Having a Disability vs. Being Disabled


I believe that having a disability is different than being disabled. Those who have a disability have one aspect of their physical and/or intellectual abilities that is compromised by something beyond their control. These challenges may have existed from one’s first breath or come in mid-life like a bulldozer appearing to blow over any progress that has been made up to that point. Those with disabilities are always working to reach one’s potential and continue to remain productive. People who are disabled do not work up to their potential and are a gushing, endless well of excuses that is supplied by the groundwater of, “Excuses are easy. Results are priceless.” Those who are disabled may have the reality of a disability but are able-bodied in other ways they choose not to take advantage of in their adult lives. They could remain employed and continue developing new skills. But they are sadly at home indulging in the eternal library of Netflix that appears to be like heaven for the average person who labors everyday to purchase the bare necessities of life. These individuals are most likely in their own living nightmare and the grass is not greener on the other side. They choose to not use the help of Living Resources, Inc., which represents the collective heart of our spirit. Just hope that one day they will rise to the occasion and begin their lives over. We are not better than them and we should never look down on them in disgust. If we are in the position to do so, we can just remind them of their abilities and help them build their confidence in tiny increments of motivation.

We should think about the times when the so-called weaknesses of our disability could turn into our greatest strength. There is one area of life where I have made very little progress. After thirty-four years, it is still impossible to “let go” and “move on” with many things. Back in 2006, my employers in the education and human service fields came to the decision that these positions were a poor fit for me. Therefore, I obsessed over it for years and would return back to the same group home agency that fired me all these years earlier. They were informed it would be impossible for me to let this go, and I planned to keep returning every increment of six months to “beat the dead horse.” Over time, the human resources woman continued to become impressed by this persistence and admitted that nobody had ever done this before. Of course, not every outcome has turned out so positive or with such satisfaction. The reason I am in the position of the Habilitation Liaison at the College Experience right now is because I chose to hold on for dear life. I still meet with the human resources woman twice a year because it has become a tradition, and it is only twice a year. Some people claim it is a waste of time, and maybe they are right in some ways. But it is hardly enough of a waste of time to affect my life and other responsibilities in negative ways. The first conferences years earlier were filled with bitterness as I informed the woman that her company had ruined my life. Realities have changed and the interactions are much more professional as the woman is updated on all recent accomplishments. It is not perfect but so much closer to perfect than in the past.

There are people out there who have severe learning disabilities but are able to master complex trades like auto mechanics. They are individuals with social challenges that have battled with themselves so passionately that they have learned to think before something comes blurting from their mouths. Individuals have learned self-advocacy skills and are able to find their voice to earn opportunities that were not there previously. Perhaps it will be possible to further justify “being unable to let go” by using this attitude to lose weight!

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