on rejection, the worst part of dating

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A few days ago, a friend (whom I met through this blog and who also happens to have one arm) told me about a recent dating experience. Just like I used to do, she tends to hide her limb difference when around members of the opposite sex, so the guy she’d been seeing had no clue about her arm. I encouraged her to be open with him and confident in herself, but things didn’t go very well after the Big Reveal. Surprisingly, he reacted like a complete jerk; he was reluctant to see her arm and basically dropped all contact with her. Not cool. And it’s not the only rejection I heard about this past week.

On the “Women Tell All” special episode of The Bachelor, limb different contestant Sarah Herron spills all about the pain she felt after Sean Lowe told her she was not the one for him. “It’s the worst to be told ‘you’re great, but you’re not good enough for me,'” she says. “I always fall back on, ‘Oh well, it must be because I have one arm.'” It’s a heartbreaking moment as the audience sees Sarah fighting back tears. And it brought me back to the times when no boys wanted to dance with me at parties and my 6th grade crush told me my shorter arm was ugly. So for the sake of honesty here, I’ll confess this: I cried after watching the show. I know exactly how Sarah felt, and I cried for her and for my friend and for myself and for any girl living with a physical difference in a superficial world.

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But here’s the thing that may just shed a little light and hope on this sort of situation – we’ve all been there. Turn on the TV or pick up a book or magazine, and I doubt you’ll have too much trouble finding a scene where a beautiful and seemingly perfect girl with two arms faces rejection from the guy she wants. Rejection is not a phenomenon exclusive to women with limb differences. People get rejected for all sorts of reasons, whether or not they have a disability. I know there are a few moms who read my blog who have young children with limb differences, and I’ve been hearing a lot of worries about their kids’ future love life. All I can really say is that dating isn’t easy for anyone. You will have to comfort your daughter after her first breakup and console your son after his first crush doesn’t pay any attention to him. But the fact is that you’ll have to do that with any kid, limb difference or not.

And when it comes down to it, a limb difference isn’t an automatic deal-breaker for most people. Just because you’re missing a limb doesn’t mean that all guys are going to reject you. It bothers me so much when people tell me or anyone with a difference that there will be a man who won’t be “shallow” and will look “past the disability.” That almost makes it sound as though a limb difference is some horrible deformity that makes you totally undesirable, which is completely untrue. I’m sure there are plenty of guys interested in girls like my friend or like Sarah simply because they’re gorgeous. A missing arm is not something a man should have to “accept” or “look past.”

215637_10151415710297642_1891414064_nI know I’ve been very insecure about my arm throughout my life, but I feel comfortable knowing that my boyfriend loves all of me just as I am. He’s there for me and he’s happy with the way I look, even with messy hair and 1.5 arms. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here before, but he’s the one who inspired me to start blogging about my limb difference. And it’s definitely made me realize that I’m not alone and that I’m worth loving.

There’s not really anything comforting or intelligent I can say about rejection other than this: it really sucks. But when you do find someone who really loves you and who you can connect with and be vulnerable with, you’ll realize that all the hurts and heartbreaks kind of just fade away. So in closing, I’ll leave you with the lesson Sarah Herron took home from The Bachelor experience:

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Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

 

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limb different girl takes on ‘the bachelor’ (and what this means for the limb different community)

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I know I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon with this story, but how awesome is it that a girl with one arm/hand is on The Bachelor? I’ve never been a fan of the show before, but I’ll definitely be watching this season and rooting for Sarah Herron, a gorgeous 20-something hoping to find love with the handsome Sean Lowe. And you know what I think about her being on the show? This is a HUGE deal for the limb difference community.

Before I continue, let me just mention that I know The Bachelor is not exactly the most serious or positive or life-changing show on television. It’s pretty mindless entertainment where vapid young women basically fight for the attention of their “ideal” man (and the cameras). But think of it this way: how many people with limb differences do you see on TV? The ones featured on scripted shows (with the exception of Kurt Yaeger on Sons of Anarchy) are able-bodied actors using green screens to look like they had a limb amputated. Reality TV is only a little more accepting. We’ve seen amputees on The Amazing Race, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, The Real Housewives of New York, and American Gladiators. But a DATING show? This is a first! People and characters with disabilities, especially missing limbs, are typically not depicted as glamorous (think Darth Vader or Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump). They are usually evil or gritty characters with a chip on their shoulders.

Now The Bachelor, which is a show that pretty much epitomizes society’s obsession with physical perfection and beauty, features a beautiful and accomplished woman with one arm competing alongside dozens of other mannequin-pretty girls. Now the mainstream media (and all its audiences) can see that we limb different folks are not the Captain Hooks they had previously thought us to be. We can be pretty like Sarah Herron on The Bachelor. We can be elegant and stylish like Aviva Drescher. And we can be light on our feet (or foot) like Heather Mills. We are not stereotypes; we are people. And I just hope that everyone who watches Sean Lowe make out with a million girls over the next few weeks realizes this.

I also hope that everyone who has or who knows someone with a limb difference sees that we can be totally normal. Beauty is not as standard and rigid as society wants us to believe, and even the media is waking up to this fact.

So I’m super excited for Sarah and I hope she makes it far on the show. But if not, it’s cool to know that she changed (at least Sean’s) perceptions of people with physical differences.

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

 

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