Oct 282015

bark dryAt first I thought I had a yeast infection, a common enough occurrence for me. I treated with more probiotics and some boric acid capsules. When that didn’t work I begged my provider for Fluconazole. I was getting ready to go away for the weekend and the burning discomfort was getting worse. I decided that maybe I had a urinary tract infection. We debated seeking emergency medical care, but in the end, I just drank about a gallon of straight cranberry juice with some herbal remedy type stuff added to it all weekend and tried to get through it.

When we got home it was so bad I couldn’t sleep. We went to the emergency room at 2:00 a.m. because I needed to do something as soon as possible. I decided that as unlikely as it seemed, I must have a sexually transmitted infection, perhaps chlamydia or gonorrhea. For the first time in my life, I hoped and prayed that I had an STI, so I could take antibiotics and feel better in a couple of days.

They did indeed give me antibiotics, although it takes two days for the test results to come back. I was negative for yeast, UTI, or anything else they could get a rapid response on, but they want to make sure to cover their bases on those STI’s. I was given very strong antibiotics, which my chart clearly stated I was allergic to. Also, these gave me a yeast infection. Two days later my test results came back: all negative.

My awesome nurse practitioner talked to me about menopause and vaginal dryness. She prescribed an estrogen cream and told me to use tiny amounts. It burned like fire on my vulva for hours. I investigated and discovered that the cream contains propylene glycol, something my body hates vigorously. I had the cream reformulated at a compounding pharmacy, without the offending ingredient, but it was still irritating. We did blood work and found out that I’m not yet going through menopause.

I am not always good at describing or localizing a sensation. What I’ve been feeling continuously for the past two months (and intermittently before then) is usually a kind of burning feeling, just below my urethra, kind of partly on my vulva and partly inside. Sometimes there is more of a stabby sensation or needles, occasionally something like an itch or irritation. The awareness of discomfort never really goes away.

I wish it was some other part of my body, even a frequently used finger. A different body part wouldn’t carry all this difficult emotional baggage. A finger that hurt all the time wouldn’t be an uncomfortable and hateful reminder of childhood secrets. This pain is not severe, but I feel sick with it, immobilized, powerless. I am desperate to make it stop. I’ve spent too many years reclaiming my sexuality to lose it all so easily. I feel furious and then helpless all over again.

bits of fluffI went to see my therapist. We spiraled in and out many times, tying together the pieces of me then and now, making it easier for me to bear the current pain without the echoes of childhood trauma. In the moments when I felt like I might go mad she smiled and patted the back of my hand. In a stroke of brilliance, she referred me to a naturopathic doctor who is also a sex therapist.

The naturopath has been a great help. She’s given me hope, which is what I really need. And a name for my affliction, vulvodynia, which I suppose makes me feel less alone. Our first appointment consisted largely of her laying out all of the possible treatment options. She promises that I won’t be in pain forever. So far, we haven’t found the right solution. The only thing that seems to give any relief is ice. I suspect that the answer may lie in treating some GI issues I have and/or some pelvic floor physical therapy.

The doctor mentioned a need for spiritual healing in addition to everything else, a soul retrieval. No, it’s not science, but there is so much more to healing than science. So I’ve just come back from three nights at the hot springs. In the best Victorian way, I’ve been to take the waters and find healing. It hasn’t been what I hoped. In fact, I feel more dismantled than miraculously cured, but I have learned something very important: it’s okay for me to be exactly where I am.

flowIt’s okay to read aloud about King Arthur instead of having kinky sex. It’s okay to cry most of the way home. It’s okay for me to hurt and feel sad and be angry and even to want to quit. The important thing for me to know right now is that I am loved for me, not the role I play. Unlike my childhood experience, I now have amazing resources that can use to fight my problems. I am rich in love. It’s seems strange to say when I feel like I am going crazy, but I am full of gratitude for the people in my life.

Feb 152015

All or nothingWe finally reached a point where I lay limp in his arms, my feet tangled in the sheets, our bodies covered in a thin sheen of sweat. My tears and snot lubricated the skin between his shoulder and my cheek. Emptied of grief, I finally found myself floating in a place of comfort. It had taken all night to get there, but now, finally, 40 minutes before his alarm would go off, I felt the love and connection I had been struggling all night to find.

I fought him. All of my frustration and helpless rage needed out. I opened my mouth and all of the hateful bitter things trapped inside spilled from my lips. I didn’t want him to take it on, but of course he did, stepping into each of my desperate claims and wearing it around like an ill-fitting garment. Maybe that helped me, seeing how ridiculous he looked in my fears. But he would say, “This isn’t me. What are you talking about?” and his voice would be loaded with hurt as we lay in bed, surrounded by darkness, “You don’t even see me!”

