Funny how this happened so close to Independence Day, when we celebrate our freedom, which we quite often take for granted.
A bit of background.
Most places I go, I take my wheelchair out and assemble it when arrive, then disassemble it when I leave. It takes a bit of energy. Friday I started my day having breakfast with a friend. I then drove 5 minutes to work. A friend of mine at work helps me to do leg lifts every day as part of my therapy, and we did that. Since the discovery that my legs have more muscle than I knew, I've been walking more. I walk 5 times a day at work and have doubled the distance I walk in each of those 5 walks. Friday I had to squeeze the walks into a tighter time frame as I had to leave early for an appointment. By the time I arrived at the appointment, my legs were pretty tired from all the activity of the day.
Lean on me.
I got out of the car. I lean on my car for support. My arms are, in a sense, my legs. If you took the ground out from someone, they couldn't walk and would fall. If you take away my "ground" (the car), I also can't walk and will fall.
I made it to the back of the car and assembled my wheelchair. Pop! There was a man... "can I help you?" "No thanks." And my hand was on the trunk. I was closing the trunk. I was also leaning on the trunk - it's part of my "ground." He started closing the trunk. The trunk, my "ground," was giving way. I urged him to let go of the trunk right then.
I sat down in my wheelchair. He looked at me. It was the perfect teaching moment. But I was in the latter stages of panic and he was in a state of disbelief, staring at me like I had completely lost my mind, saying, "I'm _so_ _sorry_ I tried to help you," in a non-genuine manner. And that was the end.
I had become one of _those_ people - the people who refuse help and are extremely rude about it. He had become one of _those_ people - the people who grab and try to help but don't understand.
He goes back to society shaking his head.
And me? I retreat into myself. I think some people don't understand and never will. This had nothing to do with my independence. This had everything to do with my safety. And for whatever reason, this had an emotional sting to it. We've come so far toward inclusion, toward acceptance. And we still face barriers which cause us to retreat.
We are so independent and yet so dependent. We are so free and yet so held hostage.
Happy Independence Day. Let your spirit carry you. And we continue to press forward.