My entire life I have had more guy friends than girl friends. It is not that I am a tom-boy, it’s just that communicating with boys/men I find much easier than woman. With them I don’t feel the need to compete to look prettier, smarter, or fit in. I also don’t feel threatened they will take my partner either. I don’t have to worry about being over critiqued and I don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing.
However, there are certain things a guy, will never understand and there are also certain things that you should only shared with another woman.
How do we overcome the hostile competition?
When I became a wheelchair user I found myself having to re-discover so many new things about my body, my abilities, and my emotions as if I were going through puberty all over again. I had to redefine who I was and how I felt about my new body, my limitations, and about myself as woman. Would a man ever find me attractive? Would I be able to perform sexually and if I did would I be able to satisfy him? These feelings I was going through and at times still go through are very normal. While men may struggle with similar feelings, it is the advice of a soft voice similar to my mother’s without the rules and piercing eyes that brings comfort. Even when conversing with a women I may feel a threatened by, hearing her share her experiences brings an overwhelming sense of calm because it shows me, I am not alone in my fears. She understands me!
Recently I went to Camp Discovery in Empire Colorado. (Oct 6-9, 2016) It is an adaptive sports camp for women who use wheelchairs for their mobility.
The camp was founded by Tricia Downing a paralympian cyclist who suffered a spinal cord injury on September 17, 2000. She went from being a competitive able body cyclist to being a paralyzed competitive cyclist and teaching others her competitive spirit. Tricia has completed over 100 races, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons, since her accident. She was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman triathlon and qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in 2006 and 2010. In 2011, she competed as part of the U.S. Rowing team at the World Championships in Bled, Slovenia.
The focus of Camp Discovery is to help women:
- Building self-esteem
- Creating a personal network and support system
- Inspiring a positive body image
- Encouraging physical fitness
This 3 day conference took place at beautiful Rocky Village, in Empire Colorado. Where the participants got the opportunity challenge their body and mental ability by experiencing adaptive sports and bonding with other women who are facing similar physical and emotional challenges.
When I signed up for Camp Discovery I signed up with the full intention of being there from reporter’s perspective. I am not one to bond much with other women and as a quad, I did not think I would join in to any of the sports because I do not have very much stamina, strength, or mobility. To my surprise there was NONE of the usual women to women dram.
To start the beautiful setting of Rocky Village would not allow it. The scenery was so beautiful it was mesmerizing. We stayed at a beautiful camp, on a beautiful mountain, surrounded by the peace of nature. Secondly the women were equally all in need of being supported and loved on which made the group dynamic comfortable and inviting. I loved it! We all got along great and a sisterhood was formed.
As women we need more activities like Camp Discovery in our lives so that we can redefine the way we perceive and interact with each other. As sisters we have the potential to achieve so much more in life united. You can learn more about Camp Discovery on the Cycle of Hope website: www.cycleofhopeco.org Or via the Camp Discovery Facebook page.
If you’re a woman struggling with connecting with other women like I was because of the historical competitive nature within in us, find a program or group for women in your area and bring healing to yourself and another sister in need.
Here are a few Wheel Talk Wheel Issues podcast interview links you might enjoy, recorded live at Camp Discovery with a few of the participants.
Wheel Talk Wheel Issues hosts Each by Name, an annual women with disabilities empowerment conference in San Diego which also offers online peer support throughout a Facebook group page. You can follow this link and learn more about Each by Name in my next blog.