What do you do when you can’t do it?

30/04/2024 0 Comments

Welcome back to Caring About Sex and Disability, dear reader! 

Well, hello dear reader. I have a bit of a story for you this blog, in order to set the scene. A few weeks ago, I had a session with my favourite sex worker. We were in the throes of our session; me in bed, enjoying every second and he next to me, prepping for his next sexy advance. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel sexy anymore. As we lay there together, I came to a stark realisation: I realised that as a severely disabled person, there was a lot that I couldn’t do anymore. As I was trying to give him fellatio, I noticed that it was becoming physically harder to do. My spastic quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy was making the act far less enjoyable, and try as I might, it was way less fun. In that moment, that very vulnerable moment, I realised that I was losing some of my sexual abilities as a disabled person, and that was hard to swallow (no pun intended). As I lay there naked, next to a dreamboat of a lover, I didn’t know what to do or say. I played it off as coolly as I could, and I’m pretty sure we moved onto something more accessible, but that feeling never really left. Today, I want to explore what you can do when your body changes, and as a result, your sexual abilities change also. Let’s crack in!

1. Grieve It

I think one of the most important things to do when you realise that you can’t do a sexual act in the same way (or at all anymore), is to grieve it. Disabled people are so often told to find the positive in things, but we are very rarely given the opportunity to mourn what’s been lost. So if you all of a sudden can’t give that manual stimulation or that blowjob like you used to, go ahead and cry about it. Get angry at it and let out a scream if you need to. These are big, big changes and you deserve to feel whatever comes.

2. Talk to Your Partner About It

In this scenario for me, I simply moved onto something I could do, and I never really expressed to my sexual partner the feelings of loss or anger that I had around losing the ability to give great head.  I think it’s important that we really talk to our partners about these feelings–especially if our partners are lucky enough to have more abilities than we do.  Let them know how it truly feels for you; what about it scares you, angers you, etc.  By letting them know you help them to change their intimate expectations, and it can keep the deep intimacy disability helps foster flowing quite nicely.  The talk isn’t always easy because you never want to feel like you are letting a partner down, but give it a try anyway.  You might find just through talking it out, the stress dissipates. 

3. Ground Yourself 

So, you’re in that moment with the partner where you can’t do something sexual the same way you could before.  There they are, and you feel all this pressure to perform because you know that your access to sexuality is not as frequent as your able-bodied counterparts.  What the fuck do you do in the moment?  I was talking with the team at Care Rehab the other day and they said something that won’t stop ringing in my ears: they suggested grounding yourself.   Take in the sights, sounds, tastes and sensations in that moment. What does your partner taste like?  When you look at them – what do you feel?  When they are touching your genitals, out of desire, not just caregiving,  what does that feel like?  I think this is such a great step that I often overlook.  I am often too busy trying to recreate the porn I watched earlier, when what I ought to be doing is grounding myself.  Give it a try yourself. 

4. Talk to a Psychosexual Therapist

I know that talking to a therapist can be hard to consider on its own, and the idea of talking to a therapist about your sex life? Oh, no.  It can feel very overwhelming, I know.  But, I also know that this is funded in Australia through NDIS, and I think this is so great.  So, why not go and tell a psychosexual therapist like the team at Care Rehab about these issues.  Talk it the fuck out.  Don’t hold all that internalised ableism in and let it hurt you; get out with someone who is trained to tackle these feelings with you.  Regardless of whether you’re in a relationship, situationship, sex worker/client dynamic, maybe you can bring your partner with you to the appointment so you can say all you need to.  It’s definitely worth a go, I think. 

While this list is not exhaustive, if you are disabled and have noticed that your sexual abilities have changed – let me just say – I see you and I’m right there with you.  I hope this blog helps you feel less alone, and gives you some avenues to think about.  If I have missed anything you think ought to be here, let me know by leaving a comment or e-mailing andrew@andrewgurza.com.

Until next time. 

Andrew Gurza

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