Assorted thoughts on being childfree, living with disabilities, dating and school changes

Most of the day yesterday commpletely dragged on for me because I kept seeing Corona Virus news updates on assorted forms of social media. But that being said, in a way, it was great that I kept up with those updates because doing so gave me a clear idea of what the verdict would be for those of us who currently attend college. But since it’s official now, I feel comfortable posting it: our school will be closed, at least until April 13th. And this goes for all students and all staff. That being said though, everyone will be kept up-to-date if things change. This feels surreal to me, in a way. Because TBH, I honestly never thought that I’d live through something of this magnitude, most especially not when I’m still young and still full of life myself.

This morning I had to cancel/reschedule both of my doctor appointments that were originally for today; I had to do this because I wouldn’t have been able to get a ride to the medical facility until later in the week. And hopefully I won’t have to worry about that same problem again, any time soon. That being said, the medical facility I go to for most medically-related things, had to ask me a series of questions about whether I might have the Corona Virus or whether I suspect that anyone has it that I’ve been in contact with…and the answer was of course no to those questions. The last question was also a “no,” but I saved that one for last so that I can talk about it a bit. Because it’s something that I’ve talked about before: the fact that I never intend to travel out of my country. OK, maybe I haven’t said it using those specific words. However I have talked about what agonizing pain I was left in, due to my shunt not being able to handle how intense the airplane cabin pressure was, the last time I flew on a plane, back in March 2017. And so, unfortunately for me, this also means that my dream of going to Germany which I’ve had since I was a child, will also never come true. *Sigh*.

Also today, my ASL professor emailed us students, saying for us to still do the work that’s been assigned to us. But as someone who’s an immuno-compromised person myself, I have no earthly idea how that’s going to happen. I mean, I know that I can at least read the story that we’re supposed to write a book report on and then write said book report. And so, I told my professor that I can at least do those two things…but that anything else would be out of the question for me. And in the past, I would’ve felt deeply sad about this sort of thing happening, maybe like I was a failure, even. But oddly enough, I feel calm right now. And it’s of the utmost importance to me to keep myself safe and healthy.

In an episode of the Love Someone with Delilah podcast, the featured guest for the day was a woman named Lindsay. And Lindsay was on Delilah’s podcast uplifting women who felt like they had to choose one of their multitude of dreams over another. Because as a book author, Lindsay herself discussed having multiple goals for her life as well as those goals evolving over time. She talked openly about how initially she’d made an agreement with her husband that once they started having kids, she’d work from home. But then once she’d actually had kids, her perspective on this changed…and she discovered that she wanted to start her own business, rather than just having the titles of “mom” and “wife.” And so, she was then able to create and express parts of herself that maybe she’d initially thought that she’d have to let go, once she had kids. But that’s the thing: I can understand why Lindsay felt that she had to just choose one identity, maybe two identities for herself. Because sadly, society gives us as women a clear message: that we cannot, in fact, do multiple things with our lives…and that, if we do, we’re fucking selfish. But here’s the thing: it’s because of our gender that we get so much flack. Because men can wear multiple hats so to speak, without anyone calling them selfish or negatively judging who they are as individuals. But let a woman speak her mind passionately yet firmly…and she’s labeled “fucking crazy.” Make sense? Nope. Didn’t think so!!

But that being said, I love listening to Delilah’s podcast, especially when she has women on the show who believe in equality for everyone. It makes my heart happy to see that in some ways, the world really is taking significant strides towards becoming more welcoming of people’s different gender identities, people’s different sexual identities and on and on and on. And also along those lines, Delilah also talks in this episode about the fact that she and her husband have an unconventional relationship with one another: they don’t live together, most of the time. But all that being said, it always surprises me when I find out that Delilah is all for people expressing their individuality and living unconventional lives. The reason that that surprises me about her, is because she’s deeply religious…and generally, when I think of people being super religious, I also think of such folks as most likely conservative people. Because for the most part, it’s been my experience that deeply religious folks, are also racist, homophobic, transphobic ETC. I grew up/was raised in Texas, after all. And so, of course that particular upbringing has colored how I see the world and how/why I dealt with internalized homophobia for so long. But that being said, I love learning that Delilah the radio DJ is far more open-minded than I give her credit for. Now, that being said, I’ve never heard her talk about the LGBTQ+ community in an affirmative way…so perhaps that’s because she doesn’t like to open herself up, when it comes to such a heated discussion as LGBTQ+ experiences/rights. And TBH, maybe it’s best that she stays quiet about that area of life.

