How We Teach Disabled People to Secretly Hate Themselves

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How We Teach Disabled People to Secretly Hate Themselves


16 responses to this post.

  1. I apologized to my older two not that long ago for having to be born to a disabled mother. For the poverty. For the missed school functions. For the times we drove somewhere only to have to turn around and drive home because I couldn’t face getting out of the car. For the times that I was out of spoons and needed to sit quietly. For their own autism/anxiety, both inherited and learned.

    They reacted with astonishment. They didn’t see me or their childhoods like that *at all*. They think I’m a great mother who always did the best I could.

    I am struggling with a lot of self loathing lately, though. Just not in relation to being a parent. Between my brain and my tremor I am losing more abilities lately and it’s hard not to feel down on myself about it. I did something this morning that was very difficult for me but had to be done and my husband told me afterwards that he was proud of me. Part of me appreciated that he understands how difficult things are for me lately but the other part of me was just so furious that it was hard for me in the first place.

    Sorry for the ramble. Just a lot of noise in my head lately.

  2. It is difficult to face our internalized ableism. When I was younger, I had thoughts in my head. “Well, at least I can still walk sometimes.”

    “I can’t walk, but at least I can still get in and out of bed without help.”

    “At least I am still weight-bearing and can do a stand-pivot transfer.”

    The truth is, my progressive neuromuscular disease will cause my body to continue to decline. I am not any better or any worse off than anyone else. But it took me years to admit I am not “better off” than anyone who is “more disabled” than me. Unpacking years of ableism takes time. Your paragraph about high self-esteem is SPOT ON! So much truth there.

  3. Just came across this blog and wanted to leave a comment. I think we have all experienced ablism and we may have also perpetuated ablism in some way without even realizing it it really goes without saying we should think before we speak or act but all too often we don’t even think. We just launch in without even knowing the circumstances or we just stick our nose into conversations without even having a clue. when I was about 4 years old (I only ever found out about this almost 7 years ago mind I don’t really remember the time it was said or even hearing it said) a visiting teacher once told my parents that when I was old enough to date someone my parents would have to tag along just to show me where to put my hands. I was hampered a lot with building friendships due to missing a lot of school due to ill health and being bullied at secondary school. Well, in early secondary school anyway. Being born blind often puts one behind the 8ball as eye contact and reading body language and facial expression is impossible if there are no verbal cues or people are reluctant to speak up. I recoil at the following terms which I might add are not just used in terms of disability but they can still be used in other contexts. “disabled” handicapped ( only time that I feel handicap can actually be used is in relation to golf games and that should be it. “retard” although this is a deroggitory term where disability is concerned the term is used in relation to foam for putting out fires although fire fighters call it “fire retardant” in my mind it’s a meaning that means slow down. When we’re told ablest things like that our parents are to follow along to a date to show us where to put our hands we internalise that and take it as gospel and it’s extremely difficult to forget what we’ve internalised. I honestly think this group leader who shouted at you at the time shouldn’t have shouted in anger at you there should have been more compassion to your situation as where grief is concerned you were probably feeling how anybody would feel when they’ve lost someone they love and everyone deals with grief very differently of course it’s not necessarily what we’re told but we sometimes perceive what people think and we hold onto those perceptions which again are sometimes very hard to shift.

  4. Posted by Melissa on February 27, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Reblogged this on Sit Down, Fight Back and commented:
    This is amazing,and encapsulates so much of what I feel about where I am in life right now. The ongoing struggle to unlearn all we were taught.

    Any message that tells us we are less valuable humans because of our ability, race, gender, gender identity, or sexuality is an act of violence, even when we enact it upon ourselves.

  5. […] telling my story after reading the blog entry, “How We Teach Disabled People to Secretly Hate Ourselves“.   I understand her fear of bringing a child into the world when she wasn’t sure if […]

  6. Posted by Conny on February 29, 2016 at 4:05 am


    Thanks for sharing this with us.. I have always felt the way you described in your blog. I was told from very early on in my life that I am not “normal” and that something was wrong with me… I grew up with this idea… O, I tried to show the world that I am as good a person as everyone else by trying to achieve through education… But somehow that wasn’t the solution.. From very early on I ruled out ever having a normal family life with children of my own. I told myself I couldn’t do it, and what if my children would end up with my abnormality? I know it is nonsense but my feelings still are that I am good for nothing. How do you deal with this? Do you think you will ever be able to shake this feeling of? I am sick and fed up by this feeling… I decided to call for help and hopefully there will be some for me…I am almost 49 years of age… It feels like a waste of a life to live this way…

    Conny van de Vijver

    • Hi, Conny

      How I deal with it is to just keep working on chipping away the negative. Every year (on my “diagnosaversary” – the anniversary of the day I learned I am Autistic) I look back and see what progress I’ve made, but the rest of the time I try not to let myself get too overwhelmed by the big picture. I focus on little chips day to day. There is a saying: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

      So I work on one thing at a time. One thing might be learning to recognize when I’m starting to get anxious so I can take some calming breaths before I get too deeply anxious.

