The beauty of disabled/abled relationships
An insider’s look at relationships between a disabled person and an abled one
Relationships between a disabled person and an abled person are really misunderstood. It’s often presumed that they’re really one-sided. That surely someone who needs extra care isn’t capable of giving care in return. The abled person is painted as being saintly, the hero of the story. Someone who deserves a medal (yes, this has been said to us) or some people feel sorry for because surely being with a disabled person must be a burden? A relationship devoid of sex and joy.
Maybe there are disabled/abled relationships like that out there. Just like I’m sure there are abled relationships that are one-sided, joyless and sexless, too. All relationships are different, but ableism and the ablegaze (the way able-bodied people perceive disability) see disabled/abled ones as being a negative thing, because ableism sees being disabled as a negative thing.
“No, my partner doesn’t deserve a medal for being with me”
I can’t speak for all disabled/abled relationships, but I can speak for mine, and I know from the curious glances we get when we’re out together that Jase being my partner is not the first thought people have. I’d wager it’s “carer,” closely followed by “kind friend”. Insert many eye rolls here.
Our relationship isn’t one-sided. Jase is not the sole carer. The notion that disabled people require more care means they can’t give care in return is silly nonsense. We both give care to each other in different ways. He helps me take my shoes off at the end of the day. I help him pick clothes that aren’t terrible. He helps me up if I fall. I listen to his worries when they arise. He pushes my chair if I get tired. I stroke his head when he is. He helps with any continence needs I might have, and I squeeze his spots.
We both give and care in different ways. We hold each other on our good days and our bad days, and we both bring very different things to the relationship. I can’t walk and Jase can never find his keys. Jase takes on more housework, but I do pretty much all the organizational stuff in our lives. We all know how boring life admin is (pretty sure, I’m the one who deserves a medal), but hey, if you need to book a dentist appointment, I’m your girl.
Yeah, he’s seen some stuff that some people would be embarrassed by but aren’t those some of the best moments in any relationship? Those times when you’re vulnerable and you let someone take care of you, and they DO take care of you. Those intimacy-forming moments do nothing but bring you closer together. We gave up inhibitions a long, long time ago and unsurprisingly that makes for some really brilliant sex.
I’m not lucky to have Jase because I’m disabled. I’m not grateful to have Jase because I’m disabled. I’m lucky to have him just like he’s lucky to have me. Disabled people aren’t any less worthy of love and affection than non-disabled people. A disabled/abled relationship can be just as wonderful, magical and saucy as a non-disabled one.