A story about breaking through.
I know that it’s not permanent. I know that there are way worse injuries than broken ankles, and that even broken ankles are often way worse than mine. I know this. People break bones all the time. Children break bones all the time. But maybe it’s easier for children. They get neon casts for the other kids to sign. They have to worry about missing out on basketball games, but they don’t have to wonder whether their coworkers secretly consider them lazy for being less productive this month; whether everyone else on the sidewalk resents them for their sluggish pace; whether the forced inactivity will cause them to get fat, and why it even matters if they get fat, why they care, why they’re so shallow, why, why am I making this such a big deal? Why: because we are a culture that praises efficiency at every turn. We place virtue on productivity. One is supposed to be able to do all the things, all the time, without breaking a sweat (except when dressed in sleek athleisure apparel — an entire subset of the fashion industry we’ve created explicitly to equate fitness with luxury), in order to be a valued member of adult society. I am an adult. Leave me alone. I can do this myself. I can get my own coffee and open my own door and tie my own shoe. No, wait, I can’t. I can’t, actually. Help. I am an adult? Help! … When you’re adjusting to a new physical handicap, the whole world splits into two sorts of people: kind, generous saints and self-involved jerks. There is no more in-between. One passerby will run ahead to grab a door for you, and then another, sitting on the bench next to it, will just stare at you struggling to get back out, pushing into the handle with your shoulder and trying to prop it with the edge of your crutch. Some will say, “It’s totally fine, take your time,” while others will rush right past you, silent as you politely spew out sorries, avoiding looking you in the face. A lot of people can’t bear witnessing other people’s fallibility, I’m realizing. Like it might be contagious. But have I ever paused to seriously consider how it feels to live every day in a disabled body? How many times in the past have I been one of the…
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