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So, yesterday was Queering Power 2016.
It was, surprisingly, an easier day that QP usually is. Which isn’t to say it didn’t have its hard bits.
One of the workshops was on trauma-survival and kink and I was expecting that to be pretty hard. It… wasn’t. I mean, I had my knitting out and was basically listening with half an ear. I have to work at it to remember what people said in the small groups we broke into to talk about stuff. The main thing I remember about it was (a) getting colder and colder and colder during the workshop itself, and (b) This:
Apparently there’s a thing called “hyperarrousal”, which is a thing that happens (or can happen) when you’re Triggered. Hyperarrousal isn’t the same as “hypervigilance”, and it includes a whole bunch of things like a distorted sense of the passage of time, anxiety, irritability, & fatigue (among lots of others). It’s been described as a “chronic state of fight/flight/freeze”. (Particularly interesting to me is that decreased body temperature is – apparently – associated with PTSD. I’m cold ALL THE TIME – like, up to and including shivering in a hot room, under blankets – when I’m freaking out about something).
 
The things you learn.
 
The first workshop I went to was a Facilitated Discussion (we *love* those faciliated discussions in this crowd) about chronic illness – physical stuff or mental health stuff or both – and dominance. I talked a little bit about how (a) I have physical pain that doesn’t go away + a brain that tells me horrible, bullshit stories (that are so easy to believe), but that (b) my Owned Property is dealing with the same stuff, but several orders of magnitude worse than I’ve got it. In that situation, how much of this relationship, where she’s “supposed” to be taking care of me is really going to be like that? And what does that mean?
And, when the link between anxiety and vulnerability came up (again and again and again),the words I put around it were (paraphrasing here):
 

I’m not supposed to want. And I’m not supposed to need[1]. But, as someone’s owner, I am supposed to want. Actively and openly[2]. So what do I do here? The story I tell myself is that how this is Supposed To Go is that I pretend to want/demand only those things that my Person already wants to give/provide[3]. So when I have something I actually want, something that doesn’t fit the script I’m (secretly) assuming my Person is (secretly) following… It’s terrifying. Asking means admitting that I can’t just do it on my own. Because if I could thrive without X, or could provide X to myself without anyone’s help, I would already be doing it. Asking feels like danger. Like “this is me, putting my chips down, and asking”. And I feel so fucking powerless.

 
Which was hard, but good, to say out loud.
By the end of that workshop, I was having my usual reaction to having let myself be “seen”, which is equal parts “I need a hug”, “I need a good cry”, and “I need to remove myself from mixed company before I hit somebody non-consensually”. I don’t know if that’s a vulnerability hangover, or what, but there it is.
 
But the part of the day that was the hardest for me was the opening plenary.
The current Ms Leather Toronto, who ran the plenery, included an exercise that was done by a couple of volunteers… They could have been me and Ghost, but they weren’t. In spite of Ghost nudging me in the shoulder and trying to convince me to give it a go.
I didn’t want to.
 
The exercise was that the members of a given D/s dyad would take turns saying:
“I see the beauty of your [dominance/submission] in your [action/characteristic/etc]” + asking if the other person could accept that their beauty was seen and acknowledged. (Each person does this five times, and then they switch).
I did not want to do this. Not with an audience, and not with my wife. Not right then.
 
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to come up with five things, off the top of my head, and that my inability to do so would reflect badly on me (because I’m clearly not focusing on the good things that my Person brings to our dynamic) and also on her (because what does it MEAN if your owner can’t praise you for specifics??)
I was afraid that, if I could come up with five things in-which I could see Ghost beauty as a submissive, that I would pick the wrong things. That I would spot her beauuty in the ways that I spot it, but that I would totally miss some aspect of her submission that is super-central to her identity and that she needs to have recognized and valued. I was afraid that I would screw it up and/or let her down like that.
And I was afraid of – and overtly hostile towards – having to hear Good Things about myself. The point was that I would have been supposed to accept those things, those “I see your beauty as a dominant in [XYZ]” and… I wasn’t sure that I could. In fact, right at that moment, I was absolutely certain that I couldn’t. That I’d have reacted (or at least wanted to react) with a snarling “Stay away from me!” if someone had tried to show me that much praise.
It’s… telling.
I’m not sure what my shame was, right then, but letting someone be gentle with you, letting yourself absorb that kindness… it means taking off your armour. And I deeply, deeply didn’t want to be unguarded.
Telling, indeed.
 
