Last night I was invited to a Ball that was being run at my church. I had previously made arrangements to go home to “raid my parents’ fridge” but in typical fashion someone texted me at the last minute. I rang my mum and she told me to go. I emailed wylz and he told me to go. I have only ever been to two balls in the past and I got thoroughly bored at both of them. These balls were way before I had my chair and I’d always been “socially awkward. The people at my church are starting to know me as a wheeler and I hadn’t been to church for ages. To be honest I didn’t feel like going anywhere. So, when my friend invited me to this ball, and even paid for me, I have a funny feeling she was just trying to get me out of my flat.
I eventually got into the hall where the ball was. The only usable ramp went through the kitchen at the back and I hated the fuss that was made trying to find a way in for me. One guy offered to haul me up the steps and I flatly refused. Once in the hall I started socialising, I feel I did much better this time, and I know I was more confident in my chair. An issue I did have trying to socialise was that with the loud band playing, all the background chatter, and the fact that I was sitting down, I found it really hard to hear the conversations to be able to join in.
A “friend” turned up and I have never liked spending time with her. She is the sort of person who is overly friendly, and overly helpful. She was constantly asking me if I was ok, if I needed a drink etc and I kept telling her to stop worrying. At one point in the night when they’d started that line thing dancing round the room she came up behind me and started pushing my chair, I was not happy with that. I told her straight out, please don’t push me into anything! I didn’t tell her to stop because she was only trying to be nice. There are some occasions where people need to be told, and other occasions where I’m meant to keep my mouth shut.
I met two young women while I was there and about halfway through the night we went and stood/sat by one of the doors to get fresh air. We had a rather interesting discussion. I basically got to give them a lesson on etiquette when it comes to dealing with wheelers. I told them the bottom line is not to ask people if they need help. If someone needs help they will ask for it, and helping them when they don’t want it can be rather dangerous. For example helping someone up a curb can throw the wheeler off balance. I also told them how I value my independence and told her about the different things that have happened to me. Like at the supermarket when people have asked me if I can carry my groceries, a guy who followed me round the supermarket, and once a lady assumed I wasn’t with it on a mental level and tried to teach me how to use an eftpos machine (the thing you swipe your card with to pay for stuff). Basically if I couldn’t handle shopping on my own I wouldn’t go to the supermarket on my own. One of these girls told me later on that she felt I had the best attitude she had ever seen in terms of wheelchair users, I just wanted to make sure people didn’t think I was an invalid just because I’m in a chair.
There is another lady who attends my church who uses a wheelchair. She is vastly different to me. She isn’t exactly “with it” mentally (I apologise for my terrible description), she’s partly blind and almost impossible to have a conversation with. The entire time I was at the ball I felt an expectation that I was meant to associate myself with this lady just because we were both in wheelchairs. I didn’t like this so I spent most of my time dancing and talking with my AB friends. I know, in a way this is mean, but I found it really hard the times I did try to talk to this lady.
One last thing before I sign off…a few people commented on how happy and healthy they thought I looked. This made me thankful that I give off the right vibe in terms of wheelchair users. I am always trying to put across the message that wheelers are independent people who don’t need fussing over. LOL one lady while I was dancing with her complained that my arms were really strong…I never really thought my arms were strong…