Invisible: At the intersection of disability and childhood trauma

Author’s Note: This is the next in a series I tend to run indefinitely on my quest to understand my mind, body and disability and how they interact as I age.

Also: This post is merely me pondering “out loud” and based on my experience. I might be completely wrong with some of my ideas. That is why I consider this a quest and not something I can answer with a quick internet search or “Hey, Siri” request.

Finally, please understand that I am hesitate to discuss this topic as I don’t want my family members to be hurt or feel responsible. Especially my parents. My parents have some wonderful qualities and their flaws because they are, after all, human beings. My parents experienced their own hardships and traumas and they have both dealt with issues with their own parents, alcoholism, etc. Plus, my childhood encompassed much of the 1980s and they were young adults in the seventies. The world, as they say, was different.

As I have mentioned in early posts, disabled children of my generation and the one prior were the first to escape institutionalization or being kept hidden away at home.

Many parents of disabled children (like Marie Killilea of the Karen books) focused on raising their children to master independence and to “pass” as normal when possible. This can lead to a desire to not call attention to oneself and in many cases avoiding (instead of attempting) activities where our difficulties become obvious.

Instead of talking about our ailment(s), we try to fit in and not be a burden. We want to seem worthy of our place in a society where if the conversation turns to eugenics, we’ll, we’d be the first people edited out of existence.

But add childhood trauma to this mix and I wonder, do disabled people with this type of trauma exponentially feel more of a need to be invisible?

Mommy and Daddy have trouble getting along and sometimes hit each other when Daddy gets home from the bar— I don’t want to be another problem for them.

Am I a victim of sexual misconduct because I was a good kid who would listen to her elders or because I was already broken?

No one wants to see me cry. They get upset when I fall down and cry. Mommy teaches me to laugh when I fall. Does this cheapen the legitimacy of the pain, the bumps and bruises.

None of my childhood trauma happened because I have a disability, but it’s another truth no one wants to talk about.

All good thoughts to ponder.

Failure

I want to talk for a minute about failure.

Sometimes I think we, as Americans in the 21st Century, stress too much and obsess too much about failure.

In the last six months, perhaps even the last year, I’ve hedged a lot of bets on new things. Some are simple things, like buying a car. Others are more complex, like accepting a new job and later a promotion into a position where I have no experience, only passion and my wits.

I enjoy new experiences, not everyone does. I love learning. I love challenges. I love some competition.

But with that comes failure. And sometimes we spend so much time on the failure that we don’t see how much progress we made before we failed.

It’s not even 9 a.m. on the last day of a long weekend. Probably my first relaxing long weekend since I started my new job in April. My time off prior to this was filled with parental duties or medical appointments.

Of course, I’ve slept in until 7 a.m. every day so the alarm tomorrow is going to be brutal. I have some very important projects on my desk and some meetings this week that also give me some concern.

The living room is completely dismantled, unpainted, and the furniture will arrive by the end of the week.

The teenager has a holiday concert on the same night I agreed to attend a party with my CEO. (In my defense, I thought she had her interior design class, which she does so she’s double-booked, too.)

Etc.

But this post is about failure.

If you look a few posts back, you’ll see that a good friend inspired me to buy The Whole 30. I read most of it, even did some grocery shopping, but never implemented it. It did force me to think more about what I was eating. I started tracking my macronutrients again and reducing my carbohydrates. Not in a low carb way. In a balanced way.

I am debating canceling my Planet Fitness membership. It’s been seven months and since school started, my teen and I have only gone 2-4 times a month. We both need it, but we’re not going. And I have free weights and the tools I need to get started again here at home. I joined the gym to motivate her and have more options since I’d maxed out at home.

So right now the gym is a failure, but at the same time fitness is very much on my mind and I wish I had it in me to resume my disciplined body building. (I did two or three home workouts this week. My goal is to break my bad habits before considering “New Year’s resolutions.”)

And finally, for the first time since I started making homemade bone broth a decade or so ago, I failed at that. For two days, I’ve had chicken bones from my freezer and the Thanksgiving turkey carcass in my crock pot. Somehow, overnight, ALL the liquid boiled off. ALL of it.

My “waste not, want not” attitude kicked in and mourned this tragedy. Then I remembered: I don’t like poultry broth. My daughter used to love chicken soup. But she doesn’t so much anymore. And I don’t really have room in the freezer. So maybe we didn’t need homemade soup right now.

Failure isn’t always bad. Sometimes it keeps you from expending energy in the wrong direction.