The Ugly Part

I probably shouldn’t be allowed near a blog right now. Someone should be here to say, “Jen, drop the keyboard and slowly walk away from the blog.” There is, however, nobody to do that.
This is in fact precisely the point. Disabled people, or at least this one, have trouble with both acquiring romantic partners and establishing and maintaining close friendships. Aside from the obvious consequences such as isolation, it means I do not have A Person – that one individual who I know will always be there no matter what. And, unfortunately, my particular circumstances mean I have need for A Person more than most.
I have known all this for quite some time, but last week it became a bit more relevant. Southern California went dark in a massive blackout. Exactly one person went out of her way to check on me. While it turned out I was fine, what if I hadn’t been? When push comes to shove, who will make certain I’m okay?
I suspect some of you are thinking, “There’s the Red Cross, 911, and surely neighbors will help.” Well, the power company has a list of people who might have problems if the power goes out. I got my call from them 16 hours after the power went out and 9 hours after it went back on. Additionally, in my apartment complex where I have lived for six years, not one of the twenty-five residents asked me if I needed anything.
This scares the out of me. I have a vivid and slightly pessimistic imagination, so I can come up with numerous circumstances where I might need help and can’t do anything to make that need known. I hate admitting this, but my life is pretty much a carefully stacked pile of rocks. One seemingly small shift could cause boulders to go tumbling every which way. Last week was a visceral reminder that disability both makes me more vulnerable and also limits who knows of the plight and helps.
A solution occurred to me. Once a friend told me I was “too independent for my own good.” Is that possibly the case? If I were to appear more helpless, would I thus get more help?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where I have to be les than I am in order to get what I might need. I’m not even sure I’m capable of behaving in that way.
So, on behalf of all the disabled people who walk in shoes similar to mine, even if you don know us well and even if we seem like we have it all together, when disasters like floods, hurricanes, wild fire and massive blackouts occur, knock on a door and use your words to say, “Things are a little bit nuts. I was wondering if you needed anything.”
At the top of this blog, I said I should probably not be allowed to post. This entry is going up tonight because tomorrow I am having yet another surgery (minor, promise). I’ve asked people for rides. I’ve asked people to come by and check on me. I’ve reached out for emotional support because my PTSDis acting up. Mostly people have been more than willing.
As I “reap” the benefits of this support, I feel a bit horrible even speaking about how abandoned I felt last week. This blog is supposed to show the good, bad, and ugly. Guess I’m living up to the ugly part today.

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About Jen

After acquiring a degree from Vassar College in psychology, I moved to Western Mass where I ran a peer mentoring network for disabled college students as well as activism and organizing around disability issues. I also conducted research on disabled women’s body image. An Upstate New York native, I eventually followed my heliotropic nature to the sun of Southern California. I divide my time between writing (disability fiction and essays) along with moderating San Diego Bisexual Forum which is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. In my off hours I can often be found in my neighborhood live music venue enjoying our local talent.

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