Sunday, October 12, 2008

The "D" Words

Before or after reading this post I recommend readers look over this related article written by Loolwa Khazzoom.

Let us get right down to it.

In my world there are two words that have the ability to literally stop me in my tracks and send me diving for the comfort of my cozy bed. Well, maybe not diving exactly. More like carefully plopping down. -smirk-

The words are Dating and Disability.

They seem harmless enough individually but when one tries to mesh them together...It's alot like mixing poka-dots with stripes. It can be done but the results aren't always pretty. I basically discovered the concept of dating later than many of my peers. As a pre-teen and younger teenager I simply had other more important and interesting things to occupy my time with.

That being said like any teenager coming of age I wasn't completely immune to the callings of nature. during my early to mid teens my chronic illness was still largely unnoticeable to other people. It was however blatantly noticeable to me and for awhile the sheer emotional strain and unyielding pain and sensitivity to touch caused me to violently recoil from human contact all together. I remember being angry more than anything else. Angry that the very gestures which were meant to comfort and sooth me were to physically painful to bear.

It should be noted that while I was in debilitating pain often, a steady diet of humor and high quality prescription narcotics largely kept me participating in the world as much as my constitution would allow. I also had really great friends during the brunt of the really bad years. Though many of them have since moved on to other things I will always be grateful for the years of memories they made with me. Really, thanks to my friends and family, some of the most painful times in my life were also some of the happiest to date.

Speaking of dating, I digress.

Now a days Chronic Pain is just a corner of the greater equation. Now I must contend with long term disability and disfigurement both of which I've learned to handle with grace and dignity up to a point. Dating still remains a confusing and delicate arena however.

No matter how confidant I am going in I'm inevitably forced to contemplate several questions:

  • How much should I reveal about my condition and at what point in a new relationship (romantic or otherwise) should it be talked about?

  • How do I deal with the physical and emotional needs of my partner and I in terms of sex and other physical expressions of feelings?

  • How can I have a romantic and deeply personal relationship with a potential partner without placing them in a care taker type of role?

  • How can I maintain healthy personal boundaries while still sharing myself freely with someone else?

  • How do I meet available people if I am dependent on others for transportation and other critical life areas?

  • How do I ensure my dating experiance is safe and positive?

Now that I'm entering the begining of my mid-twenties answering some, if not all, of these kinds of questions as become a full time job. Why is it sauch a big deal? It's a big deal because in spite of my Chronic Ilness and disability, I need and want fulfilling relationships to be apart of my life to.

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