“Do you think some people only see your disease/disability, not all of you?”

When I was thirteen, I received a friend request on social media from a guy in another state. We were both part of the same academic/leadership organization, and we were going to spend some of the summer together at a convention and a camp. Almost immediately after I accepted the friend request, the guy started messaging me. He acted like he really wanted to get to know me.

After conversing with him for a few months, I realized he had a crush on me. He would call me several times a week. He would tell me how excited he was to meet me in person. He even planned out the day we would finally meet. But when that long awaited day finally came, one of my biggest fears became my reality. With butterflies in my stomach, I watched the guy turn around and walk away right after he saw me.

This guy, the guy who sought me out and conversed with me for months, spent most of our time that summer with other people. He acted like he didn’t want to be seen with me. Toward the end of our time together, I finally asked, “What happened? Why won’t you talk to me anymore?” The guy looked at my hands and said, “Did you know you don’t have any pictures of your hands online?” Then he walked away again. He was just the first of a few guys to walk away because of my appearance.

Before my husband (Ethan) and I started dating, a male friend said, “Never let Ethan go. He sees what’s on the inside of you, not just what’s on the outside… like I do.” Truthfully, Ethan sees what’s on the outside. When I asked if my hands have ever bothered him, he said, “No. You’ve always been ‘Lindsey’ to me, and your hands are part of what makes you who you are.”

We write these posts as reminders to see people as they are and refuse to devalue or degrade them because they’re not like you. Instead, value what makes them different and strive to see them as more than their diseases/disabilities.

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