Nov 222014
 

Sexually shyThis morning I had the disturbing realization that I tend to explore new sexual relationships from the safety of a threesome. It makes sense in a polyamorous world. I don’t have enough time to spend alone with each of my lovers so why not economize? Or something. I also get very nervous about being in sexual situations alone with someone I don’t know very well, so a threesome lets me get to know someone gradually. You can learn a lot about someone by watching them interact with others. So I’ve been setting up playdates with multiple partners.

Actually, making love with multiple partners at once is the best thing ever. It never seems like there are enough hands, mouths, genitals to do all of the things with just two people. How awesome is it to have hands everywhere? I love the feeling of being overwhelmed by sensation. Having more people in bed means being more creative. It often means communicating more, but I feel more confident, less on the spot to perform.

Tied up

Photo by Shawna

I just didn’t know that I had a habit of arranging threesomes for my first naked times with partners. It’s not something that I’ve been conscious of doing, but I can see the pattern. 

Although Woody and I had made out and done some heavy petting, the first time I was naked with him was with Harold. That worked beautifully. Wood still calls Harold his boyfriend and they are very affectionate with each other. (Come to think of it, that’s also beneficial in a poly relationship – my partners liking each other!)

DW tied me up in his living room while Shawna took photos, but after that DW and I played alone. Still, I made love to Shawna with DW in an intensly mind-blowing way. That was an incredible experience because I was able to do things that I enjoy and get tips from DW and Shawna about what the other person might like – kind of native guides.

My first time with Abby was also with Woody. They are very sweet together. I feel so much tenderness toward them both and watching them together just melted my heart. But Abby is wicked! I Controlwanted to try her Magic Wand because I have limited experience. Abby operated the add-on controller while I held the Magic Wand. That was absolutely incredible. I like having my pleasure in her hands. The three of us were remarkably at ease with each other, naturally exploring bodies and what is possible to do together.

While it wasn’t a playdate, Harold and I went to a hot spring with Woody and Hobbit. There was a certain amount of sex play that happened during our time there. Something about hot naked people turns me on. At one point, Hobbit put her fingers inside me, each guy focused on a nipple, and I used my vibrator to a super orgasm. I love floating in desire – literally and figuratively.

Hot springsMaybe I shouldn’t worry too much about this trend. It seems to be working for me. Each of these trysts came about fairly organically. I do have some (probably legitimate) fears about being physically vulnerable when first exploring sexual relationships. Having been raped, I want to be as safe as possible, but my reasoning is not totally about that. I just like group sex. I like having the people I care about love each other. While I don’t ever want threesomes (or more!) to take the place of the intimacy possible between two people, I have to admit that I feel pretty lucky.

May 292014
 

TulipLast week I posted about my desire to deepen and improve my sexual connection with Joel. It sparked many conversations, giving both of us a chance to work through a bunch of stuff. I know that the things I said hurt him. He has always done his best to try to give me what I want, sexually and in all aspects of my life. I wish that I could have spared him that pain, but I am so grateful that we can talk about the things that hurt.

He asked if we could cuddle. We locked the bedroom door and snuggled under the blankets, our faces pressed close. It soothed me to feel his heart beat against the palm of my hand and his breath against my neck. One by one he brought up the things that felt painful and I listened. I reassured him that I think he’s a good person, and that I still choose him. I am bringing up the issue of our sex life because I care deeply and want our life together to be even better. I am advocating for my own pleasure even though I hate the conflict it inspires. I am teaching him how to help make me happier, which I know he wants.

We are lucky. At least we can have this conversation. At least each of us can look at the emotions that come up and see where they come from – see how the things that hurt most we first felt in childhood. We want to comfort each other. I know that if we can open up sex, love will pour over every hurt inside and help us heal.

With Joel spooned behind me and my emotions spread out to see, I began to be aware of him in a sexual way. I pressed my ass against his groin. I asked him to bite my neck. He complied with slow, sharp, sensuous nips. I picked up his hand and placed it on my breast, inviting him to squeeze and caress.  I was feeling that golden liquid desire that I love so much!

My hand found his cock straining against his jeans and I grabbed hold to stroke him. By this time I was kind of writhing around in lust. He slid his hand into my pants. I asked him if I was wet enough to fuck and he moved his fingers around to ascertain that I was indeed. He asked me what I wanted (yay!) and I said I wanted him to fuck me from behind. We had one of those moments where we were frantically trying to remove the necessary clothing.

It felt amazing.

