While I will argue with my last breath that the social isolation I experience is a factor of other’s attitudes and beliefs, I internally constantly re-examine this. Unfortunately, the world feeds this constant search for an explanation with my actions, words and shortcomings at its center. (Are you giving in to your shyness? Are you seeking people out? Are you self-absorbed? Are you no fun to be around? Are you unclean?) Seeking fault in myself is a habit that has reached the level of reflex.
It’s a bad habit that keeps me constantly doubting myself, allowing those around me to remain blameless. It is an internal dialogue that tears me down and I can never really like myself because I am forever finding fault with myself.
This maladaptive tendency was highlighted recently. First, I attended a group gathering with a friend, which was described in the previous two posts. Then, I went off and spent time with a gaggle of bisexual people coming together for a wWite House event. Typically, with group gatherings, I find myself hanging out with my dog as others chat and laugh. There are those who make an effort, but it is an obvious effort as opposed to genuine desire to spend time with me.
This time, the proportions were all off. The alone moments still occurred, but moments of connection and social inclusion were more numerous. Guess what? I had fun. There was, gasp, social ease, which I quickly learned was a state I rarely have ever experienced.
Over the course of about 48 hours, the reason became clear. The number of people in the group who knew about disability was higher than the usual. I heard, more than once, “Oh, my blind friend ….” I heard, “Yeah, so-and-so uses a wheelchair….” There was even, “At the confrence we organize, we provide accommodations such as….” It was a group of people with an average disability IQ far higher than anything I’ve encountered, unless I was with a group of people with disabilities.
So, maybe it is simply about how many people know how much. Measure the disability IQ of the individuals constituting a group and it will predict my experience. If that is in fact true, then it cannot be about me. It is about math.