Back in February I did a post that was the first in a list of 52 questions on Rose B. Fischer’s blog. It was part of an awareness raising campaign called Redefining Disability. I do mention my own disability a few times, I’ve seen a lot of campaigning for the raising of mental health awareness recently and I’m following the Models of Diversity campaign so I decided to join Rose’s Redefining Disability project and occasionally pick a question and talk about how my own disability affects me and my life.
The question I’ve chosen to talk about today is number 19 on Rose’s List.
In what other ways are your interpersonal relationships affected by disabilities? — Examples might be that it’s harder for you to form or maintain relationships or that people treat you differently once they realize you have a disability.
This one is a difficult one to write about because it has been a recent painful lesson in what friendship really is.
Mostly, nothing has changed with friends. They take me as they find me and all is good. I have one friend who calls me a teapot because she’s worried I’m going to break at any second. But she cares.
Online friendships are easy, if I’m here, typed words portray who I am, not what I can’t do.
Then there was the meal four weeks ago. A group of friends I keep in touch with every few months by going out for a drink or a meal. I hadn’t seen them for a while. They were already seated when I arrived, because, as usual, I was running five minutes late…
It was the first time they had seen me in my collar and didn’t know anything about the craniocervical instability. I didn’t even get to the first course. I managed to drink half a glass of wine before I left that restaurant in floods of tears.
One of the girls shouted (and yes I do mean shouted, in the middle of a busy restaurant on a Saturday night) at me, when I defended myself, that I wasn’t giving up on life, I was simply trying to tell them what was wrong and I had a good life, I had published a book and sold several thousand copies, she shouted – ‘Why the hell didn’t you lead with that? We don’t want to hear about this shit. We’re out to have a good night.’
At which point, I upped and left. I have not spoken to or heard from them since. Though one of the girls is training to be a nurse and followed me out and has been in touch, she wasn’t a part of it.
So, in the main, I haven’t experienced any changes in relationships – other than that one episode. It’s funny how you don’t see the real person through the mask they wear sometimes.
Real friendships are worth their weight in gold and more. They should be treasured. You never know when circumstances could change and one of you could need the other.
Kindness is free.