He apologized before coming, because he knew I hadn’t orgasmed yet, but I didn’t care. I made him stay inside me while I ran my vibrator. When I couldn’t get the angle and pressure right, I rolled over to kiss him while focused on my pleasure. He stayed with me to the end.

We haven’t made love like that for a while. I still feel more connected to Joel, more open to him. I know we still have some things to work through, but I feel very hopeful. Maybe the answer is simply that I have to be brave enough to face my fears, speak up for what I want, and help my partner work through his fears too. I want him. I want us to be happy. I think we’re going for it. No flinching.

May 232014
 

In the mirrorI’m such a hypocrite. I spend so much time talking to people about advocating for their own pleasure, and yet when it comes to my own relationship, I take the easy way out. You know, the path that leads to resentment and separation. I know it can be better than this; I even know how to get there, but it feels too hard. Despite my best resolve, in the moment Joel asks for sex, I either avoid it or I follow the path of least resistance.

The other day when I got out of the shower, Joel was getting ready to get in. I had just spent some time bring myself to orgasm, so I was feeling pretty sexy. Joel stood there watching me do my morning routine, slowly stroking his cock. It immediately put me off my high. It felt like he was being voyeuristic in a creepy way. I didn’t say anything because I figured it was my trigger, my problem. He’s entitled to get himself off.

But then he said, “Are you just going to watch?” and I was confused. I couldn’t think of anything to say. At all. He suggested that he would come a whole lot faster if he beat off while going down on me. (Is faster better?) Oral sex seemed like it might at least feel good (and provide lubrication if he decided to fuck me).

His tongue on my clit was indeed pleasant, but I was still in a place where I hadn’t really consented. I hadn’t come to this place willingly and joyfully. I hadn’t said no either. I kind of wanted to be making love, just not like this. Despite all my knowledge and skills and advice to others, I still can’t figure out how to create the sexual relationship I want with Joel. I have tried to explain what I want, but I hold back in the places where it really counts.

I don’t like this about myself. I hardly ever give in to fear, but I am really scared of rejection in my marriage. It doesn’t seem to matter that these quick bouts of maintenance sex also feel like a rejection. I don’t want to fight. I think that if he doesn’t want the whole of me now, he will never be interested. Yet, if I can’t open the door to sexual awakening for my own partner, how can I pretend to know anything?

I don’t know anything, except my own experience. I feel so blessed to know myself fully as a sexual being. Maybe I don’t need to have that mind-blowing kind of sex with Joel. Maybe what we have is just fine for us. Okay, maybe it’s ok for him, because it really isn’t okay for me. I want more in this relationship or not to have sex at all. I love him so much that I want to share wonderful sex with him.

We had a very intense hot connection when we first got together. Joel chalks that up to new relationship energy, but it gives me hope. At some point, we had the energy I’m wanting. It’s still there. It’s still ours. We just have to figure out what we want our relationship to look like now.

We had a conversation recently where I realized that we define sex differently. I’m pretty sure that he means penis-in-vagina, pounding away sex, whereas I mean all of the things that might increase intimacy between people – sharing a meal, talking about intense things, lots of touch or massage, looking into each other’s eyes, kissing, oral sex, anal play, sensation play, bondage – anything that deepens and broadens the connection and sensations between you. By Joel’s definition it’s highly unlikely that I could have sex for 4 hours. By my definition, some days I never stop having sex. I am a very passionate person, but if I didn’t have other sexual relationships, I would think that I just wasn’t that into sex.

The other day in the bathroom, he did ask to fuck me, and I agreed. It was physically fine, but emotionally kind of like any chore that I might sign up for, knowing it would help him and make him feel better. He came, then got in the shower. My orgasm, or lack thereof, never got mentioned.

I’m tired of feeling like a blow-up doll, but I have to accept responsibility for my part in being stuck in this dynamic. I need to be an active participant. I’m sick of giving in to sex once a month when I want to feel passionate all the time. I feel trapped by all of the things we share – our family, our home, our history. I love him like crazy. I care about him deeply.

I tried to explain that I want to have sex WITH him, rather than him having sex AT me. I think he gets it. Now it falls to me to follow through and show him what I want. Can we sync up our sexualities? Can our relationship still grow and change after all these years?

We’re going to figure it out.

(Edit: the conversation continues with No flinching and Keep talking.)

Apr 072014
 

On the beachI suspect that, at some point, everyone has to look at how sex defines their life. How do I identify as a sexual (or non-sexual) person? Where does sex stand in my hierarchy of values? What is sex anyway?

