Saturday, April 14, 2012

1. I value my body and my sexuality very highly. Many would probably consider me uptight, and I used to agree with them, but now I understand that that isn’t it at all. I consider myself a highly sexual person, I love sex, I’m open-minded about sexual expression, and I think connection through sex is incredibly important to relationships and to a full life experience. But for those very reasons, casual sex with someone I don’t know very well and don’t feel connected to just for the physical sensation doesn’t appeal to me at all, because to me it would be so much less than what it can and should be.

2. I’ve recently identified myself as the Individualist/Romantic type in the Enneagram personality system, the driving feature of which is that I seek to understand myself and be understood by others as an utterly unique individual. I think I could be likened to a healthier, stronger Tereza in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, no matter how much I’d often like to be a Sabina. This viewpoint makes so many aspects of my relationships, sexual, romantic and otherwise, make so much sense, particularly #1.

3. I consider sexual orientation to be a spectrum. If completely heterosexual is a 0 and completely homosexual is a 10, with equal attraction to both sexes being a 5, I’d put myself around a 3.5. I’ve kissed women and once shared an orgasm with a woman, but I’ve never dated or had sex with a woman. I feel open to both with the right person, though I do wonder if the fact that I haven’t yet met a right woman might tell me the appeal is only theoretical.

4. I’m a single mom to my toddler. His dad and I were married about 5 years when I got pregnant unexpectedly, and he panicked. He’d barely talk about the baby and wouldn’t touch me. We literally did not have sex after I started showing. After my son was born and he finally understood that I was near leaving, we tried to fix it, but just couldn’t. I’m now elated to be on my own and am actively working through the emotional trauma of feeling rejected and abandoned during my pregnancy. That scene at the end of Kill Bill when Uma Thurman is lying on the floor laughing and crying and saying ‘thank you’ for being free to live her life with her daughter after the trauma Bill put her through? That’s exactly how I felt when I finally ended it.

5. I masturbate probably a little less than once a day on average. I find it to be an opportunity to release tension, to allow my mind to wander, for self-expression, and of course to feel really good. I feel the urge to masturbate most often when I’m working – I’m a graduate student and spend intense hours in front of a computer – fortunately I often work alone.

6. Ever since my son was born I’ve needed to masturbate differently. My technique used to typically be exclusively clitoral, but since then I’ve needed both clitoral and vaginal stimulation. I had a very difficult birth and have wondered if some of my nerve endings are now shot as a result, but my clitoris doesn’t feel less sensitive, I just don’t ever feel I can come that way. Maybe it’s hormonal? Psychological? I ought to explore that more.

7. Just in the past year or two I’ve finally embraced the fact that I’m most comfortable keeping most of my pubic hair. I shave my bikini line and trim when I remember, just enough to keep things tidy. I only shaved everything once and absolutely hated it – it itched, it got stubbly almost immediately, I found it disturbing to look like a little girl, and I felt physically vulnerable in a very disconcerting way.

8. I lost my virginity when I was 22. It was a huge deal for me, and the experience itself was emotionally intense and beautiful, but the circumstances left me an absolute wreck. It was with my high school boyfriend, my first love who had given me every first sexual experience I’d ever had and who I had never really gotten over. I felt it needed to be with him because I thought he might be the only one who could ever really get what it meant to me, and he did – the problem was he was with someone else at the time and had some attachment issues, causing him to panic and push me away afterwards.

9. I was raised Catholic and was very religious throughout my adolescence, which led to constant crises of conscious about my sexuality. I was taught (and generally believed) that sex in marriage was beautiful but that sex outside of marriage and masturbation were sins. I started masturbating around age 11 and felt guilty about it for years. When I fell in love in high school and experienced the ecstasy of touching and nakedness and oral sex, I constantly fluctuated between losing myself in it and trying to stop (my poor boyfriend was very patient and accepting of this). Gradually losing my belief in God and religion in college was the best thing that ever happened for developing healthy acceptance of my sexuality (and for growing as an individual in general).

10. I’ve recently discovered I have a submissive streak. I’m not talking sadomasochism or being made to feel powerless. But for me one of the sexiest things imaginable is for a truly giving partner to take control, maybe pull my hair a little, and to show and tell me what he wants, knowing what a turn-on it is for me to give it. One of the most profoundly affirming sexual experiences anyone has ever given me was to give me detailed instructions for how he wanted me to masturbate, how to explore and worship my body, and to then watch me carry them out for him. Totally incredible.