In an episode of the This American Life podcast, there was a different person hosting this episode of said show than usual. And the reason for this, was because Ira Glass, the show’s host, doesn’t have kids. And so, being that this particular episode focused on parents educating children on topics that are hard to talk about, it made sense to have someone do this show who themselves actually has kids. And so, at the very beginning of this episode, the woman who was the host for the day, shared what bath-time was like with her young children. And what followed, was a conversation between herself and her three-year-old, where the toddler kept repeating that only certain groups of people could have animals. And that being said, this kid’s mom discussed how she was torn about how to handle her child saying something like this. Because on one hand, her kid was quite young to be able to comprehend such complex subjects as religion and racism. But then again, as a mother, it was this woman’s job to share the knowledge she’s gained, with her child on all kinds of subjects. But then again, the woman wanted to let her child grow on their own and be able to ask questions of her. But all that being said, this woman doesn’t ultimately say whether she’s tried to resolve how her child thinks about this particular issue or not.

In the next segment of the This American Life podcast, this same woman tells a story about how young folks who are in college don’t, as a general rule, understand what it means for them to have consensual sexual experiences with other individuals. This particular story addressed a common misconception that people have about consent which is that human beings continually asking for consent, will totally ruin everyone’s sexual experiences. But such a thinking pattern is faulty because people can change their minds any time they want to do so. Because the reality is that no one owes another person sex, ever; this means that it doesn’t matter if specific people had sex with each other 15 minutes ago. If any of them want to stop having sex, no matter what their reason is for changing their mind, their “no” deserves to be respected. And in my opinion, what makes it hard for people to accept an answer from someone that’s changed their mind about sex, is the way that people think about how romantic relationships without sex should be conducted when you are a grown-up. But something that also plays a role in this confusion, is how romantic relationships should be structured as grown-ups, with sex included. Because it can be easy for people to feel so comfortable within their romantic relationships, that they don’t even think of consent as something that is both ongoing and ever-changing. And I think that for all involved parties, the subject of consent is maybe mentioned in passing…but that’s it. None of the involved parties have a frank discussion with each other about the role that consent plays in their individual lives or even about the myriad ways that their consent may change, at any time, and for any reason. And as I’ve said on my blog numerous times before, no one should ever be forced to do anything that they don’t want to do. There is no exception for this truth.

Something else that was addressed in this segment of the This American Life podcast, was that it matters a whole hell of a lot where people get their information about sex from. So for example, men learning what women like from other men, is wrong…because only women, as the individuals that they, that we, are, know what each of us likes. Because as was pointed out by folks on this episode, people’s sexual desires vary, just as the type of person they want to be with, varies. But that being said, that truth hasn’t seemed to stop most men from being arrogant, in terms of how well they think they (men) know women and women’s likes/dislikes.

In the next story on this episode of This American Life, the day’s host tells a story about how racism impacts our world on a regular basis. The specific people that are highlighted in this story though, are African Americans. And these folks share with us as the listeners how their understanding of racism evolved into a healthier perspective, rather than starting out as a healthy perspective. And what I mean in saying that, is that this family shares how their parent, their dad, explained to them as children that the world was not, in fact, equal for everyone. And so then, this now adult-child shares her side of the story; and she openly discusses how as a child, she got a clear message about white folks and black folks not being allowed to interact with each other. But it wasn’t until she’d actually grown up herself, that she learned that these supposed problems between black and white folks, were created by individuals. But what that truth taught this now grown-up child, was that people didn’t have to live their lives separately, just because their skin was not necessarily the same color as one another’s.

In addition to that story about racism on this podcast, there was yet another story on this episode, that was along the same lines of the one I wrote about in the above paragraph. But in this particular story, the people in it were a mixed-race couple who had very young children. And at the time that this show was recorded in 2015, this couple told a story about how they (the wife and the husband) were enjoying a meal together out in public. This wife and husband also happened to be with other people who also had children. And what ended up happening, was that some workers who worked at the restaurant at the time these folks were there, seemed to feel uncomfortable with this African American man being among white people. But the thing was, these people who were uncomfortable with this situation, didn’t actually admit that truth. Instead, what they did was express to this man that they thought he looked out of place within this group of white folks. But even through that particular thing, they (the restaurant employees) used a code phrase that African American folks in this particular area would recognize). And the thing was, the way the restaurant workers said this particular code phrase, it was actually meant as something derogatory. And for anyone who’s curious, the phrase that these workers said was “we thought you were selling something.” But that phrase had a hidden meaning behind it that I wouldn’t have just known, if that hadn’t been specified. And so, the hidden meaning behind this code phrase, was something along the lines of “the skin color of this African American man is making us restaurant employees uncomfortable…because this is only a white folks space.” And as this story continued to develop, it turned out that its outcome was not what this married couple actually wanted to happen. Because instead of this experience helping create a safe environment where people could be heard about the role that racism plays in our lives, no matter the color of their skin, what actually happened was that the restaurant employees who’d caused this scene were fired. And while that particular outcome probably seems desirable to folks, this couple would’ve preferred to use this moment as an educational thing. That’s what they said in this interview.

