I finally finished my degree in Disability Studies after seven years of late nights, empowering lessons, and life-changing conversations. Hands down, Disability Pride was my most valuable takeaway. Not only did Disability Pride help me rethink my role as an ally, it also helped me reevaluate everything I thought I knew about myself (no exaggeration).
The feeling that can be attached to what Disability Pride has given me is liberation.
For years I had been shackled by shame. That shame, however, is no longer living within me. I am not ashamed of myself anymore. I am ashamed of the ableist values that surround me that I had accepted, and even upheld without realizing it.
I have memories that bring me right back to where I was—vulnerable, lonely and hating myself.
I was told that I was being excluded because no one wanted to be around the kid with an Educational Assistant at their desk. I sat by the door waiting for recess to end.
I am fine with who I am. I am not fine with ableism.
My bully ran after me flailing his arms and legs saying “Look at me, I’m Robin.” I pretended I was sick to get out of gym class.
I love my body and the way it moves. I don’t love ableism.
I am still unravelling the way this darn ableist shame has followed me into adulthood. Internalizing ableism is a habit that’s not easy to break. It’s painful, difficult and necessary work and it is so worth it.
It takes repeating until believing: I am enough, always have been, and always will be.
Thank you for reading.