(This blog is dedicated to Susan Murphy-Milano for the person she is and for the work she continues to do on behalf of others…)
Those of us who are baby boomers have learned many a life’s lesson by virtue of our time in history and our personal experience. These lessons are hard fought as we traverse through “what our mothers and girlfriends told us,” making our way, mostly by trial and error… especially when it comes to dating.
If you are “that age,” chances are you have a track record consisting of near misses, lustful longings, love found and the lost again, devastating decisions, and platonic relationships – take your pick… If you are very fortunate, true love in the form of a soul mate emerges.
Ladyjustice makes no such claim. I suppose near misses and “misplaced true love” are all that can be assigned here…
A somewhat limited resume in this area is not what was planned, but thrust upon LJ, for better or worse. “Coming close” counts only in horseshoes… and trying to maintain a long distance relationship is… well, trying! This blogger is confident that everyone can relate to this at some level… However, this topic was chosen to show another consideration, not usually encountered.
If you are delving into the dating scene and happen to have a physical disability, it can be a minefield …and a mind game. In fact, it’s a whole different ballgame, sports fans!
Even if you are well adjusted to your disability, very capable, fiercely independent, intellectual, educated, possess a decent countenance and body shape, the world still views you as “damaged goods.” Although we may not admit it, we, “the disabled,” probably spent the whole of our lives trying to measure up just to be equal to others. Consciously or unconsciously, we have dealt with outright rejection, both subtle and not so subtle forms of discrimination.
How one deals with such childhood and adult experiences tends to fall along a continuum. At one end (which this blogger dislikes), are those with a “chip on their shoulder” so wide and deep that their pain is palpable and their anger is cloaked in “confrontational advocacy.”
Political correctness aside, they look for opportunities to lash out at others and thereby give us a bad name as a group. The angry bunch say, “Look at me, I have a disability and it’s your fault.” Would ya’ want to date this person?? Neither would Ladyjustice!
Ladyjustice pretty much falls at the other end of the spectrum because… when it comes to accomplishments, she is invincible AND her outlook is positive! (Please spare us the whiners of the world who would have us believe that their complaints are of supreme importance.) Remember, compared to homicide, multiple surgeries, cancer, sexual abuse and tsunamis, everything else is NOTHING!
In order to be well adjusted with a disability, in LJ’s opinion, you must compensate well when challenges are presented, “think on your feet and out of the box” (i.e. always find a way- PROBLEM SOLVE), find other important things to do with your life/have goals and guard against “wearing your disability as a badge”… or on your sleeve. If you do, you will be viewed as “one of those strident miserable disabled people” who… among other things, attack others at handicapped parking spaces Whoa!
To be fair, all people have the blues or feel sorry for them occasionally, but a steady diet of it equal depression or worse!
So, a well adjusted “disabled person” should have no problem dating, RIGHT? WRONG! God bless those few people who have seen past the disability and seen the real Ladyjustice. God curse those who have used her good nature and played with her emotions!
Since the 1970’s & 80’s the bar scene was the place to meet, then singles dances followed by computer dating. LJ has always been at a disadvantage. She hates smoking with a passion and is “the cheapest of dates” when it comes to consumption of alcohol. Balancing those drinks, walking around and trying to be charming can be a tall order— like an acrobat on a wire! Singles Dances of the 80’s – small talk, “What’s your sign?” and all that bologna…
And dancing … Ladyjustice is not exactly Graceful Grace, but does try her best… even on rockin and rollin’ cruise ships!
Bad Memory #1–
LJ still recalls with horror the 8th Grade dance in which “a suitor” was paid to dance with yours truly, “damaged goods” unbeknownst to LJ until later…
Ladyjustice was never asked to any school proms either… nor did she throw up in any porcelain bowls! Whew!
Otherwise known as the Liar’s Haven, the Black Hole of the Unknown etc… It matters not which one – Match.com, E-Harmony, Pink Cupid or whatever…
They are all the same with a few tweaks here and there…
Our superficial society still cares about “skin deep” beauty- our advertisers’ barrage us over and over again. Social media seeks to know all about us in real time.
Consider the physically disabled person, in the old days, meeting for the first time in person. In the days of the guys, LJ made sure that she was seated first, as hers is not a hidden disability. And, when to bring up “the topic?” How to put this person at ease to reassure that this woman is not akin to a green alien? Please don’t assume that I need help with everything…. Ask me if I need help. I’ll tell you, but I usually decline. The responsibility is really on me to ask for assistance, IF NEEDED.
What about computer introductions, where everything is based upon the written word and a photo that is probably not current? This blogger always felt sorry for the poor saps that could not put a sentence together. It is based on writing ability to impress….
How many times did LJ read “Likes the beach, movies and long walks in the moonlight?” C’mon, where is your original thought, your creativity? LJ’s personal ad is stellar… and collecting dust! Ha!
Seriously, when do you share about your disability with a computer date? Certainly not the first interaction ….. usually the second. It is carefully planned and assuredly written as if “the disability” is a mere hangnail (which is the truth 99 % of the time for LJ).
In the past, LJ tried her best to convince the potential suitor that “it” was not an issue… and continued on with her impressive narrative about interests, goals and clever philosophies on life. However, for whatever reason, the computer date never responded after that second e-mail.
He or she just couldn’t do it… even with this very low maintenance woman. (As Chris Cagney said in one of the episodes of Cagney & Lacey, “You’re either a CACTUS- low maintenance, no attention required or a FERN- requires needs constant watering! What are you?)
Truthfully, when this blogger discovered her true, true orientation, even to herself, she was approaching her late 30’s…). Life is funny…. As a disabled person, this served to be a “good cover” for her true orientation because…. A lot of people, including parents think that those with disabilities are asexual. Not so! However, it is easier for families to think that versus dealing with the whole LGBT thing. No matter, LJ finally knew her true self.
Hidden Disability, Political Correctness & the Tea Party
Working for an agency for the blind, I currently have several colleagues who, to look at them, have no disability at all. However, their field of vision may be extremely limited requiring lots of lighting, contrast or assistive devices to recognize people, to read etc. But, you would never know!
This is an example of a “hidden disability.” Whether their plight in life or level of frustration or tolerance is different than LJ’s, one can’t say. It is an individual thing. (It is partly due to your type of upbringing, your ability to cope.)
Political correctness speaks to the superficiality of today’s society. Many egg shells have been broken and careers ruined stumbling over terminology. This blogger has no tolerance for blatant disrespect or ignorance. However, let’s get past labels and treat everyone with respect! I may have my preference in what label you use for my disability, but I won’t deck you if you use the wrong one! (It also appears to be generational).
Many years ago, before LJ’s true calling was known, her well intentioned mother cut out a newspaper article advertising a “social group for people with disabilities. “ This blogger thanked her, but in truth, LJ does not truly identify as a disabled person who necessarily wants to date another disabled person.
In fact, LJ is so functional, that unless she sees a reflection in a glass of her walking gait, it doesn’t occur to her that she is disabled. Well, maybe, 5% or so…. In that case, why identify as such sitting around eating tea sandwiches with others who are disabled?
It’s like being on the outside of the glass looking in…. Where does LJ fit? Who knows… It’s really about not limiting your definition of yourself to one thing….. and it’s about attitude!
Wonderful read…complex subject…and your future suitor is one lucky duck.