So, I’m re-reading Come as You Are by Dr. Emily Nagoski. It’s a fun, chatty read with lots of easy-to-digest brain science in there about your amygdala and attachment theory and so-on. My kind of thing. But also I’m re-reading it because I’m… kind of tired of getting in my own way?
The first time I read this – three and a bit years ago, shortly after it came out, iirc – I was mostly paying attention to the survivor story.
(This is one of those books where there are “case studies” – herein, presented as “When chatting with one of my Nerd Friends” type anecdotes, probably because the book is basically written as though the reader is, likewise, one of said (Nerd?) Friends – illustrating the various ways that the “dual control model” of human sexuality can show up in a given person).
This time around, while that “how to manage your triggers” stuff is still relevant, I’m reading it again with an eye towards a different case study, where the “breaks” are being applied to the character’s sexual appetites in a different way. Not trauma, but day-to-day living stress and performance anxieties.
Not exactly an unusual situation, I know.
So. One of the things the author suggests is to look at the stuff that stresses you out, and figure out which bits you actually have some control over.
Like, if you have a crap boss, you can’t control how they treat you or what kind of last-minute tasks they pile on your desk. So that’s not a stressor you have much/any control over. But maybe you can decide that you will 100% NOT be available by email after business hours are over. Maybe. I don’t know your situation.
In my case, one of the things that stresses me out is – unexpectedly(?) not-so-unexpectedly(?) – my messy house.
And I do have some control over that, as long as I don’t get my knickers in a twist about whether or not “I’m doing ALL the cleaning around here”.
One of the exercises in the book is to write down some specifics about a bunch of great sexual experiences and then a bunch of specifics about pretty-crappy sexual experiences, and then see if there are any patterns. A lot of my Great Sexual Experiences have taken place outside of my house. In hotel rooms or while otherwise staying somewhere where The Mess is both (a) Not My Problem, and (b) not actually there, to begin with. Visits to distant sweethearts who have used my impending arrival to motivate them to Clean All The Things, or to put up their art work, or to finally finish unpacking. Hotel-stays where my wife and I were able to get away from work stress, and get adequate sleep, but were incidentally also sleeping in a bed with fresh sheets, in a room that got vacuumed regularly and didn’t have enough Life Stuff in it for it to ever get cluttered, because it was so temporary.
So, for the moment, one of the things I’m doing is trying to improve the sort of background “ambience” of the house.
I mean, we’ll see how long it lasts since, at the moment, I have two weeks of almost entirely from-home work and, thus, an extra 2 hours per day, since I don’t have to walk or bus anywhere to make us some money. BUT I figure, if I can make things a tiny bit nicer every day, the baseline will slowly (sloooooooooowly) improve until some part of me isn’t constantly thinking “Ick. Everything is disgusting, and I feel gross just being here”.
So I swept the main floor yesterday, and I swept upstairs today. Tomorrow I’ll clean the bathroom, or I’ll do a fast mop-up of the kitchen floor or I’ll vacuum the rugs. It feels like Horrible Entropy is 100% threatening, but as long as I keep on top of One Small Thing (like, seriously, 20 minutes of Thing will usually about do it), I think it might (might) be achievable.
Notice Pleasure: Early morning kisses. Catching up on the couch. Exchanging selfies. Impromptu dates. Unexpected shivers. Needle scenes. Lingering eye-contact. Knowing that both of my sweethearts miss me back.