Realignment

Fracture Bone, Xray, Skeleton, Diagnosis

There’s an infectious axiom that floats around daytime television, self-help books, and yes – blogs: No one else can love you until you love yourself.

Bullshit.

During my darkest hours, I was loved.  For every day I was most full of self-loathing and despair, there was a person in my life who loved me… and probably couldn’t see the corrosive feelings gnawing away at my insides.  Just like I couldn’t see their love.  Like there was an invisible wall between us.

Those people propelled me to start a ten-year journey of healing from a place of self-injury to a deep self-love… and I did it in a way that would make life coaches cringe hard.

Stage One: Build a fortress.

In my late twenties, I met some rebellious and raucous women who inspired me to say, “Fuck this.”  I stopped looking for love and relished just having a good time; I casually dated and never let anyone get close to me for years.  Using this defense mechanism of putting up walls allowed me to do two important things – learn who I was and what I wanted for me outside of relationships, and embrace casual sex.  I’m very thankful for both.

Stage Two: Stop dating men.

I’d had so many excruciating experiences wherein I a) developed Real Feelings for a boy, b) told him, c) had sex with him to get him to like me back, and d) felt crushed when surprise! He didn’t.  This is probably one of the reasons why I just stopped being that attracted to men.  Dating women allowed me to express my feelings in a safe space (for the most part).  They didn’t lie to or mislead me in order to get sex; in fact, if anything, I had to work on my communication skills in order to tell them exactly what I wanted up front and be really honest when I wasn’t looking for a monogamous relationship – before the sex.  Not only did I have relationships (and phenomenal sex) with strong, adventurous, no-nonsense, compassionate, intelligent, and hilarious women – I was surrounded by them in my community.  Dating women taught me that I have inherent value that is not directly tied to my cunt.

Step Three: Allow yourself to fall in love recklessly with someone you know will break your heart.

I started dating men again because I fell in love with a coworker who I knew was going to leave in a matter of months. When I realized a month in how intensely and romantically I loved this man compared to his palpably platonic love for me, I acknowledged it and dove in headfirst.  I allowed myself to feel all of my feelings – the euphoric and the excruciating – and when I made it through the other side, I’d learned not only to survive, but to open my heart completely because I knew I could survive and recover from heartache.

[Step 3.5: Travel to a tropical locale.  Feel the breeze, listen to the waves, self-evaluate, and drink rum.  Have a lot of sweaty sex with someone who makes you laugh hard.]

Step Four: Recognize the value of other people’s love.

I never have to guess how The Engineer feels about me, and he never has to guess how I feel about him; we tell each other every single day earnestly and without prompting.  His emotional intelligence and general smooshiness have made me reflect on my expression of love to friends and family and theirs to me – and I try mindfully not to take a single drop of that love for granted.  When I was in my early twenties and was surrounded by people who loved me, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  Or, rather, the tree – the tree being whomever I happened to be infatuated with at the moment.

Lots of people have loved me when I didn’t love myself – when, in fact, I felt empty, worthless, and unlovable.  And their love, whether or not I felt it, allowed my fractures to be re-broken and eventually mend – if not perfectly, enough to make me feel whole in and of myself.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

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Kiss Me through the Phone

I’m on a public bus

in a hostel common room

in a café

when my phone rings; he’s video calling me.  My heart rate increases, the beat staccato in my chest.  I hastily slide my thumb up the screen, eager to see his massive hand wrapped around his cock, stroking it for my viewing pleasure.  Sometimes I get wet at the thought of someone else catching a glimpse.

He puts a finger to his lips to demand silence before placing his phone against a wall and resuming his wank.  He’s

at a friend’s house

in a locker room

in a department store changing room

and he’s achingly close.  His long eyelashes flutter and his lips part.  His body rumbles and quakes as semen charges, then oozes out of him.  I ache to lick it off him.

I know this isn’t phone sex in the traditional sense, but technically we’re using our phones?  Then how about this:

Two weeks ago, his mates were staying over at his for a night; they’d all gotten blasted, and he was walking home from the chippy when he gave me a ring.  I started telling him all the things I couldn’t wait to do to him when I arrived in the UK.  He kicked a friend out of his bed when he got home so he could have the room to himself.  Lying in the dark, he whispered all the things I wanted to hear: He’d turn my cheeks to apples, pin my arms with his knees so he could stuff my mouth with his cock, continue licking me no matter how many times I urged him to stop so he could fuck me.  It was a hot summer evening on my end; I, too, isolated myself in the cave of my room, hoping I was quiet enough when my body shuddered and I came all over my hands, the phone pressed tight between my shoulder and my ear, listening to his heavy breathing and whimpers.

We need this.

