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When People Tell Me I’m ‘Lucky’ to Have a Fiancé Who’s ‘Normal’

Growing up with cerebral palsy brought the word “normal” into the conversation on a daily basis, usually in the sense of how I was nothing close to it. Using a walker to walk down the high school halls wasn’t always the flashy attraction I wanted to flaunt to guys. It always felt as though there was a barrier between myself and able-bodied people. The walker was awkwardly acting as a visible shield, keeping men, friends and anyone else at arm’s length.

Woman in light purple cardigan posing by Mt. Rushmore

It was my family (my mother, specifically) that gave me the courage to believe I was worthy of a “normal” life. She put the same expectations on me as she did my brothers and sister. I was still expected to clean my room, do chores, have a job, participate in school activities, etc. (even if they had to be modified for me to do them). So when teen romance was factored into the picture, I expected to have a relationship like everyone else. It was certainly a rocky road, and I kissed a few toads (more like slugs) to get to my current fiancé of five and a half years.

I always tried to raise the bar for myself and do as much as possible through navigating  international travel, pushing myself to exercise with a walker reinforced for running and advocating for elevators and more accessibility on a daily basis. My expectations for my life have always been high. Why shouldn’t a woman with a disability have the same expectation for finding her significant other?

Here is something I hear more often than I should as a disabled woman: “You are so lucky to have a ‘normal’ fiancé. He’s so caring and he deals with all your problems. So many men would not deal with someone like you. Good for you, girl.”

I do understand that people I encounter are trying to be complimentary because my disability makes them uncomfortable, but OK:

Yes, I am extremely lucky to have a man like my fiancé in my life, and I am thankful every single day, but this relationship is not a one-way street. He is immensely lucky to have me! I am fabulous! I am motivated, intelligent, career-driven and so many things. I am one proud, fabulous, disabled woman, and anyone would be so lucky to be dating me, to be my husband or to be my friend.

There is a serious lack of confidence in people who honestly do not think they are good enough for love. I am here to tell you that you are. I believe if you love yourself first, the rest will follow. People with disabilities have so much to offer a potential significant other, such as new and fresh perspectives from the disabled community. We share our struggles and our pain, and he opens my mind to new ways of thinking through his immense compassion. He helps when it’s needed, but he has the expectation that I will do so much on my own. My body being crooked is just part of me. I think flaws are beautiful, and so does he!

Couple posing for photo at friend's wedding

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.