Joe from Dystrophy Dad is guest posting today with a personal story of how he believed he would never find love due to his disability. Joe’s journey to finding love is a powerful reminder that we are all deserving of love regardless of disability.
So here’s a stupid thought I used to have constantly.
I would never find love.
I’ve got Muscular Dystrophy, who the hell would want to be with me?
How would that even work? I meet a girl, tell her I’ll be in a wheelchair then start looking at bungalows?
There’s no way anyone would want to be with someone like me, to have to help me get in and out of bed, to pick me up off the floor when I fall. I’d just be a burden.
I lived with these thoughts through my teens. A period that’s awkward enough with your body doing strange things, let alone the knowledge that every day you’re edging closer to never walking again.
I had a noticeable gait and enlarged calf muscles that I was super self-conscious about on top of the weird hairs and acne.
Then I met someone at the tender age of 13, a trouble maker a year older who attended a youth club I went to. Her name was Donna.
She was the first girl I ever kissed, and the first flush of hormones had me catching all the feels.
Two months after we first met, we broke up for reasons I fail to recollect, but maybe this would prove my initial beliefs wrong? I didn’t kiss another girl until I was 19, so there wasn’t much evidence to work with.
A spate of harassment in high school when it was overheard that I had a muscle wasting disease certainly didn’t help my chances with the girls.
At 19 I met someone, someone who I’d sooner not mention but this blog would be a damn sight shorter without them.
At first, I was happy that someone had shown interest in me but after a while I found that I was being emotionally manipulated, bullied into a proposal and constantly messaged/called when out with friends.
These experiences, coupled with my previous thoughts turned my mindset to one that was poisonous.
I came to believe that the “love” I was being shown was affection I was lucky to have, that I should keep going along with things even though I was unhappy, this was the best someone like me could hope for.
I’m disabled, I’m lucky to have anyone show interest in me at all.
One night I received a call from a friend who wanted to meet up to discuss a sensitive matter in person. It sounded important so I made plans to meet them. This didn’t stand well with the girl. She stormed out of my parent’s house, forgetting her phone in her rage.
For the first time in forever, she had no way to contact me, guilt me or otherwise make me feel like crap.
The meetup led to drinks and a night out, I spoke to loads of new people, had a laugh and woke up with a hangover but a sober mind and knew I had to break this off. I’d sooner be alone for the rest of my life than feel like this for another minute.
That morning, I walked to her house, gave her the phone and told her it was over. That wasn’t the end of that story, unfortunately, as it takes more turns than I want to get into, but let’s just say that when the claws are in that deep, it can be hard for a toxic person to let go.
At this time I decided to try and improve myself. I went to the gym, light exercise, of course, got a part-time job and socialised (which is what millennials put on their CV when getting pished doesn’t sound professional enough).
The same friend who had set about the conditions of my release became a drinking buddy. We’d meet up, drink, write poems (really) and have fun.
One night we went to a School Disco club night at The Garage in Glasgow. Through a mutual friend, I was introduced to the woman who would change everything – Tracy.
I was dressed as a schoolboy, blazer, white shirt with the button undone and messy bed-head hair that I totally didn’t spend thirty minutes messing about with.
She was dressed a school girl, loose tie around her neck and pigtails, a direct contravention of school rules.
As I write this, I wonder if there was some significance to the fact that I never had the chance to meet a girl in high school due to the bullying, yet it was when I was next in school uniform I would meet someone. Weird, huh?
We spoke for a bit, got separated from our friends and found each other again. It turns out our mutual friend, as well as the friend Tracy brought with her, were politely asked to leave (loudly, by bouncers) and the two of us were alone.
We left the club together and went to a late night Chinese restaurant for a meal she can’t face to this day. We met up the next day in town, I’m reminded that I wouldn’t shut up but that’s just the excitement of it all and we were inseparable from that day.
I told Tracy of my disability after a few weeks. I sat her down, told her that I had MD and that in the future, I’d lose the ability to walk.
Her reply –
Is that all?
I knew at that point she was someone special. In retrospect, sitting her down like that made it look like we were breaking up, but the fact that I had a degenerative muscle wasting disease was of no consequence.
It didn’t change how she felt about me, or make her consider running. If anything, it created a stronger bond.
We’ve been married for over 10 years now, we have a wonderful daughter and we’re still very much in love.
And my point is?
You are deserving of love regardless of any disability you may have. Please don’t give up hope, and never settle for unhappiness.
Joe is a disabled blogger who shares the highs and lows of being a dad with a disability. He has Becker Muscular Dystrophy and writes about his disability, mental health and family life. If you’d like to read more of Joe’s blogs, please check out Dystrophy Dad and give him a follow over at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.