I’ve been with The Engineer for fifteen months – all of them long-distance.  Phone sex, along with other lusty activities like sharing blog posts and sending dirty pictures, keeps us erotically charged and connected over the 4,000 miles that separate us.  We keep our hearts linked as well – but as we’re both people whose hearts are tethered to our genitals, a transfer of sexual energy is a must.

When I hear his deep voice telling me that he’s touching himself, I often have to excuse myself so that I can do the same… or at least to whisper threats and promises.

On Letting Go

When I was young and foolish (Ha!  “When…”), I made a grave error in judgment.  I had a friend with a great dry wit and a masterful use of language on whom I suddenly and out of nowhere developed a crush.  Not Serious Feelings, but a fun crush with a side of pants feelings.  When we started spending more time together and hooking up, I made the assumption that he felt the same way I did.  I was very honest from the beginning about the fact that I was also dating other people and in no position to be attached to anyone.  And while that was a true sentiment, I specifically wasn’t super attached to him.

Over the first couple of months, it became apparent that he had a real, serious, deep, romantic attachment to me that I didn’t reciprocate.  While I earnestly cared for him and felt a lot of intimate affection for him, I didn’t feel the same way he did… but I continued to date him.  I finally asked him to coffee five months in and broke things off with him, afraid of hurting him more than I already had.  He later told me that he was in love with me, and that I had been careless with his heart.  He was right – I had been.  He cut off communication with me, and I lost a good friend.

For years, I never understood why our friendship had to end just because we stopped dating.  I couldn’t see past the end of my nose.  “But we had such a great connection!”  I thought.  “Surely, that’s worth saving?”  Because I hadn’t had the excruciating experience of being in long-term love with someone who was in a short-term relationship with me, I couldn’t truly empathize with the fact that he needed to stop seeing and talking to me in order to preserve his mental and emotional well-being.  Now, I can see how if we’d stayed friends, every time I brought up a significant other who I had a deep, long-term, and loving commitment to, it would have killed him.

Some say that when it comes to exes, you can either be the type to burn your bridges or fortify them.  For the longest time, I tried to be one of those people who could be friends with all of their exes, no matter how hurtful that friendship was to me.  I would put a huge, Frozen Smile of Enthusiasm on my face when meeting an ex’s new partner, even if I felt like an earthquake was ripping through me.  I thought that in order to show how cool and strong I was, I had to push through my panic and self-loathing and try to be a good friend.  The older I get, however, the more I realize: I don’t have to do that.  I don’t have to do things that make me unhappy just because they might be what other people want.

I’ve only recently come to realize that it’s okay to let go of a friendship when it doesn’t feel good.  I am genuinely friends with some exes for whom I have a deep and abiding platonic love.  I like their partners and feel grateful for the value that their friendships add to my life.  With some of them, the transition from dating to friendship was easy; with others, it took the work of giving and receiving sincere apologies, forgiveness, and empathy.  Once in a very great while, though, the most simple and kind thing for me to do has been to release myself from a friendship that’s not working for me – just like my friend-turned-lover did so many years ago.  Each time I have, it’s made me saner, more confident, and more joyful.  Sometimes, letting go is a necessary act of liberation and self-preservation.

 

Side Note: I wrote this after receiving a lovely email from an ex with whom I’d cut off contact; he wanted to send me a piece of post.  I spent an agonizing 45 minutes crafting the wording of eight short sentences telling him that I’d made the right decision, and I didn’t want to stay in touch.  I laughed after I sent it, realizing that the reason it took me so long to write this email is because I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of this boy who absolutely fucking crushed me.  That’s what women mean when we say we’re socialized to please others.

Hooked

The very first thing out of every mouth of every friend of mine here in the States to whom I tell I’m dating an Englishman is, “Ooh – does he have a sexy accent?”*  I often tell friends from Ireland and the UK that the whole bit in Love, Actually about a young Brit coming to the US to get laid is realistic.  They think I’m joking, but there are soooooo many Statesiders who become instantly aroused upon hearing a British accent – even when the word snog is used (that word crawls under my skin like the word “moist” does for some people).

I was never one of these people.  I’ve slept with people from many states and countries with many accents and was never particularly drawn to any specific one… until Banger.  It’s funny how a pattern of arousal can develop because of a strong emotional attachment.  Sometimes, you see someone who looks like an ex, and you immediately want to fuck them.  Or you hear a song that brings you back to a hot encounter, and the first person you see becomes much more attractive.  Or you develop a kink with a partner and every time you meet someone associated with that kink, you feel yourself swell a bit.

Globe, Map, Country, Borders, Old

Until this guy, I thought English accents were lovely, but not particularly arousing.  But after he left, his voice stayed with me.  I could hear it drifting around my head for months, an echoing will-o-the-wisp.  Being in London last summer was jarring at times; I’d hear someone say something exactly in the manner in which he would say it, and I’d swear it was him, only to turn my head and find out that his way of saying that word or phrase was just common in London.

