We’re Just Friends

In Mind, Body & Spirit, Pushing Forward by Ariel SilverSpirit

She gazed in through the doorway at the bar, a beautiful woman wishing to enjoy a few drinks and socialization. Her dress was attractive and flattering, but not too revealing. As she looked in, a few men passed her by, glancing quickly, one gave her a distasteful look, the other one ignored her. One man approached her and said, “You’re so beautiful, too bad you’re in that wheelchair.”

Her heart sank to the ground, as she tried not to let it show. She had a nice figure, shapely, pretty face. If no one saw the chair, they’d treat her as being “normal.”
“Would someone please help me?” she asked, knowing she could be ignored, laughed at, or teased.

A few big, strong men offered to lift her and her chair across the barrier. She was surprised, but grateful.

Once inside, she chose a table near the bar and asked for a beer. No one paid attention to her, till one of the men who helped her got the bartender’s attention. A man came by and began to make rude remarks about going to bed with him and her ability to “perform.” This was getting unbearable and she was ready to cry. Another man defended her, then sat down beside her and they had a nice conversation.

“So what happened to you?” he asked respectfully, “I’m not trying to be mean, I really want to know, and mean no disrespect.”

She could see he was sincere, explained what happened, and tried to steer the discussion away from her disability. After awhile, he felt more at ease and they talked of everyday things. The young woman was in college, studying hard and had a very active life, with friends, school, and family. They found they had many interests, and she gave him her phone number.

They saw each other a few times at different events, and became friends. It was nice to meet someone who was able to look beyond the physical difficulties into the person inside. When they returned to the bar, they were teased about sex and there were other very rude remarks. After awhile they just ignored the comments and had a good time. The bartender did nothing to stop the harrassment and the two friends decided never to go there again.

They remained friends for many years, enjoying each other’s company as naturally as able bodied couples do. Her condition is a minor issue, her friendship is what’s most important, and he was glad he met her. He often told others about her, and the wonderful friend he made. Being able to see past the chair helped him understand and not be afraid. If only more people were willing to do that, for any disabled person, they’ d see how capable we truly are.

When they went out together, they’d often get the usual stares we disabled people are subjected to, but it didn’t stop them from having a good time. Some people made rude remarks, others asked him questions about her, while ignoring her completely, and others asked her questions, but couldn’t get past the chair. Although it was very awkward at times, they learned to brush it off and enjoy themselves.

Their other friends took awhile to accept them as a couple, though some never did; the disabled friends insisted he’d dump her as soon as he found an able bodied woman he liked better, the “normal” friends said she’d be a burden to him and only drag him down. Few supported either of them, and their parents had mixed feelings.

Despite this, the couple was still friends, but never married.

Eventually, he saw less of her, her fears were coming true, and her heart was broken. No matter how well her relationships with able bodied people began, they always ended up the same way. Occasionally, they’d have lunch together, and talk on the phone, but she knew in her heart the words he could not say. She lost any hope of ever really fitting into this world.

What happened? Was he afraid she’d eventually need him too much, or was he ashamed to have a disabled woman for a wife? As the years went by, they did remain friends, but never got closer, and all he would say to anyone is, “we’re just friends, we have our own lives.” It seems that, although she was beautiful, the chair still got in the way.

He always spoke kindly of her, though it was obvious something was holding him back from being any more than just a friend. He didn’t have a job, though he was in college, but could barely support himself. She was in college too. It seemed like there were many barriers between them besides the chair, but always in the back of her mind, she sensed that if she could walk, she’d have a better chance at a future with him. She cared for him very much, and sometimes wished he’d propose to her, but it never happened, there was never even a hint of interest in going that far. When he stopped seeing her, her heart was shattered.

As she prepared for graduation, she wondered if she’d ever be able to adjust, find a job, and meet someone who’d marry her. She wondered if she’d end up with another disabled person, but knew that whoever he was, as long as he loved and accepted her, it’d be good enough. Because she was pretty, she had many friends and other dates, but after awhile, the dating stopped and she’d find herself alone, wondering.

One night, she was feeling very sad, and went out to a bar for a few drinks. As she got to the doorway, she noticed a small step. As she sat in the doorway, she gathered up all her courage and asked, “Will someone please help me?”


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