Harold and I went away for the weekend and we discussed many of these concepts because I’ve been struggling with thyroid problems again. My sexuality as I have known it is on hiatus. I wrote a post about thyroid function and sexuality a while ago. When I reread that list of possible symptoms for hypothyroidism, I realize that I have been experiencing every single one. If I look back I can recognize a very gradual decline of my thyroid function over the past 3-6 months, with the last month being extremely difficult.

We needed some time away by ourselves. My extreme fatigue and lack of desire make it hard for us to just flow together sexually the way that we are used to doing. I’m missing that sensation of immediate lust that feels like sap rising in tree or riding a carnival ride – a thrill of warmth that starts in my cunt and moves up to my heart. Intellectually, I am still very interested in making love, I just don’t feel it. It takes more time for me to get my mind, body, and emotions aligned so sex flows. 

When sex stops being easy for me, I am forced to examine all of my assumptions about who I am as a person and in a relationship. Harold and I spent a lot of time talking, as I tearfully wondered if I would ever really want to have sex again (which is kind of silly because we then went on to have lots of sex, but I needed to examine my fears). We sat on the beach and I poured out my heart, asking him if he would still love me and want me if we never had sex again. How would we connect? And slowly, I remembered all of the ways that we love each other. We make love in many ways that I would not consider “sex” and while I adore our sexual connection, it was a relief to realize that I will not lose him if I cannot recover my lust.

Leave your hat onTo be clear, the only person pressuring me to be sexual is me. I get really frustrated that this isn’t something I can think my way through. I get scared that I might never feel that thrill and transcendence through sex again. Much of this weekend was spent processing a loss I don’t even believe is permanent. But sex is strong like that.

Sometimes just knowing that a “no” is okay, lets me say yes. Knowing that I didn’t have to perform sexually in any particular way freed me to simply be present in the moment. I knew that Harold would meet me no matter what I brought to our lovemaking. This is an amazing gift and it’s what keeps us together.

For any couple that’s having troubles connecting sexually, I have this advice: get naked, get in bed together, and talk. It’s okay to touch and snuggle. Look into each other’s eyes. It works for me every time. Being naked is vulnerable, and skin to skin contact makes me feel closer as oxytocin is released through this basic intimacy. As our bodies, minds, and emotions sync up internally and with each other, we naturally flow into lovemaking.

We made love in a tiny little loft, warming our bodies after sitting on the cold beach. We kissed slowly, then more urgently, opening to each other. Hands explored flesh, squeezing and caressing. I lay on top of him, feeling him harden against me. We took turns going down on each other, then switched to 69 because we had to have everything all at once. I wanted to take him with my strap-on, but we got caught up in the moment. I had to feel him inside me, just for a minute…

Sex still isn’t easy for me right now. I normally orgasm in about a minute and am capable of multiple orgasms, but we have to really work for me to cum right now. It feels great to be riding that edge for so long, but sometimes I just want to get there already! The fact that the batteries were failing on my vibrator didn’t help. I worried that Harold would get bored or tired, but he was perfectly willing to do whatever for as long as I was enjoying it.

Fields of springThe next morning, I took a shower while Harold worked on his laptop. I ended up masturbating, wanting to see how my body responded to my own touch. It took a lot of fantasizing, but I was eventually able to get myself off. Immediately, I started wishing that Harold was there (never mind that we were in a tiny cabin and he could hear everything), and feeling resentful that he didn’t care to be sexual with me (never mind that I had told him to go ahead and work and I hadn’t invited him to shower).  I had to laugh at myself for being so passive-agressive, then went and seduced him into fucking me right there in the kitchen. He didn’t mind at all.

I’m glad that we had time for me to examine the recent changes in my sexuality. We had awesome sex, but I am most grateful to spend time together doing relaxed things – talking, shopping, walking on the beach, drinking lambic out of the bottle like teenagers, looking at flowers, watching a movie, napping, and sharing meals. It’s the first time we’ve gone away and I brought my crocheting rather than, say, a trample table.

I don’t feel kinky. I don’t feel like much of a Top. I don’t feel particularly sexy. In fact, I feel sick a lot of the time. I am not up for wild rodeo sex, but that doesn’t mean that I am not sexual. I still want to kiss, to be close, to share dreams. If I think about it, I still want to orgasm. I want to connect with my partners. Everything is an effort right now, but sex is worth the effort.

