Battling for A Little Respect…

Whether you call it disability, chronic illness, race, poverty, being different, special or unique; there’s no excuse for bullying, bashing and being outright rude.

You would think that supposed “weakness” would bring out the best in people with outpourings of love, compassion and support. That we would take those people doing it tough, usually through no fault of their own, into our hearts and just love them. Water them with the essence of human kindness so they could be strengthened, encouraged and nurtured to maximise an inner strength and shine like the radiant sunflowers, they, I mean, WE are.

Indeed, so many people I know who are living with chronic illness or disability, have an inner strength and determination which would humble an ox.

Yet, too often they are written off.

Or, they become celebrated for their incredible achievements as individuals. However, when you look around people living with chronic illness or disability, these feats are not uncommon. Indeed, they/we push ourselves so much further than the average Joe.

However, it seems to me that too many people take delight in bashing and putting down anybody who doesn’t fit into the straight-jacket of the perceived social norm.

You don’t even really need to be disabled…just having a bad day.

For so many, there is no “margin of error”. No compassion for difference or even an understanding that we all have different strengths and weaknesses.

We must all squeeze into that social straight-jacket no matter who we are or what’s going on and not flinch.
But tell me, who really fits into these suffocating confines and doesn’t twitch or suddenly feel the impulse to wriggle, scratch an itch or just plain run away?!!

Yesterday, I took my daughter to the movies to see the latest Disney classic: Inside Out. While this should have been a simple outing, as is often the case with me, it unraveled completely and I was freaking out.

For some reason, although I can write well and be an ideas person, I seriously struggle with the detailed nitty gritty. While trying to simply buy the movie tickets, I came unstuck. Indeed, as bad luck conspired against me, I sank deeper and deeper into what was rapidly becoming a never-ending abyss.

An incredible movie: A must See!!!

An incredible movie: A must See!!!

For starters, our son was also supposed to come to the movie but couldn’t get himself together in time and was left behind. Our daughter misses out on enough and I was determined to get her there no matter what. I’d promised to take her to this movie and after being sick all holidays, time was almost up. Nothing was going to stand in our way!!

So, while I’m standing in the queue, I check my wallet and realise the $50.00 note I’d expected to be there had gone up in flames and I had no notes. Not immediately concerned, I went to the coins. They can quickly add up. However, it was just my typical @#$% rotten luck that a very tiny paper receipt had wedged itself into the zipper and even applying brute force, I couldn’t rip it open. This is a very special handmade wallet I’d bought at Byron Bay so I wasn’t wanting to wreck it but with all this frustration, I was fuming.

Just to put you in the picture, we weren’t at some huge mega cinema in the heart of Sydney with extensive queues pouring out onto George Street. Rather, we were at our small, local independent cinema and there were only a handful of people in the queue with two people serving. It’s a very relaxed, chilled place with personalised service…everything but a pianist playing before the start of the movie.

By this stage, we were at the counter and I was funneling coins through the gap in the zip and was standing there like a kid who’d just tipped their moneybox all over the counter rather than a 40 something Mum, who isn’t on the poverty line.

In retrospect, I certainly wasn’t doing my deep breathing exercises…just the reverse. My stress levels had blown a gasket and I was all but paralysed and couldn’t think straight. My mind went absolutely blank and non function mentis. This is just the point in time where you are praying for someone, anyone, to come to your rescue. Ask: “Can I help you?”

Instead, this @#$% woman calls out from the queue: “Can’t you just hurry up?”

I explained, I think, politely that I have a disability and flashed my disability Companion Card and I can’t remember what she said next but I can assure you that there wasn’t one ounce of compassion in that @#$% and she told me I was making a fool of myself. To which I replied (thank you to three years of blogging which have sharpened my ability to express myself): “You don’t know how hard it is for me just to take my daughter to the cinema.” The girl serving directed the woman to the other counter where I’m sure she was quickly served.

At this point, I realised I was going to have to use EFTPOS. This should have been a no-brainer right from the start but there was a $20.00 minimum withdrawal and the ticket cost $13.00, which meant spending $7.00 on lollies. While I might spend that on chocolate at the supermarket, the thought of blowing so much money at the cinema just so I could get our tickets, flummoxed me. With the fumbling and foggy brain only getting worse, I resorted to EFTPOS and bought my daughter the Inside Out Combo. This includes a drink, popcorn and chocolate bar for some ungodly sum. She then chooses water as her drink, which might have been healthy but it’s the most expensive glass of water we’ve ever had.