And I would cry harder because I wasn’t talking about him, I was talking about my emotions, telling him about the things I need to work through because they are poisoning me. I wanted him to reassure me, to tell me that it was okay to feel, and to be my ally in finding solutions. I would tell him, “Of course I see you. I know you. You are my heart.” and I would writhe against him in agitation, “Please, I need help!”

I felt like I was drowning. Over and over, I would cry, “I just want you to hear me!” like I was begging for a life preserver. The middle of the night is never the best time to try to have relationship discussions, but we didn’t have other time. Exhausted and hopeless, I wanted to give up.

He got angry. On opposite sides of the bed, like continents separated by an ocean, we lobbed bombs at each other in futile attempt to make peace. I had no defenses, being open to him made me an easy target. Every word he said hurt, but nothing as bad as his final abandonment would, when in cold tones he explained that we were over.

It’s always all or nothing here. We give everything or we walk away alone. I wasn’t ready to lose what we have built. I made the same sacrifice I always make, silently wishing that he would apologize first sometimes.

All or nothingUnder the oppressive weight of my sadness, I needed his touch. I longed to be held, cherished, protected from this anguish. He came round to my side, slid under the heavy covers, and pulled my body on top of his. We would both calm with our bodies this close. I let go. I let go of my problems, my anxiety, the desperate emotions I can’t seem to resolve. I made a decision to believe him when he said that I was building walls against him. I lowered my defenses. I was vulnerable to him.

In his arms, I released my pent up emotions in a torrent. His anger dissolved under the onslaught of my tears and the absolution that what I was feeling is not about now, not his fault. I cried until I was empty, even dumping the vague feeling that I had betrayed myself. All that mattered was somehow finding each other before the night ended.

In those moments of stillness I experienced a strange high. I would feel strongly connected to him, but also euphoric, drifty, and hollow – a bit like a balloon on his string. Emptied of all thought and emotion, I found a pure meditative state where we held each other in peace until the alarm went off.




Sinful Sunday

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.

Jan 042014

Anger and intimacyThis morning he woke me with a cup of coffee and some snuggles. I happily wiggled around in the blankets, rubbing against him, kissing, and feeling sleepily sexy. His hands found my skin under the covers. I wanted more of that. I shifted, throwing the comforter back below my ass. I was offering him my butt, expecting that he would squeeze and caress the flesh there. Instead, he pulled the blankets back up around my chin and patted me like a child.

I was hurt. I felt sad that he didn’t want me. Then I felt angry – cuz why didn’t he want me when he started this cuddle session?!? Did I miss some of his cues? It is hard to feel rejected when you are giving yourself to someone you love.

This pattern has been playing out in my sex life way too often lately. I’ve known that fear is the opposite of love, but seeing that anger is the opposite of lust is a new realization. How many marriages fail because of anger and resentment? Oh, I know that some people use anger instead of lust, it’s very passionate, and hate sex has it’s place, but I find it impossible to feel my desire when I am angry.

I am often angry lately. I desperately need more time to myself. I feel all touched out, giving so much of myself to the family for the holidays, and the children being home on vacation. I love these things, but I need some space to be me. I have managed to have amazing wonderful sex in the past few weeks. I want to acknowledge all of the good things in my life, yet I am angry. I sometimes walk around in a dark cloud, hating everyone.

My therapist says that anger is a sign that something needs to change. When I start to feel angry, I ask myself what I would like to change. This is tricky because I am mostly experiencing anger over things that happened long ago that I’ve just recently been able to access. What do I do with ancient anger when it comes up now, when I’m getting intimate with a partner who hasn’t done anything wrong?

I think what I most want is to be able to express anger without retribution. I’m hoping for a better outcome. I want a chance to be in a sexual situation, get angry (about whatever), be heard and reassured, let it all go, and move on. I need to build that kind of trust.

It’s not working that way most of the time. Unfortunately, yet predictably, my partner tends to get angry back. He doesn’t understand why I can’t see him. He feels hurt because he believes he’s done something wrong, even if I tell him it’s not him that I’m angry at. He’s confused because things seem to be going just fine until I blow up.

It’s driving me crazy to have the same basic fight over and over, but I haven’t stopped sharing my feelings with him. We keep trying to pull the anger apart and use it to be closer to each other. We have strong communication skills to draw from, even if I am not skillful in this area. I have faith that we will figure it out.

This morning when I explained to him how sad I was that he didn’t want my ass, I could see him start to respond in the usual fashion – hurt and confusion, expressed through self-defense, beginning to give way to anger. Then he stopped. I don’t know what was going through his mind. He was loving and gentle, but didn’t say anything. I lay on top of him and slowly started to feel incredibly turned on by our bodies touching. I wiggled and his cock got hard against my crotch. We made love. It was awesome and reassuring.

I got the outcome I was hoping for. I was heard and reassured, even though my anger is often very triggering for him. I think it worked for him too because he did get hard and that usually only happens if he is feeling open and trusting.

