Completely overthinking it then messing it up

Today’s post has been inspired by an exciting announcement on one of the blogs I follow. Over at Bringing the Sunshine it has been made known that the author’s 10 y/o daughter is going to start her own blog.

Big deal, you might say, but the thing which made my day about this is that the girl in question has Cerebral Palsy, and is open to taking questions from readers of the blog as ideas for posts which she might write.

In Real Life, I have no close relationships with people who have a physical disability, nor have I ever. The sad result is that I just don’t know how to act around someone who has one. If I pass a person in the street who has an evident physical disability, I’ll notice, then immediately start a cycle of thought in my head which just leaves me anxious about the encounter and irritated at myself.

Before you start to think I’m a terrible person, let me talk you through it.

I’m rather a people-watcher, so on average, when wandering along, I’m looking at my fellow pedestrians and running some kind of ‘stream of vision’ thinking, mulling over what I’ve seen – Nice shoes, wouldn’t be able to walk in them myself; I wonder how he gets his hair to stay like that; Wish I could talk in their language, it sounds so nice; funny how so many of the Polish ladies here have their hair dyed red like her; Not sure I would’ve worn that; That kid looks like he’s having fun. But in the instance that I notice someone coming towards me has a physical disability, a klaxon goes off in my head and it all gets messed up

Now I’ve noticed, I look (briefly) at whatever it is about them that gives the game away – they are put together differently than me. Dammit! Now I’m looking! What if I look for too long? Staring is rude, so I won’t stare, but I want to sneaky-look out of the corner of my eye just to see what it is – once I know what it is, I can just walk on past.

But what if they see me looking! They’ll think I’m so rude!

So I won’t look.

Then they might think I’m ignoring them and that’s rude too. If I make eye contact with someone I usually acknowledge them, don’t I? Or do I? If I do it this time, with this person, will they think I’m being patronising or condescending? Oh no!

So just ignore them – that’s probably best, right? But no, that’s rude!

By the time I get to the end of this internal monologue, I’ve usually passed by whomsoever I’ve noticed and have been so wrapped up in my own thoughts, I’ve done precisely nothing except carry on walking. I sincerely hope that this maelstrom of confusion isn’t evident to the observer, or every physically disabled person who I’ve ever come into contact with will think I’m a complete prat.

I just don’t know the appropriate way to engage and it’s pretty embarrassing.

So I blithely posted my questions on the comments box of the original blog, and am expecting that either the young lady will graciously give me some pointers or I will be summarily asked to leave and never return.

The thing is, I don’t know if this is one of those times where my whole attitude and demeanour is just hideously inappropriate on every level and I should be keel-hauled for my ineptness, or whether this is something which can be explained by (for want of a better term of phrase) my lifelong lack of exposure and subsequent uncertainty about how to behave.

I can only hope that this young lady takes pity on me and answers my questions.
 

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9 thoughts on “Completely overthinking it then messing it up

  1. I realise that they're like anyone else as a person (yes, physical disabilities) and my best-guy-friend pointed out to me this morning that actually HE has one and had I completely forgotten (yes I had, because I just think of him as my friend, not My Friend With A Disability). My quandry occurs more in the 'passer-by' situation.

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  2. Treat them like anybody else. If you people watch then you people watch. Ive had many disabled friends and they are like anybody else (unless they have developmental delays or are off their meds but I assume you mean physical). Eventually you forget they are even wheel chair bound or what not.

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  3. Thank you – that's helpful. The more I read the Doctrine, the more I realise I am a massive (and now card-carrying (t-shirt wearing too, if I could figure out how to email you)) clark. I can't even work out my secondary aspect!

    If I ever get into that situation, I shall be sure to analyse it all (consciously or not) and figure out the types of the others involved. I love how the Wakefield Doctrine works for everything!

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  4. you are so a clark! I am glad to have met you… this is actually stated in a selfish way. To see another person describe how they perceive and interact with the world and know that that is exactly how I am… a very positive and good feeling.

    Without too much analyzing, I will say without hesitancy, you will do totally well with the person with disabilities…by being yourself. (now the people without the disabilities are another matter…lol not saying this to be cruel, but I bet you will be able to tell which of the three the parents or care-givers are on your first meeting. If they are clarks then there is no problem, they are scotts…no problem (though they might be challenging you at first, standard for scotts in any situation… your natural instincts will do you well) if they are rogerian…that might feel more difficult than it really is, rogers can be aggressive in certain ways… once again, trust your instincts (but! here is where the Doctrine is helpful… if for any reason you find, as a reaction to an interaction with a roger, that your self-doubt is increasing or you start to feel bad like you made a terrible mistake…stop! you did not. Just stop that line of thinking for the moment. Most likely it is not you.)
    Sorry for the 'Post as a Comment'! lol

    Remember your world is the world of the Outsider… not 'the world of the inept with social interactions' not 'the world of never fit in' the world of the Outsider…

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