Having a chronic illness - especially one that’s undiagnosed - has made me fully realize how valuable my time is.
© Hayley Jade
Like many stereotypical escorts from TV and movies, I haven’t had an easy life. However, my struggles are probably not the kind you’d expect. Although I didn’t grow up in a loving home and I’ve had my share of financial struggles in the past, I’m actually very privileged in the fact that I never have to work again. I struck the goldmine that is the permanent disability benefit, and I have a beautiful home in an area with reasonable rent. My hardships these days are more to do with a figurative house rather than a physical one: I struggle with chronic illness—or disability, if you’d prefer—every day, and being a sex worker with a chronic illness is something that enriches my life instead of something I’m forced into.
I’ve fought against my body for the past 10 years, knocking on every doctor’s door to try to understand what’s going on inside me. Multiple symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, brain fog, fatigue, memory problems, fevers, pain, numbness, pins and needles, and being sick far too often have made keeping any job difficult. I struggled for years to get disability benefits, and I’m happy to say that being financially stable and having a roof over my head is one less thing I have to worry about. The #ChronicLife isn’t a cushy one, but the thing that has kept me in good spirits is continuing to work. After all, as most people with disabilities will tell you, we really don’t want to sit at home and do nothing.
What does it mean to be a sex worker with a chronic illness?
Working as an escort is the perfect job for someone like me who loves being around people, but has limited energy. Getting paid to socialize gives me the motivation to escape the isolation of disability as well as the ability to recharge between appointments. Of course, freelancing means deciding whether or not to take work because you never know when you’re going to get it again. Like other sex workers, this means seeing clients sometimes when I don’t feel sexy. But one of the things I love about this job is that it gets me out of my head and into the space of self-care—because you can’t do this job well without putting yourself first. Once I’ve taken a luxurious bath and put on beautiful lingerie, it’s impossible to not feel desirable.
As a person with a chronic illness who spends a lot of time feeling detached from her body, routinely taking sexy photos for ads and having regular orgasms with clients helps me to reconnect with my physical self. If I’m feeling disappointed in how my body is looking or behaving one day, my whole demeanor changes once I open that door and greet the client on the other side. Suddenly, my purpose becomes about being the person the client needs at that moment—and by tapping into the best version of myself, I end up improving my own mindset.
And while I admit this can lead to a bit of imposter syndrome, my clients don’t seem to have any complaints. In fact, I have rave reviews despite sometimes dropping a glass, pulling a muscle or forgetting a word. After all, my clients are human too, and GFE (the girlfriend experience) is more than just having sex or going out to dinner—it’s about forming a human connection. Despite my flaws, I can say with certainty that I was made for this job.
As a sex worker with a chronic illness, whether my clients are divorced, anxious, unhappy, lonely, busy or just lustful, I can relate to some part of their lives because I’ve lived a complex one. Having a chronic illness – especially one that’s undiagnosed – has made me fully realize how valuable my time is, and how important it is to enjoy the little things in life. I have no idea if my symptoms will progress long term, or how I’ll feel day-to-day. I don’t know how sick I really am, because nobody has given me answers. And because I’m so aware of my mortality, I take the good days as ones to cherish and the bad days as ones to rest. I’ve been forced to slow down and appreciate the beauty in life, and it’s this joy I hope to spread to my clients during the little time we have together between the stress and the mundane.
“Some of my favorite clients are other people with disabilities, because we’re both contributing so much to each others’ lives.”
Sex work has given me the gift of being able to enjoy my life more. I’ve had opportunities to do things I probably never would have otherwise, such as having my first threesome, going to my first sex club, and having my first orgy—all with beautiful women I wouldn’t have met as a shy bisexual. I’ve been wined and dined during an overnight where I made more money than I get from disability in a month. I’ve met people from all kinds of backgrounds who I’ve learned from—whether a young, autistic white man or an older man from Syria with a disability. Some of my favorite clients are other people with disabilities, because we’re both contributing so much to each others’ lives. All of this in an ableist society that makes it seem like people with disabilities can’t be happy.
There are a lot of men who call themselves hobbyists in this industry who treat escorts like things to collect, and I’m not here for their egos. I’m here for those who want to remember what it feels like to be touched, who crave a genuine connection and whose lives would benefit from having a companion like me. Although it’s nice to have some extra income, at the end of the day escorting isn’t about the money for me. My time is just as valuable as my clients’, and I want to take that time to know that I have a purpose here. I want to help my clients build unforgettable memories together, or at least find some relief in the tiny bubble which is our appointment. Because, regardless of how healthy my clients are compared to me, we’re all going to die someday, and it would be a pity not to enjoy life as much as possible before we go.