Definition of AMBIVALENCE
1.: simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action
2.a : continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite) b : uncertainty as to which approach to follow
Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day, which is interesting timing with the start of this blog project. So why the connection between BADD and the definition of ambivalence? Well, my journey to becoming a part-time wheelchair user has been filled with both definitions of ambivalence. I am attracted to the idea of being able to navigate my environment without worrying about falling, worrying about how long it takes me to get from one campus building or another (and comparing it to how quickly I used to be able to get to and fro), and attracted to the idea that I might be able to find sport and dance opportunities in the body I have now (instead of praying for some sort of treatment or cure that will probably either be contraindicated with my congenital disabilities or just worsen the current issues).
On the flip side of this coin lies my worries. I study physical activity in graduate school, and I worry about how people will perceive my disability. I worry about the comments that will come about how some days I need wheels to get around and some days I can hobble along. I worry about the intersection of my disability with my fat body, and worry about the fatphobia that many times intersects with ableism. I worry about comments from my fellow students in kinesiology and health about how if I "can" walk I should walk because of bone density (something that is even more important with my pituitary dwarfism). I worry about dealing with how barely accessible my campus is for people who are disabled (but I also delight in not having to make the cost-benefit analysis I have to make with my cane or walking stick...walk extra far to take the ramp and not risk tripping up stairs, but wear out my spine, or take the stairs and risk a really big fall).
I've been struggling with this for a while honestly, but I knew in my heart that my mental health depended on being able to navigate my environment quickly, and the way to do that was with a manual wheelchair. My internal ableism has fed my embarrassment about how slowly I ambulate, how awkward my gate is, and how I sometimes have to watch my feet to make sure they do what my brain told them. I'm a physical person, and I need to be able to ~move~ ~wiggle~ ~pace~ ~zoom~ to be mentally healthy, not to mention to counteract the sedentary behavior that has been slipping into my previously very active lifestyle.
This afternoon my prescription arrived, and tomorrow I'm going to the medical supply store to get fitted. I'm still worried about what others will think about my decision, but knowing that wheels will make me mobile reinforces that I won't be "wheelchair bound" nor "confined to a wheelchair," but FREED by a wheelchair.