Sunday, December 04, 2005

Why do some people feel sorry even for the mildly handicapped?

` Some time ago, my grandma gifted to me me a subscription to Reader's Digest, which is so full of stupid advertisements and retardedness that sometimes, I want to retch. So I skim over a lot of things when I look at each copy.

` Recently, I found one I hadn't read and thrown away - January 2005's edition - and in it were a few good jokes and a couple articles I didn't mind reading. Actually, the one called The Contender by Derek Burnett kind of got my attention - the picture showed a handsome, muscular - and tattooed - young man in wrestling gear with a confident look on his face. He also had short, malformed legs and arms that appear to have been cut off at the elbow.
` He was actually born that way, though, and his name is Kyle Maynard. Aside from total lack of hands, etc., there hasn't been anything seriously odd about him from the start. "He did everything like any baby would," his dad said. "Crawled. Played with toys. Cried. Laughed."
` Soon enough, he had three sisters, whom he's always roughoused with. Growing up, he played hide-and-seek and had water fights with with them and the neigborhood kids.
` In kindergarten, though, he was fitted with prosthetics - which covered his stumps, making them useless. Strapped into those, he wasn't even able to get up off the floor by himself! He said to his mom one day; "I don't want to wear these things anymore. I want to be able to get down and play with the kids." And that was the end of that!
` "We're just going to get rid of them," his mom said. "And he can jump down and do a cartwheel and a flip and sit down for story time, and then run over to his chair."

` And so, Kyle managed to develop normal skills at the usual times, such as learning to color by holding crayons between the tips of his elbows. In the same way, he also learned to write perfectly normally. And anyone could do it if they had to!
` Same with eating with a spoon. Simple, really. That's just how he learned to eat, and though it's a bit tricky, he's about as good at it as anyone who uses their hands.
` And yet... a camera crew came into his home just to televise the boy eating with a spoon. How can that many people be that gooberish? There's nothing special about it, other than the fact that he actually learned it. Anyone could handle a spoon with their elbows with enough practice. The only difference is, he was forced to practice, and anyone who thinks that this is a feat has not even bothered to try - at least for long.
` I mean, if everyone ate with their elbows, nobody would be curious about this task. At all. They'd say; 'Oh, he doesn't have hands, but at least he can still eat.'
` Luckily, Kyle's mom has a pretty good strategy for dealing with the attention: "We give people maybe five minutes to stare. Then they get a tiger-attack story."
` Ah, yes, and once, Kyle and his friends used tomato sauce to fake a shark attack at the beach. My peg-legged uncle did that once. It's funny at first, but... no. Lots of people get pissed off once they realize they've been hyperventilating for no reason.

` As I was relaying, when Kyle was eleven he took up football in school, as a tackle. However, his skillful slogging through in the mud amongst the fast-moving cleats, wearing elbow pads on his malformed feet, attracted a lot of attention - even from the media.
` Little Kyle actually handled it quite well - and even showed them how he ate with a spoon. Despite being treated like a 'circus freak', he answered their questions thoroughly and graciously.
` So then, he got into strength training, and eventually decided that wrestling was the thing for him. Unfortunately, wrestling is a one-on-one sport, and the fact that he was trained like everyone else at first gave him a disadvantage.
` He kept losing. Miserably.
` Well, of course he did, because you can't teach a person with diminished arms and legs how to wrestle like someone with regular limbs! Having figured this out, his coach said; "...But then we began trying to use his shape as an advantage, and we invented some locks and holds using his chin and arms."
` Now we wins. A whole bunch. This is not entirely surprising - he's 103 pounds, and most of the kids in that weight class have normal-length limbs that are just stringy. Kyle, on the other hand, is impressively strong with massive muscles. In fact, he earned a Strongest Teen title by doing twenty-three butterfly reps with over 240 pounds chained to his arms. He's even done a single rep with 420 pounds! And at the time the article was written, he was working for 500 pounds....
` He has dominated the sport so much, in fact, that he was able to wrestle in the National Senior Wrestling Championship, finishing in the top twelve.

