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Learning to Resist My 'Inner Angry Cripple'

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I’ve been something of a “fan girl” of Maysoon Zayid’s since watching her TED Talk earlier this year, so you can just imagine how surprised I was when I noticed she noticed one of my tweets & then replied to a direct message (or 10).

One of her direct messages has stuck with me: “Say no to angry cripple face.”

Typically the word “cripple” sits on my last nerve longer and harder than “the r-word” ever could. This time was different; yes, it was coming from one of my peers (which always helps), but I realized she’s onto something.

I think most (if not all) individuals with a disability have “an inner angry cripple,” like people have an inner child; however, some people are better at controlling (or resisting) their inner angry cripple than others.

I myself have an inner angry cripple who I often have to keep at bay — especially when various news items end up in my eye line that I happen to disagree with.

There’s a picture floating around the interwebs that says, “I’m Italian I don’t have an inside voice.”

An uncontrolled inner cripple is the same way. It won’t shut up, unless you shut it up.

I’m not sure when it starts for people. All I can tell you is that I have no idea when it started for me, but I have a feeling that it’s just getting started. Something tells me it starts around the time you get shoved around one too many times, and no one else seems to give a crap.

There seems to be an ongoing conversation within the disability community of “how much is too much?”

This same question applies to advocacy and activism.

How much is too much?

I’m learning that the saying, “He who screams loudest wins” isn’t the best route (no matter what the inner angry cripple says). There are times when it is called for and it can be very effective, but it’s hardly a long term plan for successful advocacy.

One of the most frustrating things about the disability community is that we’re painted with a broad brush by “outsiders.” If someone has a negative interaction with someone with a disability then the first someone will often carry that over to the next person with a disability who they meet, even though it’s two separate people.

What I say has an effect on the next person. What someone said before will affect me.

It makes no sense and a lot of sense all at once.

It’s not fair, but it’s reality.

For this reason my biggest obstacle in having an impact is myself and my inner angry cripple.

I’d venture to guess it’s the same for a lot of people.

The inner angry cripple has its place in my head (and any advocates). It’s the engine that drives the train. However resisting the inner angry cripple and its first instincts are important.

Yelling at every person whose done wrong may feel good, at first, but it won’t really make the same impact as a sane rational discussion will.

I will resist my inner angry cripple and her urge to jump out and play at every available opportunity.

Do you resist yours? If you don’t, will you try?

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Originally published: August 7, 2014
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