Someone once told me,
“You can help wipe out genetic disorders, don’t have kids.”
To which I responded with a smile,
“Sure, as soon as you help wipe out ignorance.”
I‘m in the thick of things, so to speak, when it comes to dating with a dis … correction, with disabilities. It’s a frustrating and at times anger inducing process for us. We can’t be judged under the same criteria as everyone else. It just doesn’t work that way. The more I stroll down this road, however, the more I realize just how little thought people actually give to what love really means. The common criteria seems to all be the same. People look for what they want in the right here and right now. Looks fade … and faster than most like to acknowledge. Activities that you like to do today, is not going to be possible further down the road and lets not even get into asking for someone who is “loving” … I surely hope no one is looking for a wife beater as a husband.
Getting back to the topic at hand. I am not here to school the masses on how to treat the disabled, as nice as it would be to be able to do that, I’m not that delusional … I hope my shrink is reading this. Neither am I here to ask the whole world to hold my hand as I cry “woe is me” over the challenges of my day to day life, that I will leave for a different blog. What I am attempting to do, is to explore the depths of the challenges that I as a disabled person face in my quest to find the love of my life and to chronicle the pitfalls, revelations and possibilities. I hope in the process, my insights may assist those in the disabled community, raise awareness of the difficulties we face in the quest to find happiness and maybe even receive some insights and/or sage advice from any who happen to read this. For now however, a brief introduction to the dilemma should suffice.
“Sorry, you can’t walk so I’m not interested”
Well, I’m not interested in someone that has the pain threshold of a two year old.
Lets face it, dating is not easy, for anyone. I hear you say, “Yeah but that chick has men falling at her feet.” Oh don’t you fret my friend, she has her obstacles just like anyone else. The big difference unfortunately between her and the stunner next to her, is she is not in a wheel-chair. That being the simplest example I could come up with, but think about it. There are most definitely still men who would fall over their feet to ‘hook up’ with the disabled girl but by how much do you think her options are reduced? Fifty percent? maybe seventy? She will find love, eventually, but like with everything in life when you are disabled, you have to work twice as hard at getting what you want. What the guy who rejected her don’t realize is that her disability makes her twice as committed, strong of heart and more likely to stick with you through troubled times than the able-bodied looker next to her.
“You don’t look disabled, why do you use a handicap spot!”
Well you don’t look like an idiot, so why are you acting like one …
Believe it or not, but the problem is compounded for those of us who have physical disabilities but are still able bodied despite it. We look normal, we act normal but there are significant challenges in our lives. Because we look normal, we get that second look that the lady in the wheel chair didn’t get and this might have you thinking, “Hold on, that actually sounds like a win rather than a loss”. I wish that was the case. Everything’s coming up roses until it has gone past the phase of “get to know each others hobbies, interests and aspirations”. By now your a bit more comfortable and have unlocked the gates to your heart but then, the real life questions starts to flow and you have no choice but to reveal your disability in all it’s mortifying glory. We start falling through the cracks into unwarranted stereotypes and being dismissed based on preconceptions about how we came to be in our current state of affairs. So revisit your previous question and ask your self, which hurts more. To be ignored straight up or to open up to someone just to have them kick you to the curb like a stray dog.
“You have a mental disorder? Get away psycho!”
You don’t have one? Go away retard …
Psychological disorders are one of the most difficult things to cop up to. No one want’s to get categorized into one of the hundreds and hundreds of stereotypes out there. One advantage, is it’s easier to hide than any of the other a fore mentioned scenarios, you’d think … Hiding your mental health problems can cause even worse ramifications than outing it. Everything in your life is connected to it and at some point or another, it is going to filter through and you will end up stuck with a stereotype as they won’t realize it’s due to an illness. On the other hand, outing your self might still get you the exact same result but at least, you have some semblance of a chance … that is, if the person doesn’t just bolt on you the moment you do.
The biggest tragedy of all is that most don’t realize the reality of some of these conditions. There are conditions out there that, as much as it debilitates you and make you an outcast in the eyes of society, it has the peculiar side effect of blessing the person with almost prodigy like skills and talents. The sad truth is of course that most of the time the person is so debilitated that they can’t take advantage of these skills and talents but let me tell you, the best medication for these conditions is none other than love and affection. On their own, the person can’t function and in a relationship it can be hell on a partner … “Hang on now, I thought you just said it helps ?” only if their partner know about that little nugget. They need active support and encouragement to spread their wings. Most have built up a fear of trying to use their talents and skills due to the conditions propensity to lead the person to loose control. If they don’t have someone there to stop them from flying too high, they burn up in the sun. Manage to do just that little bit for your partner and you will be astonished at the returns.
“That’s harsh, I’ll read up on it. Lets see how things go.”
Um, one more thing …
So now we come to my level … I have both a physical disability, although I am able-bodied, and a psychological disorder. Oh, and one more thing, my physical disability at times moves into the realm of the lady in the wheelchair. The challenges seems insurmountable at times and whether I will ever find a happy and fulfilling relationship, I don’t know … and maybe I don’t want to know. Human beings are not made to be alone. The only real fulfillment, is in the arms of a loved one.
So, in closing, let me just say this. If ever you have a question, an insight or an experience to share or even a writing prompt if you’d like, I welcome it with open arms. The wisest man is not the one who knows all, it’s the one who knows he can never know it all and the only way to grow is through knowledge shared.