Erin Kelly believes there’s more to love and friendship than what society portrays.
I’ve never thought of myself as attractive, cute—and certainly not sexy. Truth be told, I’m the furthest thing from any of those adjectives.
I’ve always thought the term “bombshell” was reserved for those who had something to show for themselves—something that everybody wanted but no one could have for whatever reason. I never thought I had anything that anybody wanted—nor did I think I was someone that people wanted to be around or spend time with.
Money, fame, notoriety and the looks to go with it just sounded so unappealing to me, especially if it was just for the sake of “being famous”. However, it wasn’t just the whole idea of spoils, grand gestures and beauty that rubbed me the wrong way.
It was the fact that the outside world gauged my success based on my cerebral palsy—and that society holds tight to the notion that “love” translates to sex and a “relationship” means courtship.
Everyone wanted to see if I’d let my disability get in the way of me succeeding at anything. Everything I did was a test, especially when came to my interactions with others.
That was—and still is—one of the most difficult aspects of having a disability. It’s not so much that I’ve had “friends” fade in and out of my life. I understand that’s unfortunately a common occurrence of human existence, no matter who you are or where you come from.
The most difficult part for me, however, is simply letting at least five or six months pass in between visits. Part of me is well aware that that’s just the vicious cycle of adulthood. The other part of me knows that everyone comes a point in life where their back is against the wall, and they find out who their true friends are.
My cerebral palsy—and everything that comes with it—is a vital part of that process. My closet friends know that as well as I do. It’s the water that makes the seed grow, the motor on the engine. It took some real soul-searching on my end to feel comfortable with that, however.
My wheelchair was the main reason why I thought I didn’t have anything that anyone would want. I spent most of my .childhood thinking my chair was the only thing people noticed about me—because it was. Then, a certain handful of angels started to trickle into my life one by one. They might have earned their wings before they crossed my path. But they’ve earned a second set of wings just by looking passed my shadow.
I’m tremendously grateful for that. With that gratefulness, however, comes a new, personal appreciation for the word “relationship”. Each of my friends came into my life when I was at my lowest or when I was missing something. Individually, they’ve taught me invaluable lessons about film, food, laughter and love—but collectively, they’ve taught me what true beauty is. The thing that means the most to me is the fact that they’ve all done it in their own unique way.
They come from all corners of the world, and they know my cerebral palsy often dictates when and where I see them. Miles and geographic differences aren’t as big a factor as they once were, as most of them now live within driving distance.—but even that is a hard pill to swallow.
It’s never been a matter of jumping in the car and going to see them. I’m extremely fortunate that they not only understand that, but are mindful of it as well. I’ve vicariously been to Thailand, Japan, India and The United Arab Emirates—among other places—through souvenirs and pictures my friends have either sent or brought back for me. It’s a gesture that I know comes from the heart, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There’s something special about knowing you selflessly share something that the person sitting next to you doesn’t have. It’s even more special when you can grow from the experiences people in your life share with you.
My friends have given me more love than I could ever ask for. My only hope is that I’ve at least done something for them—and if we’ve redefined anything,
I hope it’s the idea that you don’t have to be “sexy” to be sexy.Photo Credit: flickrPrince/Flickr