Someone once said to me that she found it hard to hear me tell her that she’s easy to love.
I think I understand a little bit better now what that was about.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Which is very likely The Patriarchy talking in my head, but is also something that I have huge, vast, awful amounts of shame around. Wanting means I’m Too Demanding, Too Much, Too Pushy. Needing means I’m a burden. Asking, unless I’m considerably more than 90% sure the answer will be Yes, is basically putting social pressure on someone else to do what I want them to do which, in some cases, equates to assault inside my head.
 
[2] My much-neglected-of-late Cultivating Entitlement tag is all about my struggles with this.
 
[3] As if a 24/7 d/s personal relationship was supposed to play out like a paid, time-bound session with a pro-domme wherein all feminization is “forced”, and where one is “punished” with exactly the thing that will get one off. My brain is weird.

Queer Fam… of Origin

A few years ago, when I was an outreach worker for a province-wide Q/T health organization, I got to spend an afternoon with my wife and a bunch of other out-of-town (mostly) adults hanging out in Renfrew County for the local queer youth support/social group’s Big Day Out. THere were safer sex workshops. There was a drag workshop. And there was a dance-party (at which a friend of mine paid the party a surprise visit in her Elvis Gear, thus putting the king in The King, and the kids went nuts and wanted pictures. It was a good time.
BUT (or, more accurately,AND): I met a youngster who needed to talk about Stuff with someone who wasn’t an immediate part of her microscopic dating pool. Long story short: We emailed, she told me about feeling like The Only Queer in the Family, I mentioned some statistical probabilitiess, and she wrote me back to tell me she’d asked her Dad and he’d pointed out the small but significant group of homos amongst her cousins.
“I’m not the only one!” her email crowed.
 
Sometimes it’s a surprise, is what I’m saying.
 
In my case… it wasn’t entirely a surprise.
We were all just really, reeeeeeeeeeeally clueless.
But it still kind of floors me when I’m visiting my (bio) aunt, my (married-in) aunt, my masculine-presenting cousin + her super-femme lady-love[1], and my Big Gay Honourary Uncle… because it’s like: I don’t have to flag! They all KNOW!
It’s like some part of my brain forgets that they’re my relatives, that one of them has known me since I was born, and most of the rest have known me since high-school, and all I see is a house full of hippie-ass creative queers (MAH PEOPLE!) whom I don’t see every day… and I suddenly want to be all “So, my wife and I went to this queer slow-dance thing last weekend…” while re-applying my hot-pink lipstick and talking-with-my-hands so much that my shoulders are getting in on the action.
I feel like those kids in Renfrew, going a little hay-wire just because there are Other Queers Around… even though 90% of who I hang out with, these days, are big ol’ homos.
It’s a bit bizzarre, to tell you the truth.
And yet.
I’m not the only one!
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Who totally gave me the Femme Dazzling Smile when she met me, because we do actually recognize each other, but I wasn’t expecting it, and it was really nice when she did it.😉

In My Body… Or Not

I started taking singing lessons when I was seven. When your body is your instrument, you need to be in it all the way. Now I work as a model, and being aware of my body as it exists in space, is a big part of the job. I have (relatively minor) back and joint pain that, for the most part, just doesn’t go away.
You would think that this would mean that it’s easy – maybe not always pleasant, but easy – for me to be In my body all the way.
I’ve actually prided myself on the assumption that I am In my body all the way, and that it’s easy for me to do, that it’s normal or second nature.
… And I realized about a month ago that this is not the case. Not really.
 
I realized that the part of my body that I occupy, that I think of as “me”, that I can be In without having to think about it or work at it is… not very much. It’s the part from my arm-pits up. Sometimes I go a little lower than that – although that might also just be an awareness of where my bra sits all the time? – but the part of me that I think of as “me” is… my arms and hands, my neck, my shoulderblades and traps (at least the tops of them), my shoulders, my neck, my face, my scalp, my head.
It explains a lot.
 
Like why I tend to Notice other people from about the same point up and don’t pay a tonne of attention to the rest until after I’ve decided “Oh, I think that person is pretty”.
Like why I like going down on my lovers to the degree that I do, and (okay, there’s more than one reason for this) it’s so much easier to have someone’s junk in my mouth than in my cunt.
Like why my lovers feel “so far away” when their hands/mouths/attention are focused below my waist.
Like why kissing is SO Amazing and is my favourite part of sex.
Like why wrapping my arms around someone feels so intimate.
 
