February is often associated with love because of Valentine’s Day. For me, the holiday has evolved with each passing year. I’m at the point now in which Valentine’s Day seems to only get better as time passes.
I’m often asked how I met my husband. I’m also asked to share relationship advice. While I’m not a relationship expert, I do like to try to help others. So, the following are some of my thoughts about dating, love, and marriage.
I am thankful for everything I have, although I do need to be real with my cerebral palsy, as it isn’t always a walk in the park. My wheelchair, my involuntary movements, and my speech are the first things people notice. Making friends is hard enough, but finding a romantic relationship is even harder. I used to think that no one would ever love me for who I am because they wouldn’t be able to overlook my physical disabilities. I dreaded being alone forever because of something I couldn’t control.
It took a lot of time, love, and pain to truly understand romantic relationships. While I’m married now, I can tell you that being alone is so much better than being with the wrong person. I have been in toxic relationships before. It isn’t worth our precious time. When someone has a disability, it may seem that staying in a bad relationship is best, but trust me, it isn’t. You deserve better.
I remember loving Valentine’s Day as an elementary school student. Inclusion wasn’t very popular yet, so I was in a class with other kids with disabilities. I loved filling out all the little cards for school and reading each one carefully at home. But when I got to the fifth grade, I didn’t receive a candy gram. Basically, I was ignored on Valentine’s Day.
Then, just before my 17th birthday, I met my high school boyfriend on online bulletin boards. We discovered that we lived fairly close to each other. Back then, I always told guys that I have cerebral palsy prior to meeting them. Our relationship went pretty well, but I noticed he had some issues introducing me to other people, including co-workers. Unfortunately, the relationship ended, but it was definitely a learning experience.
What has worked for me in my marriage is being real and honest with my husband. The more I try to be someone else, the more unhappy I become. Cerebral palsy will always be there. Find someone (or let them find you) who will accept this fact. After they accept cerebral palsy, the rest is like any other relationship — with some good and some bad. But don’t just stay with someone simply because they accept that you have cerebral palsy. Plenty of people exist who will accept it and be a decent partner.
This past Valentine’s Day was pretty sweet. In the morning, I gave my children some small gifts. They were off from school, so that made it easier. My mom picked them up from a sleepover. I went to work, and later, my husband picked me up and handed me a box. Then, he drove as we talked. He took me to my favorite hamburger place and I opened my gift. He bought me a beautiful tennis bracelet that will withstand the accidental beatings from spasms. It was simple, sweet, and just right.
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