The Twilight of Disability and Handicap Parking

      “You look fine to me” This is the refrain I hear most often. Or the worst of the worst “You’re just wanting attention you look fine” Most recently I was sitting outside at a business where I’d parked in the handicap space. A woman unknown to me came up and I could tell it was going to be a confrontation moment. These happen more often than you’d think to those of us in the twilight of disability or with a disability not outwardly ‘obvious’ to the public.  
      “Who do you think you are parking in that space!”

      Startled by the anger I took a moment to look her up and down. I noted her expression and immediately knew she was only looking to bully me. Perhaps she’d wanted to park closer and couldn’t. Perhaps she had a relative in a wheelchair who was paralyzed and felt this was the only person who ‘deserved’ to park in the handicapped space. I reminded myself I am under NO obligation to talk about my diagnosis or why I was given the form by my DOCTOR to park legally in the space I’d just parked in.

      “Excuse me?” This is pretty much my response and I sat back to see where this was headed.

      “That space isn’t for someone like you! It’s obvious you’re f***ing fine!” She said this quite loudly and nearby people turned their shoulders in to shut out her voice while others turned to stare. I simply looked at her and raised both my pants legs revealing the leg braces on my lower legs and ankles. Then I raised my shirt with my hand which in also in a rigid brace (it also keeps my middle finger in the F U position ironically) revealing the back brace I also wear under my clothing.

      “I don’t know you, you are not family nor are you a friend so you need to walk away.” I sat back and took a long drink of my coffee not taking my eyes off her.

      “F**K YOU!” She said and snorted in disgust while turning away.

      The manager of the location I was at came outside and apologized to me for this person’s behavior and offered me a gift card for their establishment. I looked her in the eye and smiled.

      “YOU didn’t do anything offensive, this wasn’t about you, it seemed to her personal issue. She probably feels I am somehow taking advantage of the ‘system’ or what not or she simply needed to be ugly towards someone she saw as less than herself.” This is called ableist behavior in line with sexist, racist, sizeist behavior.

      “That wasn’t right though. Please take this and come back to use it. We’re a no tolerance zone business when it comes to this type of bullying.” I took the card as I know she were only trying to make this right somehow and were embarrassed by what had happened.

      This was not the first time I’d experienced this as I travail in this zone of twilight time before full out relapse strikes. I’ve hovered at the edges of the twilight of relapse for a few years now. This past year it became too difficult to pretend anymore I was ‘okay’. I could no longer ignore the daily pain or twinges in my hand which no amount of acetaminophen could make go away. I’d been given the gift of over a decade of remissatory status. Over a decade and I’d known the whole while I could wake up one morning and my gift of time to do all I wanted would be gone.

     I’d not been expecting this slow fade into twilight. The twinges turning into full out pain nor the times I had to lift my leg to get in and out of the car. I’d wanted more time and there are those moments I look back and feel I squandered the gift I’d been given. There had been a sense of needing to give back and so I’d pushed myself hard to get into arenas of work I knew would be giving and not taking. Selfless giving until I was drained dry and had nothing left.

     The dusk is approaching and it is as if I feel or hear it coming to take me. I no longer see it as an enemy as I used to. Instead I see the challenges it brings to continue on with what I want to do. Not what anyone else wants me to do but what -I- want to do with my time.

      The past six months have been perhaps the most difficult as I had to face this was not momentary it was something I could no longer ignore. There have been days all I could do was lie in bed and stare out the window because the pain was too bad to leave my room except to go to the bathroom. I had a lot of choices to make, finances not helping in this area as I’m on a very limited budget. The hardest one to make is one I now do not regret and only wish I’d had the courage to make much sooner.

      Six months of multitudes of specialists appointments. Rigid braces to adapt to one at a time and ones that I’ve had to try different styles because the first were not working for me. There have been many weeks of more than eight appointments per week on top of the three exhausting physical therapy appoints. I am exhausted but I’m not giving up. I can’t and won’t even in the face of bullies who take a sick pleasure of trying to start a fight with a stranger who they believe is ‘lesser’ than them.

