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Relevant to my Notice Pleasure Project.

Captain Awkward

This piece written by Cass Ball is great.

And you can safely replace “20s” with “any part of adulthood.”

Now’s the part where I physically restrain myself from quoting the entire thing:

“When I’m coming from a place of scarcity, a place where everything feels like it isn’t enough,I often feel that I’m insufficient without more experience, and therefore at risk of lowering my boundaries and putting myself in unsafe situations. Ironically, feeling like I’m “too much,” like my needs are a burden, is also a form of scarcity: it indicates that I don’t think I’m worthy of my needs being met. When I’m approaching sex from a place of abundance, I can value my needs and feel that they’re just right, and I therefore can communicate both pleasure and boundaries with equal confidence and clarity. Coming from a place of abundance means that I can be with another person…

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So I feel like I’m making some progress in terms of sorting out what’s working and, when things aren’t working, the things that I could do to get them to work better.
Stuff like:
Oh, hey, getting vigorously fucked while lying on my back can feel amazing, but sometimes it means that my hands start to go numb and/or something WEIRD starts happening with my face. Still. (This has been a thing for a looooong time, and relates to the disc problems in my lower back. I have a rough idea of how to fix that situation in the moment, but (a) it’s a pretty rough idea, and (b) it means that there are positions that make things easier for my hips that I still, unfortunately, have to avoid if I don’t want to have, like, muscle spasms in my face or difficulties controlling my jaw).
OR:
Oh, hey, orgasming is a fairly active thing that I can just “lie back” and wait to have wash over me.Oh, hey, I feel embarrassed – for some reason? – doing the visible, physical work it takes to get myself off with a partner, but it still needs doing and X position makes it much easier for me to do those things than Y position… AND ALSO: Oh, hey, there’s also a bit of a balancing act (mental? physical? emotional?) going on in order for me to both be relaxed/open/receptive enough to get turned on and to a place where orgasming is an option – as in I’m not being so, uh, “goal oriented” that I start to spin and fret about “Am I Taking Too Long” (and similar) and end up kind of jack-knifing into hypo-arousal/numbness/”I’m Just Not (sometimes literally) Feeling It” – while also being active/goal-oriented enough to recognize and do the things my body needs to do – move which muscles how? shift in which direction, when? – in order to… be able to do something with all the energy building up in my body, basically, so that I can do something voluntary and enjoyable rather than just get overwhelmed by it.
OR:
Oh, hey, mentally treating Sex With a Long-Time Partner as though it were pick-up play at a party – with explicit suggestions of activities and negotiations about how a thing is going to go – actually helps me get around some of my mental/emotional blocks when it comes to sexually engaging with someone after the NRE Hormones have quieted down and it starts getting harder (for me, in some instances) to move from fond affection (that could just as easily turn into snuggling and falling asleep) to specifically erotic affection and related Sex Things.
 
So it feels pretty good to be figuring things out.
Which… I guess might make you wonder why the heck I would have titled this blog post with “What Even Is ‘Normal’ Anyway”, right?
 
Well, part of it was just “I wanted to stick with the alphabet prompt”. For real.
The other part was, when I first started chewing on what to write for this post, I was thinking about a conversation I’ve been having – in various ways – with one of my partners and a couple of my friends, about “What does a (my?) ‘normal’ sex life look like, once the NRE calms down?” and “How much is ‘enough’ sex, both to be satiated with and to want?” but also “am I – like, me, specifically – going to stay (sexually/socially) Interesting if I’m not sluttier than I am?” and “I seem to be very interested in this stuff, and enjoy talking about it and exploring it – I mean, obviously, I’ve got a blog dedicated to it, so – but I’m worried about getting embarrassed about how much I think about this, or what I want to talk about, and find myself not-so-able to have these conversations thirty years from now…”
 
Basically… Look. I am probably over-thinking this, but I feel a bit like the two women my personal “sexual Normal” bounces off of are kind of at opposite extremes so, while I’m pretty sure that my Middle Aged Queer Lady sexuality is somewhere in the middle of the Average Allosexual Spectrum (whatever that actually is), I sometimes feel like I’m either “too slutty” OR “not slutty enough” (which, itself, is not an unusual thing for a middle-aged lady, queer or otherwise, to be feeling[1]) or, more than frequently, both at the same time.
 
So it’s nice to figure out some (more) ways to engage with, and experiment with, my partners while also kind of figuring out how to be and do the level of slutty I want, even when I’m not entirely sure what that level actually is, or if it’s going to stay more-or-less constant for the next little while.
Like, yes, I know stuff fluctuates. I know that Perimenopause, which is probably going to show up in the next 5-10 years, ye gods, is going to Make Some Changes (though who knows what direction those changes will go in). I know that NRE can sometimes be contagious, that engaging in professional exhibitionism leaves me generally feeling powerful and glamourous, and that these various reminders that I’m desirable make it easier for me to express desirousness, regardless of who I’m expressing it to.
These are good things to know.
 
A few weeks ago, I got to visit my girlfriend. Which was wonderful in many ways and, on top of all that, she sent me home with some shiny new books to read. One of them was about Sigil Magic. One of the first questions the author asks the readers is “What do you want?”
And I found myself afraid to take a really good look at myself and see what the answer was.
What if I want the “wrong” thing??
 
