Upon meeting me, my date will do absolutely everything in their power not to mention or look at my wheelchair. It becomes my defining feature. After about ten minutes of stilted small talk and eye contact so intense I sometimes fear they may actually be trying to explode my head with psychic energy, the desire to know why I'm confined to such a contraption takes over. When the pretenses fall away, I'm asked to casually adapt the painful origin story of my disability into light and breezy chitchat.
The person who can turn a virus that eats the protective tissues around their brain into quirky conversation deserves a large trophy. What's worse is that I now expect this reception from every single person I come across.
When I can't meet anyone new without spending the entirety of the conversation wondering when the small talk will veer to the painful memory, I start planning exit routes that ensure I run over as many feet as I can on the way out.
I anticipate people's judgement before they've even spotted me rolling along at crotch-level. I visualize them asking me to relive the moment when I was lying in bed, not even sure if I would live to see my life go to shit, and I shut them out before they get the chance to prove me wrong. Humanity's prejudice has induced my own prejudice against them. It's a sick kind of poetic justice, but not the deep, introspective kind. It's more like annoying slam poetry.
Continue Reading Below Advertisement All this is probably why I'm marrying the first person who could actually see past my wheelchair. That's not a joke.
I'm literally about to marry that person. You have to lock down the good ones before someone else takes them. People don't seem to get that the person with me isn't a registered nurse I pay to spoon-feed me when I'm out to lunch. I'm trying to have sex and fall in love with that person, and I'm hoping they're willing to reciprocate. Continue Reading Below Advertisement Depicting my partner as my carer is fine when he is helping me to get on a train.
It is not fine when we are simply out together wandering the streets, and anyone who has to interact with us refers to him as my carer. They don't speak to me -- they speak to my date, as if I'm miles away. Meanwhile, I sit there trying to pass my hand through someone's body in case I didn't realize I was a ghost this whole time.
To them, the chair I sit in reduces me to someone not worth speaking to directly, but instead through an intermediary they assume I've been assigned. And it's automatic for a lot of people. Without a moment of hesitation, they assume I'm a vegetable. Continue Reading Below Advertisement No one ever sees a relationship when they look at us. It's an idea so deeply burned into the brains of society that no one thinks twice about it before deciding that my capacity for a relationship extends no further than requiring someone to help me do normal-people stuff, because clearly I am incapable of normal-people emotions, thoughts, or even speech.
When it's pointed out to someone that I'm wearing an engagement ring for a reason, they look like someone just gave them a surprise prostate exam. Once they've dealt with the fact that wheelchair users are, in fact, human beings like everyone else on the planet, they start to become suspicious that something sinister is taking place. After she couldn't cope in the overly crowded room and the rest of the group simply wanted to send her home in a taxi so that they could drunkenly enjoy their night out, he made the heinous mistake of daring to comfort her.
The seeds of suspicion were sewn. We met up with members of said society. The reception was a little icy when they realized we were more than just friends, but nothing was said at the time. Behind our backs, however, it was perfectly obvious to them that he was taking advantage of me and my vulnerability to satisfy his own desires.
I wasn't consulted on the matter, as it turned out I was a ghost, and as such, my opinion was invalid. There was no relationship between two consenting adults. To them, there was only a sexual predator and his dimwitted prey. The rumors led to his exclusion from events, and even the people he planned to move in with the following academic year forced him out based on rumor alone. Having spoken to other disabled people, I know that when they hang out with someone able-bodied of the opposite gender, the general assumption of those around them is that the disabled person is a weak and pitiful creature falling foul of evil intent.
It's difficult enough to lead a normal life as it is. It's even worse when idiots assume the non-disabled friends and lovers around me are only there to get some kind of sick thrill out of it, like I'm a character in a David Cronenberg movie. When they're not doing that