Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tit for Tat: If on a Winter's Night by Touchstone67 (sexuality and physical disabilities)

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We here in the Shack love reading smut and looking at pretty porny things, but we also love you. Yes, each and every one of you -- reader, writer, blog follower, and Twitter pal. That’s why we feel it’s important to take pause every once in a while and get serious.


More often than not humans define sexuality with the most basic of terms, relying on the assumption that everyone that has sex looks, acts and feels things the same way. Many of us have noticed how that doesn’t always work for us. Just look at many of the question that Ask Naughty Nurse Kimpy gets about multiple orgasms, pain-free sex on the first time and women who want tips on how to masturbate. One size doesn’t always fit all when it comes to sexuality, and this is never more true when it comes to having sex with someone with a physical disability or impairment.

In many of the mainstream movies and tv shows we see about people struggling with paralysis sexuality is mentioned, but rarely ever truly explored. That is sad, since human beings’ sexuality and it’s expression is such huge part of who we are. Having a traumatic event that forever alters your physical body is a life changing moment. Redefining who they are as not just a person, but as a sexual partner can be quite a journey.

On this installment of Tit for Tat we want to offer resources for those who might be struggling with the process of redefining themselves sexually after a paralysis, and to help open everyone’s eyes to the sexy possibilities that come with having a paralyzed partner. After all, we all want to be seen as desirable and beautiful, and as the story and images will show, “sexy” comes in many different forms, and even on wheels. ;)

Resources:
User's Guide for the Paralyzed Penis: Sex after spinal cord injury is a wonderful article written by a man who suffered from a spinal cord injury himself.

The Reeve Foundation offers resources not just on sexuality, but on every aspect of living with paralysis.

Here’s a naughty little How to on everything from having sex in a wheelchair to how to handle safe sex with catheters.


This month we focus on a fic that explores sexuality after being paralyzed. You might find yourself surprised at the feelings this story elicits in you, but we hope you’ll take a chance on reading it.


Title:
If on a Winter’s Night
Author: Touchstone67
Chapters: 18
Words: 275,117
Reviews: 1518
Summary: One fateful, winter's night, Edward and Jasper's lives are turned upside down. Is their relationship strong enough to withstand the aftermath, or will they be driven apart forever? Rated M for sexual situations, language. AH J/E slash




Emmy - This is a really hard fic to write a recc for. As I really don’t know what to focus on first. Is it the intense love affair between these two boys? Is it the fact that they are at a point where both Edward and Jasper are having to keep their love and sexual orientation a secret? Or is it the fact that a tragic accident befalls Edward and he becomes paralysed? Well I somehow have to focus on all these things. As Touchstone67 weaves everything together. Whilst keeping the focus so much on the human element of the story. This kind of tragedy unfortunately happens to young males far too often. Road traffic accidents and TBI’s and Spinal Injuries befell young men more than any other group! I spent a while working in a neurological hospital, and the number of 16-23 year old males receiving treatment was terrifying. That experience showed me the human side of these tragedies, often (unlike in this Edward’s case) caused by speeding or the males being drunk when driving. The reality of their situations is that these poor guys have to completely rebuild their lives, often not only coping with a complete change to their entire existence but also having to cope with personality changes and un-regulated emotional states. I think Touchstone67 showcases this struggle so realistically. At times both Edward and Jasper struggle to recognise Edward as he tries to find a way forward. But as in real life tragedies, what makes a difference to Edward? You guessed it - Love. Love, support, respect and friendship. Jasper gives Edward all of these by the shedload. Without dosing Edward in pity. Well meaning friends and even his family smother Edward in pity. This does nothing for his identity or his resilience to re-emerge and find himself. Thankfully Jasper is an absolute little diamond. And does not give up.

The biggest barrier facing anyone who has suffered a life-altering trauma is reconciling who they were, who they know are and who they can be. When anything life-shattering happens to us, we cannot dust ourselves off and carry on regardless (no matter what facsimiles of old propaganda//morale posters from WWII try to tell us) we have to work out and discover who we will be, who we can be now. Touchstone67 handles this beautifully. Not only do we see where Edward and Jasper are now. We see who they were. Touchstone shows us the Edward, and therefore the Edward and Jasper they, used to be - through the use of heartfelt, poignant, happy and heart-wrenching flashbacks. These flashbacks told from both POV’s show us how they used to be, their hopes, dreams and fears for their future and provide us with such sexy times. Two randy, desperately in love teenage blokes, who have plenty of alone time and a thirst for exploration and a hunger to make it special for one-another = a load of sensuous and tingly-hot experiences. These flashbacks are very bittersweet for us readers, as we know that Edward and Jasper can't revisit those highs. Instead they have to rediscover what sex and love looks like for them. Touchstone does this beautifully from Jasper getting advice from forums and being so gentle and keen. To Edward no longer holding back as much and responding to Jasper's desire and enjoying knowing he can still effect and affect Jasper in that way. It's a very hard road ahead, both have a lot to come to terms with - but they will get there together. Beautiful.