Flip offIf I never feel that hot lust again, it will be like losing a limb. For now, I am content redefining my sexuality to make wherever I am the perfect place to be. It’s a relief to know that I don’t have to be crazy kinky to be loved. I happen to like pushing my sexual limits most of the time, but that isn’t the whole of my identity. I can define sex any way I like.

Feb 092014
 

AnxietySometimes I feel disconnected in my own body – alien, alone, a bit numb. As much as I long to feel pleasure, it’s elusive. My mind spirals around with worry and I can’t calm down. If I do get in a situation where I might orgasm, it takes longer to get my brain aligned with my body. I feel like a failure. I’m sure that my partner is frustrated with my slow responses. Even if I am self-aware enough to know that my anxieties are running away with me, I still (on some level) wish that my partner would just make it better.

Anxiety has been taking a turn running my life. It happens every so often, for reasons that are not clear to me. I am not anxious about anything in particular. In fact, I feel fine except that I am paralyzed by non-specific fear and worry. It’s just one of the many annoying aspects of PTSD. My relationships are harder to maintain. Some days I need to take Valium just to make love, something I want and look forward to. Actually, in the past week I’ve needed Valium just to talk with friends.

Being anxious is odd. It’s in my body, not my emotions. This isn’t the kind of stuff that that wakes me at night, unable to sleep because I’m worried about the kids’ education or paying the bills. This is fight or flight level primal reactions to stimulus that is no longer present. When I am standing in the shower with my heart pounding in my throat, my vision blurred, my breathing fast, my chest tight, rocked by dizziness, and my thoughts slowed – then I must remind myself that these were logical reactions years ago, but not now. It doesn’t help much.

What years of therapy has helped with is my ability to retain a logical adult part of myself to help deal with the here and now. I like to think that most people I interact with have no idea how hard these patches can be for me, but I can’t fool the people I am closest to. It is pretty much impossible to get intimate if your body thinks you are under attack. So, medications can help. Just working through the panic attack until I feel back in control can work. And recently, Harold decided to join me, startling me right out of that space.

The most effective technique for me to be able to still have sex, even through anxiety, involves a mixture of things. If I feel something coming up when I want to be intimate with someone, I let my adult voice step in and let the scared child part know that they are seen and heard, but that this is adult time. I agree to look at the anxiety after I’m done. I take something like Valium if it seems necessary, but mostly I don’t like to take drugs. Most importantly, I establish a connection with my partner. Not only am I not alone with my anxiety, I am loved and cherished. I deserve to feel good and to be happy. This is mine and it can’t be taken away.

Some of you will not understand what a victory this is, but sadly, many of you will.

I love sex, it’s a blessing, but I work hard to keep clear the pathways to intimacy and bliss. Pleasure is everyone’s birthright. Everyone has an innate right to feel pleasure in their bodies. It can’t be stolen. I’ve spent a very long time feeling tainted and broken somewhere underneath, but I’m done. Anxiety? You’re on notice. It’s over.

Dec 232013
 

Evoë on datingI never thought I’d see the day, but I actually met a man I’m interested in dating on OKCupid. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to date. I’ve never really done it before — what I’m used to is letting friendships evolve over time into sexual and/or romantic relationships. As a result, I’m finding my current interest rather excruciating. Getting to know each other is fascinating, and playing with our mutual attraction is exciting, but we haven’t earned each other’s trust yet. I’m tearing myself up inside over this guy with whom I’ve spent exactly 90 minutes in person.

I’m really taken with him – he’s intelligent, very physically fit, good looking with a gorgeous smile, spiritual without being religious, a good communicator, and deeply respectful. I was impressed when I asked him for more photos and he didn’t send me a cock shot. Perhaps my favorite thing is that he’s very sexual without seeming desperate or sticky. He wants a chance to explore his sexuality and this appeals to me on many levels. I get so much pleasure out of helping people open up and showing them new things.

But not having established trust is getting to me. I don’t know how to find a good balance. My desire wants to just go for it, make a sexual connection, and use it to build trust later. The rest of me is freaking out a bit. I’ve been through date rape, and I certainly don’t want to put myself in that position again.

I sense that he’s not being totally forthcoming with me. I can’t find him in a Google search, which may mean that he’s being private online or it may mean that he isn’t who he says he is. He told me that he wouldn’t want me to blog about him because he likes his secrecy. I’m violating that request right now because it’s essential to me to be able to talk about my feelings and my process. I’m thinking about being alone with him, vulnerable and intimate, without really knowing who he is. How do I know he can be held accountable? What is a reasonable amount of faith before you have a solid foundation of trust?