Anger is really tricky. A lot of my power is caught up in anger. I want to be able to express anger in a way that releases the yucky feelings and is empowering. I hate feeling stuck. I don’t want to walk around hating everyone. And I certainly don’t want anger to get in the way of feeling desire.

I want to use anger to create change, especially in ways that develop more intimacy. I’m so scared of being rejected for my anger, but it’s a part of me and it matters. He says he wants all of me, so I’ll keep sharing everything. Fuck anger.

Jan 052013

ThinkySeveral months ago Harold and I were having a passionate discourse in bed. No, we weren’t having sex. We were fighting about rape, which is weird because we’re both on the same side. Discussions about rape were everywhere as Republicans waged their war on women. I was overwhelmed by the media exposure and more than a little triggered. I wanted to discuss some of the things that were swirling around in my brain.

Of course, a conversation has at least two sides. I was coming from an emotional place and Harold was ready to try to solve our culture’s rape problem. It’s also not advisable to try to have emotionally loaded and potentially triggering conversations when one is mostly asleep, but there we were. We managed to get to a good place and go to sleep, but we’ve been discussing rape ever since. It’s frustrating to be at odds when we basically agree, but I think that struggling to articulate our thoughts is helping us to clarify our stance on rape.

Defining rape

I started our discussion with my definition of rape: to be penetrated without consent and to feel violated. It’s become obvious (to me) that we don’t have enough language to discuss rape and the aftermath easily.  It seems that when people talk about rape they are either talking about a legal definition or they are talking about how it felt to be raped. Both are valid, but it makes it terribly difficult to have a productive conversation when people are meaning different things with the same word.

I am mostly concerned with the feelings around being raped. Perhaps when we discuss the emotional aftermath, we could use the term violation, rather than rape. I don’t want to minimize rape in any way.  The physical act of rape is terrible, but bodies generally heal. The damage to the psyche is so much worse.

When people argue about whether or not a certain act is rape they tend to discount the victim’s feelings of violation. It is absolutely possible for someone to feel violated even if the experience would not meet a legal definition of rape. This is why the first reaction to any rape disclosure should be total acceptance. You don’t get a second chance. You can try to decide if the person’s experience “is really rape” at some later time. In the moment, they need you to believe them and validate their emotions.

Rape is very tricky. There are too many grey areas. In fact, rape is almost entirely grey area, as it rests in the victim’s feelings of violation and ability to consent. It often comes down to one person’s word against another. I can see why people tend to be terrified of being accused of rape, but right now I am focused on the victim’s perspective.

Feelings of violation

I want so badly to be able to describe what it feels like to be violated. I desperately want my partners to understand how I have been affected. I feel like my soul is stained. I know that I am strong, but I feel shattered inside. Something precious in me is broken.  My lovers have helped me through panic attacks and flash backs, but they cannot understand a thing they have not experienced.

Let me explain it this way… If sex is the most intimate experience you can imagine, a sharing of souls, then imagine someone being that close to you, deep inside you, against your will. That person may be someone you care about, which makes this invasion a monumental betrayal. Or that person might be repugnant to you, someone you would not choose to share yourself with. Or maybe you would have, except that your right to make a choice was stripped from you, as though you weren’t really a person at all.

Being violated leaves a mark. I see that mark reflected in people all around me. I can stand in a crowded room for a few minutes and point out to you which people have experienced sexual abuse, even though people deal with it differently. I see the stain. I think it has something to do with shame, that transference of self-hatred from the perpetrator to the victim.

Ability to consent

The ability of everyone involved in a sex act to consent is a huge part of the rape discussion. Some of it is fairly accepted in our culture, like children being unable to give consent. We slip into legal definition areas in the teen years, where each state has decided for itself how old one must be to legally give consent and how old one’s partner can be for it not to be statutory rape.

Consent becomes fuzzy when people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Inhibitions are relaxed and someone is more likely to consent to an act in the moment that they will feel violated over the next day. It is not worth the potential harm it could cause to try and have sex with someone when they are inebriated. Furthermore, I believe that someone who takes advantage of an altered state in order to get laid is indeed a rapist.

The most difficult area of consent is where someone doesn’t say anything at all. This is not consent. The lack of a definitive “no” is not a “yes”. Let me be clear: only a “yes” is consent. There are many reasons that someone might not be able to say anything in the moment. An abuse history may have taught them that their protestations will go unheeded. Fear or a desire to be loved may keep someone from speaking out in an uncomfortable situation. Get positive affirmation from your partner before proceeding. Stop if it feels wrong.

After the fact

I hear a lot of people expressing an opinion that rape didn’t really happen if it wasn’t reported right away. If we accept that feelings of violation are a valid definition of rape, than we must accept that those feels are valid at any time. Emotions do not have expiration dates.

