How have my own disability experiences affected “The Story?” I don’t believe by much. I am not disabled in the same ways as Trishna or John, but my own experiences can amplify the sensations that I would have been able to intuit but not intimately know without having experienced them. There is a certain value, then, to write about what you know – but I know these characters. Wouldn’t that be enough for knowing about them?
Spoilers?: Minor [knowing yourself, characters]
Over the past 6 months, I have been alone with my disabilities.
Sure, I could reach out for help, but doing so goes somewhat counter to my nature. I am as independent as possible in as many areas as I can. When I ask for help, it’s because I truly need it, and not because I’m being lazy. I would rather do things myself than worry about relying on the results of others, which is a tendency many entrepreneurial people have, to the point where it’s almost a shift in mindset to delegate out tasks to others. When it comes to writing “The Story,” a bulk majority of that will be through my own efforts. Others might help me with research, development, reading, and editing, but it is me through which I use fiction-writing almost-divination to summon these characters onto the page.
It is a solitary exercise that could have some collaboration, but not a whole lot.
I’ve wondered about how much of a need for not living alone Trishna had throughout her early life. Were her parents supportive of her in every capacity that they could because they wanted her to live a good, independent lifestyle, or, did they equip her with special tools for handling friendships and relationships so that she could find someone – like John – that would be a good partner and carer for her? I haven’t extensively thought about how Trishna’s parents would raise her versus, say, her older sister Sammohini, but I imagine nearly the same. They might have learned more about raising children from Sammohini and middle brother Fearghal, so that would be two children’s worth of raising, and, there would probably be additional education regarding Trishna’s from-birth disabilities, but I don’t think that her parents would make any special case for her to get into a relationship outside of helping her realize that her disability doesn’t make her an ugly person.
I don’t think that would count as especially special treatment, though.
Even still, life is easier as a disabled person when you’re not living alone like I am. It took me a significant amount of effort to make food for myself today – canned food and rice. Not the best but it’s consistent. I’ve been needing to do physical errands – going to the mailbox, getting groceries, and now getting a new prescription – for a while now. It would be nice to ask others for help in some of these tasks, but nothing truly is urgent enough to require much more time than I can allocate to it, depending on how I’m feeling. I felt depressed over the news today that was some progress but not a whole lot, but I felt better today and the day before than the day I had planned to do some of these errands, so maybe tomorrow or the next day I will do some of these errands?
I think that Trishna and John would end up living mainly at Trishna’s parents’s house.
They may move out to live on their campus throughout their college years, but that, too, is a question I haven’t quite landed on. The question of if they would live on-campus depends on the ability for them to live independently. I imagine if they did live on-campus, or in a nearby apartment, that Trishna’s parents would help out with things to make sure that their kitchen was stocked and they were comfortable. Does that mean that Trishna’s parents have some experience with taking care of disabled family members? That might explain how they would already have the wherewithal to help Trishna grow up into someone that is emotionally capable of handling herself. I say this as someone that has been disabled for about 15 months now that it took me time to get used to the idea of being disabled. It might be easier for Trishna since she’s always been disabled. Or she might have learned at an early age to accept what she can’t physically do. That’s a big problem I have: wanting to do things, not being able to, and getting down on myself for not doing them.
Being disabled isn’t this terrible curse, but able-bodied people sure don’t make it easy.
This world I live in, which I imagine is mostly Trishna’s and John’s world, too, is not designed with disability in mind. It’s only been about 31 years since discrimination against people with disabilities was made prohibited. People are still biased against people living with disabilities, and it’s tough to wade through that. I could feel empathetic about the experiences some people might not know how to act or react to disabled people like myself, but it all comes down to respect. If you treat someone like shit because they’re disabled, that’s no different than if you treat someone like shit because of their skin color or other areas of their presentation. Before I became disabled, I never really had heard any slurs against me, but now, I feel them constantly.
Able-bodied people generally think disabled people are lazy.
I have to work harder to get out of bed in the morning than the laziest able-bodied person, and that’s true for Trishna as well. She may not have the luxury of living alone, so if she hadn’t met John, she might have stayed at home with her parents, and even then, I don’t know if she’ll move out on her own. It might be nice for them to have some degree of independence, sure, but Trishna’s parents might not let them casually go off on their own. It would probably be a more measured plan of action to make sure that they go somewhere that would be easy for them to live in and somewhere with low maintenance. I might never have considered all this, at length, had I not become disabled. If I ever become not disabled then I, too, would like to live somewhere that’s accessible for me and somewhere low maintenance.
