July 2, 2021

Disability in a relationship

By rosieweldon

Last summer I wrote a blog about the fear of getting into a relationship and how I worried my need for day-to-day help would impact it. I wrote of being scared of taking a risk to let someone help me when it could be used to manipulate me. Unbeknown to me at the time, just weeks later I started talking to my girlfriend!

So, I thought I’d write a year on, comparing those fears with the reality of a relationship where there are definitely times that my girlfriend is more of a carer role than a romantic one.

I hate needing people. It’s as simple as that. Life has taught me that needing people is a weakness that will be used against you. I will do anything to do things for myself and not ask for help. Which of course, I can’t. For starters nobody can never need anyone, that would be impossible. But for me, as an autistic adult, I especially need people.

When people tell me, ‘Everyone needs help sometimes’, it makes me think of this clip from ‘love and other drugs’ (the woman has Parkinson’s disease):

‘I’m gonna need you more than you need me’, just about sums up how I feel in my relationship. I will always need her more than she needs me. I will need her every day for the little things and sometimes for the big things.

Considering my blog last year, and my experience of needing people being held against me, it’s a miracle I am so happy in a relationship where I have to lean on someone. The reason for that is, like Jake’s character says in the clip, he wouldn’t want it any other way.

Being autistic makes me who I am. Whenever I have a bad experience and wish away autism, my partner is always quick to say she wouldn’t want me any different. Autism affects every part of my behaviour and is an integral part of who I am. My partner and I share an incredible connection, would it be there if I wasn’t autistic?

I would give anything, be anything, do anything for my partner. I know whatever happens in her life I would stand by her 100%. I love her far more than any condition or circumstance. And that is what I have to remind myself to believe her words that she doesn’t care if I need help.

I am in the process of appealing a PIP decision (complete nightmare) and need to send a letter recorded delivery. I started researching ways to do it from home and became set on not asking my partner to go to the post office for me as I cannot do it (I could go with her but couldn’t talk). She just raised her eyes at me and smiled, with it written across her face to just stop and let her do it.

My relationship with my partner has reminded me something from my diagnostic path that I became complacent about. It is wasted energy to wish for something impossible. It’s quite frankly, stupid. I can’t wish I didn’t need help; I can’t be mad that I need my partner. In fact, the anger I hold at needing help is more toxic to our relationship than needing the help itself.

To spend a life bitter at my condition and circumstance is a waste of energy, a drain on happiness. And it’s one that doesn’t need to be there.

As she raised her eyes at me about the PIP letter, I quickly dropped it, realising I would frustrate her more by fighting to do it myself.

I’ve seen needing help pull apart relationships. It’s not in the needing of the help, it’s in the bitterness of needing that help.

So yes, I hate that I need help, but the love I have for my partner will always steer me to quiet acceptance over bitter anger. A calm, ‘oh okay’ and plan to go to the post office with her if I can.

I have found peace in the dynamic of our relationship. Knowing that while I do need more help, the intent to want to help, and make each other’s lives easier, is equal. It is an unchangeable condition that knocks the balance. A condition that neither of us have control over.

If you have people in your life that support you, please remember that gratitude and acceptance create a much more stable friendship/relationship than bitterness and frustration.

You can’t control needing help, you can control your reaction to it.

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