Before I met Noah, I was used to blending in. Head down, eyes down, anything to avoid drawing attention to myself. These days, it’s hard to keep the attention off of us. You see a young family out and about, two beautiful and rambunctious girls, a young handsome man in a wheelchair, and me, trying to keep up and keep everyone together. You get used to the stares, the glares, the sympathetic eyes or shakes of the head. Whatever it may be. What I have not gotten used to however, are the ignorant remarks we face on a daily basis. . Here are a few examples of those we’ve gotten in the 18 months we’ve been together.
“Are you his nurse? Caregiver?” “Wait but can you have sex? How? What if you want more kids?” “What’s wrong with her, she must be crazy. Or desperate.” “He must be rich otherwise why would she be with him.” “Here’s my number, call me when you want a real man.” “Wow good for you for landing her buddy!” “You’re such a saint for being with him” “You must be an angel!” “Love seeing you two together-aw how cute”
I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to these kinds of remarks, but I’m trying to learn to accept and ignore them since they come from people who don’t know any better, or think that they’re trying to help. The underlying issue though is the way society views relationships like ours, because it’s still remarkably flawed, even in today’s day and age. Yes we roll our eyes and move on every time we hear comments like this, but we need to do more. These assumptions are not true, and they hurt. Now I don’t think that people generally mean to be so hurtful, but I do think that such powerful assumptions can be changed if enough of us continue to share our love and our stories, loud and proud.
So please, #seeus. We are lovers and best friends. We are parents. We are a welder, an esthetician, a photographer, a mountain biker. We are animal lovers. We are artists and believers and dreamers. Look past your preconceived ideas about us, look past the stigma of those with disabilities and those in interabled relationships, and see us for what we are.
@reevefoundation launched a national campaign called SEE US, a campaign aimed to challenge the stigmas that overshadow the achievements of the greater paralysis community. To see more stories checkout the hashtag #reeveseeus or go online to reeveseeus.org.