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No, You Don't Want to BE Me

by Josey Pickering 2 months ago in humanity
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and other strange things people say to me in a wheelchair

No, You Don't Want to BE Me
Photo by Zachary Kyra-Derksen on Unsplash

Last night at Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, a young man looked me in the eyes, sighed and said...Oh how I wish I was you right now, as my wife pushed me by in my wheelchair. We both yelled "NO YOU DONT!" but it took every bit of willpower within me not to stop him and tell him the laundry list of reasons why he doesn't wish he was me.

I wanted to tell him that all people do is make ignorant assumptions about myself and my body. They assume I don't need my chair and when I can get up and walk for a few moments or transfer to a ride vehicle, people will make comments like wow she CAN walk, or jokingly say things like it's a miracle! not realizing just how harmful and ignorant these statements are. I hear people all day say they should just rent a wheelchair and "pretend" they're disabled too, as if my wheelchair isn't my own and I didn't have to crowdfund to be able to even afford it. I wanted to also tell him people stare, not just children, but grown adults. It gets so bad that my wife has to literally tell people not to stare, and sometimes this doesn't even stop them.

I wanted to tell him that I live everyday in pain, I don't get a break. My body aches at all times and frequent injuries have damaged my ankles and legs. I've had one back surgery and still need another. This is on top of all sorts of issues with my internal organs too. I wanted to ask him if he wanted to take it all on in exchange for a day in my wheelchair. I wanted him to know that a wheelchair doesn't mean skipping the line, it means waiting the same amount of time as everyone else, just elsewhere. I wanted to explain that my life isn't just an excuse to "skip the lines". I'm not skipping anything, I'm just waiting where it's safe and accessible for me.

I wanted to tell him that I'm also autistic. I have some mobility, yes, but we also use my chair to keep me safe and in one place. I do tend to wander when I get excited or distracted, but also stim with both my hands and legs and so having me in my chair keeps me safe and not likely to wander off anywhere and get overstimulated alone. I wanted to tell him how hard it is for me to be around other people, especially when they're constantly touching me or my chair both on accident and on purpose. I wanted to tell him how people step over me, or rush in front of me and overwhelm the hell out of me. I wanted to tell him that I can't leave my house alone, even checking the mail alone is horrifying to me. I wanted to say that amusement parks are one of my only escapes and even then it's a battle with my mind not to say turn around and go home, let's not go. I wanted him to know that my mind is a constant warzone and I'm always in battle.

There were thoughts racing through my mind for hours after that interaction, all the things I wished I could have said and didn't get to. I wish people thought more before they spoke, and really thought about the words they wanted to push through their mouths. It would be incredible if people could experience a day in my life, because maybe then they'd see how unnecessary and honestly ableist their comments truly are.

humanity

About the author

Josey Pickering

Autistic, non-binary, queer horror nerd with a lot to say.

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