If you have a long-standing lower-limb injury/condition, you’re probably used to being asked questions about your leg. We’ve heard them all, right? Well, recently I was asked a question that I think no one should ever be asked. It’s not funny, it’s not light-hearted and it’s not okay. Being asked if I was a cripple once was hurtful but being labeled this twice, I feel that something needs to be said. So here it goes.
Dear strangers, I know you look at me and wonder what happened to my leg. And that’s fine, it’s human nature to be curious, and I’m okay with that, but you didn’t ask what happened to my leg – you made an assumption about who I am and felt the need to say it.
To the first woman who asked if I was a “cripple” and then after hearing me say that I wasn’t still proceeded to tell me that I was… do you even know me? To the gentleman who asked if I dressed up as a “crip” for Halloween – thanks for being so kind, this is actually me; not a costume. Your words hurt me, not because I’m too sensitive, they stung because that’s not how I see myself. You saw what society depicts as an “injured person” and assumed you could ask and say whatever, but what you failed to recognize is that we “injured people” are more than our physical appearance. We all are. You saw what’s visual to the eye, but what you didn’t see was the real me – the girl who has been through 10 surgeries over 8 years, the fight she’s had to find inside to keep going, the hardship, the challenges she’s endured – you don’t see that because it’s not physical. But maybe you should try to remember that we’re all more than the sum of our parts and we’re all fighting battles unseen. I don’t want your pity. I’m strong – you just don’t know me.
Did I write this letter because I was upset? Yes. Do I think you meant to be hurtful? No, but I do think you need to develop some self-awareness. I hope this letter serves as a reminder that our words mean something. The next time we all see someone on crutches, a walking boot, a brace, a limb full of scars, devices, whatever – we shouldn’t assume we know the story. Because a lot of times we don’t.
BATTLE ON. ♥ #nevergiveup