So here I am, going “Ohhh…” and wondering how to change that. How to be a whole-body experience all the time.
Suggestions welcome.
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

More Precious

Sentiments aren’t diamonds.
“I love you” isn’t precious because it’s (kept) rare, held in reserve and dripped out a little at a time in order to keep it at a premium. It’s precious because it’s true.
And worthless when it isn’t.
How do you know it’s true?
Because it’s backed up by action.
 
“I love you” is answering the phone every time she calls after 1am and talking for an hour when I have to get up at six.
“I love you” is “What can I do to help?” and then doing that thing that will (hopefully) help.
“I love you” is meeting you at the airport or the train or the bus.
“I love you” is getting on the airplane, or the train, or the bus, even if I had to put it on my credit card and I don’t know when my next job will turn up.
“I love you” is rewriting all my recipes so he can eat them, it’s keeping the vegan margarine in the freezer or having a three-month supply of almond milk in tetra packs on the shelf for when he visits.
“I love you” is four hours on Google to find the right honey, then the next right honey, then the next.
“I love you” is falling asleep on her shoulder because she’s the safest place in the world.
“I love you” is pears from the super market.
“I love you” is learning how to not make my feelings your problem.
“I love you” is the way you light up when you see her.
“I love you” is a text message, when words are all the actions you can offer across so much time and space.
“I love you” is “Let’s get a cider and you can tell me what’s up with your husband/book/kids/job, because We Have An Arrangement”.
“I love you” is learning to recognize who’s Driving by the colour of their eyes.
“I love you” is running her a bath with epsom salts when her arthritis is acting up.
“I love you” is “Can I get you some groceries?”
“I love you” is “Groceries would be really helpful, right now, thank you”.
“I love you” is turning your living room into someone else’s art studio.
“I love you” is recognizing that something had to give, even if it sucks that it was me.
“I love you” is making sure they know they don’t have to be On all the time.
“I love you” is massaging her sore hands.
“I love you” is fixing their car (again).
“I love you” is lending them your car (again).
“I love you” is lungwort and lamia and wild ginger dug up and passed on by the arm-load.
“I love you” is doing the dishes.
“I love you” is finding the patience to get through another sobbing fit of “Nobody loves me!” when you’re sitting right there, supporting her through her anxiety and insecurity.
“I love you” is knowing when to back off[1].
“I love you” is every stitch in the patch or the darn.
“I love you” is letting me cry on her shoulder (again) about my ex.
“I love you” is repairing the spinning wheel.
“I love you” is a place to sleep when you’re an hour away and too tired to keep driving.
“I love you” is editing because you believe in her.
“I love you” is cleaning out the fridge, so she doesn’t have to.
“I love you” is the hours it takes to make that hat.
“I love you” is the struggle to write it down.
“I love you” is “I miss you but, yes, you should spend the night with [other partner]”.
“I love you” is building raised beds in the back yard.
“I love you” is rhubarb transplants from both of their fathers’ gardens.
“I love you” is helping you cull your closet.
“I love you” is home in an emergency.
“I love you” is a safe place to fall apart.
“I love you” is reading aloud.
“I love you” is listening.
“I love you” is finding the courage to say it out loud when you don’t know what the answer will be.
 
It doesn’t lose its sparkle if you say it.
 
 
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Kinda wish I was better at this one, and that it didn’t hurt so much.

My business is generally pleasurable.

Photo on 12-22-15 at 9.51 AM #3 My face whenever someone asks me this stupid fucking question.

Here’s another pet peeve of my email inbox: when a man (because it’s almost always a man) asks me if he should continue seeing this woman he’s been dating who just told him she has herpes. Sometimes the question is data-based, about what transmission statistics are real. Sometimes the question is esoteric, about whether or not he truly knew this woman in the first place. And sometimes it’s the classic entitled bullshit I face on Twitter all the time: I’m not a jerk for dumping someone who poses a risk to my health, right? Why on Earth would I knowingly choose to put myself in danger like that? Is she worth it?

I don’t know, man. Does your dick get hard around her? Is she nice?

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This post makes some excellent point. Go read it.

Vision Passion Action

This post was written by Danielle Landry. She teaches Mad People’s History as part-time instructor with the School of Disability Studies.

