The Risks Of and Reasons For Making Vulnerable Requests
October 8, 2015 |
Yesterday was World CP Day, a yearly event where people speak up to raise awareness and understanding of Cerebral Palsy, with a focus on equal rights, access, and opportunities. My youngest son was diagnosed with CP before his first birthday. On World CP Day, I took to Twitter with a series of tweets, informative links, and a request-
It took five minutes before someone was making fun of my request, and telling me to get thicker skin.
I logged off Twitter and cried for an hour. Then I took a hot shower and regrouped. I thought about why I felt so sad. I thought about what needs I have that led to my request to stop using the R word. I thought about my son and his hard work to reach milestones. I thought of the times he was called names and side-eyed. I thought of my shame struggle, and my desire for my kids to not inherit my feelings of self-loathing. I want to protect them. I also want to encourage the world to be more informed about disabilities and illnesses. I want people to practice empathy. I want this planet to be a safer place for us all.
When I speak about topics close to my heart, I am vulnerable. I’m entering an arena and there is risk. I will be misunderstood. I will be challenged. I will encounter comparison, shame, and judgment. That’s a lot of risk, especially considering I’m in self-harm and trauma recovery, and feel a little shaky using newly-acquired healthy coping methods.
So why speak up? Why make vulnerable requests?
Because it matters. My experiences, my son’s experiences, and the experiences of everyone with CP, or any disability, or any illness, matter. Our stories need to be heard. Words have the power to shift the world, ever so slightly, one mind at a time. We can nudge our culture to be less shaming, and more safe. We can listen to each other and practice empathy. We can allow pain to touch us, and commit to not causing harm. We can care. And we can change.
I am learning to hold my uncomfortable ground. I may not engage those who make fun of me, but I’ll enter the arena whenever able. I will keep speaking up about the issues closest to my heart. I will request compassion and empathy as long as I’m here. I’m proud of the work I do, even if I shake while I do it. I rock on. <3