Facing Ignorance While Living With Lupus

Owning a handicap sticker should not cause you to feel shame. Some disabilities are not visible, so sometimes others will think you don’t deserve that spot as much as they do, and will try to make you feel ashamed. Some people will even argue with you about the handicapped parking spot as if it was their business in the first place. Those people will often say that disability parking should be for disabled people, but they are forgetting that not everyone's disability is visible.

Facing ignorance and shame

Just recently I got into a conflict with a stranger for parking in a handicapped parking spot. This person didn't believe that I deserved to be using a handicapped spot. I was putting my daughter in her stroller, and a stranger approached me to tell me that this parking spot was meant for older people or disabled people and that I should be ashamed of myself. I didn’t feel the need to explain myself to him because even though my disability is not visible, I do have one. He continued to criticize me and even became a little racist, which was even ruder, especially in front of my child.

It took everything in me to not flip out at him while I was with my daughter. He was disrespectful and it made me feel so low and a little worthless. This was not my first encounter with a racist person, but this one was different because I was with my daughter.

The pain you don't "see"

I screamed for one second and he looked at me like I was crazy. I told him that today was not the right day for him to try me, but that he was lucky I was with my daughter.

I said, “my joints are so swollen to the point where when I walk I can feel each movement of pain with every step I take. Sometimes my throat and face swell to the point where I can not open my eyes. My kidneys can fail and even more. I have issues with my vision because of my medication, so sometimes I can drive and other times I can't. So, I would like it if you keep your negative remarks and your racist comments to yourself before I have to get out of character in front of my daughter and lose who I am completely."

Keep your negativity to yourself

He looked stunned and had the nerve to tell me that I did not have to yell at him and that I was being mean. I told him that if he would have minded his own business in the first place, we would not have needed to have this discussion. He apologized in the end but it took him a while to do so. We all know what it's like to not have a great day, but that does not mean you can take your anger out on everyone else.

The effects of ignorance can last

I had to end up calming my daughter down because she was somewhat distraught. She felt my pain and hurt but didn’t understand why I was so sad. I just held her and thought "this is another story I will be able to tell her as she gets older." Later on in the day, I did catch a flare-up because of the distressful event but I am mentally and physically better now.

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