Disability and Relationships: The Family Component
I recently had a very interesting conversation with a good friend of mine, and he made me think about a component of relationships and disabled persons, that I hadn’t thought of in a very long time. Thank you for that.
I remember being about 17, and I was dating this really beautiful Asian woman (read: girl) I have to remember I was only 17. Anyway, we had been getting pretty serious. And the time was on the horizon for me to meet her family. She had talked about me with glowing reviews like I was some GRADE A restaurant on yelp or something. I thought that was pretty awesome.
Well, dinner night finally arrived, we had dinner at a local PF Chang’s restaurant. Her parents were a very traditional Asian family, and that usually means in my experience, that if they don’t like you they aren’t very polite about it. The dinner was horrible, they kept talking to each other in Vietnamese, never looking me in the eye. And then in English, my girlfriend and her parents began to argue. The main theme of their argument can be summed up in the following sentence: do you really think he can take care of you? Just look at him! He isn’t even a whole man. I felt like Ashton Kutcher on Guess Who?
My young naïve ass was thinking that we might get married, but eventually her decision essentially came down to me or her family. Let’s just say, she didn’t choose me.
For a culture that claims to base its paradigm of romance and romantic relationships on love, we sure don’t adhere to those lofty values too often in the face of pressure, and who could blame us? We’re only human. But when were in a relationship with someone, we often don’t think about the amount of pressure our family or friends may put on us.
There’s nothing unique about the circumstances in this story, except for the fact that I have cerebral palsy. In many circumstances I’ve heard of, this kind of behavior would be considered bigotry, but in my case it ultimately came down to what a lot of people claimed was “common sense.” Just food for thought… Anybody care to share any thoughts or stories? Let’s talk!