There was a time, when I was younger and more spirited, that my relationships bounced from one woman to another. The sense of youth, of new-found masculinity during the late teens and early twentys, seemed endless. Some people might say that I was out to prove my masculinity, but I would argue against that. Doubts didn't exist, just the desire to experience.
Twenty-three years ago, I meant someone in whom I found all the qualities that I could ever want in a relationship. Within days of our meeting, it seems, the semi-insane drive to wander from one relationship to another came to a halt. I suddenly became at ease with myself, and the raging fires of youth became the gentle flame that kept warm the desires of our marriage.
There has never been a great urgency in our love-making. We were secure in our love for one another, gentle and caring in our desires. Frequency reports from psychologists, who had little else to do other than ask intimate questions, had no affect on us. When we wanted, we did. If we missed two weeks, it didn't matter. Raising two daughters while both of us worked, the stress and strains of day to day life sometimes made the quiet moments between lights out and sleep the only time that we had to ourselves, moments that we spent in soft whispers or in a gently hug.
As the seasons change so do our lives. As much as we try to hold on to a lifestyle that we find enjoyable, so to do outside forces place before us the obstacles that we know as challenges. For some it might be the loss of a job, the death of a child, the pain of cancer. In my case it was a diagnosis of Parkinson's. I've gone through the anger, the guilt and the depression. I fought and yelled and screamed and kicked and finally came to realize that nothing I could say or do would make the monster go away. It's here to stay. Like an unwanted live-in guest, it's here every waking moment, wanting attention, demanding recognition, insisting on being a major factor in my life.
Being a male, I can only relate this from a masculine point of view. I would think that females feel a parallel sense of loss, a deep change in the sense of sexuality. The essence of manhood, the self-assured acceptance in the world of football and cars and Saturday afternoon lawn mowing, of having a few beers with the guys, of hunting and fishing and hanging around the hardware store fade into history as the new world of medications, stumbling walks and shaking hands moves in as a replacement.
Within the relationship of marriage, the essence of sexuality also changes. The questions arise within ourselves of our mates' desire within the scope of our physical appearance. Of course we are the same person, but love and desire sometimes take separate paths. The concept we hold of ourselves becomes different, feelings of self-worth, of acceptance, become clouded by our disability.
This is when love must change. It must become wider than before, more willing to accept the faults, the failures and the physical appearances. Either accept or fade away, to become just another memory. Love-making either comes from the desires of closeness, caring and deep bound love or a desperate attempt to regain a lost past.
As often as we try to rise above the physical, we are reminded that we are physical. We cannot deny our existence - physically, spiritually or sexually. To do so is to admit defeat to our disability, to give up a part of our lives, to let part of ourselves die.
But still, somewhere in my mind, are the doubts. Why? What if? Knowing it's going to get worse, I try to see into the future. Five, ten years from now, what will we be like? What if the situation were reversed, if she had the disability and I became the CareGiver?
Sexuality and PD is a very sensitive subject for each one of us. It hurts to know what the future holds, to see others far more advanced in the progression than I.
That isn't what I had in mind when we married, when we had our first child. It isn't what I pictured for retirement, for our "Golden Pond."
When it comes to surveys and statistics, I think it really doesn't matter that I don't have 2.3 orgasm per week arising from 3.4 attempts. That is not what my life is all about. At this point in my life sex and love are the same, they are held together in the eyes of my wife, in a smile, in a soft and warm kiss.
How many times have we made love? Once. It began the moment we met, and will not end until we each have take our last breath.