In the last segment of this episode of the This American Life podcast, the host of the day told a story about kids learning about death. There is a place in Salt Lake City, Utah that’s called The Sharing Place; and kids go there to be taught about death as well as to be educated on reasons why people die. And to be honest, this part of the This American Life podcast made me smile because I too, think it’s important to use the word “death” in regular conversations with people, no matter their age. Because death is final. People die because that is how the circle of life works…and there is no way for anyone to avoid that truth. So to learn about The Sharing Place as I have, restored my faith in humanity, at least a little bit. It was great to hear kids openly talk about death and suicide, along with other reasons people in their lives have died: because when we as adults help normalize these facts of life for children, we also send the message to kids that even though death, suicide and other ways of dying can be scary, that doesn’t mean that we should never talk about them. And as I heard kid after kid speak frankly about their experiences related to death, I found myself wishing that I’d had access to this kind of resource for myself, growing up.

In the Childfree by Choice FB group, someone created a thread where they trash talked most of us members of this group because we don’t speak highly of people who have kids. The response I wrote to this person reads:
I think you are definitely being nitpicky; judging is a fact of life, no matter who we are, or what the issue is at hand. For example, I have multiple visible disabilities; people judge me in a negative way all the time, yet, I manage to not let that get in the way of me living my life happily and freely. If we bother you in this group so much because we speak openly about our criticism of breeders, I suggest you either just scroll past those specific discussions, or leave the group entirely. Or perhaps, learn to have compassion for us, as people who are speaking freely in a space that is totally accessible to us, when every single other part of the world is not. You having compassion for us and our needs to live in our truths, part of those truths being that we criticize breeders, would really help make the entire world a better place. If you become compassionate for us and try to understand where we are coming from deep down, you could then educate others about how to do the same. Imagine how powerful that would, and could, be.
This person then said something in response to my initial comment; they said something along the lines of “yeah, maybe I should just stay quiet, since that view of mine won’t be supported in this group.”
I wrote a response to that which reads:
Exactly. You are right that if you cannot genuinely support us, or if you are homophobic or anything else, keep all those things to yourself. This is not the space for any of that garbage.

Also in this FB group, someone commented on this same thread, saying something along the lines of “violence is never the answer.” And the response I wrote to that person’s comment reads:
I too, grew up with so much violence that even if I had kids, I would never resort to spanking them (yes, I believe that spanking is abuse). As someone who was spanked numerous times just because my bio mom felt like doing it to me, I learned something powerful from those spankings: I was not valued or valuable as an individual. I was a child who shouldn’t be seen or heard. There really can be power in giving children agency/actual opportunities to understand why they receive consequences…and to also learn how those consequences can and do affect others.

On this same thread, just from a different person, someone said something similar to what the above person had said. This second person said something like “it’s too aggressive when people say these specific words. What I wrote in response to that person’s comment reads:
Yes, it is brutally honest to say that women should have thought of what them having kids would mean for them/the entire world, before getting pregnant, it is true nonetheless. Some of us prefer to not use pretty words or sugary-sweet language to communicate our feelings. If reading online that someone has a strong opinion that another human being should use their brain when it comes to something serious like being pregnant/raising a child, is upsetting to you, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you in real life where you can’t block/ignore folks who say things that you don’t like, probably all the time.

On a different thread within the Childfree by Choice group, someone posted a topic ranting about being asked why they don’t want to have children. This person was harshly criticized by some folks who didn’t like the fact that the original poster said they didn’t answer the question they were asked. My response to this topic of theirs reads:
For those bashing the original poster for not answering this question, are you also saying that you always answer every single question people ask you? No one is ever obligated to answer questions, just because people have asked questions. People ask me what happened to me, all the time, because I use a wheelchair and wear leg braces. But I don’t always answer…and that is my right. Sometimes, I answer that I was born like that because it’s the truth…and then say to them “but really, it was none of your business.” Other times, I say “I don’t wanna talk about it.” So OP, I’m glad you did what you felt like doing, in your situation that you’ve described here.
Someone responded to my comment, saying something like “so do you talk to your friends like that?” The response I wrote to them reads:
It depends on the person and how I am feeling at any given time. So yes, sometimes I do say to friends “I don’t have the energy/I feel uncomfortable talking about that right now.” But the thing is, the word ‘friend’ doesn’t necessarily mean they are close/that OP even feels safe enough with her to trust that an honest answer would be well-received by her. There are people in my own life for example, who call themselves my ‘friends’ but we simply went to the same school. We have nothing in common and I wouldn’t confide in them things that I wanted to keep private…but they still use the term ‘friend’ to describe the relationship between us. And that’s all I’m saying, is that we don’t know the relationship between OP and the person he’s talking about here…so judging harshly is uncalled for.

