Moving past disbelief
Moving into presence and change
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Words can be powerful. We may become so inundated with the heaviness of our world that we might say, “I can’t believe this is happening.” Sometimes our disbelief can create a cloak over our eyes. With every action that cultivates disbelief, we can face an uncomfortable reality and believe what’s happening or tighten our cloaks and deny it. I remember receiving comments from people I grew up with saying, “I don’t see you as Disabled,” and seeing how sentences like that created avoidance from others to meet my needs and, in turn, created internalized ableism within myself. Sentences like that made me hide my suffering. They made me not feel open enough to share the pain I was physically feeling in my body. At times I feel like disbelief is a call to self-reflect. Disbelief can ask us, “have I contributed to whatever I feel disbelief about?”
I love the quote from Toni Cade Bambara that Fariha Roisin shared in a recent Instagram post that says:
“Words are to be taken seriously. Words set things in motion. I’ve seen them doing it. Words set up atmospheres, electrical fields, charges. I’ve felt them doing it. Words conjure. I try not to be careless about what I utter, write, sing. I’m careful about what I give voice to.”
I had been feeling bogged down and frustrated. In these feelings, I have had to let myself be in them, where I would usually use some modality to help cloak over the frustrations of the world. In these feelings, I remind myself it’s truly okay to be pissed at how the world is. I can mourn. I can be sad. I can turn to creating art in times of trouble. I can gather with community to strategize; I can take time to sit in solitude to process my feelings through journaling. Feeling these things doesn’t mean I am hopeless; it means I am human. I’ve been taking my time to process and taking my time to cultivate action that best suits me and my own capacity.
When I first watched the documentary “Crip Camp,” I saw Disabled people get mad about their mistreatment. Before seeing this part of Disability history that was never shared with me, I felt very alone in the stories I’d tell. The frustration I was feeling in response to how some interacted with me was met with some people trying to soften the blows. In moments I’d share rooted in frustration about my Disabled experience, I’d receive the comment, “I can’t believe this happened to you.” I saw this response as a refusal for others to take accountability for their own ableism. Growing up, I would witness palatable Disability narratives where I’d see someone “overcome” their challenges and how that can be used as “inspiration” for Non-Disabled people. I remember feeling the pressure as a kid to go along with these narratives and dismiss my own true feelings. I’d notice some would use me to create stories of me “overcoming” things. I remember being tokenized. I am not overcoming anything, though, I am moving through a Disabled experience, and on the other side of that, I am still Disabled.
Viewing “Crip Camp” was a revelation because it was the first time I saw Disabled people sharing their stories directly and sharing their frustrations. They weren’t being put on a pedestal. I was bummed it took me so long to learn about Judy Heumann or Brad Lomax. After watching the documentary, it was just affirmation for me to keep making the work I make and sharing my own stories. I still become in awe by how much I continue to learn from others in the Disability community and how I unearth more the older I get.
I’ve been sitting a lot with the concept of “hope” lately, and I really enjoyed what my friend Jack shared on their Instagram stories the other day, which helped me a great deal in my own processing of emotions. The quote below is from “Hope In The Dark” by Rebecca Solnit.
I spent the majority of last month in physical therapy recovering from my subdural hematoma. I watched as my progression slowly improved, and my energy returned to a familiar sense of self. It kind of feels like I have been waking up from an extended period of sleep. It’s been interesting that after a few months of rest & recovery, I have wanted to catapult myself back to how things were before November. I feel I wasn’t anticipating this recovery to last as long as it has. I had been feeling impatient with myself, and when I tried to go the extra mile, I’d be exhausted. I have been underestimating my own process of recovery. I have to remind myself that just because I am feeling more energy and more present in my body doesn’t mean that I can get back to where I was right away in terms of my actual capacity. I sat last week with the recognition that my capacity is okay. I am now trying to fit my capacity with the work I have to do, getting through my projects, the doctor’s appointments, and having time with loved ones.
I also have to remind myself that it’s still Winter. That the nature around me is still taking its time to grow. So I continue to sit with my feelings and with the unknown. I continue to be in this uncomfortable place of recovery. I continue to try to find new ways to show up for myself and my community. I continue to try my best to do what I can in a world that feels like it’s burning.
Four Things For You!
- A post shared by Bev - Healthcare & Disability (@unwellunlimitedly)
Please take some time to read this article, “Little Turtle’s War” RIP Tort <3 Here’s a gofundme to help support their family.
- A post shared by Jermaine Greaves (@jermainegreaves)
Jermaine Greaves needs community support; more information is in his Instagram post, which also includes image descriptions.
If you’re wanting to increase accessibility in your work, please consider checking out this free virtual offering via Zoom from @disabilitycollective on Feb. 28th. You can register for this event here.A post shared by The Disability Collective (@disabilitycollective)
Self Promotional Things
I shared the news earlier that my oracle deck is coming out on February 28th! I’ll continue to be sharing oracle cards and the stories behind them for my paid subscribers, and I am in the process of recording a podcast that’s coming in March where I give folks readings from the deck! I’m so grateful I’ll be able to share this deck with ya’ll.
As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my newsletter, and I look forward to sharing things with you soon! Please feel free to comment on this post and share anything connected with you, to a loved one, or on social media if you wish to do so. My Instagram tag is @barryleeart. I hope that you are staying safe and well. <3