J: Hi Everyone! C: Hi!
J: Recently Scope, the disability charity, have started a campaign called #EndTheAwkward
which is supposed to end the awkwardness around talking about disability.
We are going to talk about what it’s like to be in a relationship when one of you has a disability and one of you doesn’t.
And various people have asked us various questions about what it’s like, so we thought we would answer some of them.
So one of the questions that I get asked quite a lot actually is
did I hide my disability from Claudia? and I think I’m pretty open about it.
I’m very open about having a disability, but obviously I’ve had it for such a long time.
C: Well we met online, so actually I only saw photos and
if I’d maybe really looked I maybe would have seen your hearing aids, but I wasn’t looking out for like
does she wear hearing aids? Does she have a walking stick? Is she in a wheelchair?
You know, I wasn’t searching for those, and then when we met up for our first date,
you were like typing away on your little laptop and you had that little thing in your ear,
and I thought, I immediately just thought it was one of those like really sort of Noughties kind of
erm, bluetooth handsfree kits. And then we started chatting and then I think
I then did notice that they were actually hearing aids.
J: There were two of them, and they were still in my head.
C: Yeah, so then I was like ‘ok’, but I didn’t think anything of it,
and then as the date went on you were just kind of quite open and like ‘yeah, did you know, erm,
I’m actually I’m completely deaf and I lipread’
and so I was like ‘but how do you sound so like, how do you have such good pronunciation’ and she said
‘Oh, well I only lost my hearing when I was twelve and I taught myself how to pronounce before I lost
my hearing completely’ and I thought ‘Oh, that makes sense’.
And then she said ‘Oh and also did you know I’m blind in one eye?’ and I was like ‘No. How would I know that?’
You can’t tell. I don’t know what they think is going to happen. They’re gonna ‘really, can you see?
how many fingers?’ and you’re like ‘Oh my god! Two! I can suddenly see with that eye’.
Yeah, and then I was like ‘How come you’re blind in one eye and you’re deaf?’ and she was like
“Oh, I’ve got a rare condition’ and then we just carried on our date
and I had a really nice time, and yeah, I did go home and google those conditions
because I was like, well what are they? As I’d never heard of those things before.
You know just the same reason you would… J: You googled other things about me.
C: Oh yeah, the thing that I was worried about more from your big reveal was that you were a quaker.
I was like ok, is she some weird like, is this some weird like cult where they like don’t drink alcohol
Do they believe in sex before marriage?
Because that would be a kind of… J: That was the main concern.
C: That was the main concern of what i googled actually, that night. J: Yup.
C: Physical attraction was there, despite her physical disabilities. J: Aww.
C: So she wasn’t lacking in any way, to me. J: Aww, that’s so sweet.
J: Our meeting, obviously, there weren’t many things that actually seemed to faze you at all,
but then when we actually started to date and you were staying at mine more,
I think it kind of brought home to you that things were a bit…
C: Yeah, I think the main thing was, erm, that you had like a carer, that would come in
erm, everyday, it was then.
J: All the help that you do now.
C: Yeah. So um, so you had this carer who was a lovely little Irish lady,
but quite like…
J: As someone with a disability, you’re so used to not having…
erm, any issues with your personal space, there is no privacy, there was no such thing.
Because if you need someone to come and help you in the shower, you can’t then be like,
‘Oh no, but don’t look, I’m so embarassed. But please wash me’.
C: So one example of this particularly was
I was round at Jessica’s house and we were in her bedroom in her bed,
and it was like early morning and we’d woken up and we were like, you know…
expressing our attraction to one another, and um, suddenly a knock on the door and it was like,
J: ‘Helloo’ C: Yeah, ‘Helloo’. And um and you were like ‘one minute, we’ll be out in a minute’
and she just didn’t really listen to that and she came straight in
and I was like ‘Bloody hell’ and like pulled the duvet right up over my naked body.
She was just like ‘Oh, sorry about that, yeah’. And then like,
J: And then she sat on the bed! C: And then she was like ‘Oh, don’t worry about me, I’ve seen it all before’.
J: ‘Don’t worry about me!’ C: Is that Irish? I don’t know.
C: Yeah, anyway, then she just sat on the bed as I was just sitting here like ‘Errr’
and then she was like ‘Ok’, so she just stood up
completely stark naked and walked around while this little old lady was just like
‘Oh, what are you guys doing today?’ and I was just like ‘Erm,
is anyone else finding this whole situation a little bit, like, unusual?
This is not normal. Erm. In the end I was just, ‘Oh, sod it’ and got my tits out in front of her as well,
because I had to get up to get changed.
And then you chucked me a nightie, didn’t you. You were like ‘put that on’.
J: Yeah and then when we moved into the new house obviously we had to trial lots of different carers,
and see who worked and who didn’t, and you were much more open to having people.
C: Yeah so when I first started telling people about Jessica i was like ‘ Yeah, like, this is her’.
She had a photo and everyone was like ‘Wow, she’s so hot, she’s really nice’.
I was like ‘Yeah, so also she has this really rare condition…’ J: two of them.
C: ‘which makes her erm, you know, a nerve condition, which makes her blah blah blah’
because that sounds like a lot of things to get used to.
It’s like…’ J: yeah C: It’s almost like they were suspicious of you because you didn’t drink.
And then they were like ‘Why can’t you eat sugar though? What actually happens?’
They were a bit like, are you just one of those like health conscious control freaks.
J: Yeah, this is too many medical issues here.
You must be a freak. C: Yeah. You must be a fake.
J: But then I’d just, you know, be open with my story. Here you go.
Here’s what I’ve got, here’s what it does to me.
C: To be honest at the end of the day, it doesn’t like effect them, so why should they be bothered by it?
Like, why should it bother them that you don’t eat certain food and don’t drink alcohol.
C: Well, I think your chronic fatigue effects it quite a bit. Sometimes you just crash.
Yeah, which is fine. Normally we manage it fine, I’m like ‘ok’. You know, I help you to bed or you lie down.
I mean, to be honest you manage it pretty well. But when it goes wrong is when I’m also feeling pretty tired,
and I’m in a bad mood. J: Yeah. C: And I feel a bit like, well I can be tired… like…
it’s so unfair that you get to be tired all the time, what about me? I want to be tired today.
J: I do this thing called ‘ragdoll’ where I just get beyond the limit
of tiredness, and my body just stops.
C: You always say that the thing you like about me is that I just kind of carry on.
J: Oh yeah, I know. The thing I absolutely love is that you just carry on,
is that you’re just like… C: Like just now, she just fell up the stairs onto her head.
Not fell up like dramatically, but just like a slow motion like….
J: I just faint every now and then.
C: And I just carried on drinking my tea and then turned around and then saw her like,
faceplanted on the stairs and I was just like ‘Are you ok darling?’ “Yeah’
J: My favourite part of that though is that when I’m all floppy and tired and useless and ill
and you’re helping me up the stairs, you still squeeze my bum.
C: It doesn’t sound that good. J: No, it’s so important, it really is,
because I think when you’re a disabled person and you’re dating there are these two camps
that people fall in. Either where they’re like ‘Oh my god, no, I can’t cope with that. Please leave’.
And the other camp where they’re like ‘Yes, let me mother you’.
And they turn you into this weird, non-sexual object that they are going to look after forever.
C: It’s just like anything. It’s just the way life is and that’s just what you get used to.
J: Human being. C: As I said at the beginning, it’s what you have, it’s not what you lack,
or what you’re… it’s not your flaws is it. It’s what you give and have. And then that overrides any negatives.
They shouldn’t even be seen as negatives. They’re just things you just deal with.