      One thing I return to work on again and again is paying attention to the things I tell myself about myself. I try to shift those things bit by bit. It won’t work for me to take a big leap from “I’m all messed up” to “I’m great” so I take in between steps, like I might move from “I’m all messed up” to “even though I’m all messed up, I’m good to other people.” Little shifts. It is a work of an entire lifetime.

      But when I stop each year to look back, I see progress. So I just keep taking little bites out of that elephant.

      • Posted by Conny on February 29, 2016 at 6:29 am

        Thanks for your reply.. It’s a great idea to have your diagnosaversary each year. I had mine (autism) on a day in June 2011. I was 44 years of age. Somehow it seemed like a confirmation of my abnormality. But I must say; I finally knew what was going on in my life and I am still getting to know myself.

        I tried getting in contact with other persons in the Spectrum but I found out that gatherings of people (autistic or not) in pubs are not really what I am made for…Apart from not feeling at ease I had so much trouble following up on conversations. I stopped going there. That was very disappointing.

        “Even though I’m all messed up, I’m good to other people” sounds better to me than “I’m great”. More realistic and that’s what I need. In my case that would be “even though I’m messed up, I always try my best, in whatever it is I am doing…”

        Thanks again,

  7. […] Reposted from… […]

  8. Posted by Marianne on March 7, 2016 at 2:17 am

    Very powerful and extremely greatful. My daughter is 8 1/2 yes old, everyday I learn something new from her. A lot of times I feel like I’m inadequate as a mother of an Autistic child. Learning things I wish I knew a year ago. Feeling so much internal pain from finding out about little things that could have made a minute of her day easire if I found out yesterday. I learned of hugging therapy 2 1/2yrs after initial diagnosis. I found out about it on line, it was a 30 second video. It changed her world, my world. I was able to release her silent pain of stress, tension and anxiety in less than a minute. To physically feel all that leave her body and have her feel lighter, happier and see a sparkle in her eye, made me cry harder than I ever have. Both for joy of learning how to take away my babies pain that she was unable to tell and anger for not knowing, for the ignorance of the medical field, someone, anyone not taking 30 seconds to show me 2 1/2 yes prior how to take away my babies pain in less than a minute. I found it by accident. This is an amazing tool. We use it on her all the time. Immediately she laughs and smiles and is just content. So, now I’m paranoid I’m going to find information I wish I knew yesterday. Your life experience has not gone souly in vain. You have given me information I need to help her succeed for tomorrow. Because of you, I vail a life promise to you and my daughter to prevent this from being a view she accepts of and with in herself. I will use the right words so she confidently loves herself foremost. This is my tomorrow information. I can see how easily I would have followed your path and my daughter believing less of herself compared to the world she lives in. But, because you gave me tomorrow I will instill with her she is perfect, she fits just as uniquely as any other. She can build, conquer and live all her dreams because she can.

    Thank you so so much,

    My real first tomorrow. Forever greatful…

    Marianne Medzadourian

  9. Sparrow Rose, in my eyes you are beautiful and amazing and I’m so sorry that that ‘Compassionate Friend’ was so… opposite of compassionate in that awful moment.

    I was just diagnosed yesterday. (I’m 46.) This is actually the first place I’m saying it out loud. I was introduced to you last night when I read your piece in The Real Experts. *love* Thank you for being you and for writing. I just wrote down my diagnoversary (brilliant!) so I can celebrate it evermore. The relief at finally understanding after (hopefully) half a life is what I’m experiencing so far; I know there are other, harder feelings to come (I too am childless), but for now I’m just… glad to finally know who I am. Thank you for actually *being* a Compassionate Friend.

  10. […] devaluing of disabled people is not just a practice of able individuals. In her wonderful blog, Unstrange Mind, Sparrow Rose Jones writes about the phenomenon of “internalized […]

  11. Posted by Maeve on March 12, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Today has been my introduction to ableism. I am very sad to hear about it’s dominating role in your life. I appreciate you sharing, and hearing your story will make me pay more attention. I want to do my best to limit the occurrence of ableism in the people around me.

    I think that diversity makes our world rich. All different lives lead to different viewpoints. I feel very fortunate for time that I get to spend with people who have lead different lives, and live with a different set of tools than I do. There is so much to learn from each other.

    I really appreciate the opportunity you have given me to learn. Thank you for sharing your world so openly.

  12. […] Source: How We Teach Disabled People to Secretly Hate Themselves […]

  13. […] they’ll be like us. Have you read the Unstrange Mind’s post on this? It’s linked here, and it makes your heart […]

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