By Paul Mack
Canadian Region / Legacy Magazine Scout
Editor’s Note: Michael has requested, due to personal reasons, that we keep his full name confidential.
Michael has Cerebral Palsy, but this has not stopped him from living his own success story.
An MDI member since 2014, this Canadian Region man began a relationship with a woman in the Philippines, whom he met online in 2019.
As the couple was preparing to take the relationship to the next level, COVID hit, and the borders were shut down. Within a moment, they were suddenly unable to visit one another.
In the summer of 2021, as Michael was planning to visit his girlfriend, in anticipation of the borders opening up, he was involved in a serious car accident, resulting in a severely injured leg, requiring surgery.
In May 2022, after extensive rehab and physiotherapy, he was finally able to travel to the Philippines, and they were able to get married.
They are still working their way through the bureaucratic paperwork and expect her to be able to come to Canada to stay sometime in 2023.
“I am building the next stage of the rest of my life,” says Michael, “And I am building it deliberately. A long-distance relationship was not merely a matter of being pulled along by circumstances; .it was an active choice I made. It has involved challenges such as scheduling daily video calls and working around the time difference. It’s been a continual commitment.”
Michael says one of the keys to building this relationship has been to make a point of ending every single video call with the words “I love You.” He says no matter how he’s feeling, even if he had a fight during the call, he says it and he means it.
“It’s been crucially important for me to give myself permission to not do it ‘perfectly’. It’s about commitment and ownership, but I can only own what I can control.”
He says what I’m building for himself and his wife is not only impacting her, but also his parents and his entire family and friends.
“Building this relationship under such challenging circumstances has involved a great deal of integrity and commitment, but MDI has also taught me a lot about how to reach out to other men for support. I couldn’t have done it without the love and support I get from the other men on my team.”
According to Michael, his team was privy to how hard he fought with the Nursing Staff at the Rehab Centre to protect his right to be present for and gain value from the virtual meetings with his girlfriend.
“Taking charge of my life, and choosing not to be a victim has been key to all of this. There is so much power in simply saying out loud, ‘I am NEVER going to be a victim of my circumstances. And it’s thanks to Catalyst and MDI that I had the knowledge and strength to be able to accomplish this.”