Between the above couple of handy discoveries and my questions about “What’s My Normal?” I find I’m having similar fears about, I don’t know… About presuming to have any idea about What I Want in any kind of long-term sense.
Which, itself, is maybe kind of weird?
Like, on the one hand, Why am I expecting myself to be able to foretell my own future like that? and, on the other hand, Why do I think that I need to?
 
Like, I’m aware that I want to get my personal “perpetual motion sexuality back up and running. I like being a person who likes, wants, and engages in sex with a moderate degree of frequency, wherein “moderate degree” is, like, 1-3 times per week… I think? With some wiggle room in there for busy/tired/sick on one end, and “going to the kink convention this weekend” at the other, without falling into entropy during the day-to-day of my real life OR relying too heavily on those annual, multi-day parties to bring that average more in line with What I Want when it comes to things like frequency and intensity.
But I’m also aware that, were I given the opportunity to get my game on multiple times per week… that I might not actually want that?
I’m literally not sure whether “1-3 times per week” is an accurate guess based on what my body/stamina is likely to be able to handle PLUS what my libido is likely to spark over, or if it’s a guess based on a certain degree of scarcity-thinking, kind of like the opening number in the Oliver! musical, or like those Early Kink Fantasies where what you imagine wanting is probably a lot more intense than what you’d want In Real Life, if Real Life was an option.
 
So while I do think I’d enjoy having a more active partnered-sex-life, I’m hesitant to be like “This is my goal!” partly because said goal, by nature, involves more than just me, but also because… what if I’m wrong?
I keep thinking about that article I read, going on 25 years ago now (the things you remember…), one night while babysitting somebody’s kids. It had a title like “We had sex every day for a year!” and how much of what stuck with me about that was just… how tedious, tiring, and annoying it became, much of the time, for the author and her monogamous partner to keep up with that commitment.
I think about how sex is no place for “should” or “must”[2] and how there’s absolutely room for – ironically, must be room for – “I don’t feel like it” or “Not right now”.
But I also think about how easily I fall into “I’m tired” as a stand-in for “I’m afraid of failure” or “I’m afraid of rejection”; about how A is for Action, how I need to relearn things again and again, and how I need to make myself keep moving, keep taking those tiny baby-steps towards who and what I want to be, and be doing, lest I stall out, get scared, get embarrassed, and run away from my hopes, dreams, and goals. (It’s one of the reasons I blog about stuff and do Projects with writing-prompts that are also action-prompts. Because it’s a way to keep myself accountable to finishing a thing, however long it takes me).
 
So I ask myself: What do I want right now?
Like the tarot cards I pulled for the recent full moon, I need to frame this as “awakening through playfulness”.
My “Normal” isn’t something I am necessarily going to be able to predict in advance. Maybe it’s something I have to track, moment to moment, and sort out after the fact.
 
~*~
 
Notice Pleasure: Kissing her collar bones. Making out in the museum stairwell. Morning snuggles. Feeding each other. Coffee on the back steps. Story Time on the front porch. Having my hair washed. Pre-planned spankings. Flirting by text. The way she shudders when I fill her lungs with my breath. The way she groans when I suck on her tits.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Which… I’ve read plenty of the “get your groove back” variety of sex-self-help books. They are primarily aimed at hetero, vanilla, monogamous people and, as such, they tend to treat “my normal” (kinky, polyamourous, bisexual), the stuff that I’m fretting about not wanting/doing/being enough of, as their target audience’s “Beyond the pale levels of Too Much” which… is alienating, to say the least.
 
[2] Outside of power play, at least. 😉

Dreaming Accountability

Leaving Evidence

photo of a hill of long golden and brown wind-swept grass surrounded by hills covered with green trees and in the distance, lush green pine trees that silhouette the hills in the distance under a cloudy sky at dusk. [photo of a hill of long golden and brown wind-swept grass surrounded by hills covered with green trees and in the distance, lush green pine trees that silhouette the hills in the distance under a cloudy sky at dusk.] What if accountability wasn’t scary? Take a breath and let that sink in for a second.

What if accountability wasn’t scary?It will never be easy or comfortable, but what if it wasn’t scary? What if our own accountability wasn’t something we ran from, but something we ran towards and desired, appreciated, held as sacred? What if we cherished opportunities to take accountability as precious opportunities to practice liberation? To practice love? To practice the kinds of people, elders-to-be, and souls we want to be? To practice that which we can only practice in real time? After all, we can only practice courage when we are afraid. We can only practice…

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we carry each other

This is beautiful.

Sex Geek

killing patient zero

I just wanna tell a little story about a thing that happened during today’s HotDocs screening of the documentary Killing Patient Zero at Hart House. It’s not about the film exactly, except that it kind of is.

(The film is a devastating doc that thoroughly debunks the myth about Gaetan Dugas, supposed original spreader of HIV/AIDS. It’s kind to every source; it carefully investigates history and exonerates a man who in fact helped doctors figure out that “gay cancer” was indeed an STI. SEE IT.)

So it’s a packed house. Heavily gay / queer audience, by my read, not surprisingly. The film is about halfway through. Suddenly a woman’s voice rises in the middle of the theatre. Calling out a man’s name in increasing panic. “Are you okay? Are you okay? OMG, somebody call 911!”

