I know I’ve said this for almost every post, but for today it is really important. The topic I will be discussing is how you should treat your disabled friends. I wish this was common sense, but I guess for some people, they lack knowing how to act while hanging out with a person with any kind of disability in both private and publicly!
I am purely basing this off of my own experiences I had while I was in school, because this was the time that I saw anybody outside of my family really making the conscious decision to really hang out with me outside of having a sleep over and of course, seeing each other in classes. This was also the point in my life that I realized that I was truly different than my “friends” because whenever I was around them, I made myself forget that I was disabled. I wanted to be like them so badly that I never felt accepted to be myself, so I wanted to write this post for both sides.
I loved birthday parties! I enjoyed getting out of the house and spending time with my friends outside of school. Although, from the ages 7 to about 10, there wasn’t anything too major that we all did together. I never played spin the bottle or seven minutes in heaven like most preteens did. Now whenever I had birthday parties and sleepovers, I was in a more controlled environment and everybody was basically forced to do what I wanted to do. After my 7th birthday and having over 20+ kids, that included a bunch of rowdy boys, came over to our house, I never had boys over ever. So, I never really had the chance to play spin the bottle like I really wanted to!
I think my favorite parties were over at Haley and Zack’s houses. I’ve been friends with both of them for YEARS! I met Haley in kindergarten, she was my first true friend and Zack’s grandparents lived really close to mine, so we’d see each other almost every other weekend. Anyways, I loved going to their parties. Whenever I would go over to Haley’s, we would be indoors, but when I was attending Zack’s, we were mostly outdoors, sitting by the bonfire, or at least I was. Both made sure to include me as best as they could, but there were a lot of things that they were doing that I knew I couldn’t do, so I felt conflicted a lot of the times, but whenever I’d get in that little funk, I’d end up talking to their families. I love both of their mothers, and whenever I see them, we’ll talk and hug each other!
Once we all got into high school, it was almost like, everybody was too uncool to have sleepovers. I had the hardest time finding people that wanted or had the time to sleep over at my house. I rarely slept at anybody’s house other than my friend Haley and with my cousin Kristi. There was a reason for this though, after I had my back surgeries I grew a lot both in height and weight, in a short period of time, and it wasn’t until probably 2008 that I began to feel okay with somebody touching my back again. I was still pretty fragile by the time I hit middle school to the end of junior year of high school. This is why I only hung out at two people’s houses, because only two adults were really comfortable and basically took up the challenge to lift me up stairs, beds, couches, etc.
It wasn’t until the end of high school, were things really started to change. There is nothing like a broken heart, especially when it’s caused by your friends. Boys will come and go, but I think I cried more about not being to hang out with my friends. It was never like I wasn’t allowed to go out because my parents said so, it was the fact that nobody would do it. It wasn’t until my 18th birthday that I actually had a friend of mine, take me out. One person.
So, imagine the disappointment when I was told that I was going to get picked up to go out to eat with some friends and I never got a call or a text that said “they were right outside.” In that moment, I truly hated the body I was born in, because I thought if I wasn’t like this, I could be driving my own car, picking them up, and we’d be happy as clowns. Instead, I sat in my room permanently attached to my mom’s shoulder as the minutes trickled by and I received no messages.
It wasn’t until my mom basically said this is not right and packed us up, she texted my cousin Kristi to see if she wanted to go putt-putting that afternoon. While we were at a stop light, I got a text message from the same person I was supposed to be waiting on, asking if I was there already because they’d seen my mom’s car–still didn’t get the message that they were going to pick me up like they said–so I quickly realized that the whole thing was a big joke and that I got excited for no absolutely fucking reason! I know it’s been over 8 years, but I still feel somewhat hurt about this! Friends should never make you feel like that, ever! I can never literally look forward to anything because of this one outing that never happened. It’s okay though, my mom, sister, Kristi and I had fun at miniature golf anyways!
I do worry about these younger generation of disabled kids and teens, because I know how I was and how I dealt with my pain of never feeling like you are enough for roughly anybody. It wasn’t healthy and I know that now. It wasn’t until 2012, two years after I graduated from high school, that I truly began to really love myself for who I was. I started treating myself better! Unfortunately, I’m still not good at keeping up with my friendships, and it’s probably stemmed from this past experiences and other stuff. That’s why it’s highly important to always remember to treat your friends, whether they are able or disabled, like you would want to be treated.
Do you have any advice for the younger generations on how to treat other people? Were you ever put in the same situations? How did you make it out? Let me know!