To the woman who will love me forever,
That was the text the first woman I ever loved sent me after we hung out one night . She fully believed in the power of a connection before I even understood what she meant by it. At 25 years old, she was the first woman that truly took the time to get to know me. Besides her, I have often struggled when it comes to women.
I realize now it is because of what some people – not you – see when they look at me.
When I meet some women, I can tell by their faces that they are either scared or uncomfortable. Some even talk down to me in this high-pitched voice, as if they are speaking to a child. I hate that. It’s so annoying. But the reality is for many women, they look at me and see the unknown. They see a man in a wheelchair.
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I was born with Cerebral Palsy. In a nutshell, it’s a miscommunication between the brain, the body and the nervous system. My muscles are tight and do not function properly. And so, since age five, I have used a wheelchair to get around.
A lot of people don’t realize it, but there is still a lot I can do. I can play sports: soccer, bowling, swimming and sled hockey. People are surprised about how good I am at beer pong.
While many people focus on what I can’t do, I know you will focus on all the activities I can do.
Similar to the first woman I loved, you will be a special woman who is different from many of the women I have encountered throughout the years. Growing up, trying to talk to girls was not easy for me.
Like many boys in middle school, I began to develop an interest in dating. That was also the time when people started to treat me differently. Kids began to create social cliques and in high school, it got even worse.
Girls would ask me inappropriate questions about sex as a disabled person. In high school, the girl I asked to prom told me she had a boyfriend, despite everyone telling me she was single.
In college, my social life improved. That’s when I met the first girl I loved. That’s when I began to learn about a genuine connection. The first time I met her she was dating my roommate. After their relationship ended, we remained friends. The more I got to know her, the more I cared about her. She was loving and sweet and she worked with people with disabilities. So, she understood my lifestyle and even knew my aid.
We went on so many adventures together and spent so much time sharing stories about our lives. She loved to skateboard. I would go to the skate park with her, root her on, and tell all the other guys to watch out for her.
While many people shy away from spending time with a man in a wheelchair, like you, she could see the benefits in my unique life experiences. See, just like any other man, when I first see a woman, I notice her attractiveness. But quickly, my attention turns to who she is and how she treats people. I value a woman’s awesome qualities. And because life has thrown people like me, people in chairs, so many challenges, I think overall we tend to be more compassionate and loyal than most men our age.
Sadly, in January, the first woman I loved passed away unexpectedly.
But the time she spent with me, leaves me not only with beautiful memories but an abundance of hope.
I started a campaign, which she fully supported, called Love on a Roll. We educate people on loving someone in a wheelchair. I want to give people a place to ask questions and to understand who we are and how we interact with people. It’s my way of creating a path to you, the woman who will love me forever.
While I will always have love for the beautiful person and friend that I lost, as I still miss the warmth of her hand and the kindness of her spirit, I want you to know that the piece of me that’s with her, is what makes me believe finding you is possible.
She showed that there are people like you, people who are compassionate, thoughtful and open-minded. It’s those qualities that lead to a powerful connection, which I now know is when someone can look at me and not see the limitations of my body but rather see the love in my heart.
I can’t wait for our happily ever after,