He tells me he’s married, been married for over 20 years. They’ve just recently opened their marriage. This could be a very good thing for me, since I am so busy with my family that I have very little time and energy to give to another relationship. But here is my warning bell: he and his wife evidently have a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. He doesn’t want to meet my other partners and he won’t be telling his wife about us. He seemed confused by me trying to explain that I tell my husbands everything. Actually, I am unlikely to share his private confessions, but I would certainly be telling them about my emotional experience and the overall shape of the relationship. I don’t want to have to keep one part of my life separate from the others, and I doubt I’m even capable of it. I am profoundly suspicious of anything that must be kept secret. How, for example, do I know that I’m not causing harm to his wife?

There is also the body hair issue. After it became clear that we are attracted to each other, he asked me if I shave below the neck. While I’ve shaved in the past (body, head, everything at one time or another), I am currently really enjoying my body in a natural state. I love my hairy armpits. I trim my pubic hair, but I won’t be getting a Brazilian any time soon. I think I look ridiculous with a bald pussy and I hate going down on someone all stubbly. I don’t find shaved genitals attractive in general, but I do respect people’s right to do things they like with their body.

For him, however, this seems to be a deal breaker – he says he can’t get turned on if his partner has body hair below the neck. In his favor, he has wanted to know why it seems important to me not to shave. He is respectfully waiting to see what I want to do. Do I want to modify my body to make him happy? Don’t I want him to like me the way I am?

I suspect he may want clandestine sex. An affair. I understand the allure of something forbidden, a kind of exciting shame-fueled sexual adventure. I understand the attraction to the fetish-like taboo of secretive sex, but this is so not me. He says that he’s interested in my passion for normalizing sex, so I’m curious to see if he’s willing to step out of his comfort zones to meet me. But how far should I go to meet him? Where is the right balance between pleasing a prospective lover and holding your own boundaries?

I’ve been enjoying our interactions – mostly texting or sexting. I’m having fun! Sadly, this week is super busy. I had to cancel the second meeting we had scheduled because I am so overwhelmed with holidays, work, and child wrangling. Since I broke that appointment, I haven’t heard from him. Maybe he’s giving me space in this crazy chaotic time. Maybe he’s given up on me. Maybe, like me, he’s trying to figure out how to trust.

I’m not sure how to do this dating thing. I’ve had sex with strangers in the heat of the moment, but never this negotiation of preferences and boundaries, dreaming of steamy relationship potential while trying to navigate all the risk factors. Figuring out public transportation in a foreign country has caused me less stress than this. And yet… I want him. I want him to meet my challenge.

Nov 192013
 

EvoëSometimes I want so much for Harold to take me. I love the safety we’ve created in our relationship around consent and equality, but every once in a while I deeply long for him to take my submission. It consumes me at times. I enjoy Topping him and all of the ways we connect, but it frustrates me to no end to have this particular part of my sexuality go ignored.

Perhaps I can’t expect one person to meet all my needs. It’s just that…we are so good together. He knows me so well. I can’t help having my feelings hurt. It feels like a rejection, or at the very best, that part of me is invisible to him.

We keep talking about my fantasies. It gets harder and harder for me to articulate my emotions and desires. My fear of rejection makes me anticipate it – maybe even create it. I want Harold to Top me so badly it’s like an ache in my throat, a pounding in my chest. The wanting itself feels dangerous. I want him to play with that energy, make the longing sexually charged, give me a container in which to come undone. I am so strong. It takes a strong person to persuade me to let go.

Harold has that kind of strength, but what I want him to do is alien to his nature. I don’t know how to teach him to Top me. I can get him to do Topping type activities: bondage, flogging, needle play, and the like. But what about the energy? How do I show him what I want emotionally?

As a strong empowered woman, I feel some embarrassment around wanting to be dominated. As a survivor of abuse, I feel some shame around wanting to be in a position that sometimes reminds me of being a victim. As an active partner in this relationship, I feel guilty for wanting to change our power balance, even temporarily. It makes everything come out sideways. How can I want something so much and not be able to speak clearly about it? It hurts so much.

When we talk about him being dominant, it turns me on. I have a thrill of excitement and danger similar to being on a roller coaster. I want this sooooo bad. I’ve had this feeling all morning as I think about our date today. This is a delicate balancing act for me. If I don’t keep the energy sexual and positive it turns into something closer to anxiety and squicky discomfort. I’ve been trying to manage the energy myself, but eventually had to check in with Harold.

