Dave Hingsburger recently wrote a post called “Why I’m Not Telling You About Today” (http://davehingsburger.blogspot.com/2012/08/why-im-not-telling-you-about-today.html) and in it there’s a section dealing with positivity and anger. He writes:
“Being positive, or optimistic, on the other hand, is probably a good approach to life for many, it is for me. But being positive isn’t the same as being complacent, or as being a doormat. Being positive isn’t the same as accepting less than the best or being comfortable with the status quo. Being positive, for me, is a general frame of mind that doesn’t preclude anger, or frustration, or even outright annoyance. Alternately, being angry, or frustrated or annoyed, when there is cause, doesn’t mean I’m not a positive person.”
He says that he believes in the power of anger. I agree with every little bit of his post. I do consider myself a positive person these days. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get angry. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get angry.
Recently, I was told that I need to watch my tone and be nicer to people. That I am the one who should be the bigger person because that would mean I’m the better person.
People seem to have this theory in my head that being the bigger person means being quiet, respectful, and being polite when people walk all over you. Quite frankly, I consider that a bunch of bullshit. Like Dave describes, I’ve often started off with being nice, quiet, calm, and “reasonable” but doing all of those things rarely gets people to treat me decently.
It’s only when I raise my voice, when people realize there might be a problem. It’s only when I refuse to take “no” for an answer that people suddenly start coming up with solutions. The other day I went to the mall and a car parked in the hash marks of a disabled space, blocking in two legally parked cars and the only curb cut that would keep me out of the middle of the road in the pouring rain. I tried to get through, but I couldn’t fit. No one in a wheelchair or even with a walker or crutches would have been able to fit. After trying to slam through unsuccessfully, I had to go through the middle of the road to get inside. I went to the security desk and calmly explained my situation and pointed out that it was a hazardous situation for any disabled person. Security shrugged their shoulders at me and told me they couldn’t do anything.
It wasn’t until I started yelling and swearing that they took me seriously. It took me being a thorn in their side to get them to do something. They could have done something. They just didn’t want to. Not until I was a bitch.
One night a car pulled up to me while I was on a walk. I ignore them and keep going. So the car beeps its horn at me until I finally turn around. Irritated I tell her that it’s creepy to have cars coming up to you at night to talk. She tells me she doesn’t understand.
It’s not until I yell “go away!” that she leaves me be.
All of a sudden, I’m described as confrontational. Angry. Bitter.
All because I’m tired of taking ‘no’ for an answer.
I’ve finally found myself in a situation where I’ve finally gotten comfortable with my disability. I have pain 24/7 but I’m learning to deal with it. I have roommates who treat me like an ordinary person. I have a job with employers who treat me like an ordinary person. I go to Karate as much as I can. I’m starting to volunteer with a service dog group next week. I played basketball for the first time since I was a teenager the other day. I’m considering trying horseback riding. I’m happy with where I am in life right now.
So when someone tries to deny me access, or when someone tries to invade my personal space, you can bet I am not going to be happy. I’m not going to be silent. When I am silent, people mistake it for acceptance.
And I want people to know that I don’t accept crap. If I have the energy and ability to stand up for myself and other people who want entrance into things, then I’m damn well going to do it. And I refuse to stop. Because this isn’t just my life. There are other people with disabilities who are having a hard time, but they’re quiet because they’re too scared or in too much pain or out of energy.
I have the energy and ability to fight. I’m not going to stop.