Recently, a lot of my fellow disabled blogging community have been writing multiple pieces regarding the soon to be released “Me Before You.” Many who see the film in a negative light. A good amount of controversy stems from the relationship between a disabled man and his hired caregiver’s blossoming romance, not to mention the already spoiled to death ending of the man’s self suicide.
But let’s back up for a minute and read that first part again, a relationship between a caregiver and a disabled man.
Sound familiar? If so, you’ve been following my blog. Good work.
Many in the disabled community and those who blogged already have discussed their concerns over the way they as quadriplegics and wheelchair users are shown in films such as this. Some even go as far as blog about the utter hate of the caregiver Louisa from the film as a girl who just feels sorry for the guy and falls in love out of pity.
Although the media potrays these characters as such, there are a few exceptions to that stereotype, one of which is me.
I fell in love with Bill at a time in my life where I was coming of age, lost in mind and spirit while trying to find myself in a town thousands of miles from home. I fell in love with his kindness, opening up his home and his heart to me, and his famous mason jar of Reese’s Pieces.
When I met Bill, I didn’t see disability or any sort of delays, although to others, they are quite apparent. I saw the way he carries himself, that infectious grin, and the overall sense of pride in the everyday victories we in the more able bodied world take for granted. I saw him as nothing less than perfect. In fact, I see pure perfection given his overall take on the world.
Although his needs are sometimes more than I can handle alone at times, and simple struggles like finding an elevator that works or him needing a bit more personal care than one would be freaked out by, I am faced with that reality that disability comes with its drawbacks. And I face it with open arms, and an open mind.
The difference between Bill and the character in the movie, ironically named Will, is the way they see life. Will reminds me of myself and that constant struggle to see my life as one worth living. I always felt that a disabled life for me would best be put out to pasture. While Bill sees life as one big amazing adventure.
In all honesty, it’s the way one looks at themselves and the struggles they face everyday.
Bill has taught me to live again, take life with a grain of salt and passion in my heart, and open my eyes to a beautifully amazing world. Bill has this great big beautiful life still left in him that I often wish Hollywood could take that attitude and make it shine bright.
One thing I can agree on is that there needs to be more positivity in the media for people with disabilities that don’t play the pity party role. There needs to be more Bills than Wills represented so those like me can take true inspiration and see that living life disabled isn’t a death sentence or a curse.
One story like Me Before You shouldn’t set the standard for what mainstream media sees. The disabled community should be better represented in a positive light only us as a community can portray.
As a former caregiver who followed her heart to find true happiness, I want my story to be represented as something beyond “inspiration porn” or a self pity trip. I want love to shine past the stigma that is bestowed on me as a mostly able bodied person who just so happens to be dating a guy in a wheelchair.
Trust me, not all of us Louisa’s are the same.
Welcome to the reality that should be the cornerstone of the movie’s tagline.
And like Bill, I intend to.