He doesn’t understand and I don’t have the skill to try to show him. We are so good about everything else. Why does this particular fetish render me senseless? I want him. I want him to take me. I am here trying to keep this possibility open, but I feel crushed. Has he already rejected me? Will he find me in the place where I want to give myself? I’ll know in an hour.

Nov 082013
 

PolyamoryMy polyamory has taken the form of a multi-parent family for the past six years. We’ve made it through some rough stuff as a unit, but the other night we had a serious medical emergency that made me realize how good we are together. In the day-to-day it’s easy for me to see our challenges as a poly family, but it took a crisis to make it clear that the sacrifices we make to be together have a clear pay-off.

Polyamory can look lots of different ways, as every relationship is different. Our family consists of two legally married couples: me and Joel, and Harold and Melanie. Harold and I also consider ourselves married. Our ceremony was performed by Melanie and Joel, and witnessed by around 70 of our friends and relatives. The four of us came together as a family when we decided to have a child together. Over time, we have come to all parent the five children I gave birth to. The oldest is now launched in out in the world, largely thanks to Melanie’s support of her.

A few nights ago something happened that made me scared of losing everything.  The night started well. Harold and I fell asleep talking about how he is starting to show his age physically. I am fascinated to see the body I know better than my own begin to transform. I want to reassure him that I desire spending time with him in his body, no matter what kind of condition that body is in. We were also discussing estate planning and our fears that the other one will die first. I fell asleep with my head on his chest. We were feeling blessed in our intimacy.

Four hours later, Harold got up and went into the bathroom, suddenly feeling intensely dizzy and nauseous. I knew immediately that something was not right. A few minutes later he was lying on the floor, unable to move, sweating so profusely that a puddle formed in his belly button. His breathing was so labored that each rapid exhale ended in a moan. I called 911 and tried to get Melanie. Although I was unable to get her (her phone’s ringer was off), it still felt reassuring knowing that she was right around the corner.

I mobilized the older children to help guide the first-responders upstairs. Thankfully, I managed to keep any of the children from seeing Harold when he was so ill. No need to worry them more. It wasn’t until I had two ambulances full of paramedics in the house that I realized how ill suited we are for this sort of thing. With the crystal clarity of crisis management I saw how long it’s been since I cleaned the master bathroom and how Christopher Lowell lied and you really need more than 18 inches of walking space. Also, with two long flights of stairs, a gurney is not an option.

All this came to me in a place of total calm. I answered questions. I put my hand on Harold’s feet (the only part of him I could reach) to reassure him that I was there. He was still responding to questions, but he felt far away. I ran logistics in my head. I tried to call Melanie again. I asked questions about his status. I ignored my fear. I reassured the children and explained what was happening.

The medics moved Harold down to the bottom stairs, carrying him on a piece of canvas with handles. I’m not sure how. I watched them pass by me, Harold’s head and arm bouncing over the side. He was pale and didn’t know I was there. A sliver of fear made its icy way through my calm.

I left the children in capable hands of my teen, stopping to snuggle the little one for a moment. She slept through many men tromping through the room with all kinds of equipment. For a split second I wondered if she would ever see her daddy again. Forcing those thoughts away, I went down to the ambulance. Harold had passed the heart evaluation, which was a huge relief. A paramedic joked with me, skillfully relieving a bit of my tension. I went into the ambulance to let Harold know that I would go get Melanie and we would meet them at the hospital. He showed no signs of hearing me.

Once in the car, I called Joel. He was out of town, two hours away. I knew that he would drive to my side in a heartbeat, but right then all I needed was his strength and understanding. I shed a few tears in the safety of the dark, feeling his voice like a hug. He loves Harold too.

I went and woke up Melanie. It felt very surreal to have to explain to her. Harold and I have done many adventurous sexual things where I was afraid I would have to call 911 (and Melanie) and explain what happened: the coffee enema, the needle through his balls, ejaculating blood, and possible drowning by golden shower – to name a few. This was like my worst nightmares coming true, but I hadn’t even done anything this time! I didn’t express this to Melanie, but her presence was very reassuring. I had an ally, someone who had as much to lose as I did.

The whole drive to the emergency room, in the dark stormy rain, I felt exceptionally close to Harold. I talked out loud to him, telling him that we would be there soon, that he wasn’t alone, that he needed to stay on this plane. I could feel him as though he was in the car with me. I was both glad for his presence and alarmed that he wasn’t more with his body. I worried that he might die before I got there. Then I got lost on the way to the hospital.

