Discrimination @ Target

I applied for a handicap sticker for my vehicle.

I had a drop attack and subsequent symptoms during my public access test with Phyllis and we had to park far away from the doors at Roseville mall. I decided to go for it. I spoke with my physician, and she was happy to fill out the application for me, which is a requirement to have done when applying for this placard.

Matt and I needed some things last night so I drove to the local Target and put my temporary placard on my dashboard as instructed by DMV. I looked at Matt and said, “I am going to get shit for this.”

The reason I said this is because there are countless posts made in my support groups online showing nasty notes left on vehicles by cowards accusing those in the vehicle of being lazy or not disabled.

We entered the store and things were fine. We worked our way around to the food area and I hear someone shout, “lazy people who like to park in handicapped spots without a disability” then as I am walking past two women, another one say, “oh, this one.”

Every fiber of me wanted them to just stop talking. I generally dislike people – I don’t trust them. Any one could have a gun. Any one could beat the shit out of me. I just watched the video of two women beating each other in a Walmart. It’s just not worth it to engage strangers.

We walked past and the older women asked to speak with me. She was shaking her list in my face and Matt was beat red. I knew this wasn’t going to end well. Matt was trying to tell this old woman the temporary placard was displayed as it should be. The old women was telling me “shame on you for parking there without a sticker” and Matt was getting louder, telling her I had a sticker. The younger one is getting closer to me, with her false fingernails waving in the air. Yelling at Matt, “are you really going to yell at her…?” Heads are starting to turn, people are starting to stop and stare and suddenly this is actually happening. I am being accosted by two women in Target, Matt is seeing red, and I am standing there… numb… Matt finally says, “she has a temp placard which is displayed on her dashboard, THANK YOU.” and walks away…

The old woman then decides to ‘educate’ me and says she has gotten a ticket for parking in handicap spot. She said I will get a ticket and I said it was ok, I have the placard, I would fight a ticket. The old woman then said Matt is an bad person… suddenly my legs were alive and I began to follow after Matt as she continued to shout how he was a bad man. I turned and said, “he is a wonderful man who has supported me through three surgeries related to my disability.”

Matt told an employee we were being harassed and the employee laughed and Matt said, “NO REALLY”… I walked by the checkout lanes and started to hyperventilate. Something broke inside… I couldn’t stop the tears. People were continuing to stare… I wanted to run. We checked out and people were staring at me… I was making a scene. I kept saying, “how can people be that evil?”

We exited the store and my world was swimming.

The cherry on top is Matt and the younger woman acknowledged they went to high school together.

I called and spoke to a manager this morning at Target. She apologized for the employee not acting on it. I appreciate it and thank you, Mary, for being understanding and ensuring your employees are educated on what to do when these situations happen.

Ironically, we walked by a man with arm braces. All I could think was, he would never be accused of being lazy. He would never be referred to as, “the one“. He looks authentic… he looks disabled. I do not. I look normal. I don’t look sick.

What these women didn’t know, is, like someone who has a seizure disorder, at any moment, I could have an attack which would render me useless.

Matt and I decided the best strategy for next time this happens, because it will happen again, is to walk away. No matter how difficult it may be.

This is how I kicked off Invisible Illness Awareness week… having my authenticity questioned. Being spoken to as a thing, not a person. There was no compassion between the two of them.

The moral of this story is mind your fucking business. You don’t know what others may be going through. I have a good friend who had seizures for a while – she didn’t and doesn’t look sick, but at any moment she could have another seizure.

I have a friend who has chronic back pain and it affects her mobility. She uses a handicap placard and gets the leers from people….

Mind your own business. Please. It’s not your job to police me. Leave that up to police officers to ticket me if I don’t have my placard displayed.



Wedding Day

While I am aware my wedding day is over a year away, there is this nagging in the back of my mind.

This unconscious realization.  A powerful pull.  A culmination of years of hard work, compromise, dedication, experiences.  I get to marry the person of my dreams.  It should be enough – but it just doesn’t put into words what that day will mean when it gets here.

Matt and I have not had an easy relationship.  Put aside the usual fights young couples have, we were long distance for quite a while.  We were tested.  By God, by fate… I am not the one to judge.  Something or someone was testing us.  Can they make it?

About a year after I met him I had my first surgery.  Before surgery, I remember him taking me to the hospital (only weeks after I met him).  I need valium.  The world wouldn’t stop spinning.  I had to get back to my dorm with my arms around him from behind.  With every step we took I felt the bile in my throat, the tunnel vision started.  I was sleepy from the valium.  I swear the man who gave me my IV was in army fatigues and I referred to him as the Hulk.  Matt has a different story.

One surgery happened.  He stuck around.  Celebrated recovery.  The second surgery happened five years later.  He stuck around.  Cried for me.  Celebrated when I needed the walker less.  Came home on his lunch break to make me lunch.  The third surgery happened two years later.  He stuck around… under a year later he would ask me to marry him.

He is either utterly, completely insane crazy or a saint.  I vote saint.

I picked him for a reason.  That reason is simple.  He reminded me of my dad.  Don’t get Freudian on me now…

As I was growing up, my mom encouraged me to marry someone like my dad.  It sounded like a tall order.  I mean, my dad is a super hero.  Pretty sure there aren’t a lot of those laying around.  He could do anything.  He did things even when he didn’t want to.  He laughed and cried over my achievements and my pitfalls.  He always supported me.  He is still probably the first person who can make me laugh – hysterically.  He didn’t know how easy it was for him to hurt me and how it was even easier to fix a broken heart.  He was steadfast.  His hands were calloused.  He went to work every day – even on snow days – to feed us, provide for us.  Now, this isn’t to make my mother sound like chopped liver.  She was, and is, the best mama in the world.  She worked just as hard.  I have two parents that gave 100%!