` Since then, Kyle has finished high school with a 3.6 average. Now he goes to the University of Georgia, and by the way, he's able to type 50 words per minute with his arm-stumps. He is still wrestling, and 'wants to continue public speaking, study sports psychology, maybe even become a coach or run a fitness center.'
` Having spent a day with a troubled kid of divorced parents, who was expelled from school for fighting, Kyle learned something about hardship. Says the article:
` '"People think I have a bad life," Kyle explains. "Look at my life compared to this kid's. I have a beautiful family who loves me. Everybody has struggles. My struggles are just more apparent."
` 'And once you get it, that's the part that makes you a member of Kyle Maynard's universe.'

` Well put! I have had many a struggle in my life, such as enduring and coping with the extensive abuse and torture which characterizes my past. It's been hell - for example, growing up, nobody had any idea of what I went through as a child! That's why I was sent to a mental hospital when I was eleven. I was constantly being punished and scrutinized because I emulated and ignorantly believed my insane father's damaging dogma.
` Jerry really didn't make any sense, didn't allow me to go a day unpunished, and yet nobody felt sorry for me because they couldn't see my problem. (And neither could I - I blamed everything on myself!) I was merely attacked by most other children, and even my few friends had no idea what I was going through. My interactions with this psycho were a major handicap. I had no self-esteem, no hope for a career, no ambitions and in fact never expected to live very long from whatever my current age was.
` I did not have a loving family, just an insane and abusive father and an indifferent and clueless codependent (on him) mother.

` So, though Kyle sometimes uses his electric wheelchair for keeping himself off dirty floors, and for carting him over long distances, he can crawl around his house, up stairs and whatnot, with more agility than I could manage on hands and knees! There's nothing troubling about that! Heck, he can even drive!
` And me, I've been pretty able-bodied my whole life - despite the fact that I have a hole in my brain, and some regions are even shrunken - and yet, I've probably been through much more pain than Kyle has ever had to face. I've been broken by my dad, kicked by him while I was down, and on top of that, kicked all over the place by people who just couldn't see my problem, who put all the burden on me - this includes my mother, and even my brother, who has had a fair share of abuse himself.
` Frankly, I would rather have stumpy limbs now and forever rather than go through life coping with development issues, brain damage, and a great deal of problems feeling emotions like love - and, in fact, being able to feel the sensation of having an entire body - though I'm sure I will overcome these difficulties in time.
` And yet, despite the fact that I have such setbacks, I don't even feel sorry for myself. I don't have a very good social life, I don't feel that connected with the world, and it is painful because I need that. And at least I now know what real the source of my pain is. Myself.
` And, the most important person who encourages myself is myself. Nobody else is a stronger influence. Of course, It's probably not a coincidence that I'm kind of low on people who give any emotional support. For example, this is why I enjoy blog comments so much - I'm just reaching out for comments (of any kind, really) about my writing, since apart from those, I have an almost total lack of encouragement about what I write.
` Which reminds me, I need to send that part of 'CM' to my writer's groups....

` Naturally, even so I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. Though I think I have it worse than Kyle Maynard, I sure as hell don't want anyone's damn pity!!
` And yet, I am puzzled how other people can see it differently. For example, I think I know someone who would feel quite sorry for Kyle, and frankly, I find that rather disturbing. As one example, when I had television I watched a semi-stupid show that documented two young girls who were so closely fused as almost to appear to be one two-headed girl.
` They were about eight years old, and had nothing much to complain about. Their lower half was completely normal - except that one girl controlled one half, and the other girl controlled the other half. From the waist up, they had somewhat separate chest cavities, though only one arm apiece.
` These twin girls were running around boisterously, roller skating, and riding a bike. They were happy. They were fine. They were healthy - they shared a perfectly able body. Really, their largest problem was the fact that above their single lower vertebral column, each girls' upper spine was markedly curved.
` The girls were able to do anything most eight-year olds could do - probably even ride a roller coaster, something Kyle Maynard was denied while at a Six Flags with his friends. (Unsurprisingly, he asked to fight for this right with the largest, strongest employee of the park.)
` In fact, as adults, these girls could probably even have a perfectly normal sex life, aside from the fact that every time would at least have to be a three-way. So, whoop-de-do. That's not depressing, it just means they will never have privacy from one another, and may not be able to escape their scoliosis.
` It could be worse. Certainly nothing to complain about in the scheme of things. So why, oh why, would this person, who's, I dunno, a 'chic' who's both 'irish' and 'turkish', tell me breathlessly; "Oh yes, I saw them... I feel soooo bad for them."
` Why?!
` I just don't understand this mentality. What is wrong with people like this? And how many are there? I just think that's dumb. Thinking someone has problems just because of some physical thing, though they're not miserable about it - especially if they're still capable of doing most things!

