Finding Pride in My Disability

July is Disability Pride Month.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990, to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. Following this legislation, Boston held the first Disability Pride Day event in July 1990 and Disability Pride Month was born.

“To change the way people think about and define “disability,” to break down and end the internalised shame among people with Disabilities, and to promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with disabilities can take pride.”  

I’m pretty open about living with disabilities, including being labeled ‘totally disabled’ by the Federal Government. I might describe myself as defiantly disabled, but not really someone with pride in being disabled.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that I am on a journey to process my complex trauma experiences. Whereas my mood disorder is relatively stable and under control, the trauma is not. It is hard to feel pride about so much pain, at least for me. I can go so far as to say that I’m proud my brain and body found ways to cope with the traumatic experiences and protect me when I needed it.

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I suspect some of the issue stems from the fact that my programming (or grooming) at the hand of the monster in my family planted a message in my head that I was “only good for” broken or damaged people. Not in a sensitive or compassionate way, but in a way that debased those people and assigned a layer of stigma beyond what we typically absorb in society. And that transferred to me and the way I understood myself in relation to pretty much everyone else.

In general, I am proud of the things that I do, not for who I am. That may never change, but I don’t want to carry around this heaviness so I am going to examine it this month.


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