I've had three great loves in my life, all three of which rejected me. They were all silent rejections too. No words were said, and no reason was given for said rejection, such as “I need my space,” “This just isn’t working for me” or “I met someone else [read: someone who is prettier, smarter, less clingy, etc]
I’d even settle for the classic “I just want to be friends” routine.
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But then again, I didn't need them to say the reason out loud. I already knew what it was: my physical disability. It was my own Scarlett Letter, a sort of man repellent, I thought, that seemed to make men want to stay at least 50 feet away from me. At. All. Times.
Some people are afraid to fall in love. Me? I'm afraid I'll never fall in love. Or should I say, I’m afraid I’ll never find that sort of love that is mutual in its rampant passion, altogether sensual in its togetherness and forever in the honeymoon, can’t-keep-our-hands-off-each-other phase. I know, I know. Real-life love isn’t always like that, people tell me, but why can’t we at least believe it’s out there?
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I always assumed I’d too find this love someday. Like any younger girl, I’d sit on my bed and fantasize about how it would all play out when I was a “grown up.” My fantasy was always the same, my own private fairy tale. I’d meet my soul mate in a crowded, dimly lit room, he’d instantly fall in love with my awkwardness, I’d think his geeky glasses were the cutest thing ever and we’d walk out hand-in-hand (laughing, of course, because we have so much in common) at the end of the night.
It’s funny (well, probably more like psychologically significant), but in this fantasy, I’m neither disabled nor able-bodied. It just naturally never entered into the picture. I just am. I’m just me.
But like all fantasies, reality never seemed to measure up. In reality, my disability tended to be in the picture. Quite a lot, actually. In high school, I remained virtually invisible to the opposite sex, which resulted in four years of silent tears and inner angst and frustration. Of course they saw me, just ‘never in that way’ like they saw all the other burgeoning women with their long legs and fresh-face, scar-free skin. In college, things remained pretty status quo; at least I had consistency in love with me.
But somewhere after I graduated from college in 2005, it all caught up with me. I no longer had my books and classes and, well, life to distract me anymore. And what I realized even more than the absence of books was the absence of that story-book romance. I saw it all around me: On a crowded city street, on a bench in a quiet park, at candlelit tables in restaurants. Madly-in-love couples kissed and held hands as if showing that their forever signaled my never.