To me the greatest blessing in life is to love and be loved in return. If love is a currency then I am wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. If my house fell down around my ears right now, taking my computer, my clothes and my beloved books with it, as long as I have my friends I know everything will be alright. They are the only thing that truly matters.
I’ve never been the type of woman who needs a man to validate her, and I’ve spent many perfectly happy years as a single woman (most of my adult life actually!). And whilst growing maturity has seen me become more self assured and generally very happy with life, I still feel like something’s missing, a bit like one of those 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles of baked beans – you know it’s unfinished but you can’t for the life of you find the piece that’s just the right shape to complete the picture.
Well, it’s no use trying to avoid the blaringly obvious any longer. The piece of my puzzle that’s missing is a partner.
The thing is I have always preferred able bodied guys in the same way anyone else prefers red-heads or certain eye colours. I can totally understand disabled women who only want to date disabled guys (and vice-versa), and respect their choice but like I say dating able bodied guys is my preference, as are brown eyes and a love of books. Not only do I like abled bodied guys, I like a very specific outdoors-y, tall, athletic type. Which presents the first problem….
On the rare occasions I do stand up, I come in at whopping 4’11” but when I am in my chair (most of the time) you can reduce that to just under 4’. People in general tend not to notice you if you’re not on their eye level, never mind any potential suitors!!! Mind you I have to admit I’m not above using this to my advantage and ‘accidentally’ pinching a really nice bum to make my presence felt!
**Pauses to re-adjust halo**
The second part of this conundrum is that while I’m an outdoors type and love a bit of adventure I can’t always rely on my energy levels to play ball. If you catch me on a ‘good day’ you get quite a bouncy little person who can talk for NATO, but if you get me on a ‘spoonie’ day? Well, you’ll get me in all my fog-brained, soggy ragdoll ’glory’. More often than not though, I experience a bit of both on the same day.
And there’s the rub. It is it actually possible to find an outdoors-y athletic guy who a) won’t judge me in the first instance by my wheels and b) doesn’t mind slowing down occasionally to enjoy life at my pace? I think there are many such people, but every time you meet a new person (and I’m not just talking about dating here) there’s a ‘coming out’ process if you will that goes with having both obvious and ‘invisible’ disabilities. The best way I have found of approaching this with friends is to ‘drip feed’ information, which allows me to help people understand that whilst my disability does have an impact on my life in practical terms and has definitely contributed in a positive way to my character, it’s just one small facet of who I am. However, it’s not before now that I’ve started out with a large group of friends, only for them to gradually fall away when you have to take a rain check at the last minute for the third time or plans for a simple day out have to be radically rethought because they hadn’t factored in the wheelchair. I have to stress that this mostly happened when I was younger and ALL the friends I have now are utterly, utterly awesome and incredibly sensitive to and aware of my situation so this is rarely an issue for me now.
And then there’s the dating process itself. I have to say when I look at the behaviour of my peers I feel very old fashioned and something of a prude (which I am not, in fact I’m very liberal – however I was once informed by a guy I met whilst indulging in a bit of on-line dating that I was ‘too old fashioned’ and had ‘a stick up my ass’, so I told him to take a hike!). Whilst there’s nothing wrong with a woman making the first move, I do firmly believe that charm, decorum and delicacy are the order of the day for me personally.
I’m a big fan of ‘courting’ and I might decide to give you a kiss on the third date if you’re really special (OK, so more likely on the second date but you get my point). However it seems that so many men have become accustomed to a more forward – dare I say aggressive – approach from women (which I personally find uncouth) that those of us who prefer to approach the whole affair with a little more delicacy and a slower pace just don’t get noticed. But I’m sticking to my guns because that’s who I am and whilst I am very prepared to compromise and yield in certain areas to get along with people, compromising my personal moral code is something that just isn’t going to happen. And the right man will respect and admire that.
Like Snow White in a ‘Happy Snaps’, I remain confident that one day my prints will come…..