Rape is insidious. There are many reasons that a victim might not tell anyone right away: People often feel that what happened was their fault. If they have experienced abuse in the past, they might feel that sexual abuse is normal. They may feel that no one would believe them anyway. Sometimes victims are so unable to cope with the trauma that they put the memory away for a time. Whatever the reason, rape is still rape, even if it doesn’t get disclosed immediately.

If someone reveals to you that they have been raped, the important thing is to tell them that their feelings of violation are valid. This is not in any way debating the facts of the incident, this is purely and simply stating that they are entitled to their emotions, whatever they are. It infuriates me when people question the validity of a victim’s experience rather than supporting them.

Rape Culture

Rape is the only crime I know of where most people respond with doubt. I could tell you that my house was broken into or my car was rear-ended and the majority of people would be sympathetic and supportive, but mention rape and the response is often, Are you sure? Did you do something to bring it on?

The inability to get a compassionate response when disclosing abuse is nearly as traumatizing as the experience itself. Our culture is so busy denying that there is a rape problem, that we fail to support the people who need the most help. We need to create a safe environment for abuse reporting.

Yes, I get that a world where heinous sex crimes exists is a difficult place to live and you’d rather not acknowledge that abuse happens all around you. It seems easier to blame the victims, but by denying their stories, you are creating what you fear. When you fail recognize feelings of violation, you are in fact supporting rape culture.


Going back to my discussion with Harold, we have come to believe that the solution to our culture’s rape problem lies in open acceptance of people’s feelings of violation. We need to be able to say, openly and without fear of judgment, when we feel violated. We need to be heard and supported in those feelings so that everyone everywhere understands that it will not be hidden. Rapists will not be held accountable in our culture until we place emphasis on the emotional harm inherent in this crime.

Once we can have a dialog where victim’s emotions are given weight, then we can have a conversation about “what actually happened.”  A truly open forum for discussion is going to benefit everyone— not only people who feel violated, but also people who feel wrongly accused of raping.  And if our whole culture hears and understands how much rape hurts, it will be harder for anyone to pretend that it’s ever “justified” or “excusable” or “provoked”.  Until that time, though, we’re all complicit in perpetrating the secret world of sexual abuse.

Nov 082012

To the Rapey Asshole in Pullman,

I just got off the phone with my daughter. You know, the girl you drugged in a bar last month hoping you could get some action because you are such a pathetic loser that you can’t get laid otherwise. She didn’t tell me until just now because she knew I would be furious and there’s nothing we can do about it. She doesn’t even remember you, just experienced your handiwork. She was sick for a week from that drug. You’re lucky that she didn’t die, because I would have hunted you down.

She doesn’t remember anything from that night. I can only imagine what she’s going through. Is it hell not knowing what actually happened, or is it a blessing to not know? She thinks that probably you didn’t rape her. I’m a bit more cynical. I fear the worst. I’ve seen your type, but I know my girl. I bet she fought like a wildcat. I hope you’re still suffering.

I may not be able to get my hands on you, but I believe in karma.

a rage filled momma


To the Pullman Police,

When you found my daughter passed out in a ditch, did you put handcuffs on her right away? Or did you wait until she was weeping uncontrollably? Did you stop to think for just a second that her slurred speech could be from being drugged without her consent or do you assume that all college girls are drunken sluts? Did you not find it strange that witnesses reported her being with a man who ran away?

How could you possibly think that my daughter was anything other than a victim in this situation? Was she such a threat that you had to put her in custody? I want to jump up and down in frustration and rage that you would not handle my child with compassion and consideration for her well-being. That girl is my precious daughter. Every girl is someone’s precious daughter.

Is this a common situation in your town? Do you get a lot of girls passed out in ditches? Is it so common that you are inured to the sight? Maybe that’s because your town has a problem with date rape drugs. I bet every girl at that college has a story about it by the time they graduate. Yes, that is your problem. Clean it the fuck up. Now.

Fuck you,
a rage filled momma


To the Pullman Regional Hospital,

I am saddened by your lack of professionalism. Without your bill I would still be ignorant of this challenge my daughter has had to face, so I am glad for that. But why couldn’t you have done your fucking job when the cops brought my daughter to you?

I understand that she appeared inebriated, but then why not treat her for alcohol poisoning? Didn’t you notice the bruises and scratches all over my sweet girl? I wish someone had thought to call me. I would have been in my car and on the phone telling you all what to do. Where were you with the drug testing and the goddamned rape kit? Not that I would wish that on my girl, but WTF? Do your job.

I am thankful for the nurse on duty, who talked to my daughter days later and helped her to put together what happened when not knowing was killing her. She didn’t remember anything and you helped her piece together a bit of a story. That is a kindness.

Again though, how many college girls do you treat in this situation? Don’t you see this as a problem? Please treat this epidemic like you would any other.