The sex we had was so exquisite that British accents became an element of my schema of lust – a piece of unexpected kindling.

While I didn’t have an attraction to accents for the longest time, I’ve always had an attraction to languages.  When someone speaks to me in another language, especially if they’re fluent in two or more languages (and especially if I have no idea what they’re saying), I feel weak in the knees.  This has everything to do with being a sapiosexual and not much to do with any particular language.  I know this because it doesn’t have to be a foreign language; it can just be a jargon specific to a vocation or field of knowledge with which I am unfamiliar.  When someone starts talking about string theory or calculus or speaks in legalese or medical jargon, it has the exact same effect on me.  I just love a person who loves to learn and knows their shit!  That’s sexy.

 

 

 

*Yes.  Yes, he does.

 

Don’t Move

“Don’t make a sound, and don’t move” said The Texan as he covered my mouth.  He had been fondling me; feeling my nipples stiffen underneath my tank top and hearing my breath start to beat staccato, he must have known that I was awake.  His hard cock pressed into my back, and I ground my ass back against it, making the smallest nodding motion with my head.  Spooned close to me, he slid his right hand down the back of my blue lace knickers and breathed heavily into my hair when he felt how gushingly wet I was.  He pushed my panties down with that hand and rubbed my juices around my vulva, then smeared the rest on his cock before sliding it through my thighs and along my labia, teasing me.  My body tensed; I longed to whimper, to beg, but all I could do was gyrate and dig my fingers into his leg, willing him to penetrate me.

My body quivering, I tightened my muscles and remained as still as I could on my side as he pushed the head of his cock past my opening, pulled it back out a bit to wet it, and drove back in, little by little, until I could feel the ridge of his foreskin riding along my anterior wall.  I pressed back against him and angled my arm back to hold onto his ass, and he thrust into me in subtle movements – enough for both of us to feel the electricity pass between us, but not enough to shake the bed with any discernible noise.  Certainly not with the gusto we were used to fucking with.  Afraid to roll forward onto his sleeping wife, I held my breath, bit my lip, gripped him with the intensity of a rock climber, and came silently in ripples of intense pleasure.  Not long after, he gushed into me, pulling my body tight against his, and bit my shoulder just the way I liked.  He pulled out, leaving a trail of his come along my ass, and pulled my panties up.  “I want you to sleep like this,” he whispered, and cupped my crotch with his hand.  His spunk squirted onto the inside of my knickers; it was so uncomfortable and SO arousing.

I lay there until I couldn’t stand the squishy feeling anymore; getting up to wipe myself, I disturbed his wife, who wanted us to move around so she could cuddle him.  He moved into the middle, and I took one side.  We were all still drunk from several bottles of wine, so falling back into a deep sleep was easy; I remained so for a few more hours, until I awoke to feel him masterfully stroking my thighs.  I turned over to kiss him and stroke his cock – long, deep kisses, long, slow strokes.  I desperately wanted him inside me again; I had never felt so insatiable.  I knew he was feeling the same when he put a finger to my lips.  This time, the expression in his eyes was all it took to tell me not to move, and I understood.  Without a word, I turned back over, and tracing a finger down my back, he yanked my panties down.  We started all over again.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

This had been sitting in my drafts waiting to be published for aaaaages; this week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt “Continue” seemed like a good fit for it.  Also… it’s my 300th post!  Woohoo!

The Misogyny Inherent in Abstinence-Only Education

Sex education in the United States is a clusterfuck; this is news to no one.  Each state creates its own guidelines, meaning that students in different states receive wildly different variations on sex ed – if they receive any at all.  For example, only thirteen states require their sex ed programs to be medically accurate, and five states dictate that homosexuality must be framed negatively if discussed at all.

Last July, the Department of Health and Human Services told organizations which receive five-year grants through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program that their funding would be cut off this coming June – two years early.  Several of these organizations sued HHS in federal court in order to keep their grants, and many of them won their cases this spring.

While the FY 2018 budget bill maintained funding for the TPPP, HIV prevention programs, and PREP (the Personal Responsibility Education Program, which also gives grants to organizations providing comprehensive sex ed), it also increased grants for abstinence-only education programs.

There is a ton of research studying the efficacy of abstinence-based programs versus comprehensive sex ed programs; while I encourage you to do a deep dive into those numbers, that’s not what I want to focus on.  I wrote my master’s thesis on the impacts of abstinence-only education and would like to impart two things:

  • States that stress abstinence in their schools have higher teen pregnancy and STI transmission rates, and
  • The explicit and implicit messages to young people in abstinence-only curricula are incredibly harmful.