A drawing of a road side stand with the words "psychiatric help 5 cents" on top. Inside the stand there is a person with a blue text box. The bottom of the stand reads "The corporation is in"Ok, let’s talk.

Let’s talk about how those two new workplace scenario commercials only reinforce the idea that it’s unsafe to talk about mental health to your boss or co-workers, instead of establishing that employers in Ontario actually have a duty to accommodate disabled workers, including those with psychiatric disabilities.

Let’s stop positioning disabled people as charity cases through a-nickel-for-every-text campaigns.

Let’s talk about the erosion of our social systems through corporate greed.

Let’s ask why Bell hasn’t instituted any programs to support its low-income customers, such as if they need a reprieve from paying their bills during a hospital stay.

Let’s talk about why it’s not okay that we have to rely on corporate sponsorship to sustain our mental health system. Let’s ask if corporate influence serves to…

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So, many years ago, fairly early on in my relationship with my now-wife, when I was trying to figure out if what I was feeling for her was Capital-L Love, I realized something about myself:
Most of my experiences of loving someone else have been deeply tied to the fear that they were going to leave. Insecure-Anxious Attachment Bonds R Us apparently goes deeper than I had thought. My Ghost was my first love relationship where I wasn’t afraid of losing my partner.
Which is not actually a true statement. Because I was afraid of losing her, quite frequently, and wrestled a LOT with fears around not being a good enough domme to keep her service-side happy, not being confident enough (in any arena) to earn her loyalty, not being secure enough, or compersion-y enough, to avoid trying her patience on the polyamoury front. All sorts of stuff.
But I was also fairly confident, on some level, that she would keep coming back.
Because she did keep coming back.
It was a pattern that kept repeating itself, and every time it did, it chipped away at that deep-seated fear, until one day I wasn’t afraid anymore. Not in the generalized fear-of-abandonment way, at any rate.
 
Great, right?
Totally!
 
Except that being free of that particular fear meant that I ran smack into another one, one that I hadn’t expected to even exist, let alone be something I’d have to contend with:
I was suddenly afraid (yep) that, if I wasn’t afraid of losing my partner, there wouldn’t be anything left of the Feelings I was feeling for her. I was shudderingly (and irrationally) terrified that my feelings of love for my partner would evaporate if I wasn’t coding them through the lens of “fear of loss”, and wondering if, were I to stop fearing being without her, would I then just not caer if she never contacted me again? If I wasn’t afraid that she would never come back, would I do the WORK of maintaining the relationship? Would I make phone calls and emails and dates and invitations if I wasn’t afraid of Never Seeing Her Again? And if I relaxed around that stuff… well, if I wasn’t doing it, who would?
Which kind of makes those layered fears into a bit of an Ouroboros, since underneath the fear-of-loss-of-fear is the fear/assumption that I’m the only member of a given diad who is going to put in the maintenance hours on that relationship. Which… is weird, and maybe foolish, and definitely not kind to my partners… and also an accurate representation of most (not all, thank the gods, but most) of my friendships and romances between the ages of ten and thirty, so… maybe not actually strange that I was feeling it.
 
All that being said, when I realized what I was dealing with, I let it go.
I let it go.
With Ghost, I let go of the feeling that I should be a shuddering ball of anxiety every time she went to see her other partner.
That didn’t mean that, as she accumulated more sweethearts, I didn’t routinely go through the same song-and-dance of actual (if unfounded) fear that I would be replaced or pushed to the side-lines. I totally did. But I stopped forcing myself to feel like crap when I didn’t actually feel that way.
 
So, Go Me. I overcame a Thing.
 
You can sense the “But…” lingering, can’t you?
 
Yeah.
 
In a twist that will surprise none of you, I find myself with my (relatively) new partner, going through the same silliness all over again. Tying myself up in knots over the suspicion (mostly my jerk brain talking through its usual scripts) that said partner might not care about me as much as: (a) she says she does / (b) her other partners / (c) I care about her / (d) pick something, I’m sure I’ve worried about it… and then, when faced with the (repeated, from numerous sources, human and otherwise) suggestion that I actually trust my partner (what a concept), running into the fear that, if I do that, if I stop freaking out about whether or not she cares about me… that I won’t care if she stops contacting me or, worse, that I won’t care if she disappears for a while, and then comes back to me.
It’s the same thing all over again. Even though I figured out I loved her ages ago, back before we started dating, when I caught myself thinking “I want you to be happy and safe”, and then realized what that meant. Even knowing what loving her actually feels like, I’m still goddamn dealing with this nonsense about how “Love feels like fear of abandonment. That’s how you know you’re in love”.
 
