“I once left a man because he wouldn’t touch me,” I whispered into my lover’s ear as we lay cuddling after a make out session, relaxing myself into his body, enjoying the heat emanating from him.
He was visiting me for a night. It turned into 3 days of playing house and daydreaming about what life will be like when we are no longer scraping the barrel for survival. It’s a quiet existence punctured by random questions and conversations about who we are, when we are outside.
I call him my preference. I think it’s self explanatory. He is here to quieten the noise when I’m in doubt about being desired and wanted, never making me feel anything but secure in his presence with my disability and my humanity.
We met online, like almost all my great love stories. We matched after vibe checking if what we both wanted was the same thing. I asked him to be my lover for 6 months and if he meets somebody or I meet anybody else, we will update each other and renegotiate our agreement. This past week was a complete year of seeing him almost every week without fail for a day of intimacy and physical replenishment.
Intimacy and physical replenishment; simple right? You would think that after living through a traumatic virus era, still ongoing, people would be more willing to be honest about how life affirming a simple touch from the right person can be. It’s a reminder that we are never alone and it’s okay to want to be affirmed by others, whether for a night or a month or forever.
Dating as a disabled woman now in my 40s ( hello sexy 40) has been an interesting experience. I say “interesting” because it’s turning out to be a journey of self discovery with fewer insecurities and more abandon. I’ve learnt to ask for things that eight years ago would have mortified me. Simple things like asking to be held and being specific about how I want to be held. It’s a different existence compared to my able bodied self years ago who would curl up with a man who swore he loved me and yet he cringed at my touch, or accuse me of being passive aggressive and I admit I thought nothing of it because I didn’t know I could ask and expect more without having to question if I was worthy of it. Lying in the arms of somebody who responds positively in words and in touch without feeling like you are harassing them had to be an experience I had in my late 30s. I feel like I was cheating myself out of knowing better. Thank goodness for growth.
It could be an age thing or a disability thing, but I’m kinder to myself now. I’ve also recently gained a lot of weight. I’m going through some challenges that have required medication and my weight has ballooned as a result. And instead of forcing myself to wear ill fitting clothes, I just bought pajamas and called it a day. The pressure of being young and thin is lost to me and I am appreciating this new body with rolls that rolls (ha ha).
Admitting that I needed constant physical touches with my lover also means when I say I need his attention, he takes his glasses off and puts his phone away. Gone are the days of hearing “attention goes where energy flows” instead of just holding me.
Deciding to go no contact with my blood family was another growth step I took towards healing myself, physically and mentally. I don’t react to the drama that usually came with being part of my family. The constant flight urge they triggered in me has subsided. I don’t feel lost in my body anymore and the fear that they will let me down again is slowly leaving my body. I just have to remind myself that they have no power over me and since I know I don’t have to depend on them, I don’t have to wait for failed promises. I know I have myself and my community to count on and that it’s okay.
I wish I could explain the peace that comes with knowing that I don’t have to run away from myself or my disappointments anymore, nor my fears and my doubts. I have been on the run for a while…something I wasn’t even aware that I was until my late 30s. I mean, I was in a “happy “ relationship and yet I would get called a harasser. The man I had the hots and the heart for would reject me with subtle and not-so-subtle hints, but because I thought if *this* doesn’t work as a then 30 something year old, I was doomed. There is very limited literature about women in their 40s being fabulously happy, even less featuring disabled women. Ironically, the disability actually got me out of my dysfunctional existence as a whole, so I can’t really begrudge it considering how it introduced me to so many better things: To a better me, better love, better sex and self advocacy that never doubts itself.
In this new season, I’m counting more gains than losses to be honest.
Acceptance of my circumstances and the sweet and sour blessing of disability – the everlasting oxymoron of having to lose my ability to stand on my feet – finally gave me the courage to ask for what I want without being afraid of being lost in translation or being left because I asked for a little more touch on the right spots.
Before I go, the shock of the increased libido as I get older…! Let me tell you. I was not warned enough but I can’t seem to want to stop whispering “touch me right there” to my lover and he responds with a happy “But of course, is this how you like it?” * Sigh.*
Thank you 40!
Makgosi Letimile is a Speaker, Writer, Columnist and Founder of WheelsnToys , a disability advocacy & SRHR Educator. You can find her on Twitter at @MakgosiL This article kicks off Adventures’ recognition of Disability Awareness Month.