Yes, these words were said to me recently. They were part of what was a well-intended compliment. You know, the back-handed kind.
What preceded these words was a statement about my general “success” in life. The biggies – career, marriage and family.
I thoughtfully paused in the conversation, “Ummm…worse cerebral palsy, what makes it worse?”
My sense was with this person, my CP was deemed worse than his due to my affected speech and more pronounced walk. Yet, as was pointed out, I had certain “accomplishments” that he was still striving for. How did that make sense?
Not until those of us living with all types of disabilities relinquishes our individual and collective need for the hierarchy, the “I’m better-ing than you” that goes on among us.
I have certainly been guilty of it in the past. Thoughts pop up in our heads like, “Well, they use a wheelchair and I don’t, so why are they able to do that and I can’t?” Or dare I write it, “Their disability is so much more significant than mine…how did they attract that person in their life?
Each thought, each statement, every back-handed compliment is another way we oppress one another, mirroring what society continues to do.
So what do we do instead? How do we let go of our need to hierarchize our abilities?
Begin by asking yourself why you have the need to superiorize your disability. By doing so, what does it help you cope with or believe about yourself? My guess is there’s probably a healthier coping strategy to get to this more positive belief without going down the comparison road.
Pull your attention back to yourself and your abilities. If we have to build ourselves up by what others can’t do, that’s not a real strong foundation.
Be gentle with yourself. That need to compare and be better comes from an unhealed place within. When you feel the need to compare or claIm an upper spot on the hierarchy, go within. Give yourself a good dose of love. It’s probably what you need most in that moment. If you’re having trouble with that, these statements could help you out.
In this season when we’re talking about the power of accepting yourself and your disability, tearing down the hierarchy is an important component of full acceptance.
I’ll be live on Facebook tonight at 8pm (EST) to talk about this and would love to hear from you! Tune in, share your thoughts, or message me on Facebook ahead of time a question or a comment.