Litigiously yours,
a rage filled momma


To the WWU counselor,

How dare you. How dare you slut shame and victim blame my help-seeking child! No, she is not suffering from alcohol withdrawals. She is experiencing panic attacks. No, her experience was not alcohol poisoning, she just told you that she got date rape drugged. Do you get what that means? No, you don’t.

It means that someone tried to rape my daughter. Maybe they did, we don’t know. What kind of misogynistic asshole neglects to acknowledge that? Isn’t that possibly why she needed an emergency appointment to see you? Were you the best the college could offer at that given moment? Cuz buddy, you suck.

It makes me so mad that my daughter would reach out for help at this difficult time and you would just assume that she drank too much. You don’t know my girl, you cynical fuckhead. Get over yourself and try to actually help the people you pretend to serve. College girls get raped. Help them.

Up yours,
a rage filled momma


My dear sweet darling daughter,

I love you so much. None of my rage is directed at you. You are my star. You are my first child and I am so proud of you. You are so responsible and such a good adult. You always make good choices, but even if you didn’t I would love you to the moon and back.

I’m so sorry that this bad thing happened to you. It drives me crazy that I can’t go back in time and change it. I want to always keep you safe and happy… but I can’t. I’m very impressed with how you have handled all of this. I wish you had told me sooner, but I get why you didn’t. It’s okay. You knew that I would react like this and you didn’t want the weight of that too. It’s okay sweet girl. I love you. Your whole family loves you so much!

I love that you have already thought of everything that I can come up with to do, including getting tested for STD’s at two months out. I hope that you are not too worried while you wait. I admire how well you have taken care of yourself. I’m relieved that you feel angry too.

I think that you are perfectly wonderful. It’s okay that your grades have slipped some. You are doing fine. We’ve got your back. It hurts me to think of this burdening you. I ache when I think of every girl who has to suffer this date rape drug bullshit. I want to thank you for every woman who has ever been slipped a date rape drug. Thank you for standing up and speaking out.

You are my hero beautiful brilliant girl.

All the love in the universe,
your momma

Oct 102012

Evoë ThorneI think the worst feeling I have ever experienced is knowing that I’m alone in the world and beyond hope. Even when I’ve had people in my life who cared about me, there have been times when I’ve felt trapped in my own mind, unable to form connections or accept love. At times like that, it seems like the more I want someone, the more likely I am to push them away. It’s impossible for me to believe that anyone could want me.

Today is World Mental Health Day. More than 350 million people across the globe are affected by depression and less than 10% get treatment, despite the existence of effective treatment options. An additional 100 million people world-wide suffer from other mental health disorders. Without mental health, there is no health. And mental health is imperative for a healthy sex life.

My experience

I’ve struggled with Bipolar Disorder since my early teens. Suicide attempts and wild behavior colored my formative years. I wasn’t diagnosed until things reached critical mass when I was 21. At that time I was also experiencing intense Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, unable to eat without throwing up or sleep without terrible nightmares.

More recently, after the birth of my last child, I found myself drowning in Post-Partum Depression.

I don’t let these things define who I am or limit how I live my life, but they’ve presented huge obstacles to overcome. In particular, each of these conditions has affected my ability to have the kind of sex I want.


I actually prefer the term Manic Depression because it’s much more clear. People with Bipolar experience mood shifts between wild euphoria and bottomless depression. Mania has often kind of scared me because I feel out of control. I think faster than anyone can keep up with. My sex drive totally kicks in. I feel super turned on all of the time and I crave risky behavior. I want to do crazy things that push my limits. While I’ve never gone this far, it is definitely a time when I feel I could take on the whole football team. I don’t have good boundaries or decision making skills when I’m manic. When I was younger I would often violate relationship agreements in a fit of mania. Since then I’ve learned to be responsible for myself all of the time, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take advantage of a manic state for some hot sex!

Depression can be extremely hard because it is so insidious.  Depression steals my self-esteem and I don’t even realize it. I just feel ugly, slow, and pathetic. It’s difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Every step is like wading through a swamp of oatmeal. I try harder when I’m depressed, present more, dress up and wear more makeup. I often feel very little desire in this state. Sometimes, though, I can use sex to try to circumnavigate the numbness. What I really want is to be loved and held, but I don’t feel capable of being loved. When we do make contact, it can be very sweet and life-affirming.


When someone lives through a horrific experience, the experience can get put away in the brain as raw data (sights, smells, sounds, etc.) and not as the kind of processed stories we normally have as memories. Later, if something happens to bring that event up again, it literally seems to be happening all over again, right now. It feels real and immediate. This is what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is about. When people who have PTSD react, it can seem totally irrational, until you look at it in the context of the original trauma.

Because my PTSD has been around childhood abuse and rape, I spent many evenings in my early 20’s starting off feeling sexy in bed and ending up naked hiding in the closet shivering.

