I Didn’t Want To Be Friends With Wheelchair Users

Community is something we tend to brush off, as if it was not important. Whether that is a community at the gym, a bible study, or a group of school friends, they are valuable and life-giving. You may not realize how important a community is until you’re going through a life shattering event. They’ll remind you you’re not alone in this world. If it wasn’t for my community in 2012, I would not have had the support I needed to transition into the craziest lifestyle a wheelchair brings. Six years later, I believe a community is more valuable as you grow. I’ve learned that it’s wise to have a community of other spinal cord injury (SCI) friends where you can share ideas, help each other cope, and laugh/complain about able-bodied people abusing handicap parking.

For me, it took a while to be comfortable with “wheelchair friends.” I didn’t want it to seem like I was accepting my condition or I was giving up in my recovery. I let those lies blind me instead of realizing how a group of wheelchair users could benefit my life. Through time, I met amazing people at my physical therapy. The change was uncomfortable but these new friendship even improved my independence by learning from them.

Truthfully, ever since I let those guards down i’ve become proud to be friends with  wheelchair users. Honestly, it’s nice to have someone understand what you’re going through. My parents will never understand it, my brothers will never understand it, my best friends will never understand it, but my wheelchair friends can. It’s nice to notice that I’m not alone. So If going through a difficult season of life and you feel like you’re alone, find a community you can connect with. Maybe it’s through a small group at your local church, a hobby, or at your physical therapy place like mine. It’s important to connect with the world but also connect your world with each other. You are not meant to go through life alone.

2 thoughts on “I Didn’t Want To Be Friends With Wheelchair Users

  1. StacyM says:

    Hi Abby, I can totally relate to this during my first year post injury. For me I saw who my true friends were during my first year, some of the people who I thought I was good friends with before the accident fell out of touch with me. Some just acted like they never knew what to say around me, when that was never an issue before and would make their visits awkward. Don’t get me wrong though, because I still have an amazing group friends from dance and school that don’t treat me any different than the way it was before the accident. They have been here for my family and I since the start. However, I feel that some of close friendships that I now have with other wheelchair users that I met while in the hospital and physical therapy are stronger even though I haven’t known them as long. Its like you said, they just “understand it” when others don’t. I feel like I can be more open with them, even more than I am with my family at times.


  2. Mechthild says:

    Hi Abby, I love your blog. I am an “able-bodied” person (actually a missionary in Chad, Africa). There are a number of “wheel-chair-based members” in my home church in Germany, two of them are actually married to one another and are among my supporters. It also really ticks me off when “able-bodied lacy ones” use the parking that is reserved for handicapped people and moms (often they are combined in Germany).


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