I'm 45 and have mild Cerebral Palsy. No wheelchair. With me, this comes out in my face - I have a bulbous forehead (leftover from Hydrocephalus as a child, now cured) and a 'twistedness' to my features, I don't know how better to describe it.
Thing is, that difference seems to be enough to totally ostracise me from the rest of society. I'm not a natural loner and I don't know how to get round it.
Over just the last 5 years or so, I've had all my teeth smashed out by a guy with Doc Marten boots on, I've had a commercial tea-urn of water intentionally thrown over me by a girl who didn't think a spastic should be working behind a teabar in a day centre (she wasn't that polite about her phraseology!) I've had all my apartments burgled/smashed up so often they've had to put me in a Home. I'm banned from many places because the management don't see why 'the other customers should have to look at something like that' - their words. I stood up to the manager last time they banned me and he just said calmly 'Thing is, why should I inflict something like you on the rest of my customers?'
Mixing with groups? Forget it. In my entire life, I've never once been with an unsupervised social group. What happens when I try? They pull tricks on me, because they know they can. They're nice until they get you round a corner, then they jump on you and mug you of all you've got. Or they just give you a smacking for the hell of it if you haven't got anything to be worth mugging of. The upshot is, when I'm around ANYONE, I'm scared. I don't know how long it'll be before they change and jump on me. Maybe they're not going to. But previous experience tells me they will, so I'm scared. I've never had friends - I can go for a month without talking to anyone, because I'm too scared of what the reaction will be if I try.
Girls? Never had a proper date. Why? They get jeered at by their friends for being seen with me. Last girl I spoke to as a friend stopped wanting to see me because she said all her friends were jeering at her for not being 'with a real man'. I've been told to take my picture down from dating sites because the ladies didn't want to be reminded what I looked like! And always, always, you're on your own until the seconds burn like acid dripped onto your skin. I've got a couple of people who phone me sometimes. If I suggest meeting up for a drink or a chat, they're always 'too busy'. If I go into a bar/pub to have a drink or a chat with people, I get the 'What the HELL is that' reaction. volunteer to do loads of different things for people and they always say 'No' because they don't think I LOOK capable of doing them. One example out of hundreds. I volunteered for 15 jobs at a local voluntary agency recently and got turned down for them all, the manager saying 'Don't expect to hear anything in the near future.' I go along for ordinary jobs and get turned down for reasons like 'You'll scare our customers away' and 'I can SEE you couldn't do it - you're too damned thick!' That's the last two reasons, and I could have done both jobs easily, I promise you. I'm capable, I'm willing to learn, I'm 'up for' most things yet everyone else always tells me 'NO'!
I volunteer to do loads of different things for people and they always say 'No' because they don't think I LOOK capable of doing them. One example out of hundreds. I volunteered for 15 jobs at a local voluntary agency recently and got turned down for them all, the manager saying 'Don't expect to hear anything in the near future.' I go along for ordinary jobs and get turned down for reasons like 'You'll scare our customers away' That's the last reasons, and I could have done both jobs easily, I promise you. I'm capable, I'm willing to learn, I'm 'up for' most things yet everyone else always tells me 'NO'!
Happened again yesterday. Volunteered for a job in London, working with other disabled people. Went up, the lady was very nice - but flat refused to give me a chance at the job. Given reasons 'Well, you live too far and it's all the travelling...' The interviewer lived farther away than I do. And 'I don't know what the others would make of someone like you.'
Came home feeling lower than a snake's gut - I'd invested a lot of mental preparation in this vol. job, I thought because the charity worked with disabled people, they'd give a disabled person a chance.
So I'm flat outta ideas. I'm happy to try anything. This isn't so much an 'I wanna be loved' thing as an 'I want the same acceptance as the rest of Society, even other disabled people, get' thing. Basically, I don't see why looking a bit different means I should be in total social occlusion all my life. I don't deserve a lifetime of solitary confinement for being a spazz. I want Out, but I don't know what the key is.
I am sorry for your troubles and a little ashamed also. Like a lot of people I am slightly wary of people who appear different and even some who are in wheelchairs.
Because of childhood and childlike prejudices it is difficult to credit those who appear "different" with a personality I can communicate effectively with and I am afraid of being made to look a fool in public - I think that is why most shy away from such contact.
I am self-conscious and unsure of my ability but not someone who would knowingly discriminate against anyone in a material sense.
For me part of being English is about tolerance and not discriminating.
In spite of strange looks from passers-by I do converse regularly with a cross-dresser I meet in town sometimes. I know two of his brothers and a sister and I know he is a good engineer. When we stand in a queue there is always plenty of elbow room around us...
If you are registered disabled (you probably should be) our Disability Discrimination Act should be providing you with plenty of grounds for official complaints. I was part of the review panel for the Act and one of the worked examples given for the new Law was a woman who was constructively dismissed from her job in a shop. She had facial "disfigurements"...
I have no real answers for you - for that you would need a magic wand, but it is clear you are intelligent and can write in a way that is easy to read and understand so I suggest you write to your MP, to the Minister, to celebrities, to the various branches of the media and anyone else you can think of.
Even though this is unlikely to get you a date directly it might eventually lead to romance because if you can raise the profile of such cases of discrimination and the plight of those with such disabilities you might get some air time and people should become more familiar with looking at different shaped faces and therefore less afraid.
Have you thought about acting as a career? Equity has some unusual looking people as members. I believe they have some members who have Downs Syndrome. Directors seem to find parts for all sizes, shapes and types.
I can't give you any definite answers, friend, but if you want to widen your support group and chew the fat a bit via email then please feel free to get in touch.