I never thought I would be planning a wedding, at least not my own. I am a “beat the odds take the bull by the horns, show ‘em how wrong they are” type of girl and still I never thought that someone might actually marry me. Maybe that’s self deprecating, but it wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t think I was good enough, but being with me isn’t always easy. I fall a lot, in the shower, at the grocery store, on the sidewalk. I can’t drive. I have panic attacks. And some days, I can’t put on my shoes. I am kind of high maintenance. At first boys feel like white knights in my presence, they relish in the fact that I truly need them; but it wears off when you start talking about forever.
When I was a little girl I had a lot of romantic fantasies. I remember distinctly laying in bed and thinking about my 16th birthday. Sweet 16. I imagined it would be a magic day and some boy, who was head over heels in love with me, would give me a necklace in the shape of a heart or maybe even a promise ring; and kiss me in front of all my friends, making them positively green with envy. I watched a lot of Soap Operas.
Alas, my 16th birthday came and went and I was still single. Tragically, most boys wouldn’t even talk to me let alone fall in love with me. I started to doubt what my friends and family always assured me, that there was someone for everyone. As I watched my sister fall in and out of love with a number of boys, a few that I loved fiercely myself, I began to doubt that anyone would ever love me the way they loved my sister.
Even when I began dating seriously, at 21, I still had my doubts. Although I was dating, and some boys had even loved me, I doubted that anyone would love me for the long hall, the kind that meant marriage and a family. Why would anyone want to marry me? What kind of wife would I make? What kind of mother? Every time a boy introduced me to his mother, I saw the way that she looked at me. Most of them didn’t want to admit it, but some did. They wondered what their son could possibly see in a girl like me. They hoped I was a passing thing, a phase. And that’s what I ended up being. Once these boys were confronted with their parent’s reality, they realized it would be too hard to love me.
And then I met Tom and everything changed. The first time I met his parents was Mother’s Day and we went over to his parents' hou for breakfast. Tom was not ashamed of me, did not shuffle me off to his room and shut the door. He introduced me, as his girlfriend. His father made me a pancake shaped like Mickey Mouse and his mother proudly pulled out his baby book. His brother and sister chatted with me, made jokes, showed off. Nobody stared. Nobody asked what was wrong with me or tripped over themselves to “help” me. I felt instantly, like I belonged. That I was welcomed, accepted.
Suddenly all the things I could not do were small and insignificant. Tom didn’t mind picking me up when I fell. He did not flush with embarrassment when he did it either. He made driving me to work part of his routine, talked me down from panic attacks and put on my shoes for me when I could not. He bought a house with a ramp and a roll in shower. His Dad built handrails on all the stairs. And I knew then that I had found that someone everyone had promised me.
I know I am not the only girl who has wondered if they will ever find a man who is willing to overlook their disability. It has nothing to do with our pride, or our love for ourselves. Most people who take vows never actually expect to have to deal with sickness. No one wants to life to be hard. No one signs up for that. It’s not about finding someone who can deal with your disability. It’s about finding someone for whom your disability does not matter, someone who sees it as a part of you, like a freckle, or a chip in your tooth. For all those girls (and guys) that are still looking, I want you to know that that person is out there. You just have to keep your mind and your heart open.
Soon after the engagement, I had to take part in a digital storytelling seminar where I created this video. I've shared it on facebook and with family, but this blog is a perfect place for it. If you can not veiw the video here try this link.