I was at the Occupy Philadelphia rally last week. A reporter, Sara, and I talked, and she decided she would interview me. (She was from CNN. I don't know if the interview was shown or not.)
The camerawoman turned on the camera and Sara took out her reporter's notebook.
"What is your name?" I answered that one easily.
Then the question that always stumps me. (I think I have written about this before, either here or at the old Women In Pain Awareness site so please bear with me if I am repeating myself somewhat. Age, you know, is my joke but it is more what my friend always says of me, "You never learn your lesson.")
"What do you do?"
I thought for a second. Did my usual hemming and hawing dance, more inside my head then vocally, I hope.
Then I said "I am disabled."
I hate saying that. Those of us with pain or other invisible disabilities fear the look that we sometimes get, the one that says 'Oh yeah, sure, I see how disabled you are. (In fact there have been 2 comments recently under the post Pain vs. Cancer. The commenter lets me know very loudly how untrue chronic pain is as a disease and how we are all nothing but drug users, lazy, etc. - Please feel free to reply to him.) Sara had no response to that, nor did I see disbelief in her face (but she is a reporter, trained not to show reactions.)
I stayed at the rally as long as I could then took the train to get back to my house. As I rode along, I thought about the interview. And emotionally kicked myself.
An online friend and fellow pain sufferer said, a long time ago, you (meaning me and disabled others in general) are much more than your disability. You are mothers and daughters, writers and singers, students and teachers. Disability is a small part of who you are as a person.
She was right. I should have said I was an author, or hypnotherapist, or teacher.
I am published and even though I rarely see clients or teach, I am and do both of those as well.
My life revolves around the things I cannot do. The things I can do fade in the background.
Maybe by letting them fade I make myself less, not only to the world but to myself. And maybe that is one of the biggest disservices I do to me.