María del Carmen Cisneros Pinazo, a woman with a disability, shows the illusion in her eyes when she tells us about her dreams and the pursuit of her goals to fulfill. The interview is part of the Ready Women program, co-financed by Erasmus + of the European Union.
10/09/2020 (COCEMFE Seville)
The Provincial Federation of Associations of People with Physical and Organic Disabilities of Seville (COCEMFE Seville) had the opportunity of interviewing to Carmen Cisneros, 40 years old, with a 79% cerebral palsy caused by a lack of oxygen during birth. A fighter woman, tireless and constant in the pursuit of her own achievements, those that she wants, not those that anyone else wants. In this interview we have learned about Carmen’s life of self-improvement.
When she talks about her childhood, she does so with nostalgia, although she remembers unpleasant situations.
“As time went by from my birth, my parents realized that the other children sat, but I did not; Instead of taking things with my right hand I did it with my left; I couldn’t put on shoes either because my feet turned in and I also had vision problems. My young parents started taking me to doctors to find out exactly what I had, they even took me to doctors in Barcelona”.
From there, Carmen divides her life into two stages, that of schooling and that of hospitalizations, a difficult crossroads for a girl.
“As far as my memory reaches, I studied primary education at Fuente Alegre public school in Malaga, which is my hometown. Everything was taking its course, like just another girl in my class. Until 4th grade there was a change of teacher and she talks to the principal, because she flatly refuses to take me to the bathroom due to her back problems. Days before starting the course, they called my house and met with my mother to tell her that I was expelled from school for this reason. You cannot even imagine how I felt when my mother gave me the sad news, when I was eager to start the course to see my classmates. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I studied, played at playground, participated in all the costume parties with dresses made by my mother, and at no time did I feel different from the others since I was always surrounded by friends”.
However, despite this stone in Carmen’s path, not everything went wrong. Her first teacher helped her mother find a school that admitted special education students, and that was the CEIP Salvador Allende, where there were people with functional diversity.
“They made it easier for me to go to my classes on the ground floor, I had a support person for the subjects that were more difficult for me to pass and to accompany me to the bathroom.”
“When I started in 4th grade, I didn’t know how to read fluently, but thanks to my teacher and classmates I got up to date. The subject that I was given the best was Mathematics, unlike my entire class; and the worst, History and Geography, but, even if it was with a lot of work, I passed it, and so on until 8th grade. But it wasn’t all studying! I also made good friends! We played games, we told each other our secrets, and we even did tricks like taking the teacher’s car keys and hanging them on the blackboard, as he was short, he didn’t see them and he spent a long time looking for them while I was an accomplice. Until he got tired of going from class to class looking for them and found them”. She laughs.
Carmen managed to get her graduate school, not without effort or dedication of hours to study.
“I say that in my childhood I have had two houses: one with my parents and another in the hospital where I have been in winter, summer, birthdays, Christmas, Easter … because of the various interventions to improve my mobility, among them, tendon lengthening, spine, etc. “
Carmen tells us that she was operated twice and in one of them a bone from another person was placed. In the same year, she was admitted to the emergency room due to severe pain in his spine every time she tried to walk. In the last intervention, the doctors found loose screws that held bars that were lodged in his spine. “As a result of that moment my life took a 360 degree turn because, although they saved my life, they took away all kinds of movement. I stopped sitting on a bed, in a normal chair in the house, on the sofa, taking a shower in a bathtub, since I have no control of my own back … All this makes me sad after so many years, but it is the fucking reality”.
When she is asked about her profession, she makes it clear that since she was a child she wanted to work as an administrative assistant and, years later, she discovered that she would also like to be a telephone operator.
Carmen has not seen her dreams truncated as a child because she has had everything that a girl usually has at her age. “I have celebrated my birthdays with other girls, I have gone to discos, and even my friends helped me when I wanted to go see the boy I liked”.
“I do not deny that I have felt too protected, but that is a pending issue that we must teach the children to the parents, since they think that by protecting ourselves they do us good, and it is the opposite, since the day your parents are absent you will not know how to face your own life ”.
Currently, Carmen does not set any long-term goal because “you have to enjoy the present.” “I would like to have my job, my house and my partner, but you have to be realistic. There are things that no matter how much you fight in a thousand ways, if it is not for you, do not waste your time and look for something else that is within your reach”.
In fact, her most immediate objective today is to work as a receptionist. But the reality is very different. It is a utopia because there are many barriers, they don’t even give you the opportunity to have experience; and without it they don’t hire you”. Carmen emphasizes that she has always been training, but “nothing is enough”, she does not go beyond the job interview because of her nerves and insecurities in herself. “I will not stop fighting for my right to a decent job adapted to my needs, because I want to have my own home. Although, I am realistic, it is something very difficult. I cannot economically and, I depend on a person who does a job that I have to pay for out of necessity. But, I am alive to fight every day and feel useful and happy”.
How important is the associative movement for you?
It has helped me to clarify my ideas regarding my future, both personal and professional. I have been trained, I have met more people with the same concerns, it has taught me to take life more serenely because with the desire to do many things you do not achieve anything.
What would you like to express to society?
In the first place, we are people with dreams, goals and with a great desire to live. I dare to say that more than a person who does not depend on another to live daily life. We are not people with disabilities who have to face society, enough to hear “where are you going alone” or “poor person”!. Poor people who do not see that in the passage of time can lead to a situation similar to mine.
Do you beat life or life beat you?
This question depends on the moment and the situation. If things go well for me, I have good self-esteem, but if it is the opposite, I have spent a while without seeing a way out of life. I am aware of it and when I find myself with energy, I start over or look for something different that motivates me.
In the hardest moments, what do you do to overcome them?
The first thing I do as a stubborn person that I am, is to shut up, and face it alone. But without finding the right solution. Consequently, I seek help from family, friends or, at last, a specialist such as a psychologist, until I raise my head and continue my daily struggle.
Do you feel lonely or do you consider yourself a person surrounded by people who love you and who care about you?
I know very well that I am not alone because I have my family and many people who know me, thanks to everything that I have moved in my life, so much of associations, trips, the different places that I have lived … In addition, I am difficult to forget … I have a family that has given me love and trust. At no time have it treated me differently for sitting. If it weren’t for my mother, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Regarding friendships, some friends left me and others appear. I believe that each stage puts you ahead of the right person both to learn and to make mistakes. On the subject of couples, I have lived the experience of impossible love, a silent love for fear of rejection since he does not have reduced mobility, but I am lucky that, although he knows it, we are still friends. My first partner was at 20 years old and he was 29, there I experienced the first kiss, caress, hug… But also the inconveniences to be happy. His family did not accept me because of my limited mobility and I suffered a lot, but I think it made me mature. I have been very lucky that my mother has not interfered with my relationships while I have been happy. I have had intimate relationships like anyone else and even the illusion of getting married and having children, although I discard this to this day. Yes, I would like to wear a white wedding dress.
What are your goals and achievements?
My goals are to have my own home, being aware of all the difficulties I have to achieve it; and work to be able to live like anyone else. My achievements are to get up every day with the will to live, to fight through thick and thin to have the freedom that I have today, because unfortunately I know people close to their parents without knowing how to fend for themselves. I don’t consider myself the best, but I have faced very tough situations.