The morning after date night with The Banker, I woke up and sifted through my memories of the previous evening, stopping to ruminate on the worst one. As one does. In fact it was a good night; a great night even, and I’m pissed at myself for giving attention to the only negative part of it, but here we are. And you didn’t click this bait to hear about the charcuterie and the champagne, anyway. You’re here because you wanna hear about how some a-hole othered me.
Thanks to MS, my walking looks ugly. I’m not in the habit of mean-girling myself, and I’m grateful to be walking at all, but if I’m being real, my walking isn’t cute. It’s bent and twisted, unsteady and insecure. It has more than oncebeen referred to as Frankensteinian. Adding insult to injury, it happens in sloth-like slow-motion. Even when I’m rushing, I can’t help but move slowly. So impossibly slowly. Wherever I go, my stride draws stares of fascination and concern; stares that I swear I can physically feel. I know how uncomfortable it makes people to watch me walk, and yet, nobody seems to look away.
In these moments, I, who am normally so self-possessed, so confident and cool, feel reduced; self-conscious and self-loathing of my un-co-operative body. My poor, wayward body, that’s just trying to do its job, and doesn’t need any extra attitude from me. I feel desperate to remove myself from these situations as quickly as possible, but quick just isn’t possible. And so I want to scream Don’t look at me! But instead, I smile weakly and I apologize.
For being in the way. For taking up space. For being inconvenient.
Last night as we were leaving our favourite French bistro that is far too cramped to comfortably accommodate a rollator, I made my way through a maze of tables, dodging busy waiters, with a cane on my left and The Banker on my right, while muttering “excuse me”, and “I’m sorry” on repeat. I tried to tell myself I wasn’t making a scene; that it really is self-indulgent of me to think everyone in the room was absorbed in my struggle to get to the front door, when a diner two tables away, in a tone that could only be considered admiration, called out to The Banker “You’re a good man”.
Quick. Somebody get him a medal.
What’s the bfd? The Banker is a good man, maybe even the best man. But that rando doesn’t know that.And his comment stung.All he knows is that a man who looks like he almost certainly works at a bank, had dinner with a beautiful, if slightly busted, woman. This douchebag diner, who looked at me, but wouldn’t look me in the eye, was so impressed by our togetherness, he felt compelled to publicly compliment it. Well, part of it. The implication being that there is something extraordinary about someone like The Banker being with someone like me; the lucky girl this virtuous man took pity on. What in the fucking fuck.
I know this is bullshit. I know it shouldn’t matter what other people think. I even know I’m over-reacting. Normally, this is the part where I say something wise and uplifting, or at the very least hopeful, but this time I got nothing. I guess I’m still getting used to my disease walking into a room before I do.
30 thoughts on “Sorry. Dating Me Doesn’t Make You A Good Person”
Thanks for your post. Very real… And the adjusting never ends.
I’m hoping your banker replied (or at least intended to), that he’s the lucky one. Cuz, he is….But, that sucks & I’m sorry you have to experience it.
Overreacting? What? Well, you have no latin blood. I would have shout at this diner. I would have ask him why is the Banker such a good man? And please, look at me in the eye while answering. I would have cause a scandal.
I must confess that my "Banker", who would be better called The Biker, doesn't let me apologize all the time for being in the way, for being inconvenient. On the contrary, he demands that I take all the space I need, all the time I need. Others can wait, he says. Reading your post, I realize that I start to get the lesson.
All this being said, your post is – as usual – so relevant, true, well written, acute and lucid. I don't comment on every post you write, I must refrain myself, but you have a diehard fan here. Keep on smiling, but stop apologizing, don't even think about it. Maybe this will shut the mouth to the idiots. Cheers.
Yeah, but it does matter. The image we have of ourselves in wrapped up in how we get reflected back. Muggles find the roundaboutest ways to be ableist and to to shame and belittle us. And it does sting. My response (usually said only to myself) is "Is my wheelchair in your way? You try it." Keep strutting, sister.
This reminded me of something that happen about 8 years ago, when I was still driving and walking with a cane, but obviously very disabled. I would go to the local Y to exercise in the heated pool several times a week. I was struggling to change in the changing room, and a woman was staring at me with pity: clearly she knew in 5 seconds everything she needed to know about me-I was pathetic, disabled and solitary. Well, my daughter ran up to me just then and gave me big hug and yelled,"Mommy". You could have knocked this woman over with a feather. Her jaw literally dropped. Somehow, the last bastion of acceptable prejudice and preconceived beliefs is against disabled people.
I tried to comment but I think I messed it up! Here's what I tried to say…You've actually told me more than once, in my recent past, that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Like I stick out like a big old pathetic sore thumb and while my examples are usually more work-related, I completely relate to this in so many ways. The way you described the walk and how you feel when you do it is the first time it ever really hit me in the feels – how not alone I am in this mess. You described how I feel in similar situations so well, it almost freaks me out. But that's why I'm your biggest fan. Well, probably your second biggest fan (after The Banker).
