by guest blogger Alchemy by Amy.
If you are like me, a thirty something disabled person, you may have SO. MANY. QUESTIONS about your own disability. I know I do. Even at the same time as knowing it is frowned upon to ask other disabled people about their disabilities.
For example, if anyone referred to me as differently abled, or told me “you don’t look sick”, or asked me why one side of may face doesn’t work — I wouldn’t mind.
But to other disabled people this can cause huge offence and puts me off asking anybody about their experience with their disability.
What are my questions and how or where do I find the answers?
I only really have one question — and I apply this to all areas of my life. Until the age of 10, I had full function of all my limbs, an average symmetrical face, a voice box that worked properly, normal balance and good hearing. Over the years, that’s all deteriorated so slowly, I can’t remember a time when I had all those functions. I wish I knew what it felt like to be “normal” just so I could compare my disabled self to that experience.
What is “normal” anyway, and how do I do that differently?
I’ve learned about the answer to this question by observing able bodied people. It is easy to watch somebody run, and understand that I can’t do that and why. I could watch somebody bend down to pick something off a shelf in a supermarket and wonder “so that’s how it’s done, looks easy”. A normal able-bodied person could lift two hands above their head to tie their hair up, but I can’t.
I muse about these comparisons. Trying to understand what is “normal”, and what makes me so different.
But, what about sex?
Disabled people being sexual and sexually active fit into two brackets only — inappropriate or a fetish.
When it comes to sex, most people learn from movies, chatting with friends and porn. This kind of sex education is not available in the same way for disabled people. I am not familiar with much porn. I believe any representation of disabilities in porn is mostly for fetish purposes. Porn is generally thought an inaccurate representation of sex on the whole anyway.
We can end up comparing our normal sex styles to movies or chatting with friends. Let’s disregard movies though. Have you ever seen a really accurate and honest depiction of disabled sex in a movie? I haven’t.
Let’s ask our able bodied friends! But, that won’t work either, they have their whole balance intact, four fully functioning limbs, an abundance of energy and range of motion.
Disabled people appear to have only two options left: to completely abstain from sex, or rely on our sexual partner to give us some feedback. This is a tough situation to be in. It is really difficult to ask our sexual partner how things are going in the bedroom, without feeling needy or desperate for reassurance.
I’m sure, an able bodied person has very similar questions, but they can easily ask a friend, “hey do you think XYZ is normal, because I did this”. You can get a lot of reassurance (or a very unsettling “gosh no”), from a chat with your girlfriends.
There is something a little embarrassing, and buzzkilling, in requiring constant reassurance from your sexual partner. About worrying how well you perform in comparison to able bodied people. Sex can be a constant state of wondering, “oh gosh, am I doing this right? oh no, I can’t keep up, no don’t move me there I can’t keep myself up”
My advice is this — it is so important to find a sexual partner who you trust whole heartedly. A partner who knows your boundaries and is willing to work with them not against them.
It is vital too, as a disabled person (or any person in fact!), to know your limits, know your boundaries and make sure your partner knows them too.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions after the act (a while after so not to kill the mood), don’t be afraid to work out what YOU like, make sure you enjoy it too. That is your right.
And please, relax!
Don’t worry about it in the moment. I am almost certain they’re not overly fussed about how able bodied or “normal” you are. If that does become a problem, what is one hour out of your life wasted on a bad sex experience? It’s nothing. You might even be surprised that actually you’re not so bad in bed and your partner wants to come back again.