The one day, during my time off sick, that I felt strong enough, and motivated enough, to go to the gym was a Saturday. The girls were spending the weekend with us and love to go swimming on Saturday morning and, at their insistence over time, it became a ritual, it’s just what we do. So that explains the motivation to go. We arrived and they signed in to swim and I signed in to exercise.

I had finished with the wheelchair adapted machines and then headed over to the cable machine to begin my personalized circuit of exercises. I was working hard, concentrating hard, and constantly keeping my mind on how well my body was feeling. I had been quite sick after all.

I was interrupted by a woman maybe 20 years younger than me. She smiled and introduced herself. I was a bit flustered because this just isn’t done. When people are working out, working hard, you don’t push into that without a really good reason. But, I’m disabled, people interrupt the flow of my life all the time. I live my life with described audio. So, I stopped and asked her how I could help her.

She asked me if it would be okay for her to take a picture of me. She saw me recoil from her request and then, as they do, started talking quickly. She told me she had a friend who was supposed to show up to work out at the gym and she wanted to take my picture and text it to her with the words, “If he can make it to the gym, surely you can.”

Inspiration porn star, that’s me.

I was so flabbergasted at the whole interaction that I was left literally speechless. I just said, “Get away from me,” over and over again. She talked faster, not in apology but in an attempt to get the freaking picture. She eventually stopped. She went back to her workout pouting.

Now I don’t feel safe. I cut out all of the exercises that have my back turned to the gym and only complete those where I can keep an eye out.

I do not want to become a meme.

I do not want to be splashed onto her social media.

I’m sure someone famous said this, “I want to be alone.”

It’s not a big ask.

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