Everyone says things without thinking sometimes. Often its harmless, and its only afterwards when you are reviewing a conversation that you kick yourself in the teeth and hope it was not taken offensively. More often than not these things can be laughed off. This date happened the other week, and as I sat there attempting to get to know the man across from me, I found myself biting my lip more and more. Now I don’t mean this as a tongue in cheek Fifty Shades reference. It was a preventive measure to stop myself from reacting to several comments that were without thought.
For the first hour and a bit, I gave him numerous passes figuring that these careless remarks were down to nerves. I know from experience that I waffle nonsense when nervous so was prepared to ignore the niggling voice inside me telling me to leave. Eventually I decided to address one sentence that shocked me. ‘Looking at you no-one would know you’re ill, which is great. Don’t worry I would never tell anyone’. I’m sure many of you can imagine the numerous retorts that I had to bite back before answering. A large mouthful of G&T later I addressed this.
I started slowly pointing out that I don’t hide the fact I’m ill. I’ve never hidden this fact, I am not ashamed of the person I am, so I’m not going to start hiding parts of me now. This got me nowhere. So I attempted a different tactic, explaining that when my injections wear off my Dystonia is very much noticeable. Whilst in-between injection dates it is well-controlled, once the Botox loses it effect I have no control over the affected muscles. My explanation fell on deaf ears, all that he picked up on was that I had Botox on a regular basis, which left me defending this choice as he viewed it as a medicine for cosmetic purposes only.
It goes without saying that there will not be not a second date here. While it would have been nice not to have to justify my treatment, I view it as good practice for the next person who chooses not to listen to my explanations.
I’m extremely open about my disabilities, which is why I agreed to take part in an interview last Sunday with BBC Three Counties Shrink Wrapped. I had a great experience down at BBC Three Counties and you can check out the interview here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03gt2ql#play. Whilst I was more than happy to participate as they provided me with a fantastic outlet in which to advocate, I cannot help but feel that if I was not labelled by society then I would not be finding myself in a position where I need to explain myself and my relationship status.
The first interview I participated in, several weeks ago, did not focus solely on my romantic encounters, they wished for my views on topics such as The Undateables, accessibility and more. This weekend’s interview however was entirely spotlighted on my romantic life. Whilst I was at the time more than happy to answer these questions and discuss the matter, I did not expect to find myself afterwards analyzing my position.
The more I contemplate over why I am still single, the more I came back to the same answer; who really knows why they are single? It is highly unlikely that a person is single for one specific reason whether disabled or not. I firmly believe that there is a reason for singledom other than ‘there is something fundamentally wrong with you’. Perhaps you’ve not met that right next significant other or a hundred other potential reasons. It is true that genetically I am a mixed bag and my brain is at best dysfunctional but despite all this I do not believe this to be the only clear cut reason that I remain single.
The labels of single and disabled along with my age thrown in for good measure seem to inflict panic in society. It would appear incomprehensible to some that I would remain single and not just settle for anyone accepting of my conditions. Whilst others view my marital status as a sad but unavoidable fact because let’s face it I’m not a genetic jackpot. Now I’m not denying that I would like to find that significant other, but at twenty-three I’m in no rush. So if I’m not panicking about it why must everyone else feel the need to do so? I ask you though would any of you be at all interested in this if I was able-bodied, would you simply tell me that I am young and not to worry?
We apply these labels and these associations to people without stopping to consider the implications they may have. There should not be an expectation upon them to simply accept them. Whilst I may have embraced mine to a degree, I took it apart, examined it and used it as a way to advocate for myself and others with the same chronic conditions. The people applying these labels are not taking every aspect of the person’s life into consideration. They simply see a problem and apply an appropriate term, a way of enabling them to cope is the only way I can explain this. What they fail to see is the normal factors that contribute to that labelled personality. If they looked closer at me for example, they would see the mirid of dates I have been on in the last few months, or my interactions on a night out. I am in that respect in the same league as all of my able-bodied friends.
So if you don’t mind I’ll take your labels and carry on ignoring them. For now, I’m going to enjoy singledom. After all something great is worth waiting for.
As anyone who checked out my latest VLOG will know, after a highly entertaining bus ride the other week with a fellow spoonie I have decided to blog more openly about the dates I have been on. Up until now I have kept them to myself purely because they didn’t go anywhere, however as this lovely girl pointed out to me, it’s the sort of the thing she would like to read. So I’ve decided to do a couple of blogs retelling these dates – the guy’s names and locations have been changed!
Just before Christmas a guy I’d met a handful of times in the local clubs and around uni asked me for a drink. Thomas knew I was ill, so in my eyes we had already passed the first hurdle. There was going to be no need for an awkward ‘so by the way I have a severely dysfunctional body, you cool with that?’, conversation followed by spluttering and murmured excuses into half-drunk cocktails. I was feeling far more relaxed than I usually would do, simply because I didn’t feel like I had the ‘disability burden’ to get out there.
It was the usual routine, pull every outfit I deemed to be flattering enough to wear on a date from my wardrobe, and then force my friends to pick the winner. It’s a wonder they put up with me really. Whilst I was spending so much time on my appearance, I did not stop to think about strapping down my left arm. The spasms in this arm have been the death blow to so many dates but I still don’t learn. After all, it just isn’t the most attractive look. If I had thought about how twitchy I had been that day I would have seen the disaster in my plan.
The start of the date was fantastic; we were sat across from each other in an adorable cocktail bar with scented candles everywhere. The conversation was flowing with pauses only for laughter. We seemed to connect, and after several more drinks decided to go for a walk. Tom was a gentleman and held the door open for me, as I turned around to thank him and make a joke I twitched. I don’t mean a little twitch either, it was the sort that leaves you feeling bruised. In typical fashion I caught him in the neck. If anything is going to kill the mood on a date, it’s that.
At the time I felt awful. I spent a good ten minutes apologizing before we decided to call it a night. As you can imagine we’ve not spoken since, I wonder what put him off?! Luckily I can see the humor in these situations as they happen far too often.