` Who is there to pity, really? Not that many people. There are some who have undergone such horrible brain damage that they cannot feel much, nor make enough sense of the world to be happy in it. I suppose that is sad. And many are trapped in third world nations, poor as dirt, unable to escape while being killed like flies due to war or famine or disease or something.
` I mean, that really sucks.
` Sometimes, though, I guess it might be okay to pity people when they're going through very rough times. (Well, at least regular sympathy is usually not out of the question.) But then, you can't be pitied your whole life. That's just... unhealthy. So, if you always pity yourself, you'll always be sick!
` I suppose the best thing to do is - before you feel sorry for someone - ask whether or not they feel sorry for themselves. If they do, this could actually be what is to be pitied.

` Am I making sense? Or is it the fact that it's really too frickin' early in the morning to be writing a post?
` Oh well. I'm going to go back to bed now, I think. Night-night. (Morningy-morning?)

14 comments:

cassie d said...

people are of course scared of what they don't understand - or anything that is 'not normal' to their way of life. Why do you think we go through so much to "shock" adults when we are teens? What's worse, think about "shocking" your parents with Marylin Manson, when they were friggin' hippies coming out of the conservative 50's! And what about our aunts and uncles that actually went to Black Sabbath concerts? Biting the heads off of small animals shocks me more than some guy who has a video of himself looking like a ken doll.....

wow. off the subject.
But cereally, i don't understand those "pity" people either. Like they are so pious, all they can do is pity the "less fortunate". But you're right. What makes someone "less fortunate"? Shit. That's like answering the questions "what's normal?".

Boo. People suck. I just try to stay away from people like that. I had a girlfriend in high school like that. No matter what you did, somehow, she always found something to pity you about. I ended up pitying her instead, cause i realized she was never going to be happy. I found that sad.
THOSE are the people i pity - an none else. People who can't see past the end of their own pious noses.
No matter how hard you try to make them see anything, they never can.
heavy sigh.

but hey. they don't want pity anyway. So HOORAY for THEM!!!!

S E E Quine said...

` So true! I'm not freaked out or shocked by much.
` Besides Phil's incoherant silliness directed at me. At least he's stopped calling my head my leg and my arms my ass, and... you really don't want to know what he's capable of, but it ain't pretty.
` 'Pity person' = big loser. And I am not that big of a loser! The only thing I lose are bits of my sanity, piece by piece...

Galtron said...

Mmm! What's this? Bits of sanity! My favorite!!

S E E Quine said...

` Nooo! Don't eat!! Bad Galtron!!

ChrisWoznitza said...

It´s amazing how many you always write. Go ahead, ciao

Aaron said...

Ok, i don't think the camera was at the boys house to tape him eating with his elbows. Spoony's right, anybody who's forced to eat with their elbows will learn to do it. I think the camera was filming this kid NOT GIVING UP. If that child wasn't strong himself, and if he didn't have strong parents, he would've just given up. The hospitals/homes are full of crippled people who have given up. I believe our society encourages giving up.

It's not a novelty that he's eating with stumps. It IS a novelty that he hasn't been conditioned to give up!

totalvo said...

Love your blog this is great stuff..

S E E Quine said...

` This is true. He's special because the negative mass conditioning of the herd hasn't gotten to him.

` Glad you like, Totalvo ^^.

cassie d said...

hey totalvo-
would love to read your stuff, but there's no way to contact you to get a link to your blog!

Aaron said...

Here are the links to the 3 blogger blogs of Tovaldo:

TOTALVO MOVIES

This is

I HATE FREEDOM

Aaron said...

Sorry...Totalvo

S E E Quine said...

` Has Blogger been acting up for you, too? After much difficulty, I managed to find his blogs and check them out.

cassie d said...

yes, but Totolvo's blog 'This is' is unreadable unless you contact him, but there's no email address!

Quine, were you able to access this one?

A-ron - you are such a smart ass!!!

S E E Quine said...

` AHA!!!! Weird. You best talk to that boy, shoo nuff!