Murmurs in the crowd. Lights go up, film stops. There’s a flurry of activity. Staff…

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So I just finished Amy Jo Goddard’s Woman On fire (which I received through Ontario’s now-abruptly-defunded Interlibrary Loans Program so, y’know, go scream at Doug Ford about this, please).
The book is… okay.
The first few chapters focused on terrain that I was dealing with a few years ago, so I admit I skimmed a fair bit of them. That said, they did include an exercise or two there have been proving useful and challenging, while the latter chapters are a bit more about what I was looking for (and also contain useful and challenging exercises).
 
Stuff like “Imagine – and document in some way – what your (sex) life looks like as a sexually empowered being”.
Which… Having read the whole book and, more specifically, spent most of April 29th taking notes on the last four chapters before having to return it to the library (which was immersive to say the least), I have a better idea of what that looks like. I have some thoughts on what I want to move towards as opposed to just what I want to get away from.
 
Which, as a side note? It’s been really interesting to see how my ability to even conceptualize “something to move towards” or “a positive outcome to aim for” changes depending on how much anxiety I’m feeling on a given day, even when that anxiety has 0% to do with sex or relationships.
It’s interesting. I mean, it’s also infuriating and frustrating, but at least I can recognize that it’s happening and maybe (hopefully) work around it in some way.
 
Anyway. Another thing that “M is for” is Masturbation. I feel really self-conscious about saying that so explicitly and then putting it on the internet, but here we are. I’ve been experimenting with regarding how I get myself off. And, yeah, I have concerns about being Messy. I’m a chick who wants to be able to squirt – for a lot of reasons, some of-which are tied to releasing all the shame-and-fear that are locked up in my hips, and some of-which are tied to the degree of relaxed and open and turned on that I would need to be for that kind of stimulation and response to even happen – and yet I’m also a chick who is really concerned about “ruining the mattress” to the point that it’s stressing me out and interfering with how much I let myself enjoy sexual stuff with my partners.
 
Related to this: I watched a bunch of youtube videos about things like “How To Squirt” and one of them talked about how some people – maybe even a lot of people – sort of suck all the fluid that builds up in the urethral sponge during sex, they suck it up into their bladders. The speaker called this “in-jaculation” and it got me thinking (again) about how I tend to clench, draw in and upwards, to the point that it starts having an effect on my brain. Like “Oh, our muscles are very tense. We must be in an anxiety-relevant situation”.
And I’m wondering if this clenching and pulling inwards is (a) making squirting harder to do, but more to the point (b) causing a lot of the anxiety problems I’m having in bed. Like, gods know that I’ve wound up in anxiety spirals because I’ve been doing stuff as benign as trying to make soap bubbles in the dish water. Like, my brain literally goes “We are doing an agitated motion. Perhaps we should be doing an agitated Emotion as well? Yes. I think that’s what we should be doing. Let’s get on that!”
 
My brain. It’s so fucking helpful. :-\
 
Anyway, with that in mind, I’ve been trying to keep my vaginal muscles (other muscles, not so much, but go with me) relaxed and kind of loose(?) while getting myself off with a vibrator – to mixed results – and I’ve been experimenting with “binaural beats” stuff (also on youtube – they have titles like “c-u-m in less than five minutes” and similar, and they do not function as advertised) to see how they affect my insides.
They’re definitely doing something, I’ll give them that. It’s been interesting messing around with them and experiencing vaginal stimulation via my ears, even though I have no idea how much of what I’m experiencing, physiologically, is due to the sound files themselves versus how much of it is basically a placebo effect.
 
Either way, those are some M-related things I’ve been trying.
 
Something else I recently tried was attending an Ecstatic Dance get-together in a local community center. There’s a group in town that hosts these things a couple of times a month and I thought: “Hey, I’m wanting to seek out more ecstatic experiences, why don’t I go to this thing? I like dancing”.
So I did.
 
And folks? M… is also for “Meh”.
 
I’m afraid that the event was kind of a bust.
Although that’s not the event’s fault.
 
One of the things (iirc) Barbara Carrellas says about (planned) ecstatic experiences is that you kind of can’t shunt yourself from “day-to-day” mindset into “open to ecstasy” mindset – uh, I’m definitely not direct-quoting here, fyi – without allowing adequate transition time. It’s not something you can rush.
And I had about an hour and a half between getting in the front door after work and needing to be at the event for its kick-off time.
Not ideal, particularly not when I was also kind of peopled-out from a week of temp work.
But I went to thing and, y’know, good for me.
It’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
 
I’m a white lady who does belly dance and yoga. I am one of Those People who will do grounding-and-centering type stuff at the beginning of a ritual-type endeavor, even if it’s not an official ritual. So it’s no surprise that I wasn’t the only one doing Goddess Pose or warm-up stretches or breathing audibly in the lead-up to the official start of the dance. And it was no surprise, either, when the whole thing kicked off with most people flopping around on the literal floor while they got themselves into it and let the music – which was a mix of chanting in Sanskrit and the New Age version of Christian Pop – get into them.
 
None of this was a surprise.
But it was really uncomfortable, and I left after about half an hour.
 
To my own credit, such as a it is: I gave it a shot. I showed up. I tried to get into the music. When dancing in a big room with a lot of people in it wasn’t working, I moved to the kitchen and danced by myself for a few minutes (which was great) before trying out the main room again. I tried.
There’s a non-zero chance that I’ll try again, if I find myself with a spare $15 and am in a much better frame of mine.
 
