Like many other on Disabled United I stumbled upon this site at a very lonely period in my life.
After a difficult marriage for 20 years I eventually found myself alone raising a teenage son. Teenagers certainly bring a tremendous amount of love into one’s life, but that love only satisfies part of a person’s needs.
I was very lonely when I came to DU. Although I am a professional woman and have a busy career and active life, part of me felt terribly sad and alone. After leaving my husband I learned quickly that I had two distinct lives. My daytime life, which was very challenging and fulfilling and my evening, and weekend life that felt quite empty.
Then came Disabled United
At first I felt like the Lonely Yank in DU. There were very few Americans on the site and I felt a bit awkward and intrusive. It took me some time to understand the slang and humor and on more than one occasion I found myself feeling like a true idiot. I had limited knowledge about the United Kingdom and previous to this experience had limited interest in learning about it.
Then came the people in DU
I personally have been disabled for 35 years. I am a paraplegic. Although I have been a disabled rights advocate for most of my professional life, I had formed very few personal relationships with people with disabilities outside of the work environment. I know this sounds very odd, but this is simply how things worked out. My experience in DU has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life being with people with disabilities. I have heard wonderful stories, learned so much about the United Kingdom, have been touched by both humor and sadness and have been overwhelmed by the tremendous spirit of those I have grown to know. I have learned the power of relationships both big and small, close and far away. I have learned that friendship, understanding and kindness have no boundaries. We may be different in our locations, our ethnic backgrounds, our personal experiences etc., but we all share the commonality of living with a disability.
The Physical Distance
The physical distance factor has been a struggle for me. I have met some pretty terrific people and developed some special relationships with people that are entirely too far away. I hope some day to be able to meet some of my DU friends both here in the US and abroad. My home in sunny California is always open to my DU friends who love to travel and want to experience California and the United States.
The Online Closeness
My life has changed greatly since coming to DU. I am grateful to Dawn and David for developing such a wonderful international meeting place for people with disabilities to come together on a regular basis. This site has taught me that distance is not a total barrier when you can meet such great people and experience such wonderful love from others online. My circle of friends has broadened beyond my wildest dreams. Many more Americans have joined DU since I first started. In many respects I no longer feel like The Lone Yank, but more importantly I find that I am not as “lonely” as when I entered DU in December, 2002.
It would be inappropriate to mention any names, but those of you that I have had the honor of meeting and learning to know, know who you are. At the risk of being sappy, I thank you for your friendship and love!