On Sunday and today, I interviewed people to see if they could work for me as another one of my PSWs. (Personal Support Workers). They both ignored my presence and talked about me in the third person to the person I was with, one of my current PSWs.
I spelled out words and phrases on my communication board, and one of my current PSWs relayed the messages to both interviewees. First the pleasantries: “Nice to meet you. Please take a seat.” An introduction to my cats, who were rubbing against their arms and shoulders. Yes, even the cats were getting more recognition than I was!
It only took me a few seconds to see that both of the interviewees were actively avoiding looking me. (I don’t know why! I’m quite attractive, with bright and cheerful clothing, and flaming red hair!) And then, a few seconds later I recognized that they were talking about me to my PSW.
With the assistance of my PSW, I communicated: “Please look at me when you’re speaking.” “Please do not talk about me in the third person. I am right here beside you..” "Do you look at your other clients and speak directly to them?"
Neither person understood my meaning, and left soon afterwards.
I should be used to this kind of ignorance, but it still hurts. At 64 years of age, I find it hard to accept that things haven't really changed since I was a child. Certainly, my family, close friends, and customers see me as a fellow human being, with the same wants and desires as anybody else. They see my values and strengths, and the contributions I make to our society.
I'm 64 years old, and I should be used to the negative attitudes of some people. Lately, though, it seems like a bit harder for me to take. I am strong. I am Anne Kathryn Abbott! And yet ... lately, I've felt tears stream down my cheeks whenever something like this happens.
I am a person, a daughter, a sister, a widow, an aunt, a niece, a friend. I am an artist, writer, political activist.
I am not invisible!