I admit it. I'm ashamed of my body. I'm a world-class athlete and I'm embarrassed by my body. More specifically - I'm embarrassed by what my injuries have done to it and about showing anyone my artificial leg.
Being a Paralympic athlete is as much about overcoming physical problems as it is about dealing with mental ones. And not just the stresses of training and racing, but the everyday stuff - like having a social life and dealing with the negative body image that can come from having a serious injury or disability.
|One of the only times I have raced without tights|
I have always struggled with being an amputee. Especially with the 'superficial' stuff. Imagine, if you can, what it's like when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. When do you reveal that you have a fake leg? First date? Second date? Right before you drop your kit?
As I'm constantly embarrassed by my disability, I always assume that the women in my life will be similarly put off by it. But to their credit - the vast majority haven't batted an eyelid at it. It seems as long as the other parts work, a missing leg isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things! In fact, I can recall a girl in university that I met at a party that was so intrigued by the prosthetic, that she couldn't wait to get me back to her place so she could get me naked and inspect it in greater detail!
Not only do you have to deal with the issue of having a fake leg, but also deal with the appropriate time to take it off! If you think putting a condom on is a passion killer - try stopping the 'action' to pop a fake limb off!
And the artificial leg can have other drawbacks in a relationship. I recall one instance when I was arguing with my partner - and as I stormed off up the stairs, she chased after me and pulled the leg right off me - leaving me sitting there on the stairs, unable to move!
My experiences are unique to me, and I know many amputees I have met or raced against that are totally fine with their disability. I probably never will be. THAT....is my 300 pound gorilla.