Left Out

The event today went well.  We had several hundred supporters, great weather, and lots of energy and enthusiasm.  I managed pretty well with the fatigue, but since it was outside in the hot sun, that was a pretty big drain on my energy.  Luckily they did have seats available for people with disabilities–otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to manage.

Afterward, we (mostly staff, plus a couple interns and volunteers) went to lunch at this place called Dick’s Last Stand.  It’s pretty hilarious–the servers get to be jerks (not mean jerks, just sarcastic and funny), and they make everyone these hats with rude things on them.  The field director put a social media ban on posting pictures of most of them.  For instance, one guy’s hat said, “I blow bubbles,” and the hat of the guy next to him said, “I’m bubbles.”  There were also gems like “I pee on my balls” and “I mate with innocent animals.”  But mine wasn’t terribly offensive, so I got to tweet mine.

Image

Then, when we were on the way back to HQ, the candidate called to say thank you, which was pretty awesome.  She tried to call me once before, several months ago, but I didn’t pick up because it was an unfamiliar number and I was stuck on the toilet.  I think it’s classy to call the volunteers who put in a lot of time and effort.  Obviously you’re not going to call everybody who shows up for a canvass or two, but I’ve been doing a lot.  Basically, I’m a part-time regional field organizer without the title or the paycheck.

But now I’m exhausted.  That and my hormones mean my moods are all over the place.  For the most part, I enjoyed the rally, but I also felt really left out most of the time because I had to sit most of the time.  I wanted to be doing something, helping, but there was really nothing to do from a chair.  I got left out of conversations because everyone else was standing up, so they stopped noticing I was there.  I was literally below them.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think any of it is at all intentional.  I really like the people I’m working with on this campaign, and I don’t think anyone means to leave me out.  I think it just doesn’t occur to them to make an effort to include me, and I don’t feel confident enough to push for it.  So I end up sitting on a bench alone for two hours because when I ask what I can do, nobody knows what to say.  I’m the only visibly disabled person working on the campaign, so I think the staff haven’t really needed to find ways of including me.  Most of the time I’m in western Mass, so I’m kind of invisible.

It just leaves me feeling so lonely and useless and invisible.  Even though the rally itself was good, I found myself wanting to cry and/or disappear for most of the time.  I still really feel like disappearing and crying, but I’m trying to remind myself that a lot of how I’m feeling is a combination of hormones and exhaustion.  Still, it’s really hard, and I start to get upset about how much I’ve lost–not just the loss of physical abilities, but the loss of inclusion.  Sometimes it even feels like I’ve lost my personhood.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Left Out

  1. Try to think about the best things more than the awkward times. Corny sounding but for me it helps.

  2. It must be so hard to have the physical issues on top of moods etc. You seem to be seeing it clearly – they don’t mean to not include you, but that’s what they end up doing. Sigh. Great job though, going to the rally and working. The picture is funny!

    • In a lot of ways, the physical issues are easier to deal with than the emotional ones. I think the problem today was that the unintentional exclusion touched on old issues and fears, mostly the belief/fear that everyone hates me and wishes I would just disappear.

      Yeah, I like the picture too. Probably tomorrow they’ll tweet out the serious pictures–there’s one of most of the team with the candidate and candids from the rally.

  3. I have zero confidence and really struggle with social awkwardness and anxiety and often feel left out. I find it difficult to talk unless spoken to and even then carrying a conversation is hard. Standing in a group and essentially being ignored but perceiving if I just had the balls to say something is really sad. I know how your feeling some of the loneliness times are when your surrounded by people.
    Congrats of the phone call that must feel fulfilling and validating. Hopefully you can find some recovery from the UC and all that comes with it. For what it’s worth I think you are doing great with your efforts despite your current health issues, it’d be easy and tempting to give up. Kudos!

  4. ~meredith

    I think you’re awesome. probably doesn’t count, but you rocked the stadium among volunteers today ( yes!)

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