Tag Archives: sex

A new year; the same me?

It’s January 2011, and it’s been over two months since I’ve updated my blog. Sometimes I’ve forgotten about it, sometimes I haven’t had anything to say, and sometimes I’ve wanted to say things and not known how to do it. But the only way to get back to it is to get back to it, so, well, I’m back.

A new year often inspires people to be reflective of where they’ve been and where they are going and I am no exception. As I write this, much is the same as the last time I wrote. I am still unemployed, I am still living with my parents, I am still getting a divorce – hell, just like previous years, I didn’t do NaNoWriMo.

I feel like these are facts that I should be upset or discouraged by, but somehow, even though they look bad written out, living them feels better than I’d expected.

I have had a long history of self-flagellation, of fighting myself, of wanting to be different, to be better, and my definition of better always managed to be something I never consciously chose; it just lurked in my head, waiting to chastise me for not living up to the ideal. Whether it was my body, my career, my relationships, even my hobbies – you name it, and I never thought I was good enough. And isn’t this the story of every striver, every Lisa Simpson-esque overachiever? My inclination has also been to beat myself up for not even having original angst, a self-defeating cycle if ever I’ve seen one.

This mindset has resulted in me being extremely risk-adverse. I don’t know if I ever articulated it as such, but I would think things like, oh, I would rather not get my hopes up and then be disappointed, better to just not try. I can’t even really think of any examples of things that I wanted and didn’t go after; more, I just didn’t aim for very much. The risk of rejection or failure absolutely paralyzed me.

And so here I am unemployed, the longest stretch of unemployment I’ve ever had, and as much as I am aching to get back to work, I have to say that it hasn’t been an entirely negative experience. For one thing, it has forced me to experience rejection, and realize that I can handle it. This seems so obvious, but previously, I have always gone on an interview and been immediately offered the job – I am almost 37 years old and this is the first time I’ve gone on job interviews where I wasn’t hired! I know that I’ve been fortunate in the past, but those easy experiences kept me sheltered. The thought of not being chosen always seemed like it would be such a crushing blow, such a referendum on my worthiness as a human. And yet, now that I’ve been on three interviews where I haven’t been hired, I’ve been disappointed, but it is much more manageable than I’d expected. I feel much more realistic now.

What has also been helpful has been contemplating exactly what kind of work I want to do. Again, the over-achiever syndrome – I have always had these vague feelings that I should be doing something amazing, something incredible, get a Ph.D., become a CEO, a bestselling author, something that will publicly affirm my worth. Yet this is not who I am! The more job descriptions I look at, the more I realize that I am not a leader, an innovator, a star – and finally, I feel okay with that. I am looking at jobs with titles like Program Associate or Project Administrator and realizing that that’s the kind of work I like. I like taking people’s ideas and executing them, thinking of the little details and figuring out the snags and coming up with other ways to get around them. I like working with people, and helping explain things, and providing good service. I like working 40 hours a week and not bringing my work home with me. Part of me thinks, I have a masters degree and a 4.0 GPA from an Ivy League university, shouldn’t I be aiming higher? But feeling like I should be aiming higher, according to some amorphous external standard, hasn’t made me happy, at all. And the more I accept that what I like is what I like, the more at peace I feel.

This is something I have been experiencing in my personal life as well. (And just a warning – I am going to talk about my sex life. Not very explicitly, but if that will weird you out because you know me, you might want to stop reading here. It gets really personal.)

When Carl and I decided to separate, we also agreed that we would be free to see other people. Initially, the idea seemed very academic and theoretical to me, but after about a month apart I got curious, and I started exploring aspects of my sexuality that I had fantasized about for decades, but had never dared to act upon except in the smallest of ways. (Again, no details, but let’s just say it’s kinky stuff.) I had often felt conflicted about my desires, felt like they were a representation of my low self-esteem, perhaps a way to feel bad about myself, and I often did feel guilty or ashamed or dirty for the things I wanted.

Yet I chanced upon meeting someone whose desires very closely matched mine, and took a huge risk in making my fantasies a reality. Not only was it better than I expected, but over the past few months he has been acting as a mentor of sorts, and under his guidance I have done things I never imagined I would, and it has been simply incredible. Not just physically; it has been mentally and emotionally liberating in a way I absolutely did not expect. The guilt and shame I’d felt for so long about what I wanted has melted, dissolved – I did these things, and the world did not end! I am still the same person I ever was! Again, I like what I like, and I can’t believe I fought against it for so long.

And in keeping with this blog’s theme, I have to say that even as positive as my body image has been in the past, being sexual in this way has been an entirely new way to experience my body, experience myself in my body. I have discarded self-consciousness I didn’t even realize I still had. I am not just comfortable in my skin; I revel in being looked at, at being seen. I move and touch and receive touch seamlessly; my body and my skin and my mind act in absolute concert. I didn’t even imagine this was possible!

