It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Non-Existent Trauma

I'm writing this for someone I know in real life; someone who reads this blog and comments profusely. This person lives across the street. I'm not usually this obvious in calling people out, but in this case I need to be. You still wouldn't be able to google her and have this pop up, so I feel her identity is adequately protected. I am writing this because I don't know what else to do. Repeated conversations over several months have not worked. Maybe a blog post will? I can't say you haven't gotten the hint because I haven't been hinting. I've been straight up. [BTW, I welcome comments from anyone]

I am going to say this for hopefully the last time, because I'm getting very frustrated--
Period. The end. I spent most of my last therapy appointment discussing this (you're not the only one who has mentioned trauma in relation to me) and
Ok, so that wasn't the last time I said that because I just said it again... but hopefully now it is.

My shrink (who I have been seeing faithfully for the last 3.5 years) said that she has actually been quite surprised that I don't have a trauma background given everything that has happened in my life (both disability and non-disability related). I've got a long list of things that could have had a lasting traumatic imprint on my soul that haven't. I guess you could say I'm rather resilient, which is not a word I would have ever thought to pair up with Cheryl until just now. Not a part of my identity at all. She said
"It's not something that's ever entered my mind with you."
This however has not been enough to end the incessant badgering. It's where I'm at a complete loss now. Because when I asked my shrink what I needed to say to this person, she said "Tell her I've had extensive trauma training and it's not something that's ever entered my mind with you."

I know, I keep repeating myself, but maybe if it doesn't sink in the first time, it'll sink in the 3rd? She got it the first time by text immediately following my appt while I was waiting on paratransit. That first time I (we?) was (were?) immediately invalidated, and that's something you just don't do to me. It's one of, if not my biggest pet peeve, invalidating me, what I feel, what I experience, how I perceive things. If you want to talk trauma, this is my trauma. And this. This too (the first paragraph only) is all connected. Same person involved. These are the incidences that have led to panic attacks and nightmares.

I've thought about this continuously over the preceding 8hrs before starting to write this. Maybe I have experienced trauma. Fine. I give up. I'll tell you what you want to hear if it'll make you stop. Being brushed off for seven years, when I knew I needed more extensive and/or differently tailored psychiatric treatment caused trauma. This woman above caused trauma. Maybe the physical therapist who dismissed my pain (that was bad enough to make me cry) as me wanting to get out of therapy, when I actually had a post surgical complication caused trauma. She got fired FYI. Oh yeah, there was that 5th grade art teacher too (I needed a hell of a lot of psychotherapy to deal with him)... But it's not the forced therapy or sending me to the vice principal that caused trauma, it's the dismissiveness. If you can't see it, it's not there. NOT TRUE!

My friend, not wanting to listen to me, seems to want to think that having a physical disability, and everything that comes along with it, is deeply traumatic in and of itself. NOT TRUE EITHER! How do I explain this? It took me another 4hrs after my appt to come up with it.

Saying that experiences directly related to cerebral palsy -- PT, surgery etc -- are inherently traumatic is like saying experiences directly related to being black -- learning how to style black hair (which I hear is difficult), having someone cross the street when they see you coming their way on the sidewalk -- is traumatic. Now, I am clearly not black, so correct me if I'm wrong, but in relation to the CP stuff, my shrink and I said the same exact thing at the same time (that's a first for that)
These things weren't traumatic, they were MY NORMAL.
Having twice weekly physical therapy starting at 6mos old, needing to be taught how to roll over and sit up and walk up and down stairs wasn't traumatic, not unless you count having to go to hebrew school on Sunday mornings as "traumatic." Or having to do the dishes, or sitting through 10th grade geometry class as "traumatic." All kids have to do things they don't want to do. Heck, all adults have to do things they don't want to do. It's just the way life is. It's not "trauma." This is trauma.

And no, I am not diminishing my trauma. Hell, why would I do something that is my own pet peeve? Don't you do that to me. PLEASE!!! Would you tell a black person that the fact that they are black means that they experienced trauma? Would you tell a proud black person, who cherishes their identity and culture that they are denying their trauma? Then why do you continue to disbelieve me?


Marsha said...

Hi Cheryl,
I am surprised you consider this person a friend, because her actions and how they have affected you certainly don't seem friend-like.
Perhaps you ought to consider blocking her access to you on FB, blog, phone, etc.?
Letting her emotionally abuse you this way is kind of like self-flagellation? And you don't deserve that.
You don't need to defend yourself and invoke your therapist's expertise and experience, you just need to turn off the faucet of access and roll away/free yourself from the abuse you don't deserve. Good Luck and stay strong!

Georgina Dollface said...

Arrrrgh! Where do I begin? It really bugs me when people assume that having a disability is some sort of tragedy. What they don't uderstand is that in and of itslf, a disability is not inherently a challenge. What is a challenge is people's ignorance, lack of accessible spaces, lack of adequate healthcare, employment opps, etc. Society needs to fix those things before trying to fix/cure/heal/blah blah blah people with disabilities. Sorry you've had a crappy experience with a neighbour but this post really illuminates some of the ignorance that is out there. Thanks for writing this post. - G

Cheryl said...

I didn't think I'd hit such a deep nerve people! Not only is this person a friend, she is one of my closest friends, and a recent inductee into ADAPT! She's not trying to fix me or anything of the sort. She's just displacing her trauma onto me, I think. Gasping at anything she can displace it onto. Her trauma (most of which was related to her disabilities) was bad enough that I think most people in 2010 would consider it a human rights violation. Except it was the 70s/80s.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, I feel hurt and betrayed that you never discussed this conflict in full with me. I could have cleared up some miscommunications without heartache, drama and a damaged friendship. I do not think a physical disability is traumatizing. I think painful hospital experiences before one is old enough to understand why they are taking place and give consent, before one can understand the all important words “I’m sorry”, are traumatizing, whether or not they have a lifelong impact on you. Experiences such as discrimination can cause anger or shame or create a barrier, or they can bounce off you, but in my own personal experience it hasn’t caused me trauma. I now know I was imposing my opinion on you, and I’m sorry. That said I wish you had discussed this issue with me with a friend or your therapist, as I discussed with you and our friend and my social worker a disability related issue that I had with you, because I could not get through to you that you were repeated angering and distressing me and I did not like it. The thing is I try my very best to treat my friends with respect and kindness, even if I am not perfect. The readers of your blog and face book don’t know that. Identifying me and talking about my trauma was a gross violation of my privacy. You made assumptions about it and now I am glad I never discussed my story in full with you and exposed myself to you. I wish you had not hurt me and betrayed our friendship. I wish you had not done this.

Anonymous said...

ME TOO. I wish you had not done that.

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