As a Couple With Disabilities, Our Relationship Has No Blueprints
“Holding hands is a promise to one another, just for a moment the two of you don’t have to face the world alone.” — from a quote on diary.me
This what I always hoped to find in a partner I would choose to give myself to. For me, it just happened later in life and in a way I never thought it would.
It all started three years ago, when I started a journey to find who I am as an adult with cerebral palsy. If I type “cerebral palsy” in Facebook search, I find a whole world of different groups for people with cerebral palsy. After doing this for a while, I got the idea of starting my own Facebook group with the things I know and wanted to know about cerebral palsy. As I was researching, I came across a story on mycpchild.org. The story was about a deaf man with cerebral palsy. The story hit me like a bolt of lightning, and something stirred inside me as I read about Jack Runser. Despite all the odds against him, he overcame his CP to pursue his dream of becoming a bodybuilder. Reading this story put some kind of spell on me, like at the beginning of some cheesy Hallmark movie.
Three months later, a new person asked to join my group. We started talking and I felt this attraction to him almost immediately, but I needed to go slow because I loved what I was doing with the group, and I didn’t want to jeopardize that in any way. He asked if he could send me some articles about him; I said “yes.” As I was reading one of his stories, it seemed somehow familiar; I had read something about him before. I went back and looked at mycpchild.com. There it was! The story I had read just three months before, the one that gave me that “Hallmark movie spell” feeling.
For the first few weeks, I kept pushing away my feelings because I never follow my heart. I also never thought I would go for anyone with cerebral palsy, let alone someone who was deaf as well. After about a month of talking online, we called each other on the phone. That was very new to me because although I was talking to Jack, we had an interpreter between us. Getting to know someone of the opposite sex through a female felt weird.
Months later, it was time to make a decision. We thought if going to be more than pen pals we should make plans to actually meet, so after the 2016 holiday season we started to plan. Living with my parents added a whole new challenge to the the situation, as I had to get their permission. They didn’t want their little girl to get hurt, and they also were afraid to open up our home to someone I met on the internet (my father is a cop, so he sees the danger). After many conversations with both Jack and my parents, we all gave the meeting the green light.
We planned for a four-day weekend at the end of March, but my parents had some conditions. He could not sleep at the house because we only knew each other from the Internet, and we couldn’t be 100 percent alone until we all got to know each other better. All this stuff seems juvenile, I know, but when you have a disability you sometimes are more sheltered than others. This caused immaturity and social awkwardness for me with romantic relationships. I wanted this to be my chance to prove to myself that I could have an adult relationship.
The weekend went well, though I felt like a teenager, because as a teen I never had a relationship. All my hopes came true. As we talked we stayed true to who we are. Since then, he’s come for a visit every six months. As much as I would like to travel to him, my disability won’t allow me to right now. It can be hard to take things slowly, but because of my anxiety and wild imagination, I’ve accepted that slowing down is the best. Jack is wonderful because he slows down with me.
Jack and I are opposites in some ways and similar in other ways. We are a great balance for each other. I slow him down when he wants to go head-on with things, while he pulls me out of my comfort zone. Since that first meeting, he has stayed at the house and we have gone away alone together. When we are alone, we have to work off of each others’ strengths and weaknesses. He’s my legs and I’m his ears! Jack taught me that my idea of how a relationship should be was not accurate. I have learned that relationships never have blueprints. When you meet the one you are meant to be with, you just go with what is best for you as a couple. Those things that make you special and make your imperfections seem perfect.