‘Love gives you confidence.’ – Sam Hiyate
I met my best male friend Dane seven years ago and he’s still one of my closest friends. Our friendship is one that has grown stronger and better with time, but is still comfortable and familiar and ridiculously easy. He’s one of the few people I feel I can really be myself with and he loves me even when I’m awkward, dorky, or weird. Dane is unconditionally supportive and he never complains when I pine, cry, vent, or rant. He feels the same way about me. He confides in me, trusts me, and knows that I’ll listen when he needs to vent or cry or be utterly ridiculous. We have the best banter and an unshakeable, solidly loving friendship. Dane is the big brother I never had and the friend that everyone deserves.
Dane and I met before I found out I could cure myself of my disability, so he got to know me when my disability was very evident and I wasn’t very socially mature. I told him when I found out I could get better and he’s been with me through all the work I have done. He has told me – without me even asking him – that he has seen a significant difference in my maturity and that I have really grown up. This past summer, we got together for a weekend – after not having seen each other in a very long time – and he noticed a huge difference in how I walked and carried myself. He said that I walked much more quickly and that I was definitely stronger. He did have to help me descend his apartment stairs, but he never made me feel bad about it or like he was coddling me. He just helped me as he would help any friend who needed it.
Dane is a music teacher. Dane has told me – more than once – that he uses my story of overcoming my disability with his students. He doesn’t use it necessarily to inspire them to work, but to motivate them to work. He uses my commitment and motivation as an example to his students that they can improve and better themselves with hard work. He doesn’t want people to have sympathy for me or to pity me (because he certainly doesn’t). He wants people to develop the same work ethic that I developed when I started seeing positive results. When his students whine or don’t work hard enough, he reminds them of me and of all the work I have done and continue to do. This isn’t to say that I don’t whine (because I certainly do) and that there are times when I don’t work hard enough (because there are those times) but my willingness to work is what Dane uses to motivate his students to do the same.
Dane has never babied me, pitied me, handled me with kid gloves, or treated me like a breakable doll. He – in his Sagittarius way – has always been honest with me and straight with me in a way many others aren’t. Dane tells it like it is, and what ‘it is’ is that I have worked hard – with the right information and the right therapy – to better my body and my life. It’s a fact and he shares this truth with other people. It helps me believe in the evidence of my progress and the benefit of all the work I have done, not because it inspires people, but because it motivates them (and motivates me to continue working). That’s the light that I would like to be seen in.