I’d like to expound on the second point.  These programs don’t just tell students not to have sex; they tell students that people who have sex before marriage are damaged.  For my thesis, I got my hands on the teaching materials for three different abstinence-only curricula*; the words risk, life-threatening, promiscuous, addictive, depression, guilt, and shame are used repeatedly throughout these texts to describe young people who have sex.  They describe sexually young women specifically as feeling cheap, used, empty, and full of self-loathing.  One says that abstinence means “freedom from guilt, disappointment, losing respect, and compromising values.”  The curricula that mention sexual harassment, coercion, and rape are chock-full of victim blaming; one even tells girls that “provocative dress is disrespectful to the man you’re with.”  One doesn’t mention sexual coercion at all.

They frame abstinence as a choice, but having sex as a lack of will power. Gender and orientation spectrums are never addressed.  There is no mention of divorce, adultery, or any family structure that’s non-nuclear (making several student populations invisible).  Don’t even get me started on gender roles: According to abstinence-only education, women are weak, emotional victims who need “hours of mental preparation” for sex, while men are irresponsible, predatory liars who “see intimacy as competition.”  The teacher’s guide for one of these programs directs the teacher to “ask a girl” to read the part of a rape victim and to “ask a guy” to read the part of a porn addict.  They tell young people that women need to be provided for and that male partners shouldn’t be criticized because men need to feel competent in order to feel loved.

These language choices are NOT a mistake; the funding guidelines for receiving Title V grant money for abstinence-only programs state that the materials must teach that “a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of sexual activity” and that “sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical affects (italics mine).”

AO curricula also frame sex as something to be given and taken, which brings me to one of many reasons why comprehensive sexuality education is so important: Abstinence-only programs are incredibly misogynistic and lack any component regarding communicating about wants, needs, boundaries, and agency within relationships.  AO curricula reinforce a lot of the shit that members of misogynist movements believe – and that’s a big fucking deal.  A lot has been written about these movements in the past few weeks; what I’d like to contribute to that conversation is that abstinence-only education programs back them up by posing sex as transactional, by propping up binary, stereotypical, and dangerous gender roles, and by saying that women provoke men into predatory sexual behavior.  Detrimental messages about gender roles aren’t just propagated by the media and held up by people we know; some of them are directly taught in schools.

Congress funds AO programs at more than $100 million / year.

In order to survive, PREP and TPPP need a lot of public support, especially now; if you live in the United States and write or call your members of Congress on the regular, you might want to mention this the next time a budget bill comes up. If you don’t, please start.  If you are a parent, please, PLEASE tell your school board that you want your child to receive comprehensive sexual health education.  Not just STI and contraception information, but conversations about healthy relationships, gender, sexuality, and media critique.  It is absolutely imperative that young people have access to curricula that validate their families and lived experiences, that humanizes them, that gives them agency, and that gives them tools to critique the world around them and communicate with love, compassion, and clarity.

Want to know what kind of sex education is taught in your state?  You can find out on the SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US) website.

 

 

 

*DM or email me if you want the names of the curricula I read.

 

Happily Barren

I first got on the pill when I was fifteen (shout out to Planned Parenthood!); I finally stopped twenty years later after ingesting approximately 5,500 bits of estrogen and progestin.  Not wanting to go back on hormones once I stopped using them, I had a tiny copper IUD placed in my (apparently) tiny uterus, which promptly rejected it.  I thought the expulsion was due to my menstrual cup, so I got a new IUD placed, bought a lighter and more flexible menstrual cup, and started to be super careful about breaking the seal and watching for my IUD strings.  Despite my caution, as I squatted to pee in the middle of the night in a completely dark outhouse in the middle of rural Uganda this past April, I could feel my IUD strings poking out – seven months after I’d had it placed… almost as if my uterus didn’t want a foreign body lodged inside of it.  As I pulled an IUD the rest of the way out of my cervix for the second time in one year, I sighed, thinking: “Now what?”

Months away from coming back to the US, I knew I’d have to rely on condoms (which I usually use, anyway) and withdrawal for the rest of my trip and potentially for the rest of my life.  It was then that I started thinking about a more permanent option.   I’m not afraid of having babies (though a LOT of what Livvy wrote resonated with me) – I just don’t want them.  I love the idea of fostering or adopting an older child at some point, but I decidedly do not want to grow or raise infants.

Shortly after I came home this year, I went to my local STI clinic to get some routine testing done; while talking to a medical assistant about contraception, I casually mentioned that someday when I do have insurance, I sure would like to get a tubal ligation.  “Oh,” she said casually while typing my information into a spreadsheet – “In that case, let me sign you up for family planning health care.  It’s covered.”  I was incredulous and overjoyed; she made it so easy.  I signed some documents, called around to clinics to make an appointment, and finally got in to see a doctor in mid-November.

