[NOTE: I have removed some things from the Entry below after my father found this and expressed his discomfort with some of the way I took some things. I appologize.]
I am visiting my father this week. My biological father. A man who ideologically I have nothing in common with. A man who gave me a good portion of my genetics, for better or for worse.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my father, and his wife Rose. Their actions and ideology is suited to their position in their culture and among their peers. They care about me, even if their way of showing it irritates me, and my way of demonstrating affection towards them is not as they expect. (Apparently Rose was for years under the impression that I disliked her as I didn’t demonstrate affection in a way she expected- until my Dad reminded me when her birthday was and I sent her a picture of a muffin. She cried to know I cared, and I was shocked to know she didn’t know.)
My father is terribly of a conservative mind. Don’t get me wrong, he’s okay with homosexuality and he’s pro-decriminalization of Marijuana. But is personal ideology is inherently conservative. It is based on the idea that it is weak and wrong to rely on society or any one other than one’s self for anything- that in fact it is a foolish move to do anything that does not benefit yourself.
Under the umbrella of his ideology is a complete and utter rejection of the social model of disability. For those unfamiliar with the social model (and are too lazy to click the link),
“The social model of disability proposes that systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society (purposely or inadvertently) are the ultimate factors defining who is disabled and who is not in a particular society.”
The first time I heard my father reject this thought was not in a disability context in particular. I was listening to music and mentioned that I loved the message of the song. His response was to ask if is was “one of those songs that blames society for problems” and that he thought that such a message was idiotic. It wasn’t, but then on I have heard him say further things in the past 7 or 8 years since.
In a more general sense, it’s rough for me. I’m a liberal, I suppose, though perhaps progressive is more acurate. While I recognize that there are a lot of parts of my ideal world that aren’t possible due to human nature, I still think it’s worth fighting for. And I am an advocate for “invisible” disabilities- many of whom are primarily disabled under the social rather than medical models.
While the individual has the responsibility to do what they can to get into a position that they are capable of and comfortable with, that does not exculpate society. And it doesn’t mean that conformity is ideal, particularly in a disability context. There are members of the disability community that would like to conform. For them, they have an entire system designed to suit that need. But that doesn’t mean that that is the only right answer, or that it is even a posibility for everyone desirable or not.
More particular to my situation of the moment has a more immediate effect that a worry about political issues and having to creep about when discussing work as though the topic is a mine field. My father does not accept Diagnosis. At all.
This has been a thing that has been consistent most of my life. My mother has always sought various services for me, even before she left my father. [content has been exized for privacy reasons.]
[Content about my father's reaction to my sister's TBI has been exized for privacy reasons.]
Fast forward to within the past 6 months. I was discussing a (now) ex-boyfriend and mentioned his OCD. My father went off about how OCD was made up to stigmatize people and several other things that I decline to repeat as they degraded into offensiveness.
I came out as on Spectrum last year. Most people I know know. My sister recently accepted it after a year of being convinced that you had to be non-verbal- She met some more people on spectrum and learned a few things. I’ve been living my life fairly openly- stimming in my own home and able to speak about what it is like publically.
I’m still not out to my father. I had him pick me up from Autreat last year, and I conveiniently left out that I was there as a person on spectrum. He knows I work with and advocate for us, but to tell him that I am a part of that us seems impossible.
While I have been up here, I have been unable to engage in activities that had become routine. I’m not talking about in public, I’m talking about around the house. I’m not allowed to be upset here by sudden changes in plans, and when I don’t respond as expected there are issues and a number of misunderstandings. And I can’t give a reason why.
It’s harder than coming out as bisexual was, by far.
A moment of Zen: The Imagine video.