Meanwhile, the woman who’d argued with me came and made a sincere apology, which helped but even an hour after the movie had ended, I was still feeling teary and shattered. Sometimes, it’s not just a matter of forgiveness. There is damage. She might not have swung a punch but her words were a form of assault and I was left feeling battered and bruised…not to mention DEFECTIVE.!!

Saying sorry can’t always undo the damage. It is done.

That said, perhaps she also has her struggles. Who am I to make presumptions… as tempting as it might be?!!
This isn’t the first time I’ve had trouble and it won’t be the last. While I could go underground, I will get back out there again. Have another go. That said, not everyone does. They’d much rather stay home and I really get that. It can all be too hard. There are just too many obstacles to fight.

When you reach out and touch someone's hand, you are really warming their soul.

When you reach out and touch someone’s hand, you are really warming their soul.

Well, if that’s you, I send you my love and an enormous hug. Together, I pray that each day with small, even tentative moves that we can find our way over the gap…even if it is just to remind people that you don’t need to be perfect to be a valued part of the human race!

You just are!

Love and blessings,

22 thoughts on “Battling for A Little Respect…

  1. New Journey

    I am glad you stuck it out and got through it, I am sure your daughter enjoyed the outing, and I am thinking that the rude women in line had second thoughts as she reviewed what an ass she had been, glad she apologized to you…even if it didn’t make you feel batter….its true people really don’t think before they speak…and a lot of times the actions are worse than what can come out of some of there mouths…good job for not taking your frustration out on a stuck zipper…you will thank your self for that down the road…..deep and out…this too will pass……kathy

  2. Norah

    What a day! I can just imagine your growing frustration, particularly after having left your son at home. None of us can ever know what battles someone else is fighting. Compassion and patience are always better alternatives than anger and impatience. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Minuscule Moments

    Rowena sorry to hear your day was spoiled by others. I hope that person thinks twice before she opens her mouth again. Heres to many more special outings with your kids, thats what we have to take away from these challenging moments. your daughter will only remember time spent with her mama at the movies. We don’t get to go to the movies very much because my boy can’t handle the noise. So when we can its a real special thing for me and my daughter.

  4. TanGental

    I’ve popped a link to this on the 1000 Voices FB page as it epitomises compassion and acceptance that is this month theme. You make an important point so well from your own experiences. We all attribute intentions to actions without enough empathy. Hope today is a tad better for you all.

  5. Joanne Corey

    I’m sorry that your outing was so trying. I’m glad that you got to see “Inside Out” with its themes of the interplay of emotions and how even emotions that we consider negative are needed to be a whole person. I thought one of the interesting things in the movie was the glimpses into the secondary characters’ emotions. It is a reminder, as you say in this post, that we don’t know what others have been through or what their challenges are.

  6. colinandray

    When I used to work (now retired), I would spend around 30 mins on a major highway. During that time, I would be traveling in close proximity to probably 500+ other vehicles over that 30 mins period. During that time, I could guarantee sharing the road with at least 1, possibly 2, total idiots. The no-signal lane changing; horn fetish because the person in front of them is only traveling at the speed limit etc. At the end of the drive, I would always remember those 1 or 2 idiots, but I would never acknowledge the other 498+ perfectly good drivers.
    I sincerely hope that my experience can be an analogy of yours. I really do believe that the majority of people are honest and caring. Hopefully you can focus on all those people who are either supportive of you, or at least accepting of your condition (as they see it), and put the odd “conflicted” person you come across into the past. Have a great day now! 🙂

  7. roweeee Post author

    Thanks for that reminder Colin. That is so true.
    This post was also inspired by a discussion I had with a mother of a young, visibly disabled child who related to me the awful stares they get and how he gets treated like something out of a freak show and how it breaks her heart. She covered his pram up as a baby and then they stayed home for years. Didn’t feel they could take him out.
    I am so grateful for the people I meet through my blog and have truly been struck by their goodness and compassion. xx Rowena

