Is what you can see as important as what you don’t see? You can’t see what others have done to my body. The pain they have inflicted. I’ve had my womanhood removed to the point where I don’t feel as physically exposed as I do emotionally. The words I have chosen to share are raw and uncovered. Far more than a naked body can ever be. I want you to see what can’t be seen.
For some of us, our bodies have been abused by the people around us. Be that intimate partners, medical staff, or careless support workers. We’ve been touched without being touched, and we’ve been intimate without being intimate. We’ve had our motherhood dissected, stripped bare, doubted and questioned. And in the face of all this, we have been resilient. Not inspiring, not stubborn, not proud, or furiously independent. Just resilient.
As I sit vulnerably before you naked and exposed, I don’t feel either of these. My disability, my body, my skin, my breasts (or lack there of) are not what expose me, or makes me vulnerable. But I am both of these things and none of these things depending on how you see me. Don’t see me for my parts, my body, or my disability. See me for who I am. A woman. A mother. A lover. Beautifully vulnerable. Beautifully exposed.
Intimacy has been a journey, one I’m still on. It exists in my mind, connected to my body when I choose it to be. It’s not something that someone can take. I can disconnect while being showered by a support worker, and I can reconnect when I lay in bed beside my partner falling asleep. I’ve found joy in being intimate, and how to enjoy my body for myself. My body isn’t an object to be used by others. True intimacy comes without strings attached. I control when I let people in, and I control when I choose to close them out.
I hope this one image can help you to redefine your concept of vulnerability. Re-evaluate your perception of disability. And re-think your understanding of intimacy.