We don't know what the future holds for these beautiful boys. But we know they will find a way - together with JAsper as Edwards rock and light. Their love is beautiful and inspirational. As they create a new future for themselves.

Jess - It's not often I find a story that truly touches something deep inside me. When I first started reading If on a Winter’s Night, I got concerned that what has been a very well-written, and beautifully executed story would end in a traditional cheesy, physically impossible happily ever after. After reading all the posted chapters, I am fully convinced that Touchstone67
will see her story and the characters she's created through to the end. They may have a HEA, but I expect it will be very true to the themes and foreshadowing she has set forth and not something miraculous and out of the blue.

If on a Winter’s Nightis the story of two high school boys, in love and in the closet. Jasper and Edward had been dating for a year when on New Year's Eve, the night they were supposed to make love for the first time, Edward is in a car accident that paralyzes him from the waist down. Jasper is devastated, and it's hard to watch him suffer alone as "the best friend" when all you really want him to be able to do is go into Edward's hospital room and curl up in bed with him. The guilt Jasper feels over the accident and the anger Edward feels toward him is so palpable and visceral it makes me shudder just thinking about it.

Edward's physical, emotional, and mental journey is painful to watch, but it is done with so much realism you can't help but press on. There are little victories along the way that Jasper plays a large roll in.

This story is told through present day goings on and flashbacks. Touchstone67 helps us see what Jasper and Edward were like before the accident. We see their playful, carefree relationship, the intense physical, often insatiable need they had for each other. The flashbacks provide a depth to the story we wouldn't otherwise get, and I've really appreciated the way in which she's used them.

Touchstone67 doesn't hold back as she shows the challenges Edward faces. He can't walk, has to use a catheter to urinate, and has to manually stimulate his rectum in order to have a bowl movement. We see him struggle to learn to shower by himself, dress himself, and move in, out, and around in his wheelchair. His emotional place is dark and deprecating. He often talks about allowing the darkness to consume him, how it would be so much easier than trying to fight against the pain, the loss of identity, and the changing nature of his relationships. We watch as Edward tries to deal with the pressure he feels about the mounting medical bills his parents have, the modifications to his home, looking for employment in a town that really isn't that wheelchair friendly, and the revoking of his basketball scholarship to UW.

This is where Jasper really shines. He becomes a major advocate for Edward. he fights battles that Edward doesn't even know about until after the fact, tries to meet his needs - in all dimensions - and pours out his heart and soul for him. Jasper is deeply committed to Edward, and at every turn he pushes and waits until Edward is ready for more. This applies on so many levels -- emotionally giving him time to get a sense for what he's lost... and gained, showing Edward that while they can't necessarily do and feel all the same things sexually they can still be intimate, learning to explore each other in new and different ways, and more importantly, showing him that while he might physically be in a wheelechair that he can still do many of the things he used to do... just differently.

That was a major theme. The same but different. The same Edward, but with different physical abilities; the same lover, who feels and receives sexual stimulation differently; the same guy who loves and plays basketball, but with different equipment and muscles. I loved this about the whole story. It was a beautiful articulation of how life changing experiences impact your sense of self and identity. I still can't get over how intensely I felt Edward's struggle. This was particularly evident when his mom got a handicapped tag for her car:

"Umm...I watched some old game film," I admitted softly.

"Oh, baby," he sighed.

"It's okay. I mean, it was hard, but it was okay," I lied.

"I wish you had waited until I was there with you, we could have watched them together."

I couldn't tell him that I hadn't been alone, that the darkness had kept me company. "No, it was better this way. I needed to do it. Part of giving up my old life I think," I murmured.

"You don't have to give it up, Edward. You just have to be ready to try a different one."

"And that means no more basketball," I whispered.

"No, but it means a different kind of basketball," he offered. "Just like us. Remember you told me you couldn't get hard and you thought we would never do anything sexual again? But we do, it's different than before, but it's still just as amazing."

Bella plays an interesting role in this story. She was Edward's girlfriend, and she was the one with whom he experienced many "firsts." As you can imagine, Jasper isn't a fan and is often jealous Bella can still touch Edward in ways he can't in public. But over the course of the story, we see major growth between Jasper and Bella... it's heartwarming to watch their relationship grow and change... and even though she doesn't technically know Edward and Jasper are together, I think she suspects it. Time will tell on that little bit.

Jasper and Edward's parents are great. They support their friendship (although, like Bella, I suspect they know... or at the very minimum suspect there's more between these two). It's heartbreak and warming at the same time watching the way Carlisle and Esme (Edward's parents) support Edward. They give him opportunities to grow and stretch, even when they are scared and unsure for him. I love them.