It’s a curious coincidence that Trishna and John are both disabled like I am now.
If you go back through the years of my writing about them, you’ll see how it took them many years to tell me about their disabilities. I don’t think there ever was an age where I would have made fun of them or anything, but the time between then – roughly late 2016? early 2017? – and before I became disabled involved doing much research about how it was like for people living with disabilities. This sort of research helped inform my experiences but I wouldn’t say manipulated my interpretations of Trishna or John. They are, as far as I’m concerned, fully-realized characters whose story might have already been told from A-to-Z that I need to learn and uncover enough to write proficiently. If that’s the case, then my having became disabled only helped bridge the gaps between Z and A quicker, because I can pull from my own personal experiences when writing about specifically Trishna, but also John’s experience living with a long-term disability.
I imagine, then, that Trishna’s family all helps with areas of her life.
Even if/when Trishna and John live by themselves, John would probably be more likely to take care of things like going out to the mailbox, picking up groceries, and other things, on days where they don’t go together. When I first learned about their disabilities, and found out that they had disabilities with different parts of their bodies, it almost felt like a curious coincidence, or playing into the clichés that opposites attract, but it makes sense because I have friends with different types of physical disabilities and we all band together through our own mutual respect toward each other’s pain levels and disability experiences. Trishna and John, too, would meet through their own mutual experiences and build their friendship from there.
I’ve wondered about their sexuality for a few weeks or so now.
I am not a person that is drawn to sexuality myself, but I imagine they are, so there will be some degree of writing about that I will need to do at some point. I probably would not write elaborate scenes of sexual encounters, but if there’s one area of disability representation that’s sorely lacking, it’s the acknowledgment that people with disabilities are sexual beings. I, personally, am not. For full disclosure, although I do enjoy masturbation, I don’t feel a need to get into a relationship with anyone either for co-habitation or for sexual/reproductive purposes. I’ve lived alone for 10+ years now and I enjoy that level of autonomy. Sure, on days like today, it would have been nice to have had someone else help me out, but, I prefer living life on my own terms. Had I been disabled from birth, would I have the same attitude? Do Trishna and John have different attitudes about this because they met when they were basically horny legally-aged teens? [I put that last bit in because there’s no way I would write about underaged situations, even if that could be part of the disability experience.]
I imagine that they most likely get into a full relationship with each other.
That’s not to say I won’t ever eventually find myself in a relationship myself, but I’ve lived enough of my life to know that my guiding mission isn’t getting settled and having kids, but rather this writing thing I’ve dedicated my life to. The solitude and isolation I’ve experienced throughout this time doesn’t prevent me from writing about the relationship between two characters, and if it turns into a sort of cheesy romance story, then as long as it is authentic to their experience – rather than me not letting them experience their lives because I would want to subvert expectations – then that is a life of happiness that I can enjoy. I can’t see a worse fate for myself than letting these characters rot. They’ve been with me throughout my entire adult life, hanging out in the background, now providing a sort of immediate empathy for my situations.
They’re there whenever I feel really shitty about my disability.
Whenever I get frustrated with myself for things like not being able to get out of bed, feeling hopeless about the future, and everything that isn’t mentioned when it comes to disabilities – because no able-bodied person would be willing to go the distance to learn this much, and disabled people like myself deserve the respect to not just survive and thrive, so we don’t need to tell these stories for entertainment – they’re there for me. When I’m in bed, thinking, “wow, I won’t even make food for myself today, I’ll remain here and go hungry today, I guess,” I’ll imagine Trishna being in a similar situation, but then John springing into action to help. Trishna’s service dog, Pollyanna or maybe “Champ,” would provide emotional or physical support.
So even though I am “alone” I’m not alone.
These sorts of thoughts help remind me that there’s more to life than experiencing reality in the present. I can fiction-travel into “The Story,” dump all my thoughts there with characters that empathize with my situation, when talking to my friends isn’t enough, and they can give me the courage to continue with this lifestyle I’ve committed to where I will do what I can to write “The Story” accurately. In exchange for being written fairly, I suppose, they’re gifting me the ability to write to the point where I can write fairly.
It’s a good trade; otherwise, I’d be miserable, directionless, and societally ostracized.
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: Writing about my experiences and how I interpret the experiences of Trishna and John.|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Written On: 2021 July 30 [11pm to 11:49pm]|
|Last Edited: 2021 July 30 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|