Again, Melanie was very sweet and helped me get my bearings. As it was, we arrived just after Harold did. We swept into the reception area, empty except for a woman behind the desk. We announced our desire to see Harold. The woman brightened, “Is one of you his wife?” Melanie and I both paused and looked at each other. We’ve never rehearsed this situation. “I’m his wife and Evoë is another family member,” Melanie said smoothly. This meant that Melanie got to sign all of the paperwork and hand over the insurance card. I have one in my wallet too. We had to wait while they got Harold settled into a room. I was ready to kick down doors to get to him.

After a couple of minutes (that felt more like an eternity), they led us to his side. We naturally flanked him, petting him and speaking to him. It was hard to see him with his skin ashen, covered with tubes and wires. He opened his eyes a little and saw us both there. “I am so lucky,” he murmured. I bent down to his ear so he could hear me, “You are lucky. I know that it isn’t comfortable in your body right now, but you need to come back. Your body needs you. We need you.”

His system was in shock. They treated him for possible inner ear disturbances, dehydration, and hypothermia. At first the nurse seemed concerned, but after a while he started breathing better and his body temperature rose. Melanie and I comforted each other and talked to Harold about each step the medical staff wanted to take. The doctor was great. Actually, everyone we saw treated us with respect, even after Melanie explained that we were both Harold’s partners. We each had important information to contribute about Harold’s medical history.

At some point Melanie quietly apologized for calling me Harold’s partner because she didn’t thnk they would understand him having two wives. Partner is my preferred relationship designation because I’m not wild about being anyone’s wife, but I was deeply touched at her thoughtfulness. I know that she considers my connection to Harold to be as intimate and as valid as her own. This is such a gift to me. In that moment of crisis, her recognition made me feel seen and supported. I know that she will never try to shut me out of Harold’s life, even when she has a right to legally.

Harold bounced back remarkably swiftly. He went from unable to move to getting up to walk to the bathroom in about 90 minutes. I left to get our children off to school, leaning on Joel some more over the phone as I drove home. Harold and Melanie were home 45 minutes after I was. We still don’t really know what happened. He suspects it was some sort of poisoning. He says it’s the worst he’s ever felt in his life. He spent the day sleeping mostly and woke up this morning like always and went to work.

I am so thankful. I’m grateful that this is likely an anomaly. Now that the emergency is over, life has lost that keen edge and the surreal quality, my fears are bubbling up. I’m processing like crazy. What has distilled for me, is how much I value our family system. While I am incredibly good at handling a crisis, I don’t have to do it by myself any more. These bonds that we’ve formed, our shared values and commitments, how much we care about each other, how we’ve chosen to share our lives – this is real.

With the standard monogamous family, it tends to be more clear what will happen if someone is seriously ill or dies. For us, it’s not so obvious. Melanie and I have worked together to support a relationship where we share a husband and children, but would we take care of each other without those ties? I feel like we’ve somehow transformed from a chain of couples to a fierce cluster. We’ve got each other’s backs. These are people I trust down to the ground.

How we live seems normal for us. We’ve chosen a relationship model that is often very challenging. We invest a lot of time in communication with each other. Even so, at times each of us feels that our needs are not being met. We have our ups and downs, but we have thoughtfully and deliberately formed our lives together. We are polyamorous on purpose. We are an intentional family.

May 242013
 


Evoë
The doctor called to tell me that my sexually transmitted disease screening results were in. Although her tone was rushed and annoyed, she drew out the suspense as though this were the elimination finale of a dance competition. Numb with anxiety, I played along, making polite noises to cover my fears that my life was about to change forever. After making it clear that she resented me rejecting a consultation and simply opting for lab tests, she let me know the outcome.

HSV1 (“oral herpes”)…negative.
HSV2 (“genital herpes”)…negative.
Chlamydia…negative.
Gonorrhea…negative.
Syphyllis…negative.
HIV…negative…but… I drew in my breath wondering about that “but.” WTF? She explained that the lab had taken it upon themselves to perform some super special HIV test, that she would never have asked for, and the results wouldn’t be in for a couple of more weeks. But basically, I tested negative for the things we asked for. The doctor implied that I had wasted her time with my anxiety and that testing for STD’s is not necessary for someone as “low risk” as I am.

This is not my regular practitioner. The ARNP that I normally see has been out of the office for a week. I miss her. If I had been able to talk to my GP about my concerns, I think all would have been well. She knows me and my poly family. She has always treated me with respect and care for my triggers around health care and sexuality. She once took 90 minutes to personally walk me through a pelvic exam. I should have waited for her to be back, but I needed to know as soon as possible, so instead I got this condescending and ignorant doctor.

