I’ve always had a hard time understanding whether certain things that I struggle with are tied in some way to my disability. I don’t mean that to sound like I actively try to blame things on being disabled. There’s just so much I feel having a disability informs about my life that separating them is difficult. One area in particular that I’ve noticed this with, especially as adult, is gratitude.
It’s not that I set out to seem ungrateful, or even that I’m not grateful for things the people closest to me do for me. I just struggle immensely with being given and asking for help. This isn’t something new. I’ve always been this way to a certain degree. But somewhere it crossed the line from merely wanting independence to being outright set against getting help from people.
Now that I’ve sat with this for a while I think there are a few specific things that have contributed to this development. One being that I miraculously thought that by becoming an adult I would have to solve all of my problems myself, and more than that, I’d be able to do it. Feel free to pause here to laugh hysterically. That obviously didn’t happen, and still hasn’t. I know this much, I don’t know anything.
Not unlike my childhood however, there have always been people ready and willing to help me out in whatever way they could. To their complete credit that is still true, regardless of how poorly I react to needing the help, which has been very, in case you were curious. Again, I had this mindset that adulthood meant doing things on my own, or in my case, with my husband. Not being able to do things on our own meant we were failing, meant I was failing. I’m only starting to realize how much time and energy I’ve wasted being so wrong. I’m also very much aware of the damage more than likely done to relationships with people who just tried to love my stubborn pain in the ass.
Ok but how does disability tie in? Well like I said I’ve been sitting with these feelings a while. I realized that to a certain degree I’m tired of feeling indebted. As cringe – worthy a statement as that is, hear me out. All my life I’ve survived in no small part due to people’s ability and willingness to do things for me, or to help me do things for myself. This has, a large portion of the time, been in some way related to my disability.
That’s almost thirty years of on-going expressions of gratitude for things that, on more than one occasion I’ve thought, wouldn’t be necessary if I didn’t require the help in the first place. Again that’s not to say I am not grateful for the help I’ve received throughout my life. I’ve been terrible at showing that gratitude, I admit. But it was there. It was just more often than not accompanied by the fervent desire to be doing whatever activity independent of any help.
This continues to this day and, like I mentioned, has ended up causing a lot of my relationships some hardship. I understand that is my fault. I’d like very much to think that I’ll be able to fix the damage caused in some way other than writing a piece of guilt – ridden long-form. Maybe one day I will. I like to think small improvements have already been made. I can only hope that continued self awareness and growth happen and that I’m able to use it positively.