He asked, in short: Why do you want a tubal?  I told him my contraceptive history and my very strong desire not to breed.  Okay, he said.  No argument.  No “Are you sure?  You’ll change your mindWomen are made to reproduce and your life will be incomplete without a baby.”  None of that.  He just listened to me, trusted me, and said, “Okay.”  There was a month waiting period before I could have the procedure done; I had to sign a waiver saying the state of Wisconsin wasn’t asking me to get sterilized (there is a long and terrible history in this country of people living in poverty, people of color, prisoners, and folks with mental health issues being sterilized against their will), and I had to get the surgery done in a suburb because the Catholic hospital he works for doesn’t allow tubal ligations to take place there.  Because of course they don’t.  I’m lucky I had transportation to get out there in the dead of winter; a lot of women don’t.

It ended up being a short outpatient procedure; I came in at 6:30 in the morning, was on the table by 8:00 am, came out of anesthesia by 9:30, and was home by 10:30.  I met with the anesthesiologist, the nurses, and the doctor to ask questions before the procedure, which was very simple: he made a small incision in my belly button and inflated my abdomen with gas, then inserted a small camera called a laparoscope; he made another small incision in my lower abdomen and inserted the surgical instruments through that incision, placing plastic clips on my fallopian tubes.  Everything out, all stitched and bandaged up, and presto!  No more need to weigh the pros and cons of various methods of contraception.

Check out the sweet mesh panties they gave me to wear home…

Before I left, I had to ask in my very groggy state: How long before I can have sex?  For how long do I need to use a backup method of birth control?  I had to ask these questions because no one bothered to tell me.  When I asked the last question, the nurse responded, “Oh, you have a boyfriend?”  Last time I checked, I didn’t need a long-term partner in order to have sex, but hey – it’s Wisconsin?  They gave me a prescription for a few Percocet and sent me home, where my mother literally tucked me in and made me soup.

My mom is amazing.  She desperately wants grandchildren; all of her siblings and friends have them, and she has no children to spoil.  My sister doesn’t want kids either, so my mom is left wanting to smell baby scalp and looking at Facebook photos of other people’s babies.  I was so scared to tell her that I was getting sterilized – but she had the best reaction I could ever hope for.  “There are too many unwanted children in the world,” she said – “So if you don’t want one, you shouldn’t have one.”  She was so supportive and respectful of my choices.  I found it strange and ironic that she was the one to care for me after my surgery, but I’m glad, too – I feel lucky to have a mom I can trust and enjoy spending time with.  Also, I can’t imagine a better place to be while letting my body heal.

I spent the day of the surgery sleeping; the cramps were terrible, and I bled for three days.  Now, four days after the procedure, I’m still a bit crampy and sore, but I can be out in the world.  I can’t exercise or lift heavy things for a couple of weeks, but I finally got to shower and get all that iodine off my torso, which felt like a small victory.  The incisions are small and healing nicely, and I can’t wait for The Engineer to pump me full of jizz.

I’ve spent the past ten years having some variation of this conversation:

Me: “I don’t want kids.”

Other person: “Don’t worry; you still have time.” / “You’ll change your mind!” / “But you’d be such a great mom.” / “What if your future partner wants kids?”

Me: *silently rolls eyes, frustrated not to actually be heard*

I am pro-choice; for me, that means that women should not only have the right to terminate a pregnancy safely, but that they should have the right to prevent pregnancy in a way that feels right to them and ALSO that women should be able to have as many children as they want in a safe and healthy environment.  I’m a nomad who doesn’t find babies cute or understand the way that people fawn over them; they’re just not for me.  And I’m so grateful to have a doctor and a family who understand that enough to say, “Okay.”

Signal

Coming back from the bathroom, I tuck a piece of red fabric into the breast pocket of his brand-new suit; it matches his tie perfectly.  It looks like a handkerchief with a small, neat triangle perfectly pointed up toward his face.  He looks down, then quizzically at me as if to say, “From whence did this matching handkerchief come?” And then it dawns on him.  “Are these your knickers?!” he asks.  I smile and slide into a seat next to him, caressing his leg, and whisper into his ear that it’s time to go home.  He raises his hand for the check, and we can’t get out of the restaurant fast enough.

 

I walk up to him in a crowded bar on New Year’s Eve, kiss him on the cheek, and press something into his hand.  “You have pockets, right?” I purr into his ear.  He nods in affirmation.  “Can you hold onto these for me?” I ask, walking away.  I turn my face over my shoulder and look back as he realizes what’s in his hand and, startled, blushes and shoves my panties into his pocket.

