My name is Naomi.
They say that I was born in the Netherlands, but if you ask me, I’m not. I never had the feeling of being home, not even in the house that they called my home. After all I experienced, I realized I was simply born in my body. This brought me to the idea of inspiring others, teaching people that you CAN live with traumatic experiences and how to use the lessons life gives you to create something beautiful.
On the 17th of April I attended a study session in Strassbourg on “Supporting Young Disabled People to Explore Sexuality and Relationships as Integral to their Social Inclusion and Independent Living” hosted by ENIL, The European Network on Independent Living.ENIL is a Europe-wide network of disabled people, with members throughout Europe. They represent the disability movement for human rights and social inclusion based on solidarity, peer support, deinstitutionalisation, democracy, self-representation, cross disability and self-determination.
After the 10 hours long travel from Amsterdam to strassbourg my girlfriend and I were exhausted. We arrived at the Council of Europe Youth centre just in time for the introduction evening. We tried to look as normal as possible and faked a smile. The next morning there was no change, the pain in my body worsened and I had to use the wheelchair that they provided for me.
At home I mostly use a walker, but most days I have too much pain to get out of my bed, so I truly appreciated the wheelchair.
I always have had pain related issues throughout my life.It always ignored, dismissed and never diagnosed until Joy, my girlfriend, and my mother kept nagging and insisting I’d see a doctor.I didn’t want to accept the fact that I was 20 years old and disabled, having to use a walker or a wheelchair for support.The week in Strasbourg helped me accept myself and my disability more and for that I am grateful.The relationship between me and my girlfriend has also gotten stronger, because we understand and communicate more.
I’ve made many great connections and friends as well, two of them being Jennie Williams and Emily Yates. You may know these amazing women as CEO and trainers of Enhance the UK and of course the online magazine you’re reading right now, Liability Magazine. They graciously asked me if I would be interested in being a part of the Liability Magazine and become one of their international writers. Feeling honoured and without a doubt in my mind I said yes.
Now here we are, with just the North sea separating us, I am given the chance to tell you my story.