Guestwriter: Joy van Straalen who identifies as a lesbian.

There is no plan when it comes to love. You don’t know what to expect and I never expected to meet Naomi.

I was a LGBT youth counselor in Amsterdam and we hosted meetings on a monthly basis. We were planning a Halloween theme and decided to make our very own horror movie. All was set; the script, camera, actors, makeup, styling and decor, but due to my colleague’s stage fright all that was missing was a female lead. My colleague posted a message on Facebook to find a female lead and several hours later Naomi walked in. There was an instant connection, something we both couldn’t quite place. You tend to have the notion that you only like a certain type of person, at least that’s what I thought. What she thought. But from the first moment we met it felt like I’d known her for years and wanted to know her for so many more. You can’t deny such a genuine connection.

I never really was comfortable with my own sexuality until I met Naomi. I came out to my friends at an early age, but I was terrified to tell my parents. One of my earliest and quite frankly silliest memories of fearing they would find out, was loudly singing along to the music in the car. And every time a song had a part about a girl or loving a girl, I would stop or hum along. I was so afraid they would find out. Eventually I found the courage to tell my mom at the age of 18 and I told my dad on valentine’s day 3 years later.

Now I’m out and I’m proud with Naomi’s help, even though she doesn’t see it that way. Her courage and openness inspired me to stop being afraid, stop hiding and start embracing who I really am. For that I’ll be forever grateful.

Before we started dating I was open to dating guys. My friends even convinced me to make a Tinder account and set the settings to both men and women. I eventually started flirting with a cute guy, who liked the Power Rangers so that was an easy match, but in the end there was no connection. I guess that’s what I’m missing when it comes to my attraction to men. The feeling of understanding and connecting seems on a different level when you’re in a relationship with a woman.

When I first met Naomi, her disability wasn’t in the stage it is now. She wasn’t diagnosed with anything yet, but she told me about her over flexibility and that she felt pain most of the day. She used to take high dosages of Ibuprofen and every so often wear braces for support. Back then she was basically able to do anything. Long walks, bicycling through meadows? High heels? Dancing the night away? No sweat. Until her disease started to kick in.

I’m not going to lie, Naomi’s condition took a certain toll on our relationship. It was a massive blow for her, for me. To see the one you love fall in and out of depression due to this sudden change, having pain 24/7 and to see her lose her independence. I try to help and support her the best I can, but most of the time I feel completely powerless.

She’s amazing, she really is. Even through all that’s happening, she tries to stay strong and be as happy and free as her body allows her to be. She tries for herself and for me, trying her best to keep our relationship and our bond strong. We may have our ups and downs, quarrels and miscommunications, but I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.

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