What I Wish Society Understood About Relationships Between People With Disabilities
I have known my girlfriend Mandy Ree since she went to college in my hometown. She was my mentor and took me places sometimes. I knew Mandy was something special. She has a big heart, and understands me when others don’t.
Over the last 11 years, Mandy and I became a couple.We fell in love with each other even though we both have disabilities. Mandy is legally blind, and I have cerebral palsy and learning can be hard at times. We accept each other for who we are and not what we can’t do.
It took years for us to be taken seriously. I am a grown man with legal guardianship of myself, but some people who helped take care of me saw me as a child and Mandy as a threat. But since I used my self-advocacy skills, I fought for her to be in my life. She is smart, funny, kind, and an all-around beautiful girl I want to be with.
Mandy and I love each other very much, and we want to get married. But we can’t, because both of us would lose the support we need to live on our own. Mandy doesn’t need as much help as I do, but I need staff sometimes to help me do things Mandy can’t, like drive.
Because of this, Mandy has to live separately from me, so I can have my staff help me. Mandy got a job in Florida, so she lives too far away from me to visit as much. But we still make time for one another by having dates on Skype and talking on the phone. But that gets tough sometimes, and I really wish I could be with her always.
I believe love shouldn’t be red-flagged by the government and society. Relationships between disabled people need to be shared and discussed with others, so we can change the rules and live a happy life. We shouldn’t be treated differently. Everybody has a right to get married without fear of losing all we have.
Love isn’t about money, and money shouldn’t be an excuse to keep me and my girlfriend separate. I may not have much, but I want her to be part of my life forever. I want to walk her down the aisle someday, and maybe even have children like anyone else can.
Mandy and I want to change the world and the way people think about us. We are both great self-advocates who won’t stop chasing our dreams and making them realities. We won’t stop raising our voices until things change.
Mandy is worth the fight for me. And I won’t give up.
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