With Water, Rudder and Pilot

It’s strange how sometimes it literally feels like a switch is flipped inside your head and everything changes. You were just passively sitting there, taking in the world, when between one breath and the next it’s all different.

This happened a couple of days after I wrote

The factor changing everything was A PLAN. Funny how that makes it all easier on someone like me.

Actually, I’ve come to realize it’s not all that astonishing that plans make someone like me feel better. A large part of my life has been without parameters – I don’t know how much energy I will have each day, I don’t know what barriers to access I will encounter, and I don’t know what my body will do next. Most people have at least the illusion that these things will remain more or less constant. I think maybe that’s one of the often unacknowledged differences between non-disabled and disabled people – the illusion of constancy versus the hard reality of the unknown.

Non-disabled people have come to count on a world that works in certain ways because by in large it has done so in the past. They wake up with about the same amount of energy and they can accomplish things without crazy obstacles being thrown in their paths. I refer to it as an illusion because people get the flu, cars get flat tires, people get laid off, bones get broken, houses flood, stores run out of diapers, and total chaos is entirely possible. It’s just not likely and people tend to count upon that and learn to cope when it’s not the case.

I cannot move through the world playing the odds that it will be smooth sailing because it’s so often not. I’m more likely to have wrenches thrown in the works and need to be prepared to handle such eventualities. My reality is unpredictability and my best coping strategy is preparedness.

I guess it’s the difference between walking on a tight rope knowing a net will catch you versus walking on it not knowing if there is a net. Nothing in your skill level changes, but the difference is huge.

My doctor laid out the steps for sorting everything out. Nothing is even infinitesimally more certain, but knowing the part somehow makes it easier.

I’ve been accused of being a control freak. and, to some extent, wanting to be in control is a feature of my personality. However, how much lack of control do I live with on average? Wouldn’t that tend to make me want to be able to control what I can? To assign random numbers to the situation, I have maybe 30% ability to predict events in my life. A non-disabled person might have more like 55% ability to foresee the future. So, wouldn’t I be prone to trying to make my number closer to that of a non-disabled person? Am I a control freak or just a person wanting the security of knowing whether or not there’s a safety net?

This entry was posted in The Messy Side, Why? WHY? W*H*Y??? and tagged , , by Jen. Bookmark the permalink.

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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