I've mentioned several times the sexual journey they take. The flashbacks show a voracious sexual appetite with contests that result in blowjobs and all kinds of hand jobs and dry humps. They are hot... like really hot... and really go a long way in showing how different things will be between them. Their relationship wasn't ever about sex, but it was a big part. So, Edward and Jasper together, have to figure out how to do things differently. While Edward can't feel anything below the waist, he can still get hard and maybe even at some point have an orgasm. I have really enjoyed watching how nipple stimulation and other gentle touch above the waist, particularly around the neck and with Edward's hair, have resulted in unique physical sensations that start at the base of his spine and move up.

He opened his eyes wide and looked down at his cock hovering just above his abs. Gripping him again, I stroked him hard and fast while he watched, and alternated my lips between his neck and his ear. He fisted the blanket with one hand while his other was still in my hair. His upper body was shaking, like he was trembling from the cold, only he was far from cold. I groaned against him, my own hips beginning to rut into his side. Taking the tender skin of his neck between my teeth, I sucked hard, knowing it was going to leave a mark but not really giving a damn. At the same time, I tugged on his hair and he cried out. I felt the veins in his cock pulse a few times but it never emptied. It was like it tried to but couldn't. However, his upper body seemed to be on the high of an
orgasm, shuddering and flexing in waves, his eyes clenched as he grunted with the effort. Staggered breaths escaped him as he finally settled back onto the mattress. I slowed my strokes but never stopped as I lifted my head from the crook of his neck.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Did you..."

"I don't know. It was like...weird. I mean, at first, it just felt really good. Everything was really sensitive, but then when I saw you touching me, even though I couldn't feel it, the other stuff you were doing got even more intense. Then I closed my eyes I imagined you touching me like that before and what it felt like and how it felt to come. There was like this weird tickling in the back of my neck and it spread down my spine instead of up like before."

"Did it feel good?"

He turned his head to me, a sexy smirk on his lips and a faint blush to his cheeks. "Yeah, it felt really fucking good."

Leaning forward, I kissed him. "Jake said the brain is the largest sex organ, maybe when you saw me touching you, it triggered a memory and you kinda felt it again."

These two have a long way to go in their journey. Edward still has to learn to accept his life in a wheelchair... without accepting that he's "just" in a wheelchair. He is the same person but different, and he's well on his way to figuring that out with Jasper by his side. I am in love with this story and these boys. I want them to find a happily ever after that is realistic and them. I very much look forward to seeing how this story wraps up. Give this story a go; you will not be disappointed.

Liz - Touchstone67 has a knack for writing Jasper and Edward as internally strong yet sweetly vulnerable characters. She is fearless about exposing them to terrible life events and loss, and yet her boys always maintain that their core characteristics of true friendship and love for each other. If you’ve read Mergers & Acquisitions or Lost and Found, you know what I mean. If on a Winter’s Night is no exception.

There has been a number of wheelchair-bound characters lately, including Edward in Impact, among others. If on a Winter’s Night tackles the subject in a fresh way. Touchstone67 shows us what it’s like for two young men, passionately in love but still closeted, to navigate their world and their relationship in the wake of the immediate and devastating changes that accompany sudden paralysis.

Touchstone67 does an amazing job of ripping our hearts out, as usual, when Edward is injured in a car accident on New Year’s Eve, on his way to Jasper’s house. On the night they’d planned to make love for the first time, Edward is instead hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. While the reader is pretty well assured Edward isn’t going to die at this point, your heart is still in your hands as you read. Through a rich interweaving of past and present, we are drawn farther and farther into their love story, and their heartbreak.

My world had changed because of the beautiful boy whose life was now in the hands of surgeons. They didn't know him; he was nothing but another patient to them, nothing but another notch in the belt toward their God complex.

They didn't know that he was everything to me.

They didn't know that he snorted when he laughed too hard.

They didn't know that he always brought me a sub from work.

They didn't know that he had worked his ass off to earn his 'A' in AP Chemistry.

They didn't know that he was in love with a boy who meant everything in the world to him.

Outside the room, the universe continued, changing every second, every second that Edward walked the line between life and death, people went on with their lives; patients came and left, visitors hugged relatives, doctors gave orders.

I hated them all. I hated how they got to smile and hug and love while I sat there wondering if Edward would ever do any of those things again.

We witness the devastating moment when Edward receives the news about his injuries, and feel both his and Jasper’s pain as they both move through anger, guilt, blame, despair and bargaining.

"Please, God…I'll do anything, anything, just don't take his legs, please," I begged. I clenched my eyes to stop the tears, but instead, they rolled down the side of face to my neck.
Maybe there was something I could do.

