I'd always thought my physical disability was a negative asset. Turns out, I may be wrong.
That's not to say I've never fallen in love because I have. Many times. I've fallen hard and I've fallen fast and I've also fallen somewhere in between the two. They made my heart want to leap out of my chest and do cartwheels down the street like a scene from one of those old-time-y cartoons.
The falling was real but each time, the love remained unrequited. And each time, I blamed my love not being returned on one thing: my disability.
I was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder that results in joint contractures of the hands, feet and knees, as well as scoliosis and other deformities. I spent my childhood and much of my teenage years in a revolving door of hospitals and doctors' offices. It wasn't your typical childhood, sure, but I still had the same dreams and desires as others my age, and as I got older, those dreams and desires naturally included love.
So when crushes never seemed to return my affections, I couldn't help but feel like it had to have something to do with my disability. I mean, how could it not, I wondered? If I was this insecure about it, how could I ever expect a guy to just automatically overlook it?
But as I got older, something clicked. I realized that any sort of acceptance had to start with me. I had to learn to love myself — all of myself — before any man ever could. My entire life, I'd never thought of my disability as anything but a negative thing, especially when it came to dating and relationships.
But maybe it didn't have to be so black and white. Maybe it could just be one more awesome asset on the road to finding The One. Here are 8 ways my disability may just be my biggest ally in finding love.
1. It will be the perfect wing woman.
What a convenient way to weed out the bad seeds. After all, my disability isn't all that subtle and, like my personality, it's sort of in-your-face. Having it all out in the open from the get-go might just be the best way to see a guy's genuine first impression when we meet. And if that impression is someone who can't handle a disability? Well, I can quickly move on and not be any worse off.
2. It will force me to be honest.
I've developed this habit over the years of being completely honest in life. I mean, my blog So About What I Said has basically been a window to my soul and life for the last seven years. I'm not afraid to say what's on my mind; I'm pretty sure this is due in large part to my disability.
3. It will allow me to get deeper in a relationship.
If I've learned anything, it's that all those superficial things we think are so important — looks, social status, and wealth — really don't matter in the end. It's all about discovering who the person is deep down. That's who I want to fall in love with.
4. It will teach me what truly matters.
I've been through a lot, and it's definitely shaped my perspective on life. I certainly don't take things for granted because I've seen how fragile life can be.
5. It will provide me with plenty of first-date conversation topics.
Oh, I've had some doozy medical experiences — things that rival any plotline on Grey's Anatomy. And, yes, some of them are funny. Did I mention how much I love to laugh?
6. It will force me to be myself.
In addition to being honest, a disability has a funny way of getting you in touch with yourself. Now, I don't know how to be anyone except myself. And when you meet me, what you see really is what you get.
7. It will teach me to stay.
I've learned (sometimes the hard way!) that life is tough. I'm not going to leave when it gets even tougher; you can be sure that I'm going to stay and be there for you.
8. It will help me be clear on what I want.
Bottom line: I wouldn't be who I am today without my disability, and maybe that's not such a bad thing. And in the end, as is typical in so many rom-coms, maybe that's the whole point. I'm a woman with a physical disability. I'm just me. Shouldn't that be enough?