Dating and relationships are something many people want in life. But with a disability such as cerebral palsy, dating can seem an astronomical task. Having athetoid spastic cerebral palsy can lead to challenges, socially and romantically. However, at a young age, I set a goal of a happy marriage, and I don’t give up on my goals.
Last night I remembered how difficult it can be to be single and have cerebral palsy. My husband and I went dinner dancing. With two children and jobs, finding time to have a date night isn’t easy. Prior to our second child, we used to go dancing every weekend. I forgot about the self-conscious feelings that flood you when you’re the only one in a wheelchair at a popular, crowded bar.
My friend from middle school is a lead singer in a band, and he played at a local bar in town. As I drove my wheelchair to get closer to the stage, I felt the stares but shook them off. My husband and I picked a spot to watch and not be in the way. Before the band played, my eyes searched the room. I saw some awkward people and those trying too hard to impress others. People walked past me with the sympathetic look, the annoyance look, confused looks and surprised looks. I saw some pointing and whispering as they looked in my direction.
I’d lie if I said this didn’t bother me. All I ever want is to fit in socially, like most of us, with cerebral palsy. I tried to get myself together and gave my husband a smile. I didn’t want to ruin tonight because of my self-consciousness. When the band started playing, I scanned the room again and saw a guy to the right of the stage. I pinned him as stuck-up, but you know what? I was wrong.
Wheelchair Dancing Fun
As the night went on, I started to move my wheelchair to the music. I actually love dancing, and do the best I can without standing. I always feel self-conscious when I start, because I know that many have never seen, or thought that, someone in a wheelchair could dance. Usually I dive right in, but since it had been awhile, I started slowly.
To my surprise, the guy that I had thought was going to be snobby, danced to the right of me. My husband danced on the left. The first set went well as I loosened up. I dance with moving my motorized wheelchair or my body, or a combination depending on the space and song. Even though I still noticed the stares, they didn’t matter as much.
The band took a break before the second set, and we rested with drinks. I told my husband that people drive me crazy by giving “the look.” He told me to not worry about what others think. He said that when I stop concentrating on my cerebral palsy and have fun, others will do the same. Just then, a girl came up to Jeff and said what a cute couple we were, and she enjoyed watching us dance. As she walked away, we both laughed, and I heeded his advice.
Suddenly, after my focus moved from my cerebral palsy and to enjoying myself, I wasn’t dancing alone. I was dancing with my husband and two other guys. We were all having a great time, just people having fun. Nothing seemed to matter, just having fun and being in the moment.
Later on, one of the guys asked Jeff what our relationship was and Jeff said we were married. The guy apologized if he was dancing with me inappropriately, and told Jeff that he was lucky to have me!
The point of this experience is that sometimes we hold ourselves back by overthinking our own limitations. We have cerebral palsy but behind every spasm, speech impediment, and wheelchair is a person. Show others that person and things will easily fall into place with the right person.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.