The main thing that got in the way was the very substantial possibility that, if I let myself go and just danced, I would wallop someone across the face with one of my flailing arms and/or step on (or trip over) one of the people still hanging out below knee level. Being in a crowded space when I’m longer-limbed than what people tend to expect means that sometimes people think my leg is the arm-rest of the bus seat (for example), and that’s in a situation where everyone is pretty stationary. I get that, in a dance party (ecstatic or otherwise) people do tend to have an unconscious awareness of where other people are in space, just like we do when we’re navigating a crowded sidewalk. But I’m also aware of just how much of that awareness is based on an assumption of how much space an average body is going to take up.
The other thing was just… you guys, I felt so self-conscious about the whole thing. Embarrassed and up in my head. Defensive and angry. Resentful that it cost so much and embarrassed that I’d paid the cover when I know I can go be a pillar of fire, or an energetic-filtration-fountain, at any old Homo Phono for the bargain price of $5, so why didn’t I just wait until June to go do some actually ecstatic dancing?
 
I feel stupid for trying, to be honest. I feel stupid for having tried something, and something public no less, that didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.
And that’s kind of at the root of a lot of this.
 
To bring it back to Woman On Fire for a second, there are a bunch of Confidence Types that the author talks about and where those different Types have hang-ups and fears and skill-sets they need both to develop and, in the case of the ones they already have, to use more and/or use more appropriately.
The categories I fall into? They both need to work on boundaries (surprise, surprise) and also tend to want to be seen as “having it together” and/or “not needing support”. Like, there’s a fair amount of perfectionism and performativity hiding in both of the categories I fall into, even though the reasons for those behaviours aren’t always the same.
 
I felt self-conscious and defensive at the Ecstatic Dance party because, sure, I was afraid I’d wack someone in the face. But also because “I didn’t know any of the songs”. By-which I mean “I didn’t want to look like I didn’t have it all together”, “I didn’t want to look like I was out of my depth and floundering”… and I was already feeling defensive and overwhelmed by stuff that had nothing to do with the dance I was at.
Similarly, I feel self-conscious and embarrassed and, yeah, “defensive” (in the sense of “on my guard” and “jumpy/vigilant”), when I’m bottoming in a sexual situation because, sure, Old Trauma Feels that flare up in my body when I start feeling raw and sore (see above re: clenching and drawing into myself), and because, sure, Spectatoring (which is a type of dissociation, if you’re wondering).
But also because I feel embarrassed that I don’t know my own Right Answers as a sexual bottom. I feel embarrassed when I don’t know how to recognize, let alone name, what action or position or change I need to make in order to get back to having a hot, fun, sexual time as a receptive partner. I feel embarrassed when my body is reacting unpredictably and/or in ways that don’t aim efficiently and in a straight-forward way towards… not even orgasms. Towards genuinely enthusiastic and discernible pleasure-behaviours that would gratify my partners and let them know that their efforts were not in vain. I’m embarrassed when my sexual receptivity is messy and unreliable and hard to track.
Which, itself, is frustrating – because isn’t this supposed to be something I’m doing for my own benefit in the first place? – AND which doesn’t make it any easier to track or parse or render less messy or more reliable.
 

Captain Janeway, Rolling Her Eyes

Captain Janeway, Rolling Her Eyes


 
Anyway.
Things I can do to try and deal with this:
I can shift back to topping and try bottoming again later (a different day, or in a few minutes, or whatever works) like it’s no big deal, because the only person it’s a “big deal” to is me, and maybe I can change that up a bit?
I can notice – or try to notice sooner – when I need a rest, to have 20 minutes to myself, or to wash my hands and get my hair out of my eyes, or otherwise make it easier to not get distracted, and then do those things. I know I’ve brought that one up before, but it’s very much still something I do even in non-sexual situations and, if I can notice those things and make a habit of doing something about it, I may have an easier time doing something about it in “higher stakes” situations like sex.
I can try to more consciously and reliably reframe “being sexually receptive” as “a different kind of topping” – which is something I can do when I’m not “in the moment” – in sexts and similar – just fine, but have trouble doing when I’m in a sexual situation.
 
~*~
 
Notice Pleasure: Lingering kisses. Getting my toenails painted by a partner. Slow, ambling walks on a hot spring day. Holding hands. Resting my boots in her lap. Kisses on my back and shoulders.

Handy! And I’ll be blogging about my own related experiences shortly, so here’s some pre-reading, if you will. 😉

Let's Queer Things Up!

I’ve learned in life that when you observe a pattern about yourself, it might be worth examining (okay, this is an understatement — I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll come out wiser).

One of my big “aha” moments this year was around a relationship pattern that I hadn’t noticed before. I realized that I’m a people-pleaser.

Being liked by others, especially in my personal life, came at the expense of voicing my true feelings and needs. It was more important to be liked than it was to have relationships that felt honest and nourishing.

And it’s a lonely place to be — it can feel like no one knows your true feelings or self, and that you are secondary in relationships that should feel equal. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to a hell of a lot of resentment.

And thus… a pattern emerged.