 

He slides my panties down and takes them gingerly off my legs, over my heels, in a public park at dusk; when he starts to lick me, I come almost immediately – something that hadn’t happened in over a decade.  He won’t give me my knickers back after I come, instead making me walk to and sit through dinner naked under my white sundress – my cunt swollen and wet most of the night, ready for when we get back to mine.

 

I’m prepping dinner at my kitchen counter; he comes up behind me and wraps his arms around me. I lean back into his lips on my neck and press my ass back against him.  He slides his hands up my skirt to discover that I’m pantiless and takes that as an invitation to turn me around, push my skirt all the way up, pick me up, and fuck me on my kitchen counter (as I’d hoped he would) so we can work up an appetite.

 

For me, going commando is always a step toward some kind of sex – or at least a bomb of a hint that I’m interested in fucking.  I don’t particularly like being nude under my clothes; my thighs start to chafe a bit when I walk, and I find panties soooo comfortable.  But I love when my partners know I am – turning them on turns me on.  Whether it’s a tease at the beginning of the night or a signal at the end of a date that I’m ready to go, dropping my knickers gets both (all?) of us revved up and feisty and wanting more.

 

Over My Head

I’ve been waiting to post this for a long time; it was inspired by this Girl on the Net post.  When I saw that the Wicked Wednesday prompt was “Follow Your Heart,” I thought: it’s time.  It’s non-fiction and not very wicked, but I can’t think of a more appropriate prompt for this piece.

________________________________________________

At the time I met Banger*, I was deep into lesbian territory.  I hadn’t been physically intimate with a man for four years and wasn’t planning on it anytime soon; however, when I opened my door and saw him standing there one cold February afternoon, I felt my heart leap in my chest.  He was my type: Tall, bespectacled, bookish.  At least – he was the type I’d had before I stopped dating men.  I panicked and reacted to how handsome I thought he was by being overly cheerful and energetic.  I didn’t really know what to do with my sudden and strange urges; it had been so long since I’d had them.

Over the next year, I developed a massive crush on him, but never said anything; he was always dating someone, and I was supposed to be gay.  We became close friends and confidants; we worked together, shared an office, and lived in the same building, so I saw him all the time.  We’d go out for kimchi stew or barbecue together and chat; a couple of times we went to a noraebang (private room karaoke), just the two of us, drunk on rice wine, and sang songs late into the night.  He made me giggle.  Not laugh – giggle.  The kind of laughter you share with someone when you have inside jokes or find something hilarious that no one else would laugh at.  We could be silly together and really honest with each other because we weren’t trying to get into each other’s pants.  It was brilliant.  Spending time with him was so easy – a breath of fresh air.

He went home for vacation that summer, and I found myself acutely missing his company.  I could feel a kind of dull ache inside of me at his absence.  When I went home for Christmas, he kept in contact with me the whole time I was gone.  The night I got back, there was already a message on my phone welcoming me back to Korea and asking me to dinner.  We spent the next three nights on his bed, watching 90s movies and drinking boozy hot cocoa.  It felt like those times in uni where you’re trying to be physically close to a crush without admitting you like like each other, because what if the other person doesn’t feel the same?  The second night, I asked if I could put my head on his shoulder.  I couldn’t even remember the last time I had cuddled with someone, and it ignited something in my body that I was wholly unprepared for.  My insides exploded with an unstoppable force, and my panties were literally soaked by the time I got back to my apartment.  The next night, as I was stroking his arm, my brain stopped working and my body took over; I grabbed his face and kissed him, and it felt like everything fell into place in that one moment.  My lust was a champagne bottle uncorked.

I went away for a couple of days after that; when I came back, we spent hours making out and exploring each other’s bodies before falling asleep.  At first morning’s light, I told him that I desperately wanted him inside of me.  I hadn’t had penetrative sex with a man for five years at this point; I thought I would need to take it a bit slow or that it might even hurt, but because I was so highly aroused, it felt so. fucking. good.  Like eating an ice cream cone on a scorching summer day.  Like the first time you try ecstasy and you find yourself floating in joyous spacetime.  Like the first day of spring after a long, hard winter.

He called me; he asked me to spend time with him; he held my hand in public, and that’s when I think I fell.  I moved to another city shortly after we first hooked up; it was hard going from seeing him every day to seeing him twice a month, especially now that we were being intimate.  I found myself feeling lost in the behemoth of all these emotions I hadn’t felt in years – a tsunami of love and desire.  I had a real libido for the first time in forever.  I was drowning in hormones, and I didn’t know how to get to shore.  I felt crazy.  Suddenly I was being cautious with every word I said to him, scared that if I said or did the wrong thing, all of my joy would vanish.  He would disappear like a magician into the void of a magic box.  I tried to stop myself from feeling, tried to put tape over a waterfall, but I had already contracted emotional ebola and I was bleeding out.