I recently shut off an online dating profile that I’d created, where the website was not one bit screen-reader friendly. And so, when I decided to give the website staff feedback about my experience, what I wrote to them reads:
To improve this service, you could ensure that your website is screen-reader friendly. What I mean by that is that for blind people like myself who use speech output software to navigate the internet/word processing programs, speech output software is generally unable to recognize graphics/pictures of text. And so, when this site in particular, is impossible for me to navigate as a blind person, I feel a bit cheated because I therefore cannot have the same user experience as other folks, of my online dating experience being private. But if you ensure that your website is easy for screen reader users to use independently, that would be a step towards making this a more inclusive place.

In the Disability Wisdom Discussion Group, I made a topic about whether people would put that they are disabled in their online dating profiles. I’d already made up my mind about what I wanted to do for my online dating profile, but I still thought that asking others for their perspectives would be helpful. And one comment I’d responded to on this thread said something along the lines of “people are being ableist by saying that mentioning their disabilities in a dating profile is the way to go, or else people are being dishonest.” And what I wrote in response to that comment reads:
Having a preference is not ableist. My disabilities have been part of who I am since I was born, and so yes, I believe that to hide them is being dishonest and sneaky. There is no need to be either of those things, in my opinion; as I said before, if I’m going to establish trust with someone from the beginning and I don’t share such a fundamental part of who I am with people, then what the heck else might I lie about? That is how a stranger would likely see it, not to mention, I have more anxiety/worries myself, when I withhold that info than when I’m up front about it.

This same person who’d commented on this thread earlier trying to say that my perspective is abelist, continued trying to convince me that I am being ableist. That particular comment of theirs brought out the following response in me which reads:
I guess we can just agree to disagree then. Because, I am not someone who believes that my blindness is a characteristic, the way my hair color is. I’m honest enough to admit to myself that blindness/my other disability, does inform how I live my life. I wish you would not tone police me, simply because you don’t share my perspective. Personally, I am not and would not be OK with just surprising people the first time I meet them, with my disabilities. But since you don’t seem to understand where I’m coming from, let me try to put it to you one more way: I would not waste my time talking to someone whose biggest hobbies were traveling to other countries/traveling on airplanes in general. Why? Because I have a serious medical condition that makes me feel like I am literally dying, when I fly on airplanes. This particular thing has not always been a part of my life…but it is now. But I would imagine that you probably don’t think that I’m heartless for not being willing to put my life in jeopardy in these ways. Even though I don’t typically think of these things that I’ve just mentioned here, as preferences, they are preferences. Because I ultimately prefer to keep myself out of these kinds of situations. But I am no less worthy of finding love, simply because I can’t travel the way I once could.

Another commenter on this thread wrote a very thoughtful response; and what I wrote in response to their comment reads:
Thank you for helping give me the words I was looking for, regarding why I have this perspective. I say that I’m disabled in my profile because giving folks that info up front protects me emotionally. Because in doing so, not only will I hopefully clear the air, in terms of having conversations with people about my disabilities…but this also shows that there is more to me than my disabilities. Like you, though, I don’t believe that my blindness is a characteristic–because like it or not, it does render me incapable of things like becoming a pilot, a firefighter or a surgeon. And TBH, I’ve always felt weird hearing people say that one’s blindness doesn’t limit you; it’s like, “OK, let me see you drive a car then, as a blind person!” So going back to why I’m radically honest in my dating profile in this way, I want to encourage folks to have discussions about my disabilities with me…because I didn’t want to give them everything right away. And what I mean by that, is that I simply said that I have multiple disabilities–I wrote things that way because I want the implication to be there that it’s important to have frank discussions about this sort of thing on a regular basis. Like, the way I believe that consent is an ongoing/ever-changing thing that needs to happen, so too, do I believe that conversations surrounding my disabilities should be ongoing…because they are also ever-changing. But I say all of these things about me; if others choose to go about this situation differently, that is their right and I have no desire to take away anyone’s agency.