     I am NOT less because of my disability. I am a fighter and I will not quit and some quick advice to those who think they ‘need to say something’ in public to someone parking in the handicapped parking space. We do not enjoy being ‘able’ to park there. I used to park far out in the lot just to walk as much as I could and it slays me every time my body tells me to park in the designated spot. Sometimes I may not park there on a fairly ‘good day’ but these days are fewer now and I find I have to park in the closest spot I can. By the time I get back to my car I’m exhausted and still have to drive home.

     Why not just have someone drive me all the time? Because I don’t have that option and frankly…

     Most days I want time alone in my car to keep a semblance of independence as long as I can.

     So the advice I want to give to those who feel they ‘have’ to say something?

      Shut the hell up because your ‘need to say something’ could be the reason that person you’ve confronted stops trying to get out anymore. You are making an already difficult situation harder than it already is.

                                               So shut it and move along.


Not Hopping on Your “happy happy chirpy chirpy all the day long train” 

The problem with “positivity” victim blaming

      Perhaps its that I am over 55 now and have been involved in a lot of groups in the past three decades as an adult. Yes, maybe this is the issue. I remember the day long ago when I was given as a gift the “power of positive thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale when I was in junior high. I read through it and it told me again and again all I had to do was think better to change my life.

      Because yes, everything bad IS my fault. Of course it is.

     Many years later this book is still circling back with many variations of it’s victim blaming, victim bullying credos. Think better, do better be more more more! (Wait didn’t I perform a poem about this ?) If your life is terrible? IT IS YOUR FAULT because you can’t think yourself out of it.

      Some might read this and think I really have no clue because they DO have a clue. They’ve read all the books, they walk the walk and are on the happy happy chirpy all the day long train.

      This is NOT mental health. It is NOT emotional health.

      It’s a sad day for me to be involved in groups where someone invariably tosses in the ‘let’s keep it positive today!”. It means no one can talk real talk. They can’t talk about the funeral they are going to tomorrow, I can’t share anything about my day to day change dues to a relapse from Multiple Sclerosis and another person can’t talk about their struggle to get out of the house today.

     I know it ‘feels’ so much better when things are happy happy chirpy all the day long. But to knock down others because they are not on your happy happy chirpy all the day long train? To try and manipulate via ‘positive thinking’ only? Oh well to hell with that! I’m out.

     I am an artist. Pure, simple. It is the core of who I am. This woman is an artist who creates, who writes stories, blogs, and writes/performs poetry. I create perceptual erotica and deal with men and women who believe I am a porn artist. Plus I deal with the invariable ‘fan’ who attempts to pursue because of the aforementioned belief I am a porn artist and therefore sexually ‘free. (Surprise! I practice extreme celibacy going on seven years now) Artists are traditionally creative, emotional people who are driven to create. Some of the best artwork in the world has come from deep emotional places which are NOT the ‘happy happy chirpy all the day long train”

     This, to me, is an attempt at censorship of artists via the ‘positive thoughts and words’ only.

      #artUNcensored to me is artwork which is not censored, not driven by anyone but the inner me which creates the work I do. It’s about not attempting to ‘fit in’ at all.

       I’m so not gonna fit in your peghole so please stop attempting to micromanage me into it.

Wednesday Poetry “As The World Rushes By”

“As The World Rushes By”

The world rushes by

I limp along at the slowest of paces

Aching for the days I ran effortlessly

Was it so effortless?

I bang my heel and smile hard

To hide the words which want

To fly free from my mouth

I swallow down saliva pooling under my tongue

This will not break me again

The world rushes by

It seems it will leave me behind

Yet hidden eyes come forth

As I finally slow down

Had I been moving to fast

Had I noticed nothing at all?

Was this all here before

Simply waiting until I slowed down?

