Lisa D'Andrea.

When I Feared I Wouldn't Be 'Chosen' as a Woman With a Disability

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When I Feared I Wouldn't Be 'Chosen' as a Woman With a Disability

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I was born with weak muscles. I went to many doctors throughout my childhood to find out what the problem was. It took me a little longer to reach developmental milestones than most other kids who didn’t have weak muscles. Eventually I walked, but I limped, fell easily, and had a hard time getting up. I had my first surgery at the age of 11; it was for scoliosis. I was told it would make me walk better. My spine was fused to a metal rod and straightened as much as possible. After 10 months in a body cast, I didn’t come out walking any better. I knew then I had to sort out my expectations for my life.

Around the age of 12, I knew I wouldn’t be getting any better. I wondered what joys could I expect from life as I had to live it. I remember counting my sister as a blessing that would be mine forever. I looked into the future and I crossed marriage and family off the list, as I couldn’t imagine anyone choosing me in the condition I was in. I figured I could develop a satisfying life with my friends and devote myself to my career instead of family. I resolved to have a happy life without the prospect of marriage.

Much to my surprise, I had a very exciting first kiss in junior high. I even dated in high school and college and had several long term relationships. Still, deep down inside, I harbored a dark truth that I would never be chosen as a wife. After graduate school was finished, it surprised me that I started longing to be married. Of course, I picked somebody who who had extreme fear of marriage. My boyfriend didn’t just have cold feet about marriage, he walked around on polar ice caps! His parents had a very bitter divorce, and he concluded nothing good could ever come from marriage. We stayed together over many years and many distances. We even bought a house together, but still marriage was not on the horizon and I figured I should let go of that dream.

On his own, my boyfriend saw a therapist concerning his views on marriage, and the thaw began. One morning, we woke up and he started talking about how well we knew each other, how much love we had between us and all the things we had been through together. He then brought up how it pained him that in my childhood, I believed I would not be chosen for marriage. “So Lisa, I’m not asking if you’ll marry me. I’m making a statement — I choose you to be my wife.”

Being chosen was one of the happiest days of my life, and it was so worth the wait.

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