Being in Community

A week ago I presented at Access Living, a big Center for Independent Living in Chicago. The room was full of people–disabled people, queer people, trans people, lots of folks who crossed all those categories. It is always so good for me to bring my work to my home communities. I am so often working in rooms with only a few crips and/or a few queers and/or a few trans people. Those are also good, important rooms but so different than last Friday. I have nothing profound to write about the experience. I just get so fed by being and working in my home communities. And we had brilliant conversation about being victims vs. being survivors vs. reclaiming our bodies.

Margaret said,

December 12, 2008 @ 12:13 am

My comment is very much out of time … or is it in crip time?. I am reading your blog in bed, on a late night in December, resting at last after a long day and a long week and a long month.

This post caught my eye because I’ve been pondering the word “survivor” lately. I am working on a piece of writing that takes up the “c/s/x movement” — that is, the “consumer/survivor/ex-patient” movement — those of us who have been medicated, hospitalized, otherwise treated for what are said to be mental illnesses and what I proudly call madness, neuroatypicality, psychosocial disability.

I’ve done so much work to reclaim my bodymind, and yet I have never liked the term “survivor.” Maybe it makes me feel like a movie character; maybe it makes me feel that I ought to act more noble than I do. Maybe it makes me feel that the ordeal should be finished, when I know by now that it never will be, quite.

Of course I like the word “victim” less.

What I like most–at least so far–is the caption on a piece of art I keep on my wall. The drawing is by Brian Andreas and its caption reads, “Most people she never tells about the tightrope / Because she doesn’t want to listen to their helpful comments from the ground.”

Eli said,

December 12, 2008 @ 9:00 am

Yes, yes, yes. I reluctantly use the word survivor in regards to abuse for the same reasons. After years of recovery/reclamation work, my relationship to the old trauma has certainly changed, but there are lasting social/physical/emotional/spiritual impacts that I still deal with, sometimes almost not at all and other times more than I ever want.

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