Monday, October 30, 2017


This post discusses ableism and emotional abuse. Well, more like emotional exploitation? I'm not exactly sure what to call it, but if you don't want to read it, feel free to skip it and come back Wednesday for the When You're Strange anthology release.

And I don't honestly know why I wrote this. Ranting at the internet because the person I want to rant at isn't listening.



Today I went to talk about disability at a luncheon for a place that does advocacy and housing and such for people with developmental disabilities. I won't mention any names.

I had a bad feeling about it from the beginning. Nothing I could put the a finger on, just bad vibes. I come from a family where we can look at someone and instantly know if they're good and sincere, and apparently this power also works over the internet because I knew from the first email about this luncheon that something was off.

Afterwards, I felt so bad that I emailed the woman in charge. In the email, I used a very personal example of my having been abused to show her how her behavior was making me feel. She sent a generic reply and cc'd two people I know.

Because the specifics of how my dad was emotionally abusive are something I want everyone to know about.

But I made some points in this email that are too important to waste on her inbox, so I'm sharing some of it. Included is some stuff about my father. It's not the worst trauma he put me through, but it's my trauma and I get to decide when I share it.

My dad was not a great person a lot of the time, but this is the thing that still affects me every day of my life. Every time I'm in danger of sounding dumb and I'm afraid what that means about my worth as a person, every time I know something and pretend not to because people thinking I'm smart makes me remember the way he prodded me to show off. This is the reason making a simple cross stitch mistake can make my self-esteem plummet to the point of tears, and the reason I don't want people knowing how smart I am.

If I'm not perfect, I feel worthless. If I'm perfect, I feel like a trained poodle.

There's no right answer.



I don't want to win awards or live on my own. I don't have goals or want my books turned into movies.
I have absolutely no desire to go to college.
I am content the way I am.
I feel like you (you specifically today and you in a broad sense meaning all of [organization]) want us [meaning disabled people] to do so much. And that's good. But it feels like... I don't know the words for it so let me tell you about my father so you can understand where I'm coming from.
My father pushed me to do things. Learn and read and go places. I'm forever grateful for him doing this because it made me who I am today. But we couldn't just DO things. I couldn't look at tadpoles under a microscope for the sake of it. Everything I did had to be shown off. How smart Jen is, how good she is at the piano. Every little fun fact or accomplishment was for the good of other people, because he had to prove that I was still worth loving even though I'm in a wheelchair.
That's what it felt like today.
"Do you have plans for when you win a writing award?" "Wouldn't it be great if you could live on your own?"
Where was "Are you happy?" Or "What changes do YOU want to make to your life?" Because I'm happy getting little stories published online. I'll be happy if I never get a movie deal.
I physically can't live on my own and I feel like people think less of me for that.
It is enough to be happy. It is enough just to exist in a world where you're loved for who you are, not what you've done.



So that's the kind of day I had. I called her out on sharing this without my permission. No response yet, and part of me hopes it stays that way.