Post-Partum Mood Disorder

Post-Partum Mood Disorder is a constellation of mental health disorders brought on by the extreme shift in hormones following the birth of a baby.  Mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents can all experience it. Depression and anxiety are its most common forms.

PPMD is particularly troubling because having a baby is already a stressful and isolating time. I was lucky because when I had my youngest four years ago, I had the support of a poly family. Still, it was a difficult time, during which I gained about 40 pounds, was afraid to be alone with the baby, and feared abandonment constantly. I know that I had sex during this time, but I don’t really remember it. I had body and attachment issues. It was hard to be me, but I wanted to use sex to make sure that people would still love me. It was all I could do to get from moment to moment and day to day. I joined OKCupid for some positive feedback.

What you can do

If you believe that you are suffering from a mental health disorder, or even if you just want to make changes in how you interact in your relationships and improve your sex life, the first thing to do is talk to your doctor or a public health clinic. Get a referral for a therapist and someone who can help you assess if medications might help you. There are many alternatives to medicine, but this is not a bad place to start, especially if you have been living under this cloud for years. It is important to have both pieces: medication and talk therapy. Medication can change the chemical imbalance that’s happening in your body and therapy can help you figure out how to change the patterns in your life that are problematic.

Not all health care providers are created the same. Make sure to find people that you can trust and talk to easily. Don’t be afraid to decide that your provider is not working for you and find another. This person is going to be a vital member of your health team – make it right. Also, own your care. It’s hard to be assertive when you don’t feel strong, but please speak up if you don’t agree with a diagnosis or care plan. Passively agreeing to something you won’t do is just a waste of time. Own your health care!

I have been able to do amazing things by taking Lithium regularly and working hard in therapy. I have been able to minimize the impact of both mania and depression. I’ve worked through debilitating anxiety, learned how to have healthier relationships, and come to feel better about my body. I’ve even been able to work through the PTSD memories so as to see them as a cohesive story and put them away like regular memories. It’s a lot of work, and things are still hard sometimes, but I have hope. I know that these are things I am doing to have the life I want.

What you can do for someone you love

Loving someone who lives with a mental health disorder is challenging.  They may not want your help and you need to respect that. If they do want you to help, do what you can to understand that their actions do not reflect on you. For example, when one of my partners is unhappy, I tend to feel like I’ve done something wrong. I try not to take that on, but instead to address the unhappy feeling in a caring and supportive manner. For someone who’s life is seriously out of control however, you may need to step in. Do some research. Find a doctor and a therapist. Go with your loved one to the appointments.

Find ways to connect with each other. Sex might be a good way to be close. For some people sex transcends the mood disorder. For many, many people though, sex becomes next to impossible. That doesn’t mean that they don’t need love and affection. Don’t give up. Find ways to be close to each other anyway, that are comfortable for both of you. Go for a walk and hold hands. Brush each other’s hair. Cook together.  Read a story aloud. Write them a love letter. When things are hard, write a list of all of the reasons you fell in love. If you really need to find sexual outlet somewhere else, have a frank and honest conversation. Find a way to do it respectfully.

Make sure that you take good care of yourself. You are important too.

Remember that it will get better.


Because it will get better. Somewhere along the way I forgot to count the minutes. Then I forgot that I was barely getting through each day.  Things got better. I get sick and tired of working on my stuff all of the time, but it makes a huge difference. Every day I get stronger.

I don’t generally make a big deal about my mental health issues. When I was young I was told not to let anyone know because I would be stigmatized. I think that’s crap. Everyone has their issues and so few people ever seek help. If just one person reads this and it changes how they think about mental health, I will be happy. Maybe you are that one person. Are you tired of how hard you have to work to make it through the day? What if you could use that energy for other things, things that bring you joy? What if addressing your mental health issues could let you have the kind of sex you want to have? Is it worth it now? Don’t give up hope.

Aug 082012

Pissed and dangerousI’m feeling tired, angry, and burnt out. I spend a lot of time talking about how wonderful I think sex is because I BELIEVE in the power of sex. My belief is that sex is the source of healing for all things emotional and even some things physical. Sex sets us free of our normal limitations. Sex allows us to connect with each other and the universe. Sex is powerful, so people fear it and abuse it.

I hate that sex abuse is everywhere. I appreciate that people are bringing it out into the open. I loathe secrets. Secrets are the death of healthy sexuality, and often of sanity. Privacy is fine, secrets are not. In sex, more knowledge and more communication means a better experience for everyone. I’m glad that I can read about sex abuse all over the internet and share stories with friends – this is the beginning of finding solace. Sex abuse is one of the most isolating things I can think of, so lay all your stuff out, not just to free yourself, but to free everyone from secrecy.

I could save myself some pain by shutting it all out, but I feel like I owe it to every survivor who wants to talk about what happened to them to listen – to witness their bravery. It takes some guts to come forward because every former victim I’ve ever talked to started out thinking that it was somehow their fault. It breaks my heart. I hate that the experience of sexual abuse at any level is so pervasive. From street heckling to incest, these are all perversions of sexuality.