  8. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Kathy. I feel better today and writing about it certainly helped but I was also writing this to highlight some of the terrible treatment people with disabilities can receive…or anybody who doesn’t fit the mold. That we need to be more understanding and not so obsessed with perfection. xx Rowena

  9. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Norah. Much appreciated. I read through a few of your posts last night and found them very helpful and informative. Thank you very much xx Rowena

  10. roweeee Post author

    Kath, the movies are very overloading on your senses….bright images, loud noise. Understood. People just forget how some of these supposedly “normal” outings are an effort for some people. You are your daughter would enjoy Inside Out. It’s really had me thinking and there was a very esoteric section, which I’ll have to revisit on DVD. A lot of thought went into putting it together!! Hope the holidays have been going well. Don’t know if you read my post about playing 500 with the kids during the holidays but it was a real hit. They both loved it. Take care xx Rowena

  11. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much,. Geoff,. I really do appreciate your friendship and support. I am pleased that I am able to highlight and share these issues with people and get them thinking. All the people I meet blogging are fabulous so I’m sharing with the converted here but hopefully I can broaden people’s horizons a little and get them thinking. xx Rowena

  12. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Joanne. Yes, those insights were interesting and I loved what the parents were watching instead of paying attention in one scene. I really loved how they worked through the whole difficulty of juggling joy and sadness and how to make sense of that. It was very well done and a great life lesson xx Rowena

  13. New Journey

    I find that most people can not deal with anything out of their norm, anything different scares them into acting like ass’es…I am not sure why society has such a skewed view on life, but anyone with a defect, or disability or different in any way, even skin color is treated as taboo…I was once told by someone with a bad disability, she had been born with deformity of parts of her body, nothing she asked for or did herself, she told me most people just ignore her if they can and a few others act like if they get to close they might catch whatever she has…she mentioned the ones that ignore her are easy to deal with, its the others that make a gasping noise and rush away that hurt her to the core, she said there were very few that would befriend her…and the ones who did generally felt sorry for her…I found her refreshing, her outlook on life so different from mine…she actually taught me how to be a more compassionate human being…she moved back east and we lost contact we each other, but I think of her often….I wish society would just take a frigin step back and think about there actions…..but I am thinking that is asking to much…..kat

  14. Minuscule Moments

    Hey Rowena holidays have been good. i did read your post and thought I left a comment, as we use to play 500 all the time when I was a kiddo. Off to hair dressers today for a well earned mummy hour or

  15. roweeee Post author

    That’s electronic funds transfer or taking the money out of your bank account in a shop.
    That incident really shook me up but I also wrote it because I keep hearing terrible stories about how people treat disabled and ill people and I felt I had to do something. What happened to me was relatively minor and I got over it, of course, but I still felt the need to raise awareness of such behaviour and how it does hurt. Had a great weekend and know you’ll enjoy bushwalking with us. xx Ro

  16. merrildsmith

    I assumed it was something like that. Most places around here we can use a debit card (usually linked to a checking account) to pay for the exact amount at movies, stores, etc.

    I just read an editorial piece in today’s newspaper from a woman who has a son in a wheelchair. She talked about her latest trip to the movies with him– about how rude some people are when asked to move from their seats when they are seated next to the only spots where wheelchairs are accommodated. Then she listed some tips for people who lack awareness on how to treat people with disabilities (and their companions).

  17. Ula

    I applaud you Rowena for sticking it out and continuing to get out there. I got exhausted just reading about your experience.
    While I don’t have a disability, I do understand the difficulty in everyday functioning. I experience bouts of depression, and although I have learned to cope over the years, simple tasks sometimes require enormous amounts of mental effort to get accomplished. Some days, if I get out of bed, shower and get dressed (instead of say stay in my pajamas all day) that is a major accomplishment. But to some, it looks like I got nothing done.

  18. roweeee Post author

    I’ve had a few days like that this week myself. My daughter has some health issues and they got me down this week…seriously down and the weather was awful and I put my electric blanket back on and spent hours in bed and it felt so good. Sometimes, it just has to be done. That said, there are simple things we can do to ease the black dog a bit like exercise, getting some sunshine and having a chat. Not always easy when you feel down though. Constant battle. Take care xx Ro

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