Oh Shame – a true tale of ableism

Dedication: Dedicated to every human being who fights to survive and thrive

Yesterday as I began my scathing rebuke of the lady at the beach who undeservedly pitied me
My dad to me in a hushed tone: “Don’t say anything.”
Me to my dad: “No, dad, oh shame nothing.”

Then I said it again louder directly to the woman: “Oh shame nothing, everybody has good parts and challenges in their lives…oh shame nothing. I am happy.”

As we headed back to the car my dad to me: “There’s always a good angle to everything people say take it in a good way.”
He meant well but having spent 33 years in a disabled body, I know ableism when I hear it, my definition of ableism is “the perception that your life is better than mine because you have a specific set of abilities that I don’t.” That woman was definitely ableist and I will not be quiet anymore when it’s in my face.

At the beginning of every month, I type on my digital sticky note “Continue to be kind” and since yesterday’s incident I’ve been wondering if I was rude to the woman, and I’ve concluded that if asserting myself was rude to her, at the very least it was kind to myself and I deserve kindness too.

I deserve kindness too.

Post Script for Context: I met the same woman at the same beach 2 years prior where she tickled my stomach without my permission – my siblings handled that because I was shell shocked.

Photo credit: Image provided by the storyteller.
(Written on April 21st, 2024)


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Nisha Varghese