It’s fucking stupid, is what it is, and it irritates the heck out of me that this is an issue even when I know what love-without-that-fear feels like and can recognize it. But at least I caught it quickly (ish) this time. Here’s hoping that I can build on this knowledge in the new year as I try to stop my “scarcity thinking” on multiple fronts.
 
Wish me luck!
 
 
TTFN,
Ms Syren.

So I read this thing, and also this thing, on the internet.
Relevant quotations (respectively):

I have noticed something important: they often can give, but they can’t receive. They can reach beyond their walls, but their walls don’t let anything in.

I bought into the bullshit that my value was only worth what I could do for other people.

 
Take those words. Couple them with this passage from Cuntext’s Hurt People Hurt People:

Last relationship’s shit fucking this one up good, and most of the time, we don’t get to compost it and we don’t get to take that rich soil and grow something better next time.

 
…And you are going to get an idea of what this post is about.
 
Twenty-five years ago. Twenty-five fucking years ago, that’s a quarter of a century, people! Twenty-five years ago, my brother – in the way of elelven-year-olds looking to find out where their power lies – gave voice to my most deeply and dearly held fear, the metanarrative that has been shaping my life for waaaaaaaaaaaay too damn long.
 

They only like you ‘cause you give them stuff.

 
I believed him.
I believed it.
 
I still believe it.
 
And I have no idea how much having those words said out loud by someone other than me, as though it was obvious to everyone and not just some horrible suspicion I held, made it true – or truer – to my ears, my mind, my heart… But it’s something I’ve been dealing with ever since.
 
It’s more than a bit of a piss-off, I don’t mind telling you.
Because this stuff goes deep and it takes for fucking ever to get through.
 

Linear time is a coercive lie of the white colonial patriarchy and it is fucking all of us up. Growth happens in circles and so does healing. We come back to the same hurt over and over, we come back to the same patterns over and over, and this is not failure, just life.

 
I know that my jerkbrain tells me stories – you know the ones (maybe your jerkbrain tells you the same ones) about how the people who say they love you don’t really love you, how you’re unloveable, unwantable.
And my jerkbrain is reeeeeeeeeeeally good at spotting the signs that it’s right, finding the proof, noticing the patterns that back it up, but completely missing the ones that contradict those stories.
 
I’m getting better at catching it, but I’m a long way from “fixed”, and I fall down my own rabbit holes a lot. Like weekly. Sometimes I can pull myself out of it without letting it show, or without saying anything more than “Brain weasels. I’m dealing with it” and then just dealing with it… And sometimes I need a lot of help.
 
It occurred to me, today, that I’m thinking of my partners – on some level – as though they’re stray cats. They’ll come around as long as I keep feeding them, as long as I don’t try to get too close, too fast, or start expecting them to turn up.
They couldn’t possibly want me because there’s something good about me that they actually like. Oh, no.
 

So I think it is really important […] to acknowledge how hard it can be to receive. Because receiving a gift is risking closeness. […] Each time someone gives you the gift of any kindness—acknowledge the gift, breathe and take it in like a long drink of water. Drink it way, way into your roots like a tree that has lived through a drought. Because it has.

 
I keep a file of text messages from people who love me, saying kind things to me. I keep it so that I can read them when my heart hurts, when I can’t physically remember the last time someone said “I miss you” or “you’re beautiful”. I can open up that file and find examples with fucking date-stamps on them. They’re not wishful thinking. They’re right there.
They help.