My favorite kind of person to…

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Okay. So it’s been a couple of weeks, as planned, and I’m continuing my Notice Pleasure practice/series. The point of this is to get myself to a place where I can reliably either (a) just not freak out, but more likely (b) get myself out of a shame/shut-down/panic kind of situation during sex. I want sex to be fun. I want to be able to bottom sexually and enjoy it. And part of that is trying to develop some shame-resilience by doing an explicitly sex-and-pleasure-focused gratitude practice (see the actual Notice Pleasure section at the bottom of these posts) that is also kind of part mindfulness practice as well. It’s making a point of noticing what feels good/hot/yummy/sexy/fun/pleasurable. It’s making a point of paying attention to that and (hopefully – this is definitely a work in progress) following those tasty feelings towards more of them. With any luck, this will help me develop a bit of a compass or a roadmap or…something so that, if I get a little lost while engaging with a partner, I have a better shot at finding my way back to the fun, the pleasure, and the connection[1] without derailing everything due to Feeeeelings.
And, like everything I do, this is basically a practice that mixes blogging (processing my experiences enough to turn them into words), magic, and physically doing The Thing.
My wife tells that I do “cognitive behavioural witchcraft” and… she is not wrong.
 
Anyway. So: What have I been doing for the past two weeks in the name of magic, blogging (well… not so much the blogging, that’s happening right now), and physically doing The Thing?
 
Whelp. Due, in substantial part, to these experiences, I’ve been doing a lot of yoga (thence the alphabet prompt of “lift and lengthen”).
I’ve been making a point of directing my attention to my perineum and doing Bottom Breathing (this sort of relaxed “open” deep breaths that people do as a matter of course while sleeping, and that “engages the pelvic floor”), both in ritual contexts and just as a sort of mindfulness practice that I do multiple times a day.
I’ve been doing (for a few days) instructed yoga, via youtube. Doing routines that the instructor designs with one’s root chakra or pelvic floor or hips-and-heart in mind. Doing Moon Salutation[2] (and also dancing to pop music) in the mornings, because I wake up in my body when I dance or otherwise unlock the knot at the base of my spine.
I feel silly as heck saying this, but I’ve been… “jerking off mindfully” (I’ll probably talk more about that when I do the “M” prompt, so… sit tight, I guess), if I can put it that way, doing something that is sort of related to Mula Bandha but isn’t exactly that.
As far as actually “lengthening and lifting” go, other than striving for a really good, grounded lift when I’m doing poses like Bridge and Bow, I’m trying – and often failing – to keep a bright, dicernable connection between my root chakra and my heart chakra when I’m doing, in particular, seated or squatting poses.
I’m finding that I can either keep my focus in the bowl of my pelvis OR I can put my focus higher up. But trying to keep a connection going is difficult, and sometimes… gives me weird, cramping shoulder pain??
Which, tbh, is reminding me of the body feelings I had twenty years ago when singing started getting hard.
 
Anecdote Time!
So. I have sung all my life. There is a recording of me, as a toddler, successfully and intentionally carrying a recognizable tune.
I started taking singing lessons when I was seven. (When you’re seven, singing lessons are as much about learning to love the learning process & keeping music fun as much as they’re about actually learning technique). Seven years later, in my early teens, I switched teachers, and started shifting – because my body was literally, finally, getting physically mature enough to handle doing this – towards a more intense and thoughtful practice.
Seven years after that, my Dad died of cancer, and about a year after that, I stopped singing.
Not just “I stopped taking singing lessons”.
I. Stopped. Singing.
 
And I only really went actually silent for about six months.
But that was still pretty close to twenty years ago, and coming back to my voice has been a difficult and on-going process that has a lot of self-consciousness around “making noise” and shame around having “left” in the first place tied up with it.
 
One of the things that happened… around that… was that I found I couldn’t take proper singers’ breaths without getting a sharp pain in/across my middle trapezius.
Now, I have no idea what was going on there.
But it still happens.
When I try to deep breathe low into my abdomen and fill my lungs up all the way, while also trying to maintain good, upright singing (or “lengthen and lift through the chest”) posture, I am still getting that sharp pain in my traps.
Maybe this is due to just… not breathing right? Like, am I over-filling my upper chest instead of filling my lungs all the way down? Maybe I need to engage my core muscles more?
I have no idea. But it’s a thing and I’m noticing it happening during these yoga routines when I’m trying to sit up tall AND keep my roots in the ground at the same time.
 
Hopefully I’ll get better at this with time and practice?
Hopefully.
Hopefully.
 
Anyway. That’s what I’ve been doing, for the most part. I’ve also been doing some experiments with using anointing oils[3] on my body, asking for things I want to take (in the Wheel Of Consent sense of the word “take” – see link – which is not the same as asking for things that I want to receive, because in these instances I’m still doing the doing, but it’s still an important thing to keep up), and trying to be more active in my glamour practice which, itself, pertains to the whole Union Of Opposites thing I talked about here.
But, mostly, it’s been yoga.
 
~*~
 
Notice Pleasure: Puddles of warm sunshine coming through the kitchen window. The sound of water running in the street as the snow melts. The thwack of flogger-falls against skin. Naked snuggling. Touching feet. The joy that courses through me when I’m dirty-dancing with the door-frame for support and able to throw my weight around because I can trust my house to not fall apart on me and let it take my weight.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] That’s Brenee Brown again. The whole “spectrum of vulnerability” where shame is at one end and connection is at the other, and where – essentially – feeling down on myself because of Whatever is going to impede my connection to other people. Which, like… I “do” sex with partners because I want emotional (and physical, but my main love-language is touch, so the physical is still emotional for me) connections with them.
 
[2] For reasons that have nothing directly to do with my sexual-emotional health, but which involve a lot of squats and back bends and pelvic lifts, all of-which should help my lumbar region get stronger and, ideally, less constantly-in-pain. And that’s not going to hurt my quest to more readily and easily access my own Sexy. So.
 
