I recently stumbled across something called “Cripple Punk” or “cpunk” for all the politically correct nut jobs. It’s a movement for the physically disabled, by the physically disabled.
There is a whole mantra about it, and its easy to find, but the rules and things aren’t what I want to discuss.
I have been (realistically) physically disabled for some time. I’d say since I applied for disability. That doesn’t mean I have accepted the label of “disabled”. I now use a wheelchair whenever I leave my house and am having a lot of trouble adjusting to the physical limitations placed on me by my disability.
I try so hard to be a “good cripple”. The cripple that thanks everyone for unwanted advice. The cripple that smiles and thanks someone for randomly grabbing the wheelchair handles and pushing them. The cripple that is never exasperated or fed up with societies terrible attitude towards the disabled.
The cripple punk movement is the antithesis of all that. It is about being bitter, and non conforming to how society views us. It’s about being yourself, unique, loud, proud, and not being thankful for your disability.
I’ve heard that disabled people should be happy. They have overcome limitations and are inspirational. When I hear this, I get so mad. It isn’t fun being disabled. It isn’t cool to be in crippling pain, doing nothing because of fear, and needing help for simple tasks. I don’t have to be happy.
I always feel the need to apologize for my disability and justify needing help or asking for assistance when I’m having a bad day. I apologize on the bus to everyone, saying “sorry you had to wait, I’m new to this”. None of this has helped my self esteem or acceptance.
But cripple punk does. I’m not necessarily punk. I don’t relate to that as much as I would have five or ten years ago. But knowing that there are people who support being unhappy, being bitter, or angry at the world, makes me feel better. Knowing I’m not alone and that there is a huge movement among the disabled that breaks the rules, empowers us through something as amazing as the Internet is amazing. It is like a weight has been lifted off my chest. I can breathe again.
My life has been forever altered. Even if by some miracle I gain my mobility back, it has altered my perspective and thoughts on so many things. I don’t have to be happy about this. I can be angry, and its alright. I’m not alone.
Accepting doesn’t mean being happy about it. It doesn’t mean plastering a smile on my face and being as humble as possible. It means getting through life with as little pain as possible. (to me anyways) and if that means being grouchy and not apologizing for existing, then so be it.
Grab my chair handles, I dare you.