Given that “feeling nervous and uncertain” is called “having cold feet”, I doubt that I’m particularly unusual in this, but:
I get super-phsyical reactions to emotional stuff.
Like: My feet are a barometer for my sense of security. If I can feel it, know it in my bones, that I’m safe, loved, wanted, that I have Enough… I am warm-warm-warm, pumping heat out from the core of me, right down to the tips of my usually clammy toes.
When I feel the opposite, though, when I feel afraid, like I’m on perpetual probation, like if I put a foot wrong I’ll be abandoned, swiftly and unceremoniously dumped – whether that’s literal (getting kicked out of my home, getting fired, having one or both of my partners end their relationships with me) or something closer to getting ghosted, reaching for support and finding out that I had fair-weather friends only – my feet, and often my legs up to almost my knees, turn to ice. I’ve given myself frostbite (once) while in a heated building. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances (I have some nerve compression in my back that effects my toes, and the day this happened, it was -51C outside my ground-floor apartment… even if the thermostat said 22C indoors, it didn’t change the fact that my floating floor had been installed over a parking lot without much in between the two), but still. Frostbite?? That was weird, folks. O.O
 
Unsurprisingly, I’m far more used to feeling cold, but in the past… 8-12 months, let’s say, I’ve started really paying attention to it, and noticing how my temperature relates to how I’m feeling. Being warm and being loved, being wanted, safe, secure, and cared for… those are all the same feeling in my body. (Seriously. All that “Fear freezes, Love thaws” stuff from Frozen? Bang. On).
I’m trying to sort out how the connection works. Like, if I’m feeling horrible, if my brain weasels are screaming and they won’t shut up, will making myself hot, good food and wrapping myself in a blanket help? (You’d think but… beyond adressing the basic “Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay” stuff? It doesn’t actually do anything. Hm). Can I figure out a way to push heat frommy core into my feet and toes and, if I can do this, is there a corresponding possitive change in how I’m doing emotionally?
 
Part of what has me thinking about this is the recent piece over at Cuntext, where the author writes:

We do not exist without our bodies, we do not exist without our bodies, we do not exist without our bodies. Mind and spirit and body are all parts of each other; body and spirit and mind are the same; same space, same person. Even after all the self-love work in the world, all the cum and sweat and mirror-work, the good loving friendships, and only following aesthetic blogs that feature fat babes, femme babes, dark-skinned babes, disabled babes, trans babes, and learning that not wanting touch or sex or romance is okay, even after all that self-love work, there is still so much in this world that tells us our desire is wrong and so are our bodies.
And so we are crazy. Many of us[3].

And also partially because, honestly, I’m tired of sitting on this nail[1] and, frankly, I spent this morning PMSing[2] like fuck and, consequently, dealing with the same damn Brain Weasels that have plagued me for 20+ years. And I’m really fucking tired of it. That and I don’t want my fears to fuck up my relationships (again) (any more).
 
I’m tired of “having cold feet”.
 
My wife got me a copy of Girl Sex 101 the other day, and I’ve been devouring it,trying to figure out (at 36) (with two partners) how to fucking flirt without either (a) actually getting pushy or being too demanding or putting pressure on my partners to do stuff if they don’t wanna, OR (b) feeling like that’s what I’m doing. (Femme problems…)
 
I spent the afternoon giving myself a tarot reading on the question of “What Do I Need” while, at the same time, reaching out for emotional support to a partner who hasn’t seen much of my insecure side (though I would guess she’s seen more of it than I tell myself I’ve shown her, so…) and spending a shockingly agonizing hour Just Breathing through the waves of fear that she might have ghosted on me when I asked for emotional support[4].
 
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha has a poem, that is more like an essay, that is a chapter/piece in her memoire Dirty River: “The Opening”. But what if there is nothing more precious than a femme with her legs open?
I am tired of expecting the kick or the curse when (if) I open my legs/hand/heart/arms and ask for something. I’m tired of expecting that, and I’m also tired of projecting that (presumed) impending, casual cruelty onto people who aren’t actually going to hurt me.
 
I gotta tell you, it is a weird fucking feeling to be holding, in one hand, the faaaaaaaaaairly confident certainty that you already know the (affirmative) answer to “Do you still love me” and, holding in the other hand, the really, really deep need to hear her say so out loud, while, down between your frozen feet, are the twin fears of “What if I’m wrong? What if she doesn’t answer me at all?” and “What if, by asking that question at all, you are just being emotionally manipulative? What if you drive her away because you’re too much like her mother/asking too much by asking at all/being passive-agressive, and it triggers the shit out of her?”
I mean, how messed up is that?
 
And yet? Me.
Eugh.
 
But I asked for what I needed.
And I got it.
I got it.
O.O
 
My feet aren’t exactly toasty right now. But I’m doing a lot better than I was.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Yeah, I read Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, the other day. that phrase is basically shorthand for “You are going to keep repeating your patterns and making the same mistake until you are actually sick and tired of it and decide to take some steps to change how you deal with stuff.
 
