In my years of growing up with a disability, it has been difficult to make friends because I looked different than normal people. I was always the one who people treated differently. It was very challenging to make friends. Once I got to know people who took the time to get to know me, friendship started to reveal itself very slowly. In the end, I started to progress more on making friends who looked beyond an image and got to know the real me.
Being born with Downs syndrome has many bad and good challenges that I had to face in friendships. Students I had made friends with were always bullying me, so it had been really challenging to make friends because of how I was treated. Back in my childhood I had this friend who had been close in middle school who was part of the bullying I had faced. I grew up not knowing that she was a bad friend and faced really troubled situations. She was one of those people who lived on the wild side and took advantage of me. When her adult years came, she was constantly eagerly throwing herself on men she hardly knew, and had been going to bars and clubs to fill herself up with alcohol. I was unaware of this when she dragged me along only to find out I was in a bad place and kept buying me drinks to get me drunk, but I had been trying to tell this so-called friend I was feeling really uncomfortable, but she was not listening to me. She had left me alone, while she was off with a guy of whom she was dating. Worse than that, she had made me lie to my parent about going up to visit this person. All in all, this person was not a good friend to me. I stopped being friends with this person due to that situation. I would never go back in time to that day and the person she turned me to be. It was not me, it was a different person that she wanted me to be!
The good ways of having this disability is having support from different types of people who see beyond the image and have supported me through my challenges. Those are really true friendships. I am a friendly, outgoing person who just wants to make a difference in people’s lives. To this day, I have no trouble finding true friendships despite my challenges, because I function like a normal person, even though I look different than the normal person.
In my childhood, I met a family who has a family of four boys. The youngest, also a boy who has Downs syndrome and has challenges like I do, went to a Montessori preschool out of my mother’s home. I grew up with the family for fifteen years. The parents of this family had developed a church which was based out of their home. The oldest son had brought a friend of his to visit the church and his family in December 2004. She lived in New York but had been visiting this friend of mine. I became friends with Anna after a couple times that she came to visit the church and the oldest son’s family. I had taken a vacation up to New York to visit this new friend of mine, and I had developed a strong bond and a friendship with Anna. To this day, I remain friends with her.
Anna really took the time to get to know me and to love me to be close, something that I had never had from someone who is so incredibly friendly. A couple times there were sad moments, when my father had passed away, and I had been in depression and she had been there for support and a shoulder to cry on, someone I could confide in. That shows true friendship, and made me appreciate and love her even more. She has been very supportive of the challenges I face and looked beyond the image, a true support there!
I am one of those friends who cares, loves, and offers support to friends, I will always care, love, and support Anna. That is what true friendships are about! She has been like an older sister type and someone I look up to in life. My friendship with Anna feels like she is family. My hopes are developing more friendships and holding them together as one big family that can’t be broken.