Will I ever get over the legacy of ableist bullying?
How organising a birthday party takes me right back to being 15
I’ve been struggling to write my book recently. In classic fashion I have been blaming this on, variously: bad sleep, everything else I need to do, and the distraction otherwise known as living in the UK.
But really I am struggling to write because, at this particular juncture of the book, I am writing about some Difficult Stuff. Namely, the after effects of the ableist bullying I endured at school.
I’m not going to rehash it all here (you’ll just have to buy the book, eh?) but safe to say writing about it has been an interesting challenge, both intellectually and emotionally.
One of the things I am trying not to do is write the whole thing with a neat, tidy ending; to not say: “this was bad but now it’s over and everything is fine.” This is my natural inclination, to make the hard things palatable (lest a reader thinks I am simply a Sad Disabled Girl TM). But, as anyone who was bullied for a long time knows, it’s not over when it finishes; it lingers, twists, tattoos itself somewhere under your skin. This is what I’m attempting to write about. And guys, it is hard.
Of course, the temptation is to skirt around the issue. To conjure up with words the bow-tie ending that doesn’t exist or, simply, to avoid the topic altogether. But just as I considered doing just that, current life showed me that skipping the section on school wasn’t really an option at all. The after-effects of school bullying are, it seems, crucial to understanding what it’s like to be a disabled adult as well as a disabled child.
The cliché that life has an uncanny tendency to imitate art is a cliché because it’s almost annoyingly true. And just as I was wrestling with this pesky chapter I found myself also wrestling with the equally pesky issue of… my birthday.
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