11. I cheated on my husband. I spent most of my pregnancy desperately reaching out to him for affection and closeness and love, only to be shut out without a word of explanation. Eventually I just shut down and didn’t feel anything for him anymore. Instead I fell for a supportive friend and suddenly found myself in an intense sexually explicit long-distance emotional affair that led to a single intense evening together. I didn’t fuck him (part of me still aches over that), but it was certainly enough to shake up my marriage badly. I’ve always felt strongly that cheating is wrong, and I suppose I still do. I just understand now that circumstances count. My circumstances are not an excuse, but they are most certainly an explanation. I have cheated but that is not who I am.

12. I’m currently experiencing my love for the friend I became involved with as an addiction. Deep down I’ve known this for some time, but it’s been difficult for me to admit and to begin to address. I wanted to hold out for some magic solution that would allow me to be with him (his love for me is kept carefully in a little box – in real life, he’s happily married with a baby on the way). And I’ve been afraid to let go for fear of never again feeling as much as I feel for him and of never finding anyone else who gets me the way he does.

13. I can’t orgasm without thinking about him. It’s not that when I think of anything else I can’t orgasm, it’s that I can’t think of anything else when I orgasm.

14. I felt most beautiful, feminine, and sexual when I was pregnant. My body bloomed, and for once in my life I was truly curvy and voluptuous. The awareness that my body was doing what it had evolved to do as a woman seemed to call for worship of it. Plus my hormones were going apeshit and I wasn’t getting any.

15. My breasts became much less firm after my baby was born and even less so when I stopped breastfeeding. I’m now reaching a point where I can see their sagginess and stretch marks with a sense of affection and appreciation as a symbol of what they’ve been able to do – feed and grow my baby for a year.

16. I was molested as a child, by the man who owned the daycare I attended when I was 5-6 years old. His abuse of other children was discovered and he was prosecuted, at which point it came up with my mom. I remember feeling deeply ashamed and that I had been bad for allowing it to happen. Still, I’m not quite sure how, but I think I came out only minimally scathed. I’ve experienced brief periods of intense distrust of most of the father figures in my life, I sometimes have trouble saying no, and I had some vulnerability and shame issues in the first days of my first sexual relationship, but I think recognizing where those feelings came from allowed me to process them and move past them.

17. I had a very healthy friends-with-benefits relationship in college. We were close and loved each other, we were enormously attracted to each other, but had reached a point where we were no longer interested in each other romantically. We were always completely honest with each other and never had to second-guess where we stood, so it worked beautifully. That honesty was absolutely key to no one getting hurt and to us staying friends.

18. For me, physical attraction stems strongly from mental and emotional connection. I find men who know they’re attractive and expect it to get them somewhere incredibly unattractive. If I were to define my ‘type’ it would be a smart, unique, thoughtful guy who perhaps compensates for having come through some persecution as a nerd with a bit of a bad boy streak, with a strong, creative sex drive lurking just beneath the surface. Hmm, probably slightly biased by my current obsession…

19. I once had an orgasm in my nipples. It wasn’t that I didn’t experience it in my clitoris – but it was like the sensitivity of my nipples and my clit were reversed. I never thought that was possible until it happened.

20. My enjoyment of blowjobs varies considerably. Depending on who I’m giving it to, how he tastes, his reactions, the mood I’m in, the state of our relationship, etc., I can feel anywhere from blissfully intimate and close and aroused to slightly used and slightly disgusted.

21. I’ve only swallowed once. It was the only time I wanted to. I was crazy about him, it was one of the few opportunities I’d had to be intimate with him, and the thought of not swallowing felt like rejection of an intimate, loved part of him. I loved it and have ached for the chance to repeat it many times since. He’s the only person who has ever inspired fantasies like this. Interestingly and sadly, I never felt that way about my husband. I think it’s largely because this person was a true sexual giver, and my husband was not.

22. I enjoy genuine porn and erotica on occasion, though I generally prefer to rely on my own creativity for inspiration. Doesn’t really seem to matter if it’s heterosexual, lesbian, or solo, visual or literary, it just has to be real – real people who really like each other having real orgasms. I even briefly found inspiration in the tamer material on a pretty hardcore BDSM site, simply because it was genuine and therefore felt healthy.

23. Before I had experienced sex or much sexual intimacy, my mental imagery during masturbation consisted of beautiful, almost psychedelic patterns, like I was floating down a hall or tunnel covered in richly detailed, colorful tapestries. Sometimes I miss that! Since then I’ve always visualized a partner in one way or another.

24. I’ve found that I enjoy the way I smell and taste, and exploring this has been an important part of a personal journey toward complete self-acceptance.

25. I decided to contribute this list in gratitude to all the strong, intelligent, sex-positive women out there who have had the courage and self-acceptance to share their sexuality in healthy ways and to embrace that vulnerability. I hope reading this will help other women to love and rejoice in the uniqueness of their own sexuality as these women have inspired me to do.