A quadriplegic woman’s journey to sexual happiness

This personal essay was originally published in 2006, but it is so honest and important that it deserves to be highlighted. Getting Around: How I Discovered My Wheelchair Wasn’t a Chastity Belt by Tiffiny Carlson is a poignant piece about a woman growing up and taking charge of her sexuality.

Carlson broke her neck when she was fourteen after doing a swan dive into a lake. As a a low-level quadriplegic, she has the use of her biceps and wrists, but no triceps function. For the first few years after her accident, Carlson felt out-of-place at school and worried that she would never find a partner. Because she had no experience with sexual pleasure prior to her injury, she also had trouble masturbating.

But Carlson persisted. She found boyfriends, experimented with online dating, had new sexual experiences, and slowly learned what felt best to her.

During the movie, we sat on my automatic bed and made out. He leaned over and quickly pulled up my tank, exposing my breasts. He was so deft, so confident, and clearly experienced. I let go at that point and let him explore me at will. I’m a submissive at heart and get turned on from giving up complete control. Being paralyzed makes that very easy to do, which is perhaps the one ironic benefit of my accident.

He reached down into my panties and found my clit in a millisecond. I was shocked. My legs started jumping around as he rubbed it furiously. I had never, ever thought my clit could give me that much pleasure.

. . . I was so excited about how great sex could be that I went on a tear and had sex with eight men in eight weeks. It was shockingly easy to do. Guys came out of the woodwork on MySpace, OkCupid and Match when they saw I was a sexy single blonde — disabled, sure, but most didn’t care . . . Some were good, some were bad. But the whole experience was physically and emotionally exhilarating.

Read Carlson’s full piece on Nerve.