Contrary to popular belief, disabled people actually like to be thought of and invited out with friends. But, as time goes on, those invites dry up and our friends and family stop inviting us places. For various reasons, we find it harder and harder to go out, but it’s not our fault. In the hopes that I can help dispel some of the mystery around the disappearing disabled in your life, here are some reasons we’ve stopped coming around.
- You Keep Inviting Us To Inaccessible Places
One huge obstacle to getting out and about is inaccessibility (whether physically, emotionally or dietarily). We have to deal with it every day—all day. When our friends and family don’t take it into account, it’s a signal to us that you don’t take our needs seriously, or, that you don’t consider us a permanent fixture in your life. Either way, we don’t want to be around that kind of energy. We get enough of it from everyone else.
2. You Make Us Feel Like A Burden When We Ask You To Consider Our Accessibility
We need what we need to survive, if it is a strain on you for one night then imagine how it must feel for a lifetime. It would be nice to not have to worry, but that’s not the way the cookie crumbles. Reminding us constantly of how hard it is to have us around really hurts and reiterates the internal narrative that no one wants to have us around. We need our friends to be the refuge we so rarely get to experience.
3. You Make Us Feel Like You’re Doing Us A Favor
In line with feeling like a burden, is feeling like someone is making themselves out to be the hero for having us around. You’re not a hero, you invited us out. And, while it may be nice to hang out, we’re not going to praise you for asking us there.
4. You Make Us Your Token
We get it, you’re woke. We see all your posts with the brown kids you’re petting in your Instagram posts. We, however, are old enough to refuse to be the evidence of your woke-ness. We don’t care about the pussy hat, the bumper stickers or the profile badges. We care more about your actions than what you say you’re doing. If you’re really about the progress you say you’re about, it’ll shine through.
5. You’re Weird
We’re all strange in our own unique ways, but you seem uneasy around us and it shows. We get that navigating around our mobility aids or needs can be difficult to get used to, but you make us uneasy in all of your invasive questioning or the way you try to “help” us in ways that aren’t actually helpful. We’ve decided to consciously uncouple.
We Just Can’t Make It
Sometimes we’re experiencing pain or lack of energy but that happens and you’re just going to have to accept that. We live in uncooperative bodies that don’t operate on a finite schedule. When we cancel, we become fearful that our friendships are that much harder to maintain and people will leave us behind. No matter how often we cancel, keep inviting us—even better, figure out ways we can hang out that are low maintenance and accessible.