Over the next couple of months, we had the most incredible sex I’d had in a decade, and I experienced orgasms I couldn’t even believe were real.  We fucked everywhere in my apartment, cuddled next to each other on the couch to watch videos, and only came up for air to go out to eat and build up our energy reserves so we could make love again.  If oxytocin is sex vodou, he was a houngan and I was ready to dance with snakes.  He brought me back from the dead.

My friends were baffled.  They said:

“I’ve never seen you this happy.”

“I’ve never seen you this way!”

“You’re glowing!”

“I’m surprised at how… mushy you’re being about this.”

“I never expected to hear you being so sentimental.”

“I’m impressed – not because it’s a guy, but because you like him.”

“It’s kind of nice to hear you say that you feel something again.”

And suddenly, I wanted to know what we were.  Not where it was going – I knew he was moving back to England in the summer – but I wanted to know that he had romantic feelings for me like I did for him.  That I wasn’t alone. That I wasn’t crazy.  I told him that I had real feelings for him and that it was freaking me out.  He said he hadn’t had romantic feelings for anyone in years and didn’t know if he could.  I, meanwhile, was feeling ALL THE FEELINGS ALL THE TIME, and it was so completely isolating.  I tried meditation, breathing, yoga, sleeping pills, processing with friends.  Nothing could take away the anxiety of loving someone when I didn’t know how he felt about me.  My pain started to become stronger than my joy, but I held on because the high was so powerful.

When I told him that I felt like I’d changed from someone he actually cared about to someone he was just sleeping with, his response was, “Yeah, I guess that’s just part of the changing nature of relationships, you know?”  When I asked if I could say that we were dating, he responded, “I don’t know.  I mean, you can say whatever you want, but I don’t know.”  When I said that that had hurt me, he said he was sorry I felt hurt.

We kept having these amazing weekends together, but I was in pain all the time.  It’s hard work loving someone who doesn’t love you in the same way; it takes everything from you.  Confidence, dignity, pride, joy, sanity.  Laughter.  Self-worth.  I knew that he cared about me a great deal; he wasn’t good at expressing that with words, but he showed it by doing things like serenading me with a song sacred to my heart that he learned just to play for me, or by choosing to spend his last weekends in Korea with me.  But I was in a different place.  I understood for the first time why people want to give up everything to be with someone.  Why they’ll move half a world away.  I wanted so much to spend my life loving him despite knowing deep down that we probably wouldn’t be compatible in the long run, and that was unnerving.  He told me shortly before he left that he loved me – and I truly believe he did – but continued to introduce me as his friend, which was confusing at best and devastating at worst.

The day before he left, he asked me: “What now?”  I don’t know, I said.  I wanted to say that I wanted to be in a long-distance relationship with him while continuing to date other people here, but the idea of him saying no to that was too crushing to consider.  So I just said that we’d keep in touch, keep loving each other, and hopefully one day down the road we’d meet again and create a second chapter in our story.

We tried to be friends after that, which in hindsight seems like the biggest mistake ever.  His responses to me became less frequent and shorter; we still talked, but it wasn’t the same.  I finally told him right before Christmas that I was deeply in love with him and that it was too painful to try to be his friend.  That I needed a break.  We talked for a long time and hashed things out – then emailed a week later and talked for hours again and hashed more things out – and in the end, he said he was still attracted to me, but didn’t know if that translated into romantic feelings.  That he just assumed I was over him.  That it would be logical to have romantic feelings for me, but feelings aren’t logical.  That he didn’t know if he could be emotionally supportive of me.  I got angry about it all and my anger hurt him; he thought I was diminishing the ways he cared for me just because his feelings weren’t as intense as mine.  He loved me – just not in the way I wanted to be loved.  We left the conversation on a positive note, and agreed that the friendship we’d had before was worth working on.

It took a long time and dating other people (and a thorough reading of More Than Two) to wade through the layers of love and loss I felt… but I made it to the other side, and when I did, I came out stronger.  Not that defensive kind of stronger where you swear you’ll never let anyone in again, which is where I was before I met him, but the kind of stronger where you learn how to open your heart and love completely, accept and really feel your feelings, and vow to work on knowing what you want and how to communicate that.  Where you breathe deeply and let your walls crumble to the ground around you in tiny pieces.  Being that vulnerable and crawling through the darkness that came after were both transformative experiences.