[2] My period’s never been massively regular (except for about a year or two in my very early 20s), but when I get super klutzy/uncoordinated (more than usual) and have a LOT of difficulty getting on top of the shame-rage-grief-fear spiral that lives in my head? It’s a good indicator that I’m about to start bleeding.
 
[3] And also this (relevant…):

Linear time is a coercive lie of the white colonial patriarchy and it is fucking all of us up. Growth happens in circles and so does healing. We come back to the same hurt over and over, we come back to the same patterns over and over, and this is not failure, just life.

 
[4] She hadn’t. And I knew the answer already, anyway. But sometimes I need to her it out loud, just to confirm that I’m not just kidding myself, and given where my head was at, it was not an easy hour.

So, about four months ago, maybe five, my wife formally came out as sex-positive asexual. The way she describes this is “It’s like… I love food, it tastes great, eating is wonderful, sharing a meal is fantastic… But I never get hungry”. Basically, any time she’s inclined to pursue sexual interaction with someone, it’s because she’s made an intellectual/emotional decision of “Oh, hey, don’t mind if I do,” rather than because her body is sending her physical cues that translate in her unconscious brain as “Maybe this would be a good idea now”.
It’s a good analogy. One that I’m planning on stretching all out of shape over the course of the coming post.
Yeah. In the going-on-six years that I’ve been with the woman who is now my wife? I’ve generally been the “good partner”, meaning that I’ve tended to be the one who didn’t need constant reassurance, or late-night crisis counseling, or otherwise demand that she be On Call for emotional and psychological support 24/7. For good or for ill (oh, for ill…), I’ve put a lot of store in my “status” as The Good Girlfriend, the one who was NEVER Too Demanding, or High Maintenance, or Neurotic, or whatever. The one who could, more or less, process her own crap most of the time.
And, right now, that is emphatically not the case.
Blogging, as they say, is cheaper than therapy. I did a tarot reading, almost a month ago, that basically said “Honey, get out of your own way”. So I’m going to blog about this, and talk a little bit about where my head is at, and how I’m getting in my own way.
Here goes.

So. If my lovely wife describes herself as “never getting hungry”, I’ve personally felt like I’ve spent the last couple of years, well, starving. Hungry to the point that I’ve forgotten what “normal hunger” feels like and don’t even notice it until I’m shaking and having trouble staying upright.
Recently, I’ve come to learn that:

A) What I thought were pleas for food (“food”) so loud and obvious and desperate that they were laughably pathetic in their naked neediness, were actually so subtle – or so easy to lose in the generalized “all smoulder all the time” signal that I’m apparently constantly putting out (really?) – that my non-Ace partner couldn’t spot them either.

B) All the things that made it difficult for my wife to cook (“cook”) with me? Those are still factors. She still has constant joint pain. I still have constant back problems. Our respective ideal sleep schedules don’t overlaps as much as we’d like. She still has as many partners as fingers and we all have a claim to some of her time, energy and attention. That hasn’t changed (much), it’s just that now I know there was a root cause underneath all of those factors that played a larger role than I ever knew.

C) I’ve buried my need to eat under so much shame and guilt (“I shouldn’t be this hungry, she’s not hungry, what’s wrong with me?”, “Stop pestering her for food, she obviously doesn’t want to cook, just wait ‘til she’s at work so you can eat crackers without her having to see you doing it”) that I seem to have developed some kind of an eating disorder where being offered food, sure, fills me with longing… but it also fills me with aversion and the distinct impression that I probably won’t be able to digest that, no matter how much I want to eat it.
…Which, I think, probably stretches the “hungry” metaphor to the breaking point. Moving on.

