Now, I totally am guilty of buying Louise Hay everything and smothering my walls in her affirmation cards. I am ok with her take on things as she is open about being a survivor herself. It’s true these stories about the real meaning of illness can help people …. it’s definitely helped me. However, believing in spiritual truths being reflected in one persons body does not mean that is true for all bodies and peoples. Sometimes, the circumstances weighed on one person is simply more than that person can handle, and they become disabled by it.
Disability is ok; disabled is an ok place to be.
However, when we focus on these self-help narratives, disabilities become a metaphor for others growth and development, leaving (guess what) disabled people at the bottom, unhelped. It is beautiful to craft a message of self ownership and responsibility, that may help some less-disabled people get the edge up on life. But then they preach to the more-disabled, to learn these lessons and get better and stop being a drain. Suddenly, this hippie self-love help yourself approach turns into an “everyone for themselves” free-for-all with a bootstraps mentality. And of course, the enlightened, self-healed mystic stands on top of their tower of health full of praise for themselves and words of inspiration for everyone else to just “get better” or “get over it”. Often this is done without a feminist or intersectional lens and each person bettering themselves doesn’t have to hold themselves accountable to the tangible harm they may doing to the very people whose disabilities they use as metaphors. Or, if it is true, and these illness or disability reflect ill’s in our society that is not the fault of the person carrying it. Rather, they are the reflection of the perceived ‘burden’ other people don’t want; people who’s health is expected to suffer to benefit someone else’s; or they are people who may very well have all the information and ideas and spiritual approach to heal or take comfort or be at peace with whatever it is that is ‘different’ about them, but do not have the resources to pursue accommodation or healing. I read somewhere once that health is a privilege that we don’t all have access to. And for myself, I turned to a spiritual approach due to lack of access to the medicine or treatment I needed. It’s almost as if we’ve constructed a society where we need to play these obscure spiritual games to access health. … and that certainly is unfair, as not everyone has access to the resources: spiritual or scientific, to heal themselves; and it is far to easy to get caught up in a cycle of blame towards those who don’t have access to these tools, by those that do, but whose privilege remains unacknowledged.