It has been somewhat hard to know how to integrate this into my life; for one, it is so heady and overwhelming that I fear that for the people I do talk to about it, I’m pretty much shouting my bliss from the rooftops. And yet I have also felt unable to talk about it in other ways – some of the things I have done are so extreme and out of the ordinary that to say them out loud sounds almost like abuse, and in the beginning, I worried that perhaps I was fooling myself. I have a long history of being in bad situations that I could find any way possible to justify to myself, to convince myself that everything was fine when it really wasn’t. And I’m not cocky enough to say 100% that this isn’t the case now, but I have been making it a point to check in with myself after each time and see how I’m feeling, and goddamn if I don’t feel peaceful and blissful and just plain happy each time. And in a way, having experienced abuse in the past has been a very useful yardstick – I know what abuse feels like, and this doesn’t feel at all like that. If that changes, I’ll deal with it, but for now, it feels amazing to trust myself like this.

So. Wow. This is a lot of navel gazing, and a lot more disjointed and less cohesive than I generally aim for when I write, but so be it. My goal in writing for an audience instead of a private diary is not just to share my experiences in the hopes that they’ll resonate with someone reading, but to keep myself honest, bring things into the light of day. It feels so good to accept who I am and what I like and what I want – my initial inclination is to bemoan how long it took me to make such simple strides, but you know what? I’m just going to enjoy it.

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Asking for it

I feel like I end up writing some kind of definitive conclusion at the end of my posts: I used to think that, now I think this, and the lessons have been learned, thank you very much.  But I want to talk about something that I just have no idea how to sum up, or even what I think very clearly about it.  I am hoping to process.

I am going to write about sex, so if you know me, and don’t want to read about my thoughts about sex, you might want to stop reading.  (Also, be forewarned that there’s some graphic descriptions of fat hatred below.)

So the other day I was looking on a website described as a Facebook type site for kinky people (I am being circumspect intentionally.)  I am not exactly sure I would describe myself as kinky, although perhaps kink-friendly and kink-curious would fit the bill.  Primarily I was looking because having had this difficult relationship with my body all these years, I don’t feel like I am always in my body during sex.  Doing yoga, sure – I can really take up space and fill up with breath and be right there in the moment (at least for a moment), but sex is harder.  I have been sexually active for about 20 years and often still feel as if I am observing from afar or performing.  I am often not embodied during sex, because I still haven’t entirely convinced myself that I can ask for more from sex than using it to prove my worth as an attractive woman.  So I thought that this website might be a good place to look for a community of body-positive people and find some resources for getting into my body during sex.

One of the things I did was specifically search for the word “fat,” to see what came up.  I realize I do this a lot with any sort of new experience – try to suss out beforehand what kind of reception I might get as a fat woman.  Is it even worth trying out?  Is this a safe place for me?

I found fat acceptance groups, which was reassuring to see, and fat fetish groups, which I expected, and even found groups like “no fatties wanted, only hotties!” – the existence of which, having perused Craigslist for more than three minutes, didn’t surprise me at all.

But then I found some groups I had no idea existed, and which really knocked the wind out of me in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time.  These were groups like “fat pigs and the people who love to abuse them.”  Where women with bodies like mine post invitations like these:

“Feel free to leave humiliating comments and share my pics with anyone who needs a laugh! Please point out to me all of the flaws with my body in merciless and cruel detail!  If you send me a humiliating message, please really tell me in detail everything about my body that is unattractive…. If you are not into BBW’s at all, then please tell me that too. Make it perfectly clear that you have zero interest in me sexually. Tell me how I am WAY too fat for you to ever consider having sex with and how disgusting my body is to you. Feel free to use my pics as a joke to gross out your buddies.”  (This is just a tiny sample of what I found.)

I felt physically sick after reading this, because these are the words and opinions that I have tried to avoid my whole life, the kinds of things I have feared my whole life.  I remember dating Jeff, my first boyfriend, and how much he loved when I would perform for him sexually yet he would be embarrassed to introduce me to people in public.  How he would cry tears of self-pity because he wanted a girlfriend who was small enough to sit in his lap, and yet he wound up with me.  (And I remember how I stayed with him for years after that, even after he broke up with me and he slept with me on the side.)  I remember the men who would pick me up at bars and act as if they were attracted to me until they got me where they wanted me, until they got what they wanted.  I remember my sexual assault.

My husband and I have been together for seven years, and I think that it has only been since the last year that on some level I have stopped waiting for that dangling sword to fall, for him to tell me one day, by the way, I think you are so hideous and worthless and disgusting and I never loved you and you were a fool for thinking anyone could ever love you.

So when I look at these fetish posts, I have an immediate recoil – how can someone invite this kind of abuse?  How can someone respond sexually to this kind of abuse?  It is something I absolutely never want to have anywhere near me, ever again.

But I wonder about the woman who posted these words.  Maybe she is tired of waiting for the sword to fall, wondering when the cut is coming.  Maybe it gives her power to decide when and how this denigration of her body that she feels is inevitable will occur.  Do the words lose their sting when they’ve been requested?

(And what of the people who want to deliver this abuse?  I don’t even know what to do about that, not today.)

I still feel like I’m judging her, and I don’t want to.   I have some submissive tendencies in bed, and I can easily understand them as my own imperfect way of dealing with a lifetime of misogynistic messages.  Everyone copes in their own way (although I don’t want to position kink as a mere response to societal messages).  But I just really want a world where people don’t have to preemptively hate themselves because it’s better than waiting for the inevitable.

(So this is me thinking about it – I would love to hear from people who have thought these things through in deeper ways than I’ve been able to accomplish here. )

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