Sometimes, we can’t appreciate how beautiful our detour was until we’ve made multiple twists, turns and deviations in our “set-out” path. Sometimes, we can’t realize the beauty of our detour until we spend a bit of time traveling it – we need to give that detour enough time to form a story of its own.
I know this because my detours became the story of who I am.
Now, I’d like you to get to know Rhoda, a Detourist from Scotland (we can travel all over, you know!) with an amazing journey. Not to give it all away, but Diversity and Disability are very dear to my heart, and this April, I’ll be presenting my musical Gutless & Grateful at the Pacific Rim International Conference on Diversity and Disability. So, needless to say, I was VERY thrilled to receive a note in my inbox from a very beautiful soul, inside and out – or, a Detourist.
My name is Rhoda and I’m a Detourist.
Not My Parents’ Keeper
My name is Rhoda and I’m a Detourist. I come from Edinburgh, Scotland, and attended a special school cos that was what disabled kids did in the late 70s and 80s. I liked it in some ways but not in others since I had attended a mainstream nursery where I’d come top of my class at both alphabet and numbers. It was attached to a private school, a very prestigious one, and so my status meant even more to me as I was never confused about my identity, at my intellectual abilities or about my standing with able-bodied kids, like some of my school friends were.
My parents were fundamentalist Christians (my mum is still alive), very, very strict ones, because we attended a mission hall and not a church from when I was 11 years old. Before that we attended both a baptist church and a mission, so I found things very hard since I was and am a staunch atheist. They never liked my poetry and so suppressed me considerably, so I left home at the age 17 for college in Coventry which I enjoyed very much and where I was supported to write my poetry by carers in the evenings who turned the pages of my dictionary/thesaurus for me. They were not supposed to do this because we had scribes to do that for you, but I needed to use my scribes for my A-levels, Maths and Economics. I felt so much loved by all the carers at Hereward who broke the rules for me, making up for my parents anger towards me about my poetry and beliefs. My passion is poetry, although I like reading science and politics as I did a degree in Computing Science and Management Studies.
My parents wouldn’t really let me leave home after I did my degree (I also lived away from home at Glasgow University), and affected me at Uni as they kept coming over to see me on the motorway, something like every three or four weeks, which made me even more different from everyone else. I was already different because of my disability, which is Cerebral Palsy, and I was different because of my brother’s death from Cystic Fibrosis.
It was difficult for me from that point on to see my disability as one of my many diversities, which is indeed now how I see it today, until I resented my disability with everything I had and with everything inside of me.
I believe in freedom of speech, and I’ve only just recently in the past few months managed to get onto the web with my poetry, onto PoetrySoup. It’s an interactive website in which poets can view and compare work, comment on each others poems, compete in contests, blog, write articles about poetry and literature, and most importantly, get to know each other by SoupMail. I really, really appreciate it and love it, as I am a much better person for it and I am a much better poet. You just have to grit your teeth and get on with it sometimes, and in determination, work as hard as you can, so as to be the person which you want to be. Often, you have to single-handedly procure your identity, who you really are. Nobody else can do that for you.
I am happy with where I am at the moment.
Getting to know someone is the chief goal of life, and as disabled people we must not be afraid to speak to who we have around us, no matter how unique we may feel. Free speech is ours, and we must handle those who impede it with truth, honesty and distance, if need be, so that we are free to live how we want to live in our own way and say the things that we want to say.
That is why…I #LoveMyDetour.
Thank you Rhoda. You can see some of her beautiful work on the PoetrySoup website here.
Detourists (What’s a Detourist?) are strong, capable, incredibly determined people, and every week I’m more and more honored to share their stories with you.
Now it’s your turn. Share your story with all of us, so a lost traveler somewhere out there knows how to find their way home to themselves. Tag a picture with #LoveMyDetour, or contribute to Why Not Wednesdays after checking out some guidelines.
The more we travel, the more we realize our “detours” are not really detours at all…
What’s your detour? Comment here!