‘Perfect in My Imperfection’
Written by By Lina Pane. Copyright 2005. About the writer: Lina owns her business in counseling and consultancy called ‘A Different Kind of V-You’. She has expertise in the disability field as a leader, community development worker, social worker, researcher and published disabled feminist writer and speaker. Lina is actively involved with Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) as a member of the management committee.
The way we live our lives is fundamentally influenced by other people’s reactions to our physical and intellectual differences but also by society’s reactions to the needs created by those differences. (Pride Against Prejudice, by J. Morris p117. 1991. Women’s Press, London).
This statement…..if you ask yourself honestly can be about you, as we are all in some way influenced by how others see us and react accordingly. How many of you are influenced by today’s fashion? How many of you can truly say that you can look at yourself in the mirror and like what you see? Can you stand there naked…….feeling comfortable in your skin? Is there anything you want to change if you could?
Do I feel comfortable in my skin? I can honestly say that after 39 years I have adapted to my body. I don’t truly accept my body, but I don’t have to as it will change with time and age, so I adapt with it. I can truly stand in front of a mirror naked and like what I see. The natural womanly curves combined with the twisted and the imperfection……my disability! I have different names for the different parts of my body but in particular I gave names to the disabled parts. My hands are bent at the wrist, so I call them kangaroo paws; a name given to them by a child many years ago, no harm was intended. My legs are also affected by my disability. They are stiff like and look like chicken legs, due to the many operations and plaster casts and braces that my legs had to endure in order for me to stand and walk today.
The rest of my body is fine. I have a voluptuous figure and a pretty face. My mother always said to me that ‘someone above’ wanted to make my life a challenge but would reward me with a pretty face and womanly curves. It really doesn’t matter what shape we are, as long as we are comfortable in our skin.
I’ve often looked at my life and wonder if I would have been the same person, if I didn’t have this disability……maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t really matter, as I am who I am.
Today I am a woman that is strong, happy, confident, sensual and sexy. I have wants and needs like any other woman, if not more. I’m consciously aware of my sensuality and sexuality. I can walk in a room of strangers quite confidently knowing that I’m being looked at not just because of my disability but because I am a woman. Its taken me a long time to see myself as a woman……and sometimes it’s hard as you get caught up in the twisted movements of your body, or the pain in the early morning, the difficulty of getting out of bed, as your body is screaming…….just because it can. You have no control, and you have no idea of how you wake, whether you’ll get up in time to get to work or if you get there at all. How do I manage to feel sensual or sexy when I can’t even move? You just are.
Before being the woman I am today, I did define myself by how others saw me….. not intentionally or consciously…..it was just there. I never thought I was good enough to be loved completely, as I was told continuously that a ‘disabled’ man wasn’t good enough for me and an ‘able-bodied’ man would just use me for fun! The person who told me this is my mother. I know she loves me and meant no harm by saying this to me. You would think that after being told this, that I would have low self esteem? I don’t! Yes it has affected me, not saying it hasn’t but if anything, I’ve discovered that I am perfect in my imperfection. How did I discover this? Through my sexual encounters.
Well! I married a so called ‘disabled man!’ My sweetheart from childhood. He proposed to me the 1st time when we were 4 yrs old, then when I was 31yrs old. He not only was my first sexual encounter but he taught me how to love myself first. Our marriage didn’t work, but we are still friends. I then had many other encounters with men, as I felt it was the only way to knowing who I am, and what I discovered was that no one is perfect – only perfect in their imperfection. Some of my lovers did have a disability but many didn’t have a so called ‘disability’, as labeled by society. They were strong, attractive, successful men. Men, attracted to my confidence, self esteem, sensuality, my sexual drive and the curiosity of what it would be like to be with me! Nothing wrong with curiosity! What I discovered was really interesting to me. The exercise, as I thought, was about me, discovering that I was beautiful, because I had these men interested in me. I also wanted to prove to myself, and subconsciously to my mother that an ‘able-bodied’ man could find me attractive, that they didn’t just want me for fun but interested in me, because I was a sensual, sexy woman in my own right!
What I discovered wasn’t earth shattering. I discovered that men just like women, once you peel away the clothes, have the same insecurities about their bodies, and their sexuality. Many of the men had great difficulty standing naked in front of me because of their own insecurities. I still had my own insecurities, but seeing it, in someone else’s eyes was humbling. My last sexual encounter was the most challenging of all. He unnerved me! Got under my skin and illustrated how I still define myself by how others see me. I even asked him, why he was attracted to me? His reply was simple. I was sexy, sensual and challenged not only his mind but his body. He helped me realize that the only person that thinks I’m disabled is me! This was hard, as I thought I was comfortable in my skin, but I wasn’t.
I finally let go of the fact that the only way of finding me was through a sexual encounter. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sex, but it’s not enough anymore on its own. I want the whole package. I want love, I want the romance, the passion and the sex combined. I decided to be single for awhile, to work on me. Learn about my body, mind, emotions and spirit combined. I realized that no one can complete me or make me feel perfect…….it’s all up to me.
There is a new man in my life. He is perfect in his imperfection. I’ve fallen in love! I have no idea where this journey will go and I really don’t mind. I love life. I live it…….run with it……and face its challenges.
We all at one time have difficulty standing in front of the mirror naked. I dare you to look at you! See the perfection in your imperfection. I can, can you?