"Take mine instead," I bartered through gritted teeth, my balled fists hitting the sides of my thighs. "Take my legs and give him his. Please take mine," I begged, repeating it over and over. "He doesn't deserve this… please."

Weak, I fell to my knees, the snow doing nothing to cushion me from the pavement underneath. Choking back more tears, I wrapped my arms around my chest as I finally began to feel the cold seeping through my numb skin, my thin pants unable to keep the chill out.

The bartering hadn't worked, I could still feel my legs.

Touchstone67 is fearless, showing us the pain of Edward’s struggle to adjust to a new world, framing it with Jasper’s beautiful memories of who they were as friends, athletes and lovers before that terrible New Year’s Eve. The contrast between the two is stark, but what shines through is Jasper’s devotion, and Edward’s strength. You will cheer as much as you will cry when reading this - crying over all the things Jasper and Edward may never experience again as lovers, sobbing when Edward pushes Jasper away, sobbing again when they reconcile, cheering as Edward turns ever more important corners in his emotional and physical recovery, and cheering and sobbing both as they begin to redefine intimacy.

This isn’t just a story about being handicapped, or surviving a terrible accident, or the ins and outs of paralysis. While it is a crazy hot slash story, with plenty of passion and intimacy, it isn’t just about that, either. Touchstone67 gives us a great story about overcoming real-world adversity, and a glimpse into what love and life is like for people with physical challenges. Edward’s physical limitations aren’t romanticized or fetishized, but portrayed in a way that leaves you astounded at the strength of will and determination needed to ‘make it’ in a world designed for ‘able bodied’ people. Underneath it all, though, If on a Winter’s Night is a love story, a story about overcoming tragedy and sticking by the people you love most, and about seeing the fullness of your life instead of what has been taken away.


Jen - When Touchstone67 first started posting chapters of If on a Winter’s Night she warned that tissues would be necessary. But this is not just a sad, angsty story with a miracle fix for any of the challenges Jasper and Edward face. Touchstone67 is taking us on one young man’s journey through grief and healing, and she does so in small steps and setbacks that are realistic.

I have really enjoyed the way Touchstone67 has told Edward and Jasper’s story via flashback and present time narrative. In the flashbacks, we meet two boys, completely in love and having a typically teen boy time exploring their sexuality--aka orgasms as often as possible. Knowing the turn that their lives take on that one fateful night weighs on the reader’s mind even during lemons and other happy times. I know on occasion I’ve felt a little... almost guilty, I guess, for enjoying a lemon, knowing that Edward is paralyzed and won’t get to experience so many things that he and Jasper had dreamed of together, starting with anal sex.

And that points to the truly beautiful and amazing thing that Touchstone67 has done in this story. As Edward begins to gain acceptance of his circumstances, he and Jasper find different ways to share intimacy. Mind you, at this time he is not completely accepting of his paralysis, and experiences frustration, anger, and deep feelings of despair. Some steps forward he takes on his own, some are precipitated by Jasper’s love and concern. Jess mentioned and quoted my favorite scene in the story so far, where Edward has an erection and experiences a different type of orgasm. I was so happy that he felt comfortable enough for Jasper to touch him and that he’d opened himself to a different expression of intimacy and sexuality than he’d even known might exist.

There are many hurdles still facing the boys. They are closeted, and neither one has an in person confidante to share with, except for each other. Edward has just learned how much his treatment costs, and wonders how he’ll ever get to college now that his basketball scholarship is gone. Edward still has a long way to go to fully accept being paralyzed, and even though he realizes he needs Jasper and shouldn’t push him away, he’s sometimes tempted to do so.

These boys have definitely made their way into my heart, and if you come armed with tissues, they will make their way into yours too.



If you are interested in learning more, here are some links with more information about spinal cord injuries:
Spinal Cord Trauma info from Pub Med Health
Christopher Reeve Spinal Cord Injury & Paralysis Foundation
Apparelyzed A ‘spinal cord injury peer support’ site
Spinal-Injury.net A spinal cord injury network
SEXUALITY IN SPINAL CORD INJURY
Intimaterider: Intimacy Mobility Aid
National Wheelchair Basketball Association

1 comments:

busymommy said...

I love this fic and run to read updates when they post. In between, I frequently re-read--just because I cant let the boys go while I wait.

I started reading this based strictly off the incredibly powerful fan video I saw on youtube and have been hooked ever since.

A recurrent them in ever one of my reviews has been the beautifully sensitive and poignant story that Touchstone67 is telling. Nothing is candy coated. It is all there and it is all real. And lets be honest, real life is not pretty.

For Jasper and Edward, the love they share, the truly unconditional aspects of it, are what make ever setback and pitfall worth crying through--the love shines through ever minute of it.

I have emptied literally boxes of tissues over this fic and consider every tear shed a tribute to the remarkable job Touchstone67 has done writing this story