Love in the slow lane
LOVE IN THE SLOW LANE … by Michael Creurer
I knew that writing for the public would involve taking many personal risks. I would have to confront my fear of criticism and rejection. I prepared myself mentally to deal with possible negative reactions from readers, but I had not considered the possibility of attracting my soul mate by stepping out of my personal comfort zone. The purpose of my writing is to offer psycho-educational concepts combined with personal accounts of how people cope with the myriad of emotional issues that are presented as they age, experience illness or physical disability. As a result of my writing for a newsletter, the following narrative began, “Are you the Michael who writes for the newsletter?”
“Yes I am,” was my answer.
“I really enjoy your writing,” she replied. “Have you ever considered writing a book?” As a matter of fact there is a book being written right now,” were my parting words.
That was the extent of our conversation during our first encounter at the Multiple Sclerosis Centre. It had been the first time either of us had attended the weekly meditation group. Neither one of us knew what might evolve from this meeting.
It was a long, wet winter followed by a very hot and dry summer. The unpredictable weather was once again affecting Marjorie physically and emotionally. These were the deciding factors that helped Marjorie make one of her most difficult decisions: to leave her husband of ten years and her home in the U.S. where her marriage was being greatly challenged because of her MS. She could no longer work to financially support the household, and her symptoms of pain and fatigue were not completely accepted by her husband. Also, each year she dreaded the hot summers and cold winters of Oregon. She knew the very moderate climate of her home town, Victoria, Canada would be better for her physically. MS often causes the decision making process to be difficult, the mind seems to become cloudy.
Marjorie boxed up and stored many of her belongings until she could make arrangements to have them shipped to Canada. It took almost two years before she was reunited with her belongings. What leads us to take risks like this? Many people remain in unhealthy relationships because it is easier than working through the pain of ending them. Listening to her inner intuition, Marjorie was able to find the courage and energy to make her move.
After the failure of a 16 year marriage and a two year relationship, as a post polio, I was beginning to wonder is I was destined to live alone. It took two years to come to terms with the emotional turmoil that I experienced following the breakup of those relationships.
Love can be elusive, but especially for anyone with a physical disability. I am a post polio. There are myriads of emotional issues which need to be addressed along with the physical challenges which are presented. If I am hurting, it is hard to love myself, and even harder to express love to another. At times the pain might even be expressed as anger misdirected towards others. Disabled individuals often wonder if they will still be lovable because they are physically different. And, many relationships never overcome the challenges that disability can cause to a couple’s relationship, and consequently end. We need to be open and receptive, without being overzealous, in our search to meet that special someone. If we give up hope that we will meet that someone special, negative thoughts may eliminate our chances.
Marjorie and I now live together in a wheelchair accessible suite. We are friends, lovers and business partners. We do many activities together. We often travel alongside each other on our scooters: going to bookstores; shopping for household goods; or attending meetings and workshops around town. She edits and markets the articles and books that I write. Our disabilities affect our lives in similar ways. Often, they seem complementary. Marjorie is more ambulatory than I am. She can walk while I use my scooter all day. We are financially better off as well.
We go to sleep at night with the peace of mind knowing that there is another human being whom we can share our life with.
Our physical energy demands that our daily schedules be individually tailored. Getting bathed and dressed, making breakfast, shopping for groceries and performing household chores can consume all of our energy. We often joke with each other about living in the slow lane, referring to my book, “Changing Lanes,” a guide for people forced into the slow lane.
By exposing myself to potential criticism and stepping out of my comfort zone, I have been rewarded in ways that I did not expect: finding love in the slow lane.
Michael & Marjorie
Reprinted from Accent on Living (Winter 1999)