I have always been in love with love: the concept, the courtship, and all that goes along with it. I am admittedly a girlie girl and will be until the day my wheels stop rolling. I was born with legs that walked but in 1990 I survived a rollover accident in my friend’s Samurai, a mini SUV that has not been sold by Suzuki in the US since 1995. The accident left me a C5-C6 quadriplegic and early on I thought, “Who is going to want me in this condition?”
I have written four books and in my poetry collection, I share my journey that showed it took a wheelchair to find the man I love. Steve is an incredible man, and the road to today has been paved with patience and kindness.
I needed to take my time because before my chair I never slowed down. It was always go-go-go. And in the past, my relationships with men were often fast and furious. There were a lot of reasons why, but the main one was love. I didn’t love myself for a very long time. I could list my therapist’s notes here, but it boils down to this: you can’t fully love someone until you love yourself first.
Steve wanted a girlfriend early on but I wasn’t ready. He would try to put his arm on the back of my wheelchair but I would turn really fast before it could land. He told me that he finally gave up on the girlfriend idea, but still liked hanging out with me. Twenty-two years later, I can say that I am in the healthiest relationship of my life, with the love of my life.
I recently ran into a past boyfriend. “My God, Katie. You are still the same,” he said. I love hear to hear that from people in my past.
I’m still the same in some ways and oh-so-different in others, but through it all I can honestly say, “I love myself,” and mean it. And I wish that for you, too.
Katie Banister, a former 2010 Ms. Wheelchair Missouri, is the founder of Access 4 All, an organization that provides disability education programs and entertaining presentations.
En guard mirror. I see you taunting me.
So shinny and gleaming.
The morning rise.
I rub my eyes and peep into your flat form
OK – I’ve seen enough!
I want to start my day in empowering ways
If I sit before you too long. I might not leave the house!
You reflect my soul’s suitcase. My ride. Let’s pimp that ride.
Your response? “Not so much”
There’s another blemish.
A new wrinkle there.
And what’s with all the chin hair?
How did you get there?
Tweezers to the rescue. Ouch! Hey! That hurt!
Sake of beauty. Sake of beauty.
Be kind to me glass.
Reflecting what is before you.
Truth. The truth.
There are days I cannot. I will not handle the truth!
See...... Real beauty comes from the inside.
Beauty’s form we cannot hide
I use to think beauty was skin deep.
Facials and peels and a good night’s sleep.
Age has taught me to think in different ways.
No more riding the beauty craze.
I turned off the TV to see the real me.
Now, I looked in the mirror and what a surprise.
I decided, “I’m not buying the media’s lies.”
My skins not perfect and my hair can be a mess.
But I look into my mirror with loving finesse
Unbound is so thankful to Katie for sharing her story here with us. We'd love to continue "It's a Journey" as a series. If you would like to share your story of self love and acceptance, feel free to reach out here to introduce yourself.