The Internet. Nowadays, there’s not much you can’t do from the comforts of your own home. You can shop, order food, find recipes, connect with friends, and even date. Online dating has been growing increasingly more popular throughout the past decade.
When I turned 18 (and let’s pretend that wasn’t almost TEN years ago…), I decided to try my luck with the world of online dating sites. I hadn’t had much success with dating in high school as most of the guys I was around, weren’t exactly mature. The idea of being able to describe myself in an “about me” section of a dating site intrigued me, so, I joined a couple of different free sites. I was hopeful that being able to present myself as “date-able” before guys saw me in my wheelchair would be to my advantage.
I messaged and spoke to a variety of men. Some conversations were great and led to actual in-person first dates. I did online dating for about a year and a half and had a decent amount of first-dates under my (seat)belt. However, none of those evolved into meaningful relationships. I started to get discouraged so I decided to focus on my college courses as I was taking a heavy class load that semester.
I quit messaging people and hardly checked my accounts. One day, I decided to check my messages and had received a message from a guy who recently moved to CO because he was in the Army. His message was nice, but I wasn’t really interested in dating a military man due to the challenges that career can present. I ignored the message and went about my day. A few days later, that Army guy had sent me a second message. My first thought was, “wow. He might actually be interested in me…” and that was not a feeling I was used to. His message had stated that he was looking for friends in the area and he thought we’d get along due to our mutual interest in sports. He seemed nice enough, and I figured having a new friend couldn’t hurt.
We started chatting, eventually exchanged phone numbers and began talking on the phone and texting each other essentially all day, every day. We became very good friends almost instantly. He was easy to talk to, made me laugh, and even though I told myself I wouldn’t, I started to fall for this man.
Fast forward a couple months and he decided to surprise me at school. He asked me to out to a movie and to this day, he’ll claim it wasn’t a date as we were “just friends”.
Today, over 7 years have passed since that first date/non-date and that man is now my husband. Ian and I have been married now for 6 years. We have two beautiful daughters together; Kinley who is 4 years old and Khyran who is 5 months.
If you would have told me this is where Ian and I would be in life, I would have laughed. Getting married, having children, and owning a home are things I’d always wanted, but never thought I’d achieve. I’ve required a lot of support to get to where I’m at in my life and I never dreamed I’d find a spouse willing to provide that support.
Ever since Ian and I met though, he’s been ready and willing to help me in any way. He has been my primary caregiver for nearly our entire marriage. He’s done 90% of the physical care of our children. He does most of the household chores (even though he hates it). My disability never seemed to be a factor in our relationship because he doesn’t allow it to be. I don’t mean that as in he pretends I’m not disabled, but he doesn’t let it affect how he sees me.
There have been times where we are watching a movie or tv show, and he’ll mention how he finds an actress attractive. To be fair, we discuss our celebrity crushes often so it’s not an odd occurrence. However, sometimes I get really down on myself about it. Not because I feel like he loves me any less, but because I feel inadequate when I compare myself to other women. My body isn’t what society would call “beautiful”.
My husband does a wonderful job of making ME feel beautiful, though. He tells me outfits that look good on me, he says I don’t need make up to look beautiful, and has never once been ashamed of me or embarrassed to show a little PDA. His efforts help me feel less insecure.
On days where I’m struggling with my self-image, I remind myself to look at my two daughters. I have two little girls that need a positive female role model in their lives. I would never want my children to feel that they aren’t beautiful for any reason. I want them to KNOW that they are the most beautiful girls I have ever seen; and that beauty is so much more than just physical appearance.
I am emotionally strong, loving, funny, sensitive, smart, and caring. I am a mom, a wife, a sister, a friend. I volunteer for several non-profits, and I employ a number of caregivers on my staff. I love to cook, try new foods, travel, watch sports, and read. This is who I am and THAT is what makes me beautiful.”
- My Disabled Body Isn’t What Society Would Call “Beautiful” - January 20, 2018