Growing up, there was constantly a push for me to be social, particularly in school. I know that adults meant well. Looking back now, I think this did more harm than good. It led to me becoming more introverted. Adults also used the word friend too casually. If I was talking to a peer about anything, it seemed like adults assumed that this person was automatically my close friend. By the time I was in high school, I had nearly lost all interest in making friends. I was able to form some meaningful friendships outside of school.
I started taking Tae Kwon Do when I was 11. Because of Tae Kwon Do, I have two friends I deeply cherish.
One of them is now my roommate and PCA. I met my other friend after being invited over to play cards one night. Over a decade ago, I would never have imagined that taking Tae Kwon Do would lead to such meaningful connections. I consider them a part of my family.
I enjoy hanging out with my friends. We often hang out and watch Netflix together. We even went to a Boston Bruins game together in 2018. This summer, we hope to go to The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, as long as it’s safe. Years later, it’s still hard for me to realize that I have friends I love dearly. We’ve supported each other through so much over the past several years.
Navigating relationships as an adult has been particularly challenging. This is particularly true when it comes to romantic relationships. A couple of years ago, I set up an online dating profile, but people weren’t really interested in getting to know me. The thought of being intimate with somebody is frightening to me. I’m unsure whether or not I’ll ever be in a romantic relationship. Will people find a person with Cerebral Palsy attractive?
It’s terrifying to think about being intimate with someone. Because I have a disability, I must allow others to assist me with my personal care. I hate the thought of having to ask my partner to help me use the restroom or get dressed. I’m most concerned about my partner considering me a burden. I’m saddened by the thought of spending the rest of my life alone.
Cerebral Palsy doesn’t automatically mean that I’d be a terrible friend or romantic partner. I wish more people would understand that people with disabilities are still people. We are here in your cities, towns, states, and countries. Anyone can become disabled in an instant. We aren’t going anywhere, and it’s time that the world understands that.