My post from yesterday got a lot of "hell yeah" responses from the disabled community, but one response from someone who has always given me good advice convinced me that I need to add a bit more to it, perhaps not so dark. He has allowed me to use part of our exchange here.
I think I first need to clarify my state of mind when I wrote it. I wasn't feeling whiny and no tears were being shed as I wrote it. It came from "Bob's" email arriving after I had a similar conversation with some new disabled people I met -and- then me pondering a recent event with a friend that just totally set me into absolute "WTF" mode. When I can't make sense of a situation, my brain goes into a frenetic loop. This one still baffles the fuck out me for so many reasons.
Okay, since I gave too much emphasis to the bullshit part of disabled dating than potential solutions, I want to revise and extend my thoughts here.
As my friend pointed out to me, almost everyone, disabled or not, goes through the exact same bullshit I cited when playing the dating game. He is correct, but there is a large difference in percentages.
To all physically disabled people out there, me being one of them, life is really fucking hard. You are going to have to work 100 to 1000 times harder at reaching your goals than any non-disabled or physically attractive person. It's not personal, it's called natural selection. People are attracted to good looking assholes because good looking assholes are seen as better able to survive in the harsh world and people will readily accept good looking liars and cheats because good looking liars and cheats appear to win. That's how life is and no amount of whining will change it. Nobody is required to like us. If it is any concession, later down the road when when they finally come to the realization that their chosen one isn't worth the dog shit he/she is printed on, they will be sorry and miserable and you can laugh with maniacal delight. Then again that doesn't do you any good right now.
In dating, confidence plays a major part. If you have no confidence in yourself then you will be alone forever. This is true for everyone, disabled, ugly or beautiful. The days of sympathy fucks are long gone. Now here is the hard part. As a disabled person, your unbridled confidence is seen by most people as something else called "inspiration". Inspiration counts for very little. I know you have heard the "you're so brave!" comment before. To find that rare person who actually sees it as genuine confidence, you going to have to go out and meet a lot more people. In statistical mathematics, this is called having a large sample size. Again, confidence is worth 100 points for pretty people, 10 points for unattractive people and a mere 1 point for physically disabled people. Sorry, that's just how it is.
Here are some of the things I have had to realize about myself which then helped me sets some new directions.
Twice I have had to clean up my "friends" list. This doesn't mean I marked people off as bad or as enemies, but rather as levels of friendship. Associates are people you may see on a regular basis and have friendly conversation with at times, but they are not your friends. They have no vested interest in you. Don't think of those people as your friends because you will only be disappointed. The nice lady at the store who smiles at me every time I come in is not my friend. Also, just because someone may give you a gift, it does not make them a true friend. It is the same with compliments. Words are free and can be said without meaning. Words can make for great associates but it does not guarantee true friendship.
Though I have let it lapse at times, I really do have a litmus test for friends. The test is similair to the saying "a good friend will lie for you when you commit murder, but a real friend will be there to help you bury the body." My list of people I actually call true friends has been reduced to those who if I called them at 4am and said I needed them here right now, they would be there without a single question, comment, complaint or excuse. I've had a few unexpected occasions where this has happened.
I have also adopted a 3 strikes rule with friends and associates. I'll invite someone over, out, whatever 3 times tops. After the 3rd NO that comes with an obvious bullshit or lame excuse, I just cross the name off my contact list and not initiate contact them again. The burden of maintaining the relationship falls to them and if I never hear from them again, then they obviously had no vested interest in me anyway.
One trap that disabled people fall into is always being the one that is there for everyone and allowing people to either knowingly or even unknowingly take advantage of your kindness. Stop volunteering first! Wait for people to specifically request your help. Don't be baited with a sob story. Think of how many times in anger you have heard "well I never asked for your help!" Stop giving it away! In friendship, help is asked for and then always reciprocated one way or another. If you are not getting back what you give, then it's charity, not true friendship. My friend summed that up very nicely:
Being overly helpful is a great way to be used by all. You end up
being a support whore. They expect you to be there with no
reciprocity, and you end up feeling used and underpaid for your
services. I don't deal well with passive people either. One can
either ask me for help, or they can not expect it. I have no problem
looking at a person and saying, "I understand what you're up against,
and what you're wanting of me, however I don't tolerate
passive-aggressive behavior from people. If you want something from
me, you will need to ask for it openly and without preconceived
expectation. If you are incapable of voicing your needs and requests
in a non passive manner, I suggest that you seek therapy as this harms
every relationship in your life from work to personal."
Pull out your personal address book and do some serious contemplating of the people in it. Do they call you? Do they return calls when you call? If they are physically able, how often do they come to your house as opposed to you going to theirs? Do they introduce you to their friends? Do they only come around when they need something? Within reason of course, it really should be a nearly 50/50 thing. If it's low, the person is just a friendly associate. If it's really low, as I said before, make the burden of maintaining the relationship fall on them, not you. "if you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it's yours to keep." Don't make enemies of these people, just leave them be. And yes, it really fucking hurts to find out who those people are but you're better off being temporarily alone than permanently ignored.
And to be fair, some people just don't know how to give back what you give to them or they don't know how to respond when you're hurting, and that is perfectly fine, but you need to decide if that is healthy for you. If you are there for them all of the time but they cannot cope with your needs and avoid you when you express them, then you will end miserable and resentful and they won't even have a clue. It has to be a two way relationship.
The only thing I can guarantee you is that if you do this, there are people who you sincerely love with all your heart that you will never ever hear from again. It's going to hurt bad. It's not your fault. It will get better if you make a plan.
Repeat after me: Know who your friends are!
Again, avoid online dating sites, even if they're disabled dating sites. Same with chatrooms. The online persona's of most people are pure bullshit. People always describe what they see themselves as, not as what everyone else sees. Everything said online is pure bullshit unless it's backed up with action.
To meet people, I suggest meetup.com, a site designed to get groups of real live people who share similar interests together. I have joined groups for disabilities; hiking; tea and coffee; and computers. It's a great way to get out of the house and make new associates and potential friends. From potential friends comes potential lovers.
People have all these tricks about what makes a relationship
viable and lasting. Opposites, not opposites. I think the best
base that one can have in a relationship is finding someone
whose neuroses is compatible with yours. They do not
exacerbate, they merely co-mingle happily."
Life hands disabled people big lemons. You have to decide whether you're going to make lemonaide or if you're just going to shut the fuck up and eat the lemons.