hen you have a disability and/or chronic illness it doesn’t just impact your mental and physical health, but every aspect of your life. One of the areas that is greatly impacted, but rarely talked about is the breakdown of sexuality over the course of navigating disability or illness.
Since I have started talking about my own disabled sexuality on my Instagram, I have had so many new friends reach out and share their own stories of how disability and illness have impacted their sexuality.
Each of these stories sound familiar to me in one way or another. When you’re in pain, depressed, scared, exhausted, or any other complicating factor of chronic illness or disability, sexual contact may be the furthest thing from your mind. Then, one day you realize that there is a part of yourself that is missing. Where did that zing go? How can you get it back?
As I am not a trained professional (yet), I can only speak from my personal experience. The first thing I did was examine what I felt was holding me back the most. Is it pain? Is it energy? Is it mobility or range of motion? Have you experienced trauma? Are you on medications that could be impacting your libido? Do you not have a partner, but want one? If you do, are you vibing or do you need to reconnect? Are your hormones balanced? There are a million things to consider before moving forward with getting your groove back, but you have to know where you are to figure out where you are going.
One of the first things that I realized while going through this process myself was that I was mad at my body. It only gave me bad news and more diagnoses. I had completely forgotten that my
body had good things to offer me as well. After that, I began taking sexy photos as well as touching and looking at my body more. I was shocked to find that if I appreciated my body for its ability to feel pleasure it was easier for me to get in touch with the fire inside of me that once burned so brightly. The more I believed my body had something good to offer me the better the touches felt. Then, my confidence grew and expanded to other areas of my life. I finally got the pixie cut I’d been wanting, I stopped apologizing for my illness, and I showed all of myself to the entire world. I felt like myself again for the first time in years.
Once I had a true appreciation for my body’s ability to offer me pleasure despite everything that is working against it, I began to see other things that my body does that I had taken for granted.
Now, when I look at my body and its scars, I see a strong and sexy silhouette that is capable of much more than anyone knows. My confidence, strength, and determination reside deep inside of my belly as a warm glow of sexuality just waiting for its chance to shine, but when I tap into that small warm glow, it expands and eventually it emanates throughout my entire body.
The more I exercise my sexuality the easier it is to access it when I want or need to. Eventually, it became present in my daily life. This doesn’t mean that I have sex or masturbate everyday, but that I am able to feel that high from the warm glow and channel that energy into other areas of my life such as work, exercise, or even more spoons if I really need it. I feel it when I push myself during tests or procedures. It sustains the “me” inside of this sick body. This unhealthy vessel for my soul becomes so much more when I allow it to be. I’m much more than my sickness and I think it is important that I don’t police all of my body’s natural tendencies.
While it is imperative that I stay hands-on and guide my body through the tumultuous minefield of chronic illness and disability I have a strong desire to stand back and be passive. I had not been afforded the ability to do so for many years until I tapped into my sexuality again. My body knows how to react to sensual touch and it doesn’t require constant reminders to stay on task. This isn’t to say that I don’t have to modify my sex life or keep my illness in mind, but is more recognition of my body doing right by me for once. I get so mad at it for all the times it has let me down, but I have failed to acknowledge the good it has brought me.
How does one acknowledge their body for allowing you to feel sexual pleasure? Indulge it! Take some extra time when washing your body or applying lotion. Does caressing a certain area bring goosebumps? What if you touch yourself with your fingertips instead of your palm? Try fast, slow, hard, and soft contact. Does that change the way it makes you feel?
Another way to acknowledge your body’s positive attributes is by taking photos of the parts of your body that you are happy with. Maybe it’s your toes - pamper them. Get a pedicure or paint your nails yourself if you enjoy this. Adorn them with jewelry or tattoos that are appealing to you. Give yourself a foot rub or ask someone else to. Then, when you feel like you cannot have any more appreciation for your toes take photos of them. This can quickly evolve into taking whole-body photos that make you feel sexy and confident. If taking the pictures and looking at them brings you joy, having them to look at later also gives you the ability to reflect on this in the moments that aren’t so joyful.
Sexuality doesn’t always have to be about sex. It is what you make it. Your goal could be to feel that spark again or maybe it’s to build your confidence. Either way, sex is not imperative to the process. What is imperative is being present. Don’t think about what you wish could be different or how badly you want things to go back to how they used to be. See the beauty in your soul and your body as they are now. Even if your body mostly offers you negativity, I promise that isn’t all that it has to give.
Sometimes it takes some extra effort to see it, but your body is on your side. When you work together with your body instead of fighting against it the results could be explosive…in the best way possible.