I’m so tired of aching over my own abuse. I’m bored with wallowing in my own sadness, shame, and anger. It isn’t the whole of who I am; I am not the abuse. I have worked hard and long to let go of these emotions, but I still feel damaged. Maybe the scar tissue never goes away. I just want to find a way of carrying my baggage that’s easier and doesn’t chafe.

How can it not chafe? Why shouldn’t I be fucking angry? Why shouldn’t I be yelling from the rooftops? I’m pissed. I’m livid. I should be beating down the walls. But I have to be angry in the right ways – smart ways. I could hate sex, but I don’t. Sex is not my enemy. Sex is MINE, I own it. I’m not afraid of sex any more. Sex connects me with myself and the people I love. I get a great deal of my needs met through sex.

I could hate men, ignoring the fact that not all abusers are male. Whether subtle or overt, I see a lot of women deciding that despising men will make them feel better. It’s safer to keep men at a distance. I think this is damaging on so many levels. Yes, people can use their strength and power in evil ways. This does not make everyone with strength and power evil. There are traits that I admire in people of all genders that might make them risky to me if I let my fear drive, but the truth is that I like partners with those traits. What I try to communicate to my children and my partners is an admiration for those traits and the expectation that I will be treated with respect. I don’t make a big deal about it, it’s just my truth.

Any of partners might be an easy target for my rage, but I know that would make me an abuser. My loved ones do not deserve my anger about sex abuse. They are trying to help me. Sometimes I just well up with frustration and helplessness and I’m looking for the nearest thing to lash out at. Or I’m honestly trying to work through the emotion and it leaks into our interactions. Then I own my emotions, do damage control if necessary, and find other ways of processing. I want my relationships to stay as clean as possible. I get so much out of the love that I share that I’m not about to dirty those waters.

Where should my anger go? Back to the people who took away my right to choose. That’s difficult because it’s painful to look straight at those memories. It’s easier to think that I’m reading a story or watching a television show – something that happened long ago and has no more power over me. But to be mad as hell, you have to live it. No one can do that all the time.

I’m tired because I’m not just fighting my own demons, I’m also fighting the culture we live in. I believe that some abusers are themselves victim of the system. I’m not defending their actions, I’m just recognizing the patterns. I recently read some accounts written by men who had raped. Some of them were genuine sociopaths who knew that they had done wrong and were gratified that they hadn’t been caught. What struck me though, was the number of men who raped because of poor boundaries, lack of communication, and intoxication. Most of these men raped in high school or college and have spent the rest of their lives feeling like horrible monsters. I know first hand how the women they raped must have felt.

Why are so many young people having sexual experiences that scar them for life? Is it maybe that we are failing as a society to give them the tools they need to have successful, fulfilling relationships and sexual encounters? I don’t want my children to learn about sex while drunk at a party. And I don’t want to worry about them getting raped by some asshole while getting drunk at a party. Why don’t we teach (and model) good sexual behavior? Let’s make sure everyone learns about consent: Yes means yes, the absence of a “no” does not mean yes!

This is where I try to channel my anger. It’s not that I’m lighthearted about sex. I know all about the vast dark underbelly of sexuality, I just don’t choose to live there. I love sex. I want to protect the sanctity of sex – for me, for you, for the next generation. I fight to show all of the glorious aspects of sex so that I can change the way that our culture handles sex. I want people to know that you can get through sex abuse and have healthy sex lives. I know that the darkness is there, I just light my way forward with love and beauty.

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May 242012

CuntThe word cunt is often considered the most obscene word in the English language. It’s one of my favorite words. For me, cunt has all of the connotations of the word home – warmth, depth, possession, safety, and comfort. My cunt is my special place where nice things happen. At least now it is. Early sexual abuse made me feel very conflicted about my body and that persisted for a long time. My sexual journey has been challenging, but finally, my cunt feels like home.

I’m changing all of the time. I am a fluid person of many moods. I’m constantly learning more about myself, and exploring my sexuality is no different. My way of fighting back against the abuse I went through is to own my sexuality totally. There shall be no stone left unturned. If I know that something triggers me, I’m going to work on it until it doesn’t any more.

Actually, my first step in owning myself was just to start believing that I am beautiful, to love my body and believe that I am worthy of love. I explored my body and learned about my own pleasure. Abuse robbed me of my innate sense of connection with my body. I used masturbation to reestablish my right to experience positive loving touch in a sexual way.

Next, I worked on creating an internal safe space for sex. At that time I was often dissociating during sex, overcome by flashbacks of abuse. I had a terrific therapist teach me a technique that let me take back my sex life – I learned to acknowledge the intrusive thoughts, then firmly tell them that while I recognized they were there, I was in the middle of something and I would get back to them. Strangely enough, it works. I do have to go back to those thoughts and look at what needed attention, but it lets me have my space. I still use this method on the rare occasions that something comes up for me. Avoiding flashbacks is empowering because it means that I can relax without fear of being sideswiped. I am in control.

