My Real Life Version of “Me Before You”
So I’m sure by now, you’ve all been hearing about the amazingness that is Me Before You. What started as an incredible book, has become a highly anticipated movie that finally hit the box office recently. Despite my love and adoration for the book, though, a disgusting barrage of germs and sickness has kept me homebound and unable to experience the film for myself quite yet. Take that as a PSA and keep in mind that this post may be slightly uninformed. But anyways…here we go.
I have a huge distaste for spoilers, so no worries; this post will not give anything away. Suffice it to say, however, the male lead in this book/film pairing is a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic who has a very negative point of view on his injury. This has been striking a lot of nerves amongst wheelchair users and other disabled individuals. Their concern over the book’s message is that it seems to say that this group of people can’t possibly live happy, fulfilling lives. That an injury, such as the one suffered by the man in the story, leaves you with nothing to look forward to.
I can look at this situation with a touch of personal experience and I thought I’d offer up my own perspective.
This July will be almost eight years since my husband was paralyzed from the waist down. While his injury was not as bad as the one in the book, it still changed our lives forever. Our day to day experiences are now riddled with concerns over steps, elevators, tight spaces, ground material, and an array of other issues. But does this make our life any better or worse than another person’s? I don’t think so.
With a little finesse and creativity, we have managed to fine-tune our way of life to a point where pretty much any obstacle is easily overcome. You should see the way we’ve worked a friend’s second floor apartment or managed to take a Christmas tree off the roof of our SUV. While things are not always easy, we are way too proud to ask for help (though, not always a good thing) and make it work no matter work.
Our life post-accident has been full of amazing adventures, wonderful opportunities, and happy memories. It’s a life I would not trade for the world. Ryan and I have chosen to view the positive side of his so-called “disability.” If it weren’t for that accident, our life would have been completely different, but would it have been more beautiful than it is now? We’ll never know so why choose to dwell on it.
Ryan is optimistic, brave, and has an overwhelming need and want to persevere. This personality and lifestyle is what the negative critics of the movie are fighting for. But just because the majority of us have accepted the hand we’ve been dealt and turned it into something great, that doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way.
We have personally known so many men and women in situations similar to Ryan’s that have chosen a path of negativity and regret. They have a hard time coming to terms with their situation and can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel. While this may not be something we would want for ourselves, and we would love to offer them any support they need to overcome their disappointments, it doesn’t mean we can wish it away and make those individuals feel and be anything different than what they are.
In terms of putting these stories onto page and screen, I’m of the mindset that everyone deserves something to relate to, something that might help them. That includes the harder side of things. We deal with things like addiction, abuse, and grief amongst many others in the media…why not the harsh realities that some disabled people suffer with?
That being said, however, the same goes for the happier, more optimistic side of disability. Though different than what’s often considered normal, I think our relationship and life is just as picturesque as other happy families and couples. Let’s write a story about that. What do you say, Hollywood? Publishing companies? Can’t you offer something up for the rest of us?’
What are your thoughts? Have you read/seen Me Before You, yet?