Yesterday I went to the Caring Across Generations Washington DC Care Congress. It's all about getting more rights for domestic workers, including PCAs. I wouldn't consider myself a labor advocate, but ADAPT was a big sponsor, so they wanted a showing. Initially I felt guilted into going (I have standing Tuesday afternoon plans), but I am so glad I went.
On the Caring Across Generations site you can watch the morning portion of the Care Congress (Warning though, I think it's four hours), see all the religious, labor, elderly, and disabled activist groups that sponsored (there are tons), listen to personal stories, and look up where/when your local care congress will be held over the next 13 months.
I started off my day from my parents' house, being that they live an hour closer then I do, and hopped on the bus to the metro. Turns out the elevator was out at the stop, so I hopped on another bus to the next stop (making me late, but so what), rode the metro where I needed to go, got off, rolled half a block down the correct street, noted that the numbers were going down, not up, turned around, and found the hotel without any trouble.
I couldn't help but beam. That was something I was never completely certain I'd be able to do, and I didn't even bat an eye (I think that's the expression) when I did it. It was a good start to a very long and tiring 19hr day, as I hadn't slept a full night in 5 days at that point.
It was more then nice to see and relax with some super awesome activist crips and labor activists whom I either just met or hadn't had a chance to see in a couple of months, as they live all over the country. It was also a good chance to be myself and to be viewed as an individual with enormous potential to affect change in the lives of millions of people, even though I don't know nearly as much about labor issues as others there. I felt smart, I felt accomplished, I felt valued, and oddly enough I didn't feel inferior to anyone there. I've had an inferiority complex for YEARS.
After giving it some serious thought before I made a comittment to go, it turns out I also didn't give a crap that I ditched my shrink appointment to go. I didn't need to go. I needed to be there. I needed to find the hotel alone without having a panic attack, to navigate both me and a friend through the metro to a resturant I'd never been to before, and to have social interaction beyond the walls of the local nuthouse (where OOO uses donated space). So I texted her at about 10pm. Old habits die hard. I told her I felt [a word I refuse to use in relation to myself], for lack of the ability to find a more appropriate word at the time. I had more fun Tuesday night then I can remember having possibly ever, and later came up with those words that had alluded me at the time.
I felt HAPPY. I felt CONTENT.
"Life is what happens when you're not at your shrink." True that!
I don't know if I've ever felt content in my life. I don't think I've felt happy in 3 years (well, maybe at National Actions). I can't remember when I didn't feel inferior. I mean, I grew up a cripple. I didn't have any happy and content crip role models growing up. I'd never met a confident, content wheelchair user until 3 years ago. I knew it was possible, but man did I have some roadblocks.
I've known for years that I needed more then just medication and therapy to keep me stable and functional, but I didn't have have the resourses to access what I needed. This dramatic development didn't happen on it's own in issolation. So I'd love to keep going, but this post is long, and I already talked about that a little. Maybe there'll be more tomorrow.