I remember a quote by Jesse Ventura going viral (before that was a thing) when I was a teen – “Organized religion is a […] crutch.
I heard a podcaster recently say “I used humour, not as a crutch but as a tool.”
Both quotes, although addressing very different subject matter, imply that a crutch is a negative thing –
as though using a crutch is an admission of weakness,
as though it’s something to wean yourself off of as soon as you’re able,
as though the crutch causes the weakness.
in 1999 when the Ventura quote was popular I didn’t know enough to recognize the ableism behind the metaphor. Now, 20 yeas later I see it plain as day when someone specifies “not at a crutch but as a tool.”
What is a crutch if not a tool?
It’s definitely not a failure, although it felt like it when I finally gave in and admitted that I needed mobility aids.
My internalised ableism told me that I was too young, too independent, too strong to need those.
I would only use a cane around the house. I would avoid going out if I couldn’t walk independently. I would limp and stagger rather than lean on a stick.
It didn’t take too long to realize the foolishness of that position and now I’m never without my cane.
But again I had to overcome the ableist voices in my head (and sometimes in the world around me) when I graduated to using a walker.
I would only use it on my worst days, as an absolute last resort.
But after feeling the effects of a day spent with my walker – legs supported, back not screaming in pain, arms not exhausted from carrying my bags, the satisfaction of getting things done and still having energy when I got home – I quickly learned to love it.
Now I take it whenever it’s more convenient than not. It just depends on the day and what I’m doing.
I am less disabled when I have the right mobility aids with me.
I don’t have many photos with my cane or walker because I’m usually taking photos at a closer range. On the rare occasion when someone snaps a picture of me from a distance my cane or walker usually make it into the shot.
And I am always glad because in those photos I look like me.