I love this post. It resonates so deeply with me and really gives me a framework for thinking about my own disabilities in.
Border Gimps usually have some capacity to stand, likely even to walk, in one mode or another. Our bodies are usually all intact, just not 100% functional. Our issues are usually more related to the pain surrounding mobility in general. We go to doctors when the problems begin. This is often a long, multi-layered journey, at the end of which modern medicine provides little to no solutions for us. We usually have a mixed status officially, as in we probably won’t qualify for any sort of governmental disability assistance,… Some days, we might appear completely “normal”; others, our young or middle-aged bodies betray us into the stance of the very elderly. Likely, we have no control or way to predict what “status” any given day will bring. We spend our days on the border between “capable” and “handicapped”…
…When you are a border gimp, one of the first things you’ll realize is that you are never enough of any one thing to please anyone. You can walk, perhaps with a decisive limp, but you CAN do it, appeasing those who are concerned that you will need special accommodations. When you walk, pain is always apart of the decision so you get really good at hiding it, a relief to those who are made uncomfortable from your mere presence. You find convenient excuses not to travel so long or so far. You learn to always have everything at hand. When you do move, you do so slowly and carefully, holding your body as firm and as erect as you can. You keep close to walls and other stable objects to catch an unexpected fault in your stride….
I live in an increasingly disabled body that is currently without a diagnosis and a lot of the time I feel like a fake, like I’m not sick enough to consider myself disabled, like somehow my disability is inauthentic because I dont have a peice of paper to prove it. A lot of the time I feel weak, like if I was just stronger I wouldn’t have the pain, the mobility issues, the tiredness, if I was stronger I could be Normal just like Every Body Else.
Well meaning people give me advice constantly about exercises I should try or suppliments I should take. After every hospital apointment they ask me if the doctors know whats wrong with me yet and if they can make me better as if doctors are Gods who can cure anything, as if sometimes our bodies don’t just break and can’t be fixed but have to be lived with. People suggest that I loose weight and somehow that will make me well again without taking into acount that the pysical issues started way before I got fat and without taking into acount that most kinds of excercise cause me pain.
I love the idea of being a “border gimp” I live my life across boundaries and borders, I’m bisexual, adopted, not entirley gender normative, I dont live in the country I was born and grew up in. living across borders makes sense to me, to my fluidity of self and “border gimp” gives me a way of thinking about myself on the days I don’t feel disabled enough