I come to a halt

I take a deep breath

I sit down to merely watch

As the world goes by

Finally I feel part of it’s whole

A shift has happened

One most unexpected

One filled with many embraces

A shift I fill with my own content

I lift my eyes up

And smile

For I have finally slowed down enough

To enjoy the life I have been given.
                                -Bree Nowacki

Wednesday Poetry; “Words Saved My Life” 

“Words Saved My Life”


And more words

They draw me in

They satisfy like no other

They cause emotion

Which happens no other way 

Words fill me to overflowing

Words spill out through my fingers

Words saved my life

When no other communication happened

I had written words

When my mouth would stutter

I had written words

When my thoughts would not come out of my mouth

I had written words

They spilled upon the electronic page

They rose up sharing what was inside

They painted a brilliant picture I could not express otherwise

Words saved my life

As I improved words allowed sharing

As I grew words had more meaning than before

As I healed my words became my strength

Wonder filled expressions grew as I healed

Amazing moments were shared with the world

Astounding leaps of healing encouraged more words

Words were my balm

Words were my bandage

Words were my courage

Words were my comfort

Words healed me

When I could not say one word out loud

Written words saved my life.

-Bree Nowacki

Poetry Wednesdays, “The Story of the Wings of Freedom”

February 22, 2017 (Wednesday)

“The Wings of Freedom”

A child hides in a corner far behind a bed

Holding her teddy bear praying someone will help her

Paths intersect and the bed becomes a closet

She is hugging a small dog who has replaced the bear

So many nights full of fear

So many sleepless nights

Turned into many days of falling asleep in class or at work

A child grows into a woman living alone

Hiding away in her home

Work her only venture

Her attempts to reach out

Only ends in more pain

So many nights full of nothing but her own thoughts

So many late nights full of mindless TV watching

Praying for morning to come

Cold nights with nothing but blankets to keep her warm

Cold nights full of emptiness

Years later a family begins with promise of love and fulfillment

Mere months later more pain begins

Each day, each week more building blocks of loss, of pain

Years pass as a family grows

Still the promise of happiness never shows

More years of inward pain

Which shows only as a smile never quite reaching her eyes

Bruises never shown to anyone

Body hurts which never fully go away

No one would believe her anyway

She shuts herself down

She must never show the hurt

She hides away in the closet, in the bed

She hides away in the safest place of all

Inside her own mind where no one can touch her, or hurt her

Refuge and freedom shows itself

As love enters with the softest of wings

Years of tenderness

Years of sweetness

Years of being treasured

The world explodes and change can’t be taken back

Paths intersect in a foreign country

A day began filled with sweet tenderness

Ended in a mist filled cloud of blood

All the dreams of a new beginning ended

All the dreams stopped in an afternoon

Panic filled nights began again

Sleeplessness filled the girl who’d become a woman, a mother, a wife

Safety only in the silence of the breaking of the dawn

Exhaustion became the norm as she pushed and pushed

To forget what had happened

To forget what she’d had before that one afternoon

Life continued to conspire against her

Until she was once again in absolute silence

Family pushed, pushed against walls of which they were unaware

Family pushed until she fell flat on her face

She lay there for years

She lay there through multiple surgeries

She lay there through the fog of pain

Until she lifted her face to look around

This is not where she wanted to be

Step by step she moved forward

Steps became quicker, easier

She began to softly flutter and find a true smile again

Laughter filled her and she began to feel finally free

A bright filled moment

So quickly came

Bringing with it a darkness like no other

A mere instant

A mere misstep

Was all it had taken

To come full circle

Sleepless nights

Waiting for the sun

It seemed it would never come

Years past

Lost in an abyss

Filled with endless inner noise

Days passed until a moment came

One in the night

Of laying on the floor

Giving up the hope which had shown so bright

A card spied under a dresser

Forgotten until spied by her eye

A call led to quiet beginning to enter the noise

The noise filled her head until only headphones created silence

A silence with the noise of her choosing

Thoughts shared, ones filled with ideas of how to gently push

A meandering path filled with simply showing up in her own life

Each step taken so painful

Each step lead to one with less pain

Each step uneasy

Times of pushing altered with times of withdrawal

Times of sitting in a car talking herself into going inside

To places she knew did not want her

To places she didn’t want to go to but needed to be

Times of sitting in a car fighting nausea after having pushed so hard

Times which softened until they became intermittent

Softness within in her as she stood on the ledge of the nest

She stood there with the wind in her hair, eyes closed

She stood there feeling only the need to jump

One step and she was free

She fluttered as she fell

Then her wings unfurled

Spreading out in their magnificence

Strength filled her as she realized 

She could fly

Would fly

And so my dear…

She finally did.

