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Melfie

Melfie

“Congress has acknowledged that society’s myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment,” by William J. Brennan, Jr.

I read Michellina’s post about the bullying and harassment she has endured wearing her mask in public. If you’re new to my site, I like Michellina am disabled with MCS (multiple chemicals sensitivities). After reading her post I wanted to hop on a plane, fly to Australia and give her a hug. And I want to say some really snotty things to some of the people who bullied her.

Image7crows0266As I look at these two statements I realize I’m still at day one in my pursuit of love. At least the unconditional kind of love. According to my spiritual beliefs: I should judge no one as right or wrong and forgive anyone I perceived as doing wrong. I have spent much time forgiving and letting go of my judgment and anger toward those who contributed to my disability.  But reading her post my anger flared white-hot. So much for completing a month of blog posts on the pursuit of love.

I’m glad I read Michellina post because it not only reflected back to me that I need to increase my forgiveness practice, but unlike her, I rarely go out in public. If I do, I avoid wearing my mask even though I know I’m going to get sick. If I do use it, I normally hold it up to my mouth rather than tying it around my head.

In general I have had “positive” experiences while wearing my mask, excluding the pregnant lady who came up the grocery aisle and upon seeing my masked face ran away and a number people have given me furtive glances.

So why don’t I wear it?

Here are a few of my experiences:

I walked into the bank; it reeked of fragrance. I told the teller I needed to put my mask on. Her answer as she barely glanced at me, “No problem.” To a disabled person it doesn’t get much better than that — it was like me saying a I needed to take my coat off. “No problem.” The fun began as she did my banking. I looked up and there staring at me from the drive-thru was a man. Upon seeing me look at him, he quickly looked away. He was obviously agitated and kept looking at me and then away again. I finally figured out he thought I was a masked bank robber.

Image1birdsI was entering a photo contest and I needed to see a bunch of pictures developed instead of just on the computer. So I ordered them off the computer system and went to Walmart to pick them up as soon as the photo shop opened. No employee was there. I put my mask on as I was starting to react to the fragrances and went and found her. I started to explain I had MCS and before I got any further she held up her hand and said, “so do I.” She got me out of there fast. When I went in the next time, she was waiting on a customer, she stopped and checked me out. The customer looked annoyed until I explained I had life-threatening chemical sensitivities and she was being kind. He gave me a slight smile.

I went to speak at a School Board meeting about asking them to go fragrance-free at the schools. There was a large crowd and the limit of fragrance even with a mask was beyond my limit. I almost left but I realized I had company. I was sitting in an auditorium seat and leaning on the back of the seat next to me was a cute little girl around age 4. We exchanged hellos and of course being four she asked what the mask was for. I explained that perfumes made me sick. At this point, her mom asked what she was doing and in the matter of fact way of a four-year old, she responded “Talking to the lady with the mask, Mom”. No fear. No judgment. No harassment.

Oswego 086This post has been therapy for me. I realized as I wrote this the reason I’m not wearing my mask. It isn’t because of how I look. It’s because I’m afraid of being attacked again. I don’t mean verbally. I mean physically. Over a five-year period numerous students deliberately exposed me to high levels of fragrances. The deliberate exposures started when I was told by a police officer to post signs stating my need to be fragrance free. It is only as I write this that I realize I’m still afraid. A doctor didn’t need to tell me I had MCS (although they officially have) and a psychiatrist doesn’t need to tell me I have P.T.S.D. I never went and cleaned out my classroom. When I think of going near my former classroom I have panic attacks.

Image6MsOBRecently a friend gave me the name plate that hung outside of my classroom. It was wrapped and taped to my house door as a surprise. From their perspective it was a loving thing to do. I only unwrapped the corner and when I saw what it was I immediately had a panic attack.

I now as I write this have to admit I’m scared still that wearing my mask makes me vulnerable to being chemically assaulted again. It’s like an advertisement explaining to all the bullies in the world exactly how to harm me. Today the fear STOPS! I removed the name plate from the drawer where I keep all the legal stuff and medical stuff and documentation of the bullying from my MCS — I unwrapped it and as you can see I have hung it in my study. I almost put it under my vision board. But my vision board is about what I want to manifest now and in the future. So I hung it under my prize-winning photo.

Image1ME002I never would have taken up photography if I hadn’t become disabled. By letting go of the past I am now able to have a different present.

I wonder of those reading this and seeking love and not finding it — maybe?! — you’re hiding and you don’t know it either. Maybe holding onto the fears of your past is preventing you from discovering your gifts in the present. Do you think you have a fear holding you back from a life filled with love? Maybe like me you didn’t know either. Maybe reading this will toggle it loose from where it is deeply hidden so that you can release it and make room for more love. I hope so.

Today’s Intention: Go somewhere with my mask on.

Love,

Colleen

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