I am a 58 year young woman who is now considering dating again and I hate that I am now in a wheelchair due to this sucky disease. When I saw the post I had to read on because you feel exactly how I feel. Now my big reveal I have to tell this guy I have been texting with that I have MS and am now in a wheelchair. How I look at it he will quickly block my number and forget he has ever heard of me. My little bit of bravery will go down in flames. Who really knows? I never thought of feeling bad for my body. I always think why am I stuck with this anti graceful body that can’t fight this damn disease. I may have to ease up on it and have a bit more understanding for it. Thank you for the New Attitude!
I hear ya… 51, in a chair, and single…
Please listen to next week’s podcast. All about dating with progressive MS.
My friend, it saddens me that there are ingnorant people in this world that have no fkn clue about the definition of couth! Your feelings are justified but never, ever let these “little” insignificant people affect your confidence.
Here’s to a fantastic next date where the only thing that upsets you is how long it takes for your cocktail to arrive to the table!
Thanks for reading, Val. You're right. Just when I think I've nailed this.
Thanks Lainie. It's always kind of stunning in these situations – you think of what you should have said after. As it was we both just kind of stared, with a wtf look.
Thanks for writing Marie. I'm so happy to hear you're a die-hard fan.
Sounds like your Biker has the right idea.
Thanks Stephen. What's so hard to reconcile is that when people say things like this they think they are paying a compliment, but in truth it diminishes us both. Even Slytherins have feelings.
I think this can happen when we don't see diversity in our communities and then again when we don't see it reflected in media. Like, of course you can have a disability and be a mom. Wow.
Thanks Beth. I hate that other people are going through this, but there is something so deeply comforting in knowing that in some alternate universe, this is somehow completely normal.
I'm kind of dying to know what happens when you tell this guy. I recently wrote a thing about when to tell the guy you're dating about your disease. (https://www.trippingonair.com/2018/04/when-you-should-tell-your-date-about.html).
Be brave! You're worth it.
And that is why we always have at least one drink before we go for dinner!
Well this is a timely post. I'm going through this very thing – with my walking so very slow, my legs dragging, bent and insecure… Thanks for writing about this and for describing the experience with such honesty – and about the desire sometimes to not be seen. Not 'like this' anyway. You have a gift for this – it's amazing. And I neglected to comment on your 'when should I tell a date post' – that it was perfect how you ended the tale – a LOVE STORY.
I've decided to wear very red lipstick and pretend I'm royalty, and that my pace is regal and fully intentional. If my balance is feeling good enough to let go of my grip of my rollator, I will consider giving a royal wave. As my mother used to say "If you can't hide it, decorate it".
I have recently found your site, and am catching up on your great posts. You've helped me get "me" back… if that makes any sense. With my regained and renewed confidence, I'm getting back out there. I may never wear my heels again, but hey, I can do painted nails and lips, and to hell with the stares and the ignorant comments. There's no room, no time and no need for that in our lives.
It's been many years since I graduated but I still remember the words of my PhD advisor, "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt" and "A closed mouth gathers no foot".
I first read this as "A closed mouth gathers no FOOD" and I was like, wow, that is truth. Nor does a closed mouth gather wine. I dunno Joe. This is a conundrum.
Diane, I'm sorry for the lateness of this reply (I temporarily lost all my comments). Thank you so much for this note. It is truly humbling for me to imagine that anything I write could help someone regain their confidence. If I have contributed to that, then I am honoured. Thank you for reaching out.
It was a stupid fucked up ignorant comment. I I feel your frustration. I went out to eat and on the way to the bathroom was told “looks like someone had too much to drink”. I wanted to tell them to go screw themselves.
I may have made a mistake. I was walking the other day and I passed the front yard of a house. There was a mother – slender and attractive, carrying two children piggy back. The father (I presume) looked on because his arm was in a sling. As I walked by I called out to the mom, “He’s lucky he’s in a sling otherwise he would have had to carry one of the kids”. I heard a neighbour laugh, the mother agreed that he was lucky. But thinking it over, I realised that I had no idea of the tragedy which resulted in the arm in a sling.
My first noticeable symptom was aphasia. Since then, I test whether I can make a joke (silly or otherwise) when I see an unusual situation. I test whether I can find the right words, I test whether I can speak the words, I test whether I can speak in my usual voice and I test whether I can put on an agreeable expression. I think I passed all these tests.
Not understanding disabilities is like a pandemic of sorts. People don’t seem to understand that having some body parts not working “normally” and therefor having someone help does not make you some kind of lesser person nor the person helping you some kind of hero. But just loving and caring.
Illigitimi non carborundum !