No matter how I’m feeling my group therapy sessions always put a smile on my face. I love meeting with the women who attend and always leave with positivity tools I can practice in my everyday life. Walking out of group therapy one day I noticed there was a note on my windshield. I had stayed a few minutes extra and I thought that maybe one of the ladies had written a note and put it on my car. Smiling I walked over thinking it would be a sweet note. Taking the note off of my car my smile quickly turned into confusion…
I immediately began looking around the parking lot to see if there was anyone around – perhaps they had JUST left the note. There was nobody around.
I got in my car and sat there for a few minutes, puzzled. Why would someone leave this note for me when my handicap placard was displayed right on my dashboard? Now to be fair, it was not hanging from my rearview mirror – I had just set it on top of my dash board. There’s no way the person didn’t see it though because the placement of the note was almost directly over where the placard was.
I sat there and went from disbelief, to angry, to sad, to feeling empathetic.
“I can’t believe someone would think I was ‘enjoying’ the fact that I parked in the handicap parking spot. I can’t believe someone would take the time to write this note and place it on my car RIGHT ON TOP of my handicap placard! What is wrong with people!?
What right did this person have? I’m on crutches! It’s not like I’m just some punk kid who was being lazy! This is so rude… It’s a good thing this person wasn’t around because I have some choice words I’d like to let them have. This is what having an invisible disability causes… To whoever wrote this – you’re the inconsiderate one for even believing that this note was warranted. Wow. Just wow. No words.
I can’t believe I have to park in the handicap parking spot at 28 years old. I’m 28! I should be at work, working on establishing my awesome career, starting to build a family… NOT sitting here at 11am, on a Tuesday morning, coming out of a group therapy session. I know there has to be a reason I’m going through all of this, but how much more can a person take!!!!?!?!?!
I feel horrible – I completely feel for this person. I was having a pretty good day … maybe I should have parked in a regular spot so someone else could have used the parking spot.
No, Julie. You have every right to use this spot.
This poor person… I know exactly how it feels to be having a horrible day, pull up and see no handicap parking spots and have to walk further than need be. Sometimes you HAVE to go to the store for something, but are so bone chillingly tired that just the thought of walking from your car to the store makes you cry inside. Some days you can walk around the store and others you rely on the motorized wheelchairs they have – even planning your shopping around which stores HAVE motorized wheelchairs and which do not.
Dear God, I’m so sorry that I put extra stress on this person who left this note. Please bless this person and help them. Please let them know that I’m so incredibly sorry.”
There are times when I feel very uncomfortable and self-conscious parking in a handicap parking spot. I drive a convertible and when people see me pulling up, and parking in the handicapped spot, I feel like ‘all eyes on me’. I don’t know what exactly they’re thinking, but I can speculate that they’re judging me on the fact that I’m young, playing my music a little too loud and am parking in the closest spot to the store. If I have the energy, I hurry to get out of my car and pull out my crutches so they can see that I have a disability. I know that we’re taught to be confident and not worry about what others think, but there is only so much a person can take. Crutching around for almost 2 years I know the feeling of people’s stares. Sometimes it just really gets to you.
That night I went home and I prayed for the person who left the note on my car. Every night I pray for those who have a chronic illness or an injury or just perhaps are sick. I also pray for those who are affected by anyone who is sick or injured. I made sure to send up some extra blessings for this individual because I did feel bad that I caused extra stress that was unneeded.
I took a picture of the note and posted it to my instagram account. I received some very interesting comments from a variety of people. Most in disbelief and sickened that someone would call me out for using the spot, but there were a few that made me stop and think…
“You know what’s sad is it almost seems as though those of us who need to utilize the spots are almost harder on each other than outsiders are.”
“Wow. That’s really just disgusting. I think it stems from a lot of people in our society who live with the mindset that they’re MORE disabled, or in MORE pain than others. That and a totally warped sense of entitlement. Our society is very backwards in that respect.”
I began feeling really hypocritical because I feel myself looking at people in the handicap parking spots and judging whether some of them really needed to park there or not. For instance, the other day I went to the grocery store and I pulled into the last handicap parking spot that was there. I noticed there was a man sitting in the handicap parking spot across from me. He was in the drivers seat, with the car on, just waiting. I sat there for a second because I wanted to see if perhaps the man had just pulled in and was catching his breath before he got out of the car. Unfortunately my suspicions were confirmed when a woman briskly walked out of the store, got in the car and pulled away.
At first I was very upset. He was taking a spot that someone who really needed that spot was not able pull into. But then I started thinking … what if that woman has rheumatoid arthritis? what if she has lupus? what if she had no energy today, but had to run in to get something and the man was unable to go in for her? was it a nice thing he was doing sitting in that spot waiting for his wife? My thoughts quickly turned from questioning to judging to a passage that is often read at church ‘For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged’.
I did not know their situation. I still don’t know their situation. I can sit here and ponder why that man was sitting in the handicapped parking spot for the rest of my life and I will not ever know the real reason. I was just as bad as the woman who left the note on my car.
There are so many of us out there that get upset when people judge us based on the fact that we don’t ‘look sick’. We often make remarks about how ‘normal’ people don’t understand and throw judgement our way. I feel that it’s not only the non-chronic illness individuals who cast out judgement, but it’s EVERYONE. I cannot speak for you, but I’m willing to bet that the majority of us out there has judged another at one point or another. When pulling up to park and noticing that there aren’t any handicapped parking spots I often get angry thinking that I deserve one of those spots. But what makes me more deserving than the people who parked there? Absolutely nothing.
I think as a whole we all need to agree that judging people based off of looks is not the way we should live. Just because I may not look ‘sick’ does not mean I’m not fighting an inner battle and just because someone else takes a handicapped spot that I want does not give me the right to judge them.
I am no better then the person next to me and they are no better than me.
We are all equal.
And we all deserve to be treated as such
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!