Poetry Wednesdays “Race Towards The Sun”

Drifting away down the river

I hold myself in a fetal position

I smell the water all around me

I feel my body drifting towards

The uncertainty this path holds

The pain consumes my body

It reaches a point I can ignore no longer

Pain captures my attention

Pain washed over me as surely as a waterfall

Pain will not so easily wash away

Each step taken

Each second of standing

Causes burning

Causes stiffness which cannot be ignored

I lay in the crude raft I did not create

I curl myself upon itself as I drift

Towards a path of more pain

Towards a path holding more stiffness

In order to heal completely

In order to race down the path

The one which is next to this moving water

I remind myself I will one day race towards the sun

Perception Series, “Blood in the Water” a repost re: Bullying

PTSD: Blood in the Water(Posted by Bree N. on March 1, 2015 to The United States First Responders Association a Non Profit for the support of Public Safety & 1st Responders personnel)
**post contains bullying references**


     “Society seems to have moved towards a mental attitude where pulling apart those perceived as “imperfect people’ and taking a sick joy in hurting them until they can’t take anymore is perceived as acceptable behavior.

     No it isn’t.

     This isn’t acceptable. It’s just not.

     On the job, or for me the many jobs, bullying was contained in an agenda I’d not been aware of before taking on the jobs. Bullying was not only by my male coworkers but also by the female ones. I learned to just let it go, ignore it, let it roll off my back and to walk away from it. Yet in the night at home alone in my bed I held my pillow and shook with anger, tears streaming down my face. “I can’t TAKE this anymore” I’d whisper to myself in the night. Yet each morning I would go to my knees in prayer. “Please help me to be strong enough to get through this day. May I look only towards my patients’ needs not my own. May I present a cheerful, helpful countenance towards the visitors to our city. May I have the strength of mind to study all the horrendous pictures to be able to recreate them and to be better in all these things. Protect me most of all not just from harm, but harmful words from others. AMEN”

     “Protect me..not just from harm, but from the harmful words of others.”

      Sobering right there. There should never have been a need for this sentence in my daily prayers. Yet it held a place each day for years. Some days I felt this protection. I had days where my focus was held by my personal intent for positive interaction, positive outcomes. Yet in spite of this there was always someone who had a personal agenda to attempt to pierce my carefully constructed armor. Words, actions. They caused me to crumble inside until I started looking for a new job. Months went by before I could get out of the hell hole which had become my life.

      Bullying did this.

      What I did not understand was I couldn’t outrun the bullying. The next job held a bully of a worse magnitude. The job after this one held an ‘in secret’ bully who was known to be doing this yet still held their position. I grew a cold mask. I preempted their attempted online contact with harsh words. In person they pretended all things were fine. The minute I was left alone with them they’d lean in and whisper “I’m going to take you down, you b****.” Passing by them in the hallways held the same whispered ugliness.

     I became the ice queen no one likes. Yet even this change in my demeanor caused a different type of bully. One determined to push me to explode. Their goal seemed to only be about trying to push me until they could say ‘ see? She’s no better than anyone else that stuck up b****.” Wow.

      How is this OK?”

      It isn’t OK.

      Bullying is NEVER okay, not once and I do not, will NOT ever support bullying behavior. Bullies do it to make themselves feel better by hurting someone they perceive are less than they are without any thought for the consequences which can ensue. Bullies always find pride in how they are ‘taking down’ someone else and can not help but reveal themselves as they gleefully continue on their path of bullying. 

      Bullying behavior is never okay.