[3] This is what I do with my perfumes, now that I tend not to wear them out of the house. Now You Know.

So. If you’ve read this blog at all – even just the sub-heading on the banner – you know that I’m kinky. I know I’m kinky. What’s funny is that I sometimes forget just how integral to my sexuality – and possibly my well-being? – my sadism is.
Some of that, probably, is just (“just”) intense body-engagement. I refer to myself as a “teeth and nails sadist” so the more intense involvement of hands and jaws and muscles in general is probably relevant just in-and-of itself. (You’d think I’d be into climbing or something, but…?)
But, in the context of removing/deconstructing my own mental blocks around sexual engagement, it’s dawning on me that there’s more going on here.
 
I’ve been listening to a podcast wherein Cleo Dubois mentions – almost in passing, about halfway through – that BDSM is about “being in our bodies”.
And… no shit.
But also… when I thought about it? I realized that I tend to translate this in my own head as “BDSM is about masochists being in their bodies”. That it’s about rooting your willing victim in their bodies through pain and breath and intensity and fear. That BDSM is, y’know, fun as heck. But it’s not about me being in my body, as the top.
It’s an internalized variation on the trope of “The top does, the bottom feels”, if you will.
 
But here I am, doing this whole Project to practice being in my body, experiencing pleasurable things, and leaning into my own sexuality, and I’m starting to think about embodied sadism.
 
It’s not the first time I’ve thought about this. But I think it’s the first time I’ve thought about it this directly. Usually, when I think about my own breath, my own body-stuff, in the context of sadism, it’s being done along the lines of “How do I keep my energy up?” and “How do I avoid letting my partner down?” rather than a question of how sadism brings me into my own body and enlivens me.
What I said, above, about “just” intense body-engagement? There’s no “just” about it.
I know I’ve been kind of weirded out by how I get (the thing that might be called “top space”, but I sort of hope not) when I’m engaging in sadism. I get to a point where I’m entirely up in my head. Like, my body is doing things – some of which I’m in charge of, like placing needles or aiming a cane; and some of which I’m not, like my cunt running like a faucet – but the “I Am” of myself is very disconnected from all of it. I’m in the control booth behind my eyes, and everything else is… present but unattached.
It’s fucking weird, and I feel really ambivalent about it.
 
And, to be fair, it’s been a couple of years since I experienced my sadism like this. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a regular occurrence during the time (uh… 11 years?) I’ve been a practicing kinkster. And I don’t know how much of that is floaty-dreamy “time has no meaning” stuff (definitely some of it) vs how much of it is some kind of dissociation.
 
So! Embodied sadism.
What am I even talking about here?
 
I had the good fortune, a couple of years ago, to access a couple of months of free life coaching that, among other things, brought up the reality that a lot of my bodily awareness, at the time, was centered on monitoring for, and compensating for, physical pain[1]. My awareness of sensation is broader now, but in sexual situations, that’s frequently still where my awareness goes. Are my arms burning? Am I getting nerve compression through my elbows or wrists? Is my back about to spasm? Can I stay on my feet long enough to get this scene to a point where I can wind it down? Are my hands getting shaky? Can my shoulder keep this up for much longer?
And, yeah. There’s a whole lot of stuff built into that about whose needs and desires are centered in kink play more broadly, and whether or not I’m comfortable claiming and centering my own wants, needs, experiences, and desires in sexual (or non-sexual) contexts[2].
 
But what I mean by embodied sadism is… a bit like that?
It’s brining my awareness to what feels good, physically/sexually, when engaging in sadism.
It’s recognizing how alive and awake I feel when I’ve been biting someone. Or that when I’m sexually excited, I tend to growl, bite, and dig my nails in. It’s acknowledging the part of me that wants to slurp up someone else’s blood and drool it into their mouth – even when I can’t actually do so, and recognizing where that desire sits in my actual body. (Uh… lower jaw + somewhere between my sternum and my clavicle… I think?) It’s noticing which parts of my body clench – fist, stomach, cunt – when my partner tells me she’s turned on thinking about doing XYZ with me, and recognizing that reaction as a positive, welcome thing rather than something to tone down or keep hidden.
 
I know that sadism – when I’m actually doing it, rather than “facilitating an experience” at a tasting station or similar, where I tend to keep a lid on that part of things – is heavily connected to my sexuality. So maybe, by engaging with my sadism in this embodied way, I can help create and/or reinforce the neural pathways that let me engage with sexual pleasure as well?
Worth a shot!
 
~*~
 
Notice Pleasure: The way she yelps when I bite her, and the way it makes me grin. How strong I feel when I dig my fingers into someone’s thighs. The taste of smoked salmon. The way clit wakes up when she tells me she’s fantasizing about me. The way she moans, when I play with her clit, the way it makes my stomach clench and my breath race to hear it.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Heather, the life coach, actually designed some practices for me that had me bringing my awareness to various parts of my body specifically to notice and acknowledge things that felt nice – a little bit like my Notice Pleasure journaling practice (see above), but combined with a broader spectrum and some mindfulness techniques. I still use those practices on days when I’m particularly stuck in my stuff, and they still help bring me back into my body and my sense of power. So.
Official plug: Give her a try, if you’re looking for a life coach in Ottawa. She was very helpful and patient, and made sure I kept Doing The Thing even when we had to go in baby steps. Recommended.
 
