di Maddy Ulmann, born in China and raised in the USA.
I wrote this on the last day of disability pride month (July).
I started disability pride month at a conference on a panel discussing the intersectionality of disability and adoption. The audience heard me and my truths saying things like:
- If someone handed me a magic cure today, that would get rid of all my disabilities, I wouldn’t take it. I don’t know who I’d be without disability and there’s beauty in that.
- Disability has taught me to be adaptive and resourceful. I have more empathy. More drive.
- I am so proud to call myself disabled and I have cultivated a full life with it.
That is my truth.
It is not my only truth, though. In all honesty, I am exhausted. I am angry. This world is not made for anyone with disabilities in mind. Lately, I’ve been feeling the weight of my existence. Let me tell you more. It takes so much more every day to exist and function in society with any health condition. I work hard just to exist. The people around me have to do more if the environment isn’t accessible.
Disability is the one of the few marginalised groups anyone can be a part of, at any time in their life.
For the first time, I brought my walker to a conference. It absolutely saved me. The walker is something I’ve had to struggle with my vanity to use. Even though it helps me out so much. My walker is a beautiful red colour, carries so much, and I walk better with it. Still, it’s a struggle to use what helps me so much. There is accessibility but it’s usually far and hard to find. Little things like doors make all the difference. Especially when the doors are heavy.
I love my walker. What does it say about society and accessibility when it actually takes more thought for me to use what helps me? This internal struggle is something I’m always at war with. One day, I aspire to use my walker every day with pride.
I have to remind myself every day. Yes it’s okay for me to take up space. I am worthy of that space. I have to give myself permission to be enough. I am always prepared to make that space if it doesn’t exist on its own. Spoiler alert, I often have to carve it out with my bare hands. Every time I step into a room, I have to set the standard. I have to be extraordinary.
With all that said, I am choosing to honor disability pride month by allowing myself to sit in the discomfort. I give myself permission to be enough and live well without guilt and matter what productivity the day may bring.
Friends, please remember your existence is enough and you are worthy of whatever space you may hold. ❤️
Navigating disability and rare medical conditions as an intercountry adoptee (webinar with Maddy Ullman)