I started writing this blog while I was seeing him because I wanted him to be proud of me for doing something creative; it has since turned into something I’m proud of myself for doing.  I’m grateful for that.  We’re still friends, and the friendship feels easier now.  My heart feels so much lighter when I talk to him.  He lives with someone he’s dating now; that was hard to cope with at first, but a month or so ago I suddenly found myself feeling genuinely and deeply happy for him out of the blue.  We should all get to love in life and be loved in return – even the people who have hurt us.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

 

*Not his real name, obvs.  This is what a few of my friends started calling him after I initially and hesitantly told them I was “bangin’ a dude.”

 

Straight Talk

Blood is such an excellent prompt for a piece of fiction, but I’m having the damnedest time thinking of one because all I can focus on is the blood gushing out of me at this moment.  Thanks to hormonal birth control, I barely bled for the last twenty years.  My periods were usually three days of light bleeding and no cramps – so my whole life I’ve had NO idea what women with heavy or painful periods went through.  My periods were terrible when they first started, but it was so long ago I’d forgotten.

Until this year.

I’m experiencing heavy bleeding for the first time as an adult.  I mean cups full of scarlet blood, much redder and thicker than I expected it to be, poured into my drain… which is unexpectedly satisfying.  I’m experiencing strong cramps for the first time.  Now that I have a copper IUD in, I’m experiencing menstruation-induced pain for the first time.  And it’s a motherfucker.  My lower back hurts in a way that I’ve heard women complain about but have never been able to imagine.  So bad that I don’t want to go to the gym today, even though I know exercise will help.

I’m skittish about using my cup this month because my first IUD expelled last month during my period, so I’m using a pad for the first time since I was thirteen, which is a weird feeling (tampons are wildly expensive here – around $.50 a pop – and stores don’t sell the ones without applicators).  It’s uncomfortable and I can actually feel the blood coming out of my body in spurts.

The strangest thing about all of this is that it actually feels good emotionally.  Even though I’m experiencing pain, I also feel much more connected to my body, to the other women in my life, and to the natural world.  I know that sounds so fucking cheesy, especially given that the reason I’m bleeding more is that I have a piece of metal in my uterus – but the feeling is genuine.  I want to make art with my blood.  I want to be fucked bent over in my shower, hands against the tiles – to have him come inside of me, to watch the pink fluid run down my leg in rivulets and mix in with the water on my shower floor while panting (Y’all know period sex is so good, right?  My orgasms are much more intense right before or at the beginning of my cycle!).  And I want to talk about menstruation.  To men (gasp!).

Women are made to feel shame our whole lives for something we have zero control over – socialized to believe we are dirty or smelly or untouchable when in actuality, we are badass.  Every month, we go to work or school while bleeding.  We play sports and work out while bleeding.  We go on dates and hang out with friends while bleeding.  We take care of kids and partners while bleeding.  We program and shop and dance and work outdoors and swim and study and read and run conferences and write and make art and make music and cook and take boxing classes and sleep and drive and argue and heal and play while actual blood – ounces of it – is coming out of our uteri.  Some women have incredibly painful periods, and they still do all this shit.

Half the population bleeds for approximately 15-20% of their reproductive lives.  That’s a lot of blood… but many of us never talk about it.  And I think we should – or at least, we should feel like it’s okay to talk about without the people around us clamping their hands to their ears and exclaiming, “TMI!”  Can you imagine people doing that if you started talking about what you ate for dinner or how long you slept last night?

I’ve had more than one male partner freak out because he suddenly saw a little bit of blood on his dick and he thought something was TERRIBLY WRONG when in fact, he had just knocked a little blood loose from my cervix at the beginning or end of a cycle.  I have male friends who refuse to have sex with their partners while they’re bleeding because the mere sight of blood unnerves them… in person.  Seeing pints of blood squirt out of various body parts in a Quentin Tarantino film is no problem, but if it’s on a tampon, it is gross and terrifying.

But period sex is awesome for a lot of women; if we can handle a cunt full of blood five to seven days a month (and spotting in between), men can probably give a go to having a little blood on their cock for five minutes.  I say if the sight of blood bothers you, try a blindfold!  Your partner is powerful at this time anyway (I mean… at least according to Pagan folks), so it seems like a good time to work on your submissive side.  When your partner wants to talk about what’s going on with her body, listen.  If you have a question, ask!  Communication is aces.  Period fucking: Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

Menstruation affects most aspects of our lives in some way – for me, it can impact mood, diet, activities, libido, and physical and emotional comfort.  For women without access to educational or medical resources or menstrual products, it can be completely life-altering.  One thing it does not do is impact the decisions I make at work or how I engage in other life responsibilities… but it does affect my life, and I expect to be able to acknowledge that.

I’m happy I bleed.  It makes me feel strong.  It makes me feel incredibly horny (my period horn is super intense now that I’m off the hormones).  Sometimes it makes me feel crummy and sore and frustrated and sensitive too, but I wouldn’t change it if I could.