered us for as long as a song lasts.
When the mood is better, I look at the matter upside down. Once a family member decided that he would take over Cupid’s millennia-old work and find a girlfriend for me. The first quality he listed about the imaginary suitor is that the girl should not be prejudiced. Excellent. So, deficiency is a natural repellent for prejudiced people. A great privilege, I would say.
I just wonder why people who don’t have disabilities accept to have a relationship with someone who is intolerant, who cannot imagine living with the different. Waking up in the morning beside someone who has such a poor view of the world seems to me infinitely more difficult than being with someone who cannot see.
Come to think of it, there are a thousand things that can be harder to deal with than blindness. Can you imagine what it would be like to deal with someone dishonest? I would need a lot of meditation and empathy to adapt to this.
How do you deal with people who think they are superior to others? How do you deal with someone who is an encyclopedia of truths learned on WhatsApp?
There are people who find it very easy to deal with those who talk non-stop. It’s great for me, I’d rather just listen, which is a big challenge for the quieter ones.
As we deal with the person who is always with feelings on edge, walks in the street with the dog as if it were the most transcendental experience you can live on a winter’s day and does all the actions of those who are yours. back look mediocre? how do you deal with the person who has become disenchanted with life and just wants to be silent in his corner? Who can help me to relate to highly educated people who are intimidated by their intelligence?
It seems that this whole gang also came without a prescription or instruction manual. It won’t be easy, but I promise to work hard to learn to deal with all of you. Be patient and let me know if I do something wrong. And I already anticipate the apologies for my lack of experience.