It took several conversations with the nurse to get my desires across to the triage nurse. I explained my risk factors and expressed my level of anxiety. I declined to come in because I would have to bring 3 young children with me and I knew that it wouldn’t reassure me the way that lab tests would. What was there to look at anyway? I was asymptomatic by all accounts. They probably thought they could just talk me down.

Instead, I think I came close to making the nurse cry. I know that I was shaking, furious that anyone would have the audacity to claim that they knew more about my emotional state, my sexuality, or my body than I do. I hung up and the doctor called, making nice and insisting that of course the lab was always an option if I really wouldn’t do the right thing.

I understand that medical professionals don’t want to order unnecessary tests, but I can’t understand why my request to get tested was such a power struggle. I’m also not sure why I’m seen as low risk for STD/STI. I have unprotected sex with partners who in turn have sex with other people. In reality, I probably am fairly safe. I am usually comfortable with my level of risk, but from time to time I need to know where I stand. This current round of anxiety was based in part to reacting to one of my partners starting a new sexual relationship, as well as knowing that I have had some exposure to STD/STI recently. Also, I hadn’t been tested in 2 and a half years. I needed to know.

I’m curious what my medical clinic’s STD risk factors are. No one ever asked me. I imagine that as a 40 year old married woman with 5 kids, it’s assumed that I don’t have sex. I would guess that I am safer in my polyamorous lifestyle than women whose husbands have secret affairs. I have a lot of trust in my partners and we communicate about these things.

I feel really lucky about that list of negatives, but I know that it can change at any time. My health is important to me. I’m going to keep taking reasonable precautions, not only for me, but everyone in my sexual circle. At the same time, I don’t want to let anxiety over STD/STI cripple my sex life. Sex is sometimes too messy for a compulsive hand washer. My partners wear gloves when they put their fingers inside me. I know that there is comfortable balance between safer sex and pursuit of pleasure.

In the future, I think I’ll just go to a STD testing clinic rather than relying on a general practitioner. I don’t want to have to defend my lifestyle or my right to get tested. What about you? How long since your last STD/STI testing?

May 172013
 

Sexually transmitted diseaseI’m freaking out. I was awake at 4:00 a.m. this morning, obsessing about whether or not I might have a sexually transmitted disease. I’ve never had a STD before – probably through blind luck, although I’ve tried to be careful and use safer sex practices. I’m generally pretty comfortable with my level of caution versus erotic fulfillment, but this morning my anxiety has been through the roof.

I probably have some reason to be concerned. I have had some recent exposure through a couple of different vectors. The likelihood is small, but my ability to perform risk assessment is nil at the moment. When I start to worry, it’s a runaway train – my brain picks up speed until my entire being is consumed, careening out of control. I am a mess of what-ifs. The trust I have in my partners and our system means little in this state of fear. I feel paralyzed.

With any other health concern, I would approach it head on with medical care, information, and treatment. If, in fact, I do have an STD, I will deal with it this way as well as with full disclosure to current and future partners. However, in my fear befuddled state of mind, I’m having troubles calling the doctor’s office. A little bit of the hesitation is not wanting to have to explain, a bit misplaced shame about having a STD. Since no amount of internet research is going to tell me if I have anything or not, I’m going to have to deal.

Why does adding sex to anything make it terribly difficult? I totally lose it whenever I think something might be wrong with my cunt. I think that it’s related to being a survivor of sexual abuse. I don’t tolerate non-sexual pain or discomfort very well. I’ve worked hard for years to feel like I own my body and my sexuality. I don’t need some STD to go messing everything up. I think it’s also that transmission of a STD is often a breach of trust in a relationship.

I have often seen people disclose STDs in a very positive way. Until the early hours of this morning I wouldn’t have said that I believed that STDs were at all shameful, but when I suddenly applied the concept to myself, I ached with shame. I felt dirty and contaminated. I worried that no one would ever love me again. I winced at the necessity of hiding my sexuality, never dating again.

It’s not the first time I’ve had this freak-out, but I hope it’s the last. I’m trying to take the positives out of this situation. I’m feeling the seriousness of potential STD exposure. While I could cope with anything I had to, I really like my life. Sex should be about pleasure, not fear. Time to re-evaluate safer-sex practices with my partners and their partners. Time again to get tested for everything. I can handle this.

(Update)