Today I feel compelled to talk about love and being in love. We can all agree that being in love can be a beautiful, profound feeling. I can say with certainty that love in the conjunction with my disability is still a wonderful experience.
What I want to say is really important: I don’t think being in love is in any way different for me and my partner because I am disabled and he isn’t.
Yes, I have certain needs that my partner doesn’t have or doesn’t worry about: like showering independently, example. He can shower alone. Sometimes I can not. If I’m in a place where the shower is inaccessible because it has a bathtub, I have to be lifted into the tub and be watched to ensure I don’t lose my balance and fall (especially if the tub/shower has no grab bar).
Let me be clear, though: my partner does this because he cares about me, not because he is my caretaker. There’s a huge difference. I do not need a caretaker, nor have I ever needed one, really. Any and all assistance in the shower is deeply rooted in trust. There is no way I would let just anyone help me in the shower, a situation where I’m at my most vulnerable…and anyway, relationships are supposed to be built on trust. Without trust, there’s nothing.
Love is individual and unique. In other words, there’s no such thing as generalized love. It’s vastly different between one set of people as it might be between another set of people, because they discovered a connection that’s as individual as those who share it. Also, couples are supposed to be mutually supportive. In my case, disability only determines some of the manner of the assistance. Overall, it’d be odd to be in a relationship with someone and never help them out. I know I always wanted to be with someone I could rely on if I ever needed to do so.
I’d like to also point out that my partner does not ignore my disability. That’s not love. Love is about care and acceptance and making someone feel good. If he didn’t see my disability, he wouldn’t see me. My partner acknowledges and accepts everything I bring to the table. Let’s face it: my CP is impossible to ignore…not only that, I don’t want it to be ignored. Being disabled is a huge part of who I am and shapes so much of how I see the world. This is OK. My partner thinks it’s OK, too. He loves me just the way I am, just as I love him exactly how he is.
My partner and I share an understanding. He knows exactly how to hold me when we share a hug to make sure I don’t fall over; he knows that I’d probably need help walking to the bathroom if I didn’t feel like using my crutches; any and all little things that comes with getting to know each other and loving each other….disability and all.
Love shouldn’t discriminate. I definitely don’t think loving me is harder because I’m disabled. Anyone who says or thinks this is clearly ignorant and ableist…and doesn’t know what love is. What about being disabled makes me harder to love? Nothing. Announcement: love is hard no matter what stuff you’ve got. Sometimes it can be frustrating; sometimes it can be painful; a lot of the time being in love can be scary as hell. Most of the time, though? Most of the time romantic love is a great adventure.