It has also helped to put things into words. Words transform my maelstrom of emotions into experiences with handles. If I can talk about it, it isn’t as scary or painful. Putting sexual abuse into words takes the pain out of the present and puts it in the past. This is something that happened to me, but it was long ago, NOT NOW. I’m not there any more. It’s taken me a while, but now I can let my partners know when a memory surfaces in the middle of sex. Having language to communicate these complicated emotions helps me to feel safer and more intimate .

Maybe the most important thing I’ve practiced around post-abuse sex is saying no. Boundaries have been tragically difficult for me to master. At first I felt like I had to date or have sex with anyone who was interested. I ditched that notion, but I still felt like I had to have sex with someone that I loved, if they demanded it. Over time, I practiced my no’s. I got better at listening to my emotions and my desire, and expressing my wants to my partners. I got good at saying no, I’m not interested in fucking right now, but I’d really like it if you went down on me. This is super important because before I could do that, I frequently felt resentful and taken advantage of. My lack of good boundaries was keeping me in a victim state. Now I tend to feel that all of my sexual acts are a gift shared between us.

I have spent a fair amount of time pushing myself to overcome sexual fears. It’s fine if I just don’t like something, but I’m not going to tolerate artificial limits. It might be easier to sweep things under the rug and just let them be, push the bad feelings away and avoid going there again, but that’s not me. This is how I feel powerful. I bring the painful and shameful things into the light, and I conquer them.

Cunt, backI’ve worked hard in defiance of those who perpetrated the abuse, but I feel like my biggest victory has more to do with letting go than fighting back. Lately, I’ve seem to have forgotten that there was ever a war to be won. I have opened up to my partner and to pleasure. I’ve let myself be receptive in a way that I never have before. I trust – both my partner and myself. He spends as much time buried in my cunt as I want. Yesterday I filled his cupped hand with my come and that seems so precious.

I’m crying as I type this, but I’ve come home to a place that, deep down, I thought was inhospitable. I feel at home in my cunt! I have a home. It’s my place and it feels comfortable. I want to live here in a way that I’ve never known before. This is why I love the word cunt. The rest of the world may perceive cunt as dirty and shameful, like sexual abuse, but I know the mystery. Simply saying cunt out loud makes my mouth form a shape like a cunt, punctuated from cervix to clitoris. I take back the word and the place. Cunt.

(This post was first seen in The Buzz, Good Vibrations Blog on 5/17/12.)


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Jan 292012

Evoë feeling philosophicalThis morning I had a flash of inspiration, when I realized that something I’ve worked on for years in my sex life would really benefit me in general. I guess sex and life really are intimately related. Basically, I’ve been meditating on being present, being here now.

Even during sex, being present can be difficult. I struggle with letting go of the past. Occasionally flashbacks hijack my experience. I try to acknowledge the feelings and remind myself that I am no longer trapped in that situation. I don’t have to respond as I would have in the distant past, or yesterday. This is so huge – I can affirm that as a constantly evolving person, what really matters is not then, but right now.

The future is even harder to come to terms with than the past, though. If I’m thinking of initiating sex, I worry about all of the things I ought to be doing instead. My everyday worries rob me of the joys to be had right now. Even when making love, thinking too much about what comes next can put a damper on my pleasure. I find that I only truly lose myself in sex when I am wholly in the moment, not limited by who I was or who I think I ought to be.

I’ve worked on being present during sex for years. I think it’s why I’ve been able to enjoy myself so much. So why haven’t I seen that the same concept could be applied to every other aspect of my life? I find myself constantly focused on next steps rather than where I’m at. That can be helpful, but not if I can’t let myself be happy now. Not if it is a distancing technique.

The main thing for me today is that I feel bad over things that are in the past, from childhood abuse to the fight that Harold and I had a few nights ago. Everything is basically resolved, but I’m holding on to the emotions. The events are sticky. I need to remember that I am not a child, not a partner with hurt feelings. Those things are part of my past – they contribute to the person I am – but I am constantly expanding. Everything I experience makes me bigger and gives me more resources with which to act in the world.

Related to this idea is the concept of forgiveness, something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I finally understand that forgiving someone is something you do for yourself, not them. Forgiving a person means you can let go of the sticky parts – whatever that person did to you can’t hurt you any more. Forgiveness means you can be present in the now.

It’s woo-woo, but I’m finding it helpful. Remembered hurts and the fear of future pain can sometimes distract me from everything else, which is sad when I’m surrounded by beauty and joy. The next time I’m feeling stuck and struggly, during sex or otherwise, I am going to breath deeply and remind myself to be here now.