The other month I posted a blog on disabled dating. I finally admitted to you all that I had been approached by the Undateables TV show. Being asked to appear on this show knocked my confidence. I felt as if this was perhaps the only way I would be able to meet anybody; that just maybe this was all I was worth. This show is great for some people, I understand that, but for me it was an insult.
Shortly after this I went on a date with a guy who turned out to be a complete sleezebag, and that’s putting it politely. These two incidents combined completely set my confidence back. I felt as if dating was completely out the window, that I really was undateable. Part of me wondered if maybe I was just someone people looked at with repulsion. After all, if I struggle to stay calm with my misbehaving limbs, how could anyone tolerate them or find me attractive?
At the start of May I met my boyfriend Alex, in the local pub. I cannot put into words the satisfaction and joy I feel at having met him in such a normal way. At first I expected listing my many conditions to him would cause him to go running to the hills. Imagine my surprise when he actually knew what some of them were, and better yet, didn’t mind when my arm went flying out violently to the side. He is patient and understanding, and doesn’t mind which of my different aids I’m using to get about that day. What is best is that he allows me to feel normal, not a feeling I’m used to but one that I love. I feel like a normal 22 year old. I don’t think I could ask for more!
So I’m closing the chapter on the Undateables, forgiving them and moving on. I’ve got a brand new wave of confidence and it’s time to write a new page.
Back in 2012 when I first became ill I was in a long-term happy relationship, however my partner at the time did not deal at all well with my disability. He soon ended our relationship. At the time I had not given a moment’s thought to the difference between dating when you’re able-bodied and dating when you’re disabled. The reason for this is because to me I have always believed that it is who you are on the inside that counts, to me it does not matter if you have one leg or six!
My views however are that of a minority of people’s it would seem. Whilst people are happy to get to know you, anything beyond friendship would seem to be forbidden. To many it is just too embarrassing to be romantically linked to someone disabled, simply because we differ from the norm. This idea, to me, was reinforced when several months ago I was approached by the TV programme The Undateables, to see if I would be willing to take part in their show or if I knew anyone else disabled who would. At the time I turned down their offer appalled that I was considered undateable simply because I am disabled. However now I sit here considering whether I was wrong to turn them down so quickly. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? After all I have been single for two years now.
An able-bodied person is much more able to go out and socialize and meet new people whether that’s at a club, restaurant, coffee-house etc. They have much more freedom and accessibility to choose to do this. I would love to meet new people. However take for example the fact that I have no control, currently, over my left arm, I could hardly go to costa and have to apologise every few moments for hitting someone! I know some of you may think Online Dating to be the perfect solution. For some people I won’t deny this may be a fantastic idea but not for me, as it doesn’t take away the above issues which often can put people off when you inevitably meet. I want potential partners to get to know my personality and learn to dodge to my spasming limbs at the same time.
Society’s view on disabled dating is a hideous one. If two disabled people date, or marry, they tend to be rather harshly judged. You often hear and read comments on how they are unable to care for each other, or if they choose to have children that the child’s needs will be neglected as the parents will be unable to care for him/her. These views that are often voiced loudly and publicly are completely ignorant. The owners of these opinions in nearly all cases have never met the people involved so cannot make these judgements.
Able-bodied/disabled couples are also criticised. When out in public a lot of people will presume that the able-bodied partner is a nurse/carer/sibling. They rarely come to their own conclusion of the actually reality of partner/date. Again these relationships come under fire, especially online where people state that they should not get together as the able-bodied person will just end up being a carer. These opinions have been voiced with what I expect to be no insight.
I’d like to question these people who claim us disabled people cannot date either able-bodied or disabled persons. I want them to imagine they became ill and could not be cured. What would they say then?
Naturally I defy these naysayers. I believe that I’ll get my fairytale ending, just with a few more spasms, falls and laughs than originally expected!
When I first got ill last summer I thought it was the end of the world, life as I knew it was over. What I should have thought is that my life is a bit like a snow globe and someone simply tipped it upside down and gave it a good shake and that eventually everything would settle into the right place. Now it may have taken a while but everything is beginning to settle for example why I still hate Dystonia and battle against it, I also embrace the opportunity it gives me to make a difference.
This last week has been extremely busy. Something I am not used to and left me feeling exhausted and wiped out yesterday. I was also overjoyed. I had been busy, and not just in lots of hospital appointments kind of way but in a social interactive enjoyment filled way. It’s like a distorted mirror image of what my life was like previously and you know what I am happy with it!
I may moan that I don’t like what Dystonia does and that I hate the lack of control I have, but at the end of the day I am happy. Compared to a lot of people I have an amazing life. I am surrounded by loving people all wanting to help me, and I am so thankful for them.
This morning I had a fantastic long catch up with a good friend from school who I had not seen in awhile. It was great and it felt just like old times. This evening a lovely friend I lived with at uni is coming round for a cheeky chinese. I am able to be sociable and have a social life, and I am embracing every second of it. I have even started dating, something I thought would not happen for years.
I am doing things I thought I would never do again, that Dystonia had ruined. Now I realise Dystonia never ruined anything, it restricted me and all I needed to do was find the courage in myself to fight back and find ways to get my life back on track.
My life is my own, no matter how much my little alien tries to interfere, it is mine and mine alone.
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