Love, disability, confusion

I feel about as sexy as a fig tree. That might sound negative, but I actually have quite a thing for fig trees: strong trunk, leafy excess. Unfortunately everyone else thinks I’m figging crazy.

This sums up my love life, somehow. In my head I’m strutting the streets like a Bee Gee, while in reality people only whistle at me when they’re afraid I’ll forget to look both ways as I cross the road. I’d rather stay inside my head. In my head I’m a woman’s man with no time  for a decent conversation.

I’ve been single now for a long long life time and I’m OK with it, I think. When I’m alone, I imagine that I’ve cracked the code of life. No partner means less stress and lots more choice, that I only have my own thoughts and desires to deal with. Yes, my life is a guilt-free journey of selfish gratification. But then I go to a park where smug couples feed each other celery sandwiches, or I go on Facebook where half my school friends have kids who are already approaching ten, or I talk to my friend who is addicted to and can’t stop thinking about sex, and suddenly I feel like I don’t quite belong anywhere.

Is it coz I iz disabled? It’s certainly not an advantage when it comes to attraction, but a lot of my disabled friends have found success just to complicate the soothing narrative I tell myself at night. They are so selfish it’s unbelievable. There was a poll done where 70% of people said they wouldn’t even consider having sex with someone physically disabled.  Cheers Observer, this is just the sort of assurance I needed. But still there’s the 30% who might possibly consider me as a potential match some day. Where can I find these people? Do they all live on the same street because that would be really convenient, mix and match until I find someone I actually get along with. Maybe the other 70% prefer their relationships platonic, right? Right.

I am so confused. On the one hand I am optimistic that I’d make a good partner and think it’s only a matter of time before somebody pays attention to my alt-rock ass. On the other hand I have been on this planet for nearly quarter of a century and it’s a still a big happy event just to have someone flirt with me (in a world where people flirt with lampposts just to pass the time).

Do I even want to experience love? Some of my friends do a terrific job at putting me off. They find me comforting to talk with about their latest miserable relationship because I sit there and act like a receptive, enlightened monk. My sex addict friend says he wishes he was me as he slobbers over his Tinder. Then there’s the breakup songs, the help-me-I’m-broken forums, that drunk couple in town who are always fighting over shallow nonsense (‘your friend’s a slag and my Dad hates you’).

Maybe I am the lucky one here. I have the choice to reject the system (by doing nothing differently). I’m a natural introvert and I’m fine on my own, watching some obscure movie without any background commentary. Better still, I’ve somehow managed to avoid social pressures of looking a certain way or acting like a gorilla just so someone will sleep with me for a bit and I can collect those important high-fives off the lads. Disabled people are so desexualised in the media that I could probably roam around Tesco naked to no criticism. At worst my carer would get the blame: how dare he let innocent wheelchair man get cold!

Not that I blame the media, not completely anyway. I blame brains hardwired towards the healthy ‘fit’ mate over those of us who’d have been a bear’s starter course in the caveman days. I also blame myself to some degree. My drive ends at the start of a dating website: too much effort for an uncertain destination. I keep pretending that if a relationship is meant to be it will develop organically. The problem with this is that my expectations are so low nowadays that it’s better for my sanity to assume that nobody is attracted to me unless they lick out my eyeballs and design a necklace out of them.

I’m not putting any pressure on myself to find love and my parents are piling all their pressure onto my older brother. Life is simple and carefree this way. But will I feel the same at fifty? This is what I keep wondering. When all my friends are married and reminiscing about their reckless twenties, I’ll have nothing to say. When they’re looking for advice on communicating with their spouse, I’ll have nothing to say. When they’re crying about their moody teenager, I’ll just laugh.

Or maybe I’ll figure something out before then. I caught a scene from The Holiday over Christmas where a drunk Jude Law turns up at Cameron Diaz’s holiday hut and they fall in love within minutes. It’d be such a romantic introduction, wouldn’t it? If a woman stumbled up to my house at 1AM, hairs ripped out of her head from a recent fight, a sprinkling of fresh vomit on her chin. I wouldn’t know her, she wouldn’t know me. I’d gaze into her dazed, distant eyes, smelling the WKD thick on her breath. She’s the one, I’d conclude, watching her upchuck onto my carpet.

On this one topic I feel like a child in a bank, listening to adults discuss the complexities of economics. It can bring pleasure and it can bring hardship, that’s all I know. My progress is slow  and occasionally very, very weird (trust me), but there have been little nuggets of hope along the way, enough to stop me retiring to my secret underground cave just yet.


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