[2] Spoiler: Still not. But, y’know. Working on it.

Okay. So, yes, a substantial portion of my friends are either literally KonMari-ing their homes right now, or else riffing on the whole “does X spark joy” question for everything from city snow-removal to gender assignments, so I guess here we are, and the answer to my mother’s question is “Yes, in fact, I probably would jump off that cliff… At least a little bit”.
 
There’s a story that goes “You have to be getting something out of this in order to keep it going”.
The “this” in question is usually a behaviour pattern or, sometimes, a relationship. It’s generally something that, to anyone outside of your own skull, looks like a seriously detrimental thing that doesn’t make a lot of sense or do you a lot of good.
What you might be “getting” can be a lot of things. It can be “feelings of superiority” or “a metaphorical/literal sugar high” or “reliable access to housing” or “spiritual fulfillment” or “a reminder that I’ve Still Got It” or “affirmation of bonds with my attachment-person” or “reassurance that I am still unworthy of love and belonging and, as such, the world is still functioning as I expect it to and chaos has not recently staged a coup”.
It can be a lot of different things.
 
So. I know that the behaviours I’m trying to work through and examine via this little blog project of mine are… “not sparking joy”, so to speak. Feelings of shame and anxiety are not making me happy, they’re not facilitating emotional connection or erotic communion with my partners, and they are probably contributing to my lower back and hip pain if recent experiences are anything to go by.
 
So I have to ask myself: What the heck am I (still) getting out of this crap???
 
Well, let’s dig into that.
A long time ago, during a situation that was heavily outside of my control, I made a bunch of active choices in order to try and mitigate what I thought was going on.
What I did, actively, was I conditioned myself (more Emily Nagoski here, if you’re wondering) to hit the “breaks” instead of the “gas” – to turn away from, rather than turn towards, my desires – when I felt sexual attraction to my partner.
 
That was a dumb fucking idea, let me tell you.
 
But it was the best – wherein “best” means “likely to result in the least… difficult-to-endure kind of emotional pain”[1] – option I had right at that moment. Or at least I thought it was. I didn’t want to be a pest or otherwise put pressure on my partner, I didn’t want to keep experiencing the pain of rejection, so I decided, in a fairly conscious way, that it would be better (or at least more appropriate, behavior-wise) if I just stopped experiencing that desire.
I literally made myself have a avoidance/stress response to my gorgeous, sexy person (combined with a big, old shame response for any desirous feelings that showed up) instead of an interest/curiosity response. (Ha! And then was surprised when it didn’t just go away or auto-reverse or something when it was no-longer required…)
Like I said, it was dumb.
And, in doing so, I did a bunch of damage to myself[2] which I’m now trying to undo.
 
Because I’m still having those responses. As mentioned in this recent post, I’ve been having a hard time believing that it’s okay, and even encouraged, to have sexually-charged thoughts about my various sweethearts. And, yeah, sure. NRE can, and does, mitigate or override some of those responses. But NRE also doesn’t last forever. Heck, my ovaries and their wonderful, magical hormones are not going to last forever.
I would like to be an erotic, sexual woman long after menopause has done its thing… and I feel like I’m running out of time. I’ll be forty before the year is out. Menopause may still be a fair ways off, but I’d like to instill some better habits, and a more pleasurable, joyful sense of “my normal” before I get there.
 
So I have to ask myself: What am I getting out of this, if I’m still doing it?
 
And… I don’t really know?
I mean, probably? I’m probably getting a sense of “avoiding something that will hurt” from still doing this. I’m probably getting some kind if “Phew! Crisis averted!” feeling from still doing this, if only because sitting in my desire, and the uncertainty around it, feels so risky and dangerous and… forbidden.
 
And, yes. I wrote myself a permission slip to help me allow myself to feel those things, to lean into my desires, to enjoy and explore them as they happen. And, no, I’m not expecting to have a sudden, shocking turn-around on this, I’m expecting it to take practice and time[3].
But if I’m only still doing this because I’m trying to avoid some kind of pain… and it’s hurting me[4] anyway? Then it’s time to release it and let it go.
 
Emily Nagoski – as linked in that video, above – talks about how “confidence” and “joy” are the two keys to getting the kind of sex you want, and defines “Joy” specifically as “loving what’s true”.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha talks about a sort of radical self-compassion where you treat your traumatized, constantly-pain-carrying, femme body as being worthy as-is, of pleasure and desire and fulfillment.
 
A major goal of this whole project is to get myself into the habit of noticing things that feel good, in particular things that feel arousing or sexually pleasurable, even if I’m not limiting my “notice pleasure” lists to that. My hope is that, by doing this (and various other things) I’ll develop some shame-resilience and be better-equipped to deal with the discomfort and vulnerability that comes with opening myself up to desire & desiring, and also that I’ll actually give myself some practice feeling my way through “Oh, this feels good. It’s okay to want, and pursue, more of that thing that feels good”. Right?
That’s the plan, anyway.
 
So. While I’m not sure there are ways to love what’s true about my own decision to mess myself up fairly badly here… Are there ways to love what’s true otherwise? (Seriously, kids? I googled “how to write an affirmation” for this one):
 
I am feeling my way into, and through, my sexual desires and the emotional wobbles I have around them, and I love that about myself.
 
I am learning to be comfortable with, and in, my desires, and I love that about myself.
 
