I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I say this going into a section where I’ll be pointing out truths (whether intentional or not) that turned out not to be true.
The first of these untrue truths is what the doctors said when they saw my disabilities. First, they thought I might be mentally challenged. I know that back in the late 60’s , they didn’t understand things as fully as they do now. I know those doctors didn’t mean to lie, and each one of them would have rejoiced in my progress had they kept up with me as I grew older.
I didn’t remember that I wasn’t supposed to succeed in school. I went there and did the things I already knew how to do. Most of that was tied up with words, reading, and books. I distinctly remember my teacher telling my mother I should read out loud slower. This was another unintentional lie. If I had known not to worry about that, I could have done my very best work in school at a young age. It wasn’t my responsibility to worry about classmates feeling bad because I read better than they did and understood what I was reading, any more than it was their responsibility to worry about how I felt when I couldn’t participate or play games with them because there was no way for me to keep up or protect myself from getting hurt.
I hit one bad patch in school where I was not doing well in math. I had been doing well in classes with students a year older than I was, when suddenly I hit trigonometry and calculus. I couldn’t do well with those concepts for anything. It wasn’t until years later that I heard of nonverbal learning disorder and how it affects people. I might have difficulty reading nonverbal cues from another person, and difficulties with math go along with this disorder. Oh, wow. How I wish I had known. I would have stayed far away from that last trig class in high school and the calculus class in college. I was SO far out of my element that I feel sorry for teenage Lana having to deal with all of that. I wish she could have just dropped things that were hard. Since that time of my life, I’ve tried to take better care of her and myself by not choosing such high goals that might not be attainable. And if I don’t reach those goals, I try to teach us both that it’s okay, we’re okay, and we can focus on what we’re good at.
She was told the lie that to do her best in everything, she had to take the hardest path to the end, instead of being reassured it really is completely okay to give yourself a break.
The other big lie I have to point out that I’m still learning is one is that you don’t have to be in a wheelchair to be disabled. You don’t have to look disabled to be acknowledged. You don’t deserve to be put down by people who don’t know what is happening in your life and body.