When my wife got shop space outside of the house and was able to Quit Her Day Job (more or less) and work for herself full-time, I had high hopes that my over-worked, exhausted beloved would suddenly have the extra time and extra energy to come back to me and be my sexual partner again.
And she did.
Maybe not in the way I was expecting. I wasn’t particularly expecting a “Honey! I know what’s up with me! I never wanted you sexually in the first place! But also I still love you and do want a sexual relationship with you, even though I’m not wired to feel sexual desire!” (I’m paraphrasing, although not by much)[1].
Cue a solid MONTH of trying to find a way of talking about this that didn’t send me into a complete tail spin. (This is where the “never feel hungry, but enjoy food” analogy came from).
What I’m saying is that she did come back to me, sexually. She started making advances. She started flirting with me a lot more. She was trying, and still is.
But I was running smack into a wall of rage and resentment that I hadn’t even known was there. Telling myself that she didn’t really want me[2], couldn’t really want me, so why was she faking it for my benefit? Telling myself that, if she’s faking it for my benefit, and I’m faking it for her benefit (so she feels like a good partner, so she’s not wasting her efforts), why the fuck are we even bothering? Why can’t we just fall asleep in each other’s arms like we’ve been doing for years? Why can’t I be left with my loneliness and sadness which, while they suck, are at least things I know how to fucking deal with??
Note For Readers: I do not actually want to be left with my loneliness and sadness. They suck, and they are not improving with time.

It’s easy to get angry. It’s SO easy to think things like “Why do you even care? It’s not like it’s any skin off your back if we NEVER FUCK AGAIN!” So easy to think “Oh, sure, after years of NOTHING, years of broadening my definition of “sex” to the point that I could claim “two minutes of making out, in a four-month period” as a reason to believe we were still sexually involved, NOW you expect me to turn on a dime, rebuild all of the desire that I fucking squashed out of existence, and act like none of it ever happened?”
Maybe she was expecting a dam to burst, too.
I know I was.

She says she misses me.
I know I miss her, too.
My Feeeeeeeeeeeelings situation is affecting our relationship – because the last thing someone who’s devoting most of their spoons to pain management wants is to have to play counselor to someone else at the same time, but also because the amount of ruminating I’m doing means that I’m distracted and miserable half the time we’re in the same room – and it’s affecting my relationship with my out-of-town partner, too (because she can’t, by her own admission, be the only “place” where my sexual needs get met. That’s way too much pressure to put on someone who only sees you for two days in a given month).

Every message I’m getting (like “message from the universe”, ‘cause I’m Woo like that, but also straight up “message via actual words out of someone’s mouth”) is all Baby, Just Say Yes! and I’m still balking like woah. My wife says “Be selfish, it’s okay.” She and my girlfriend have both noticed that kissing me tends to drag on and on and not get any farther than that and… I sort of know what that’s about. But that doesn’t tell me how to move forward. How to move myself forward.
For whatever reason, I’ve convinced myself that I’m always going to want my partners more than they want me, and I’ve been watching for “back off” and “that’s enough” cues to the exclusion of the ones that say “come closer” and “I want more”. Thing is, I’m doing that around myself, too, and I’m learning that the way I talk myself back into my body isn’t helping, because it involves a lot of “calm the fuck down”, a lot of clamping down on whatever I’m feeling and quashing the good stuff as well as the stuff I don’t want to be feeling. (Like that thing that Brené Brown says about how you can’t just numb the “bad stuff”, you numb out everything).

My wife says “Why not come to sex with goals of what you want to get out of it?”
And, big surprise, I’m drawing a HUGE blank on that one. The only “goal” I ever learned, around sex, was “everybody (in theory) gets an orgasm” and that’s… not actually reasonable under the circumstances. So, to take a page from Captain Awkward (I read a lot of Captain Awkward), let’s see what kind of goals I can set wherein the accomplishing of those goals is something I can actually control:

A) Suggest one thing that I would like to try – “Could you touch me like [xyz]”, “Can I do [xyz] by [abc]?” “Put your hand [here]?”

B) Use my words to express a particular need – “I need to stay warm while we do this”, “I would like you to do the thing that you mentioned wanting to do, but I need you to do it specifically like [lmnop]”

C) Try a thing that you suspect might feel good, regardless of what your brain weasels are telling you. (It’s okay to stop if it’s not as fun as you thought it would be).

These are things I can try. These are goals I can accomplish. Even though it’s scary as fuck. Even though the starving part of me is insisting “You can put up with things not being exactly what you want, if it means getting something into your system”, even though the entitled, angry part of me is demanding “Why do I still have to do the hard things??” These are still things that I can try to do, can make a point of doing.

Wish me luck.

Cheers,
Ms Syren.

[1] She says she sometimes wishes she’d never told me, because I’ve got such a hang-up about it. I’ll get to that bit in a minute, though.

[2] Which is, in fact, the opposite of what she was saying in both word and deed, but conveniently (“conveniently”) was exactly what my Jerk Brain has been telling me for the past 25+ years. Funny thing, that.