disclaimer

This morning i went to a prayer meeting i used to regularly attend when we lived in Oakland a year ago.

This other couple arrived just behind us and so i turned around and greeted them, shook his hand and as i went to greet her i assume i must have put out my hand, and so she put out her hand and i wasn’t even properly looking and so it must have been my extremely great peripheral vision [cover your cards when you’re sitting next to me in poker] that alerted me to the fact that something was different. She only had one finger in the place where i was expecting a whole hand and so there was a last second adjustment and i think i ended up shaking her wrist, rather than her hand. Which felt a little bit weird.

What is the protocol when shaking hands with someone who has a finger where the rest of the hand should be? Is it to shake the finger? Or to go for the wrist? Urgh, wrist felt wrong and so i felt awkward and it all happened so quickly and other people arrived and so other greetings were made and then we very quickly got into the meeting and so i still don’t know the answer to that one. i also don’t know if it would have been okay/right/normal/polite for me to have asked what happened [or did something even happen or was she born like that?] or whether you just pretend everything is normal and try not to stare.

i wonder how it is i once managed to write a post titled ‘Blessed are the Retards’ without one bit of push back? Maybe it’s cos that was way back in 2010 when no-one was reading my blog… i mean clearly i get the point of what i was trying to do then, but i didn’t even disclaim or give reference to or anything… or maybe that was the point? But the question was the same, how am i supposed to be around someone who is different if i don’t know how to be around that person?

speciali mean i feel like a bit of a dick writing this. i don’t think i’m a complete dick. But something about this feels like it should be completely obvious and yet, it just sometimes isn’t [and sometimes it is a lot more obvious than other times]. i also hope that above picture isn’t advocating that we hold little kids in wheelchairs above our heads cos i don’t know how safe that is.

i found the series i ran on the Taboo Topics section on my blog on Living with Disabilities to be super helpful in this regard. My friend, Louise, who has Asperger’s [which i always had heard as asBergers before, so even that little bit of learning was helpful] wrote this really helpful piece, but she also took time to explain a lot more in depth and send me links to helpful articles and videos. So i feel like i am a little more equipped now to understand some of what might be helpful to her when we hang out.

i have asked a few different people to write a piece on Down’s Syndrome but so far no takers. My experience has been that people with Down Syndrome  for the most part tend to come across as incredibly joyful and happy people. i would love to know more. Is that even true? And i feel like someone taking the time to share a story with me and some insight might help me to interact better next time i come face to face with someone with Down Syndrome.

story

i imagine there is not a one-size-fits-all to this. But also that unless i’m the biggest doucheball the world has ever seen [some would very likely attest to that!] that others might be feeling the same things or wanting to ask the same questions. And i imagine that a lot of the education comes through story-telling and so maybe i just need more people sharing more stories of different  people who are living with disabilities.

i mean, this is the answer to our race issues, right? And also a big help for those who are trying to figure out being married to hear from others who have journeyed for various numbers of years at that? And again and again it has shown to be true of the so-called Taboo Topics, where stories shared on areas that have rarely been spoken about [like losing a child or being single, struggling with an eating disorder or trying to be a parent of a young child when it hasn’t been all that easy, and more] have given encouragement, strength and hope to others who find themselves in similar places.

i’m convinced that story-telling and relationship-building is one of the biggest keys to living life well in all spheres and this is just another one of those. And probably a good reminder for me to realise that as different as a different seeming person may be to me, i am the equivalent amount of different to them and so maybe my story is important as well.

What do you think about this? Is it way more simple [or perhaps completely more complicated] than i am making out?

What story would you like to hear?

[One of the most incredible responses ever, thanks to my friend Michelle Botha]

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