I am acting on my attractions to my gorgeous, sexy romantic partners, and I love that about myself.
 
~*~
 
Notice Pleasure: My fingers working my scalp while washing my hair. Kisses along my back and shoulders. Fingernails light along my ribs. Foot massages.
 
 
Cheers,
Ms Syren.
 
 
[1] Which is a very, very odd way to define “best”, but here we are.
 
[2] And, probably, at least some damage to my partner and to that relationship.
 
[3] Which is not to say that I’m not also kind of getting my hopes up here, but hopefully not for naught, you know? I’m trying to take a balanced approach to this stuff. Here’s hoping it works.
 
[4] Not just me, either, but one of my partners made a point of explicitly telling me, the other day, that I can be doing this important self-work just because I want to have fun, fulfilling, intimate, playful, ecstatic sexual experiences – that I deserve that, in and of myself – and that I don’t have to justify doing the work, or committing the time, energy, and attention to it, by viewing it through the lens of “wanting to be a better lover” for/to other people. So we’re going to focus on the “me” part of that equation for this one. Okay? Okay. 🙂

I’m writing this post early. A little bit because I’d like to create a bit of a backlog, in case I have a busy week or something, and in part because I want to keep the momentum going a little longer before I let myself slow down. In this particular case, though, it’s also because I’m writing about something that’s harder for me to talk about and I want to get it written while I’ve… while I’ve kind of got the guts to do it?
 
I feel pretty messed up around this. It’s one of the reasons why it’s been so long since I wrote porn, tbh. Just because so much of what went into my stories had its jumping off point somewhere in my own fantasy life.
But here it is: I’ve spent a lot of years feeling like I’m doing something wrong – like “committing a violation” levels of wrong – by fantasizing about my partners.
 
To pick an easy, fairly innocuous example: If I have a partner who’s not super into deep kissing, I feel like I’m doing something wrong, bad, unwanted by imagining making out with them.
Even just writing down that “I think about making out with my partner, despite knowing they wouldn’t be into it if I tried to initiate that in real life” feels like I’m confessing to a horrible thing that should get me thrown out of my community or similar.
And I don’t really have a metric for sorting out when that feeling is accurate or not.
 
Like, part of me is actively worried that I’m condoning, and/or confessing to, rape or sexual assault when I talk about wanting to fantasize about my partners’ bodies.
And part of me is… pretty sure I’m not? But, like… not entirely.
 
So talking about this feels very dangerous.
 
But, none the less, here we go.
 
Okay.
So I’m trying to give myself permission to fantasize about my partners.
And, you guys, it is not easy.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha talks – I think in “Gonna Get My Girl Body Back: This Is A Work In Progress” (in Brazen Femme) – about “In my dreams, I was free”, about being able to fantasize about awesome, wonderful sex before ever being able to stay in-body long enough or well enough to experience it for real.
In my dreams, so to speak, I catch myself reaching and I yank myself back hard.
I’ve spent a lot of years slapping my own metaphorical hand away from even considering that I might want to try X activity with Y partner, to the point that I have weird physiological reactions when I try to lean into those thoughts now.
 
A case-in-point is that I spent maybe two seconds thinking about kissing a partner’s breasts, before I ran away from the thought. I felt a current in my upper arms and upper chest, something that was at once giddy-excited and terribly nervous.
Two seconds, and suddenly I was all up in my chest, shallow-breathing and anxious. I tried to do my little root chakra exercise this morning, and I had to do anxiety-calming exercises before I could even start. I had to work hard to get back into my body-below-the-under-arms even intermittently. Feeling my feet was a challenge, and I still have to wiggle my toes – two hours later – to remind myself that they’re there. My whole body is cold and my feet, when I feel them, are painful blocks of ice.
For two seconds of letting myself contemplate something good.
 
I think I actually hate this? Not the work of trying to get my own girl body back, so to speak. That feels hopeful and like a really worthwhile task. But just… How the heck am I supposed to be able to engage sexually with my partners in a way that’s joyful and authentic and connected and all that other good stuff that I want, if I can’t even think about it without just… impaling myself on the three of swords, basically. All that shame. All that heartache. All that weirdly literal freezing.
 
Barbara Carrellas and Dawn Serra and a whole bunch of other people in the Sex Therapy World do a thing where they get their clients (or their readers, or their Summit participants) to write themselves permission slips.
My partners are consistently telling me (and sometimes, but not always, showing me – which I admit works a little better on me) that I “have permission”. To touch them or want them or initiate things with them.
But I don’t have that permission from myself.
 
So. The goal and the plan: I want to lean into those fantasies. I want to stay with the thought and let myself “dream myself free”, little by little. And so I’m Doing The Thing – even though I feel silly doing it – and writing myself a literal permission slip. Can’t hurt. It might even help.
Here goes:
 
~*~

I hereby grant myself permission to fantasize about my partners, to imagine sexual interactions with them in detail, not just intellectualized, but every sight, every sound, every touch, every smell, every taste, every breath, every flutter. I have permission to dream these beautiful interactions into being, any time I want to.
Granted this day, March 4th, 2019, by my own holy, worthy self.

~*~
 
Notice Pleasure: The part of that feeling in my chest that was giddy-excitement. The though of her perfect skin, the soft-sold shape of her nipple under my tongue. Sinking my teeth into her shoulders. The shudder-gasp of her breath.