How in the hell was I supposed to find another man like this?

I was on a mission.  Find a man like my dad.  I looked.  I went to college thinking… well… he isn’t out there.  I will be single for a year or so and focus on school, just have fun.

About three months later, when I had stopped looking… started having fun, there he was.  In the strangest of places.  I remember calling my mom to tell her about him.  I asked, “Mom, how did you know you loved dad?”  She said, “Honey, you just know.”  I remember tearing up and thinking… ok… this is it.

I, of course, didn’t tell Matt that – not yet anyways.  He was such a gentleman.  I fell fast and fell hard and somehow… I still fall hard for him every day.

Matt is just like my dad… a super hero. He can do anything.  He does things even when he doesn’t want to.  He laughs and cries over my achievements and my pitfalls.  He always supports me.  He can make me laugh – hysterically.  He doesn’t know how easy it is to hurt me and how it is even easier to fix a broken heart.  He is steadfast.  His hands are calloused.  He goes to work every day – even on snow days – to feed me, provide for us.

So this, folks, is why my wedding day is so important.  It is many, many years of searching, failing, finding, rejoicing in the little moments.

Check out this beautiful letter a father wrote his daughter on her big day: http://themighty.com/2015/08/to-my-daughter-with1-down-syndrome-on-her-wedding-day/



Life is full of lessons isn’t it?

Sneaky little lessons creep up when you least expect them.

There are so many wonderful things happening in my life right now.  I feel I have such little time in my brain to dedicate to anything less important.  But isn’t that always a trap?  When we begin to trim the fat, we chronics have to worry about who we are going to hurt…

We spend so much time being lonely.  I know more chronic doormats – we are willing to settle for just about anything because we are always evaluating and criticizing what we have already lost.  We start taking stock.  We are so used to being the fat which is trimmed from others lives.  We fear having that power.  To choose.  To decide who we let into our heads and hearts.

My circle is small.  If you want to know who will stand by you, be a chronic.  When the diagnosis is made, when the surgery wound has healed, it is who remains.  Who remains when we stop being convenient.  When we start being a burden.

Loved ones tell us we aren’t a burden.  Hell, I have told people the same thing.  The definition of burden is ‘something that is carried’ – it kind of makes the argument moot.  The truth is, the ones who are still standing after the storm don’t mind carrying us.  I think it’s pretty frickin cool.  My soon-to-be husband has chosen me, with all of my crap, all of my baggage, all of my burden – he has chosen me, and I, him.  That is pretty amazing.  He could go find a young, beautiful, sugar mama with vigor and spontaneity, but he would rather pick me up off the floor.  Powerful thought ain’t it??

I can count on one hand my friends who have stood next to me and weathered the storm.  I will never be able to thank them enough.

The purpose of this post was to not go off on a tangent, but to make a specific point.

There comes a point in everyone’s life when they evaluate those they surround themselves with.  I have been slowly rebuilding my backbone… it used to be so strong.  Didn’t care what anyone thought about me, didn’t care what they did to me… all of a sudden I was on my ass – physically, financially, emotionally… and became a doormat.  I am removing the wishbone that was once located where my backbone used to reside.

With this being said, there are still some things hurt me.  Some things I will no longer put up with.  Consciously or not, things are written and said without thought of others.  I am not talking political opinion, everyone is entitled to that and I am the first up for a spirited debate.  There are however, some fundamental things I am no longer willing to budge on.

For the last time, I am the face of welfare.  I have an EBT card, that I use, and get the stares.  I have Medical Assistance.  Yes, a part of your taxes pay for these services.  Thank you.  I envy you.  You think sitting at home is what I want?  You think using that EBT card is PRIDEFUL… you think having shitty health insurance is what I want?  You think I am going to school to fill my spare time?  I am in debt up to my ears in student loans so I can have legitimate work from home someday – so you don’t have to pay for me anymore.  Until then, I would kindly ask you not paint me with the same brush you paint the EXTREMELY SMALL PERCENTAGE of people on welfare who are ‘cheating’ the system, which by the way – is a hard thing to do.  Trust me, I have to fill out the paperwork.

By the way, the ‘people’ on welfare are of all colors.  Some of us are white, some of us are black, some of us are brown, some of us are yellow, some of us are disabled, some of us have lost our jobs, some of us work a dead-end job and need the assistance to make ends meet.  We’re not useless, lazy, or expendable.  We are people.  We bleed just like you do.  We feel just like you do.  We are not proud to need help.  Asking for it isn’t easy.  Find ONE person sitting in a county welfare office smiling – even the case workers are miserable.

If I could trade places with you I wouldn’t even think about it.  There is one thing I will always have that you welfare haters will never have… a pocket full of clarity.  An appreciation for the value of a dollar.  An appreciation for making my EBT money stretch.  An appreciation of what I have.  Gratitude.  An understanding of what it is like to be poor… and trust me, I am not nearly as poor as millions of others.  I can appreciate the struggle.

I hope you never get sick, get divorced, lose your job… because then, and only then, will you understand what it’s like to need assistance and have to ask for it.  The feeling in your stomach having to share all of your financial information, having to prove your life insurance policy has no cash value – having to bare your soul to a stranger to prove you are worth nothing.  Only then will you get it.  Until then, I don’t need you in my life.