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courage, Guest Posts, Sex

Conscious Celibacy Vs. Not Getting Laid.

June 20, 2014

Conscious Celibacy Vs. Not Getting Laid by Janet Raftis.

Something strange is afoot.

I don’t want to have sex. I mean, I do, of course; sex is awesome. In fact, I’d love to have sex. The difference is that the type of sex I’ve used as a crutch in the past just doesn’t sound appealing anymore. And that’s not to say there was anything wrong with that and I am in no way judging or condemning casual sex. It has definitely served a wonderful and fulfilling-in-many-ways purpose in my life. Some of the best sex I’ve had has in fact been outside of a formalized relationship. The reason that it doesn’t attract me anymore is completely beyond the scope of a kiss or even an orgasm. It has to do with me.

For many years there was a part of me that didn’t feel like I deserved to have it all. I would allow in bits and pieces but I would never permit a full consummation. So, if I really liked the person and the sex was great, there might be a level of emotional unavailability involved. And if the person really liked me, I might not want to be fully available. The dynamics could shift, but it was never all-inclusive.

Many of my trysts were mostly secret because the element of covert affections naturally dictated that the level of emotional involvement remained safe and stunted. I found safety in clandestine affairs as the very secrecy itself worked as a shield over my heart. I really didn’t have to risk a whole lot, and risk in love was a very scary idea to me. If I “lost”, my shame would be public and it would prove my lack of self-worth in a very open forum. That was not something I was willing to deal with in most cases.

For me, I had the whole sexual empowerment thing wrong. The reason I say “for me” is that I believe each woman and man to be different and what doesn’t work for me might really work for someone else. I believed for many, many years that casual sex – fucking – was empowered sex, and that was because I was very disempowered when it came to the experience. Even before I was raped, sex was confusing to me. It didn’t come from my parents – they’ve been mostly happily married for almost 50 years, but it was present from a young age. I imagine that it comes from growing up in a society that objectifies women as sexual objects in powerful forums such as media and print ad. Even before adolescence I equated being desired by another as validation and power. And I was not attractive as a young girl. I had really puffy hair and braces and acne. I was an insecure mess and all I wanted was to be desirable. I believed that to understand how that fit into the sexual game was the necessary key to being a bigger and better me.

After being raped, I cried my way through sex with men that I cared about, completely shut down and disassociated from my body. I remember once thinking that I had reached the point of raping myself every time I engaged in sex. I would watch from above as my psyche betrayed me. It was much easier to not have deep feelings towards anyone. By remaining emotionally distanced from the man, I could attempt to wield a power that I felt I didn’t have. It was a clumsy attempt at not feeling vulnerable. If the sex was casual, I could have perceived control in the situation. When there was hurt because emotions towards the person later arose, as can happen when being intimate with someone, I would choke them back and deny them with all of my heart.

If, God forbid I did like someone from the outset, I would unconsciously create some sort of distance between us. This typically manifested with men that were emotionally unavailable. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t have them because I just couldn’t have them. Then I could have some sort of control over the lack of control. This often manifested as a variation of the covert affair situation. There was a sense of security with respect to my self-worth within that configuration, as it shifted the responsibility from me to someone else. I was not aware of this at the time – this has all been learned as I’ve done the work to really get into my subconscious programming in order to liberate it.

This is not a reflection of the men out there. I’m sure that there are plenty of good ones. The truth of the matter, though, is that I haven’t been able to find one that is good with me. My story with the unavailable type tended to go something like this: I would find a good man who would tell me that I was awesome and great and that he couldn’t believe how wonderful it was that he met me. He would tell me that I was pretty and sweet and that he loved spending time with me. He would touch me and hold me and say nice things to me and draw me in. And then the shoe would drop, and I’d find myself on the outside looking in.

I was recently granted the opportunity to view this pattern completely. At the time it really hurt and I felt completely out of control with respect to the situation. When the familiar scenario began to play itself out, I realized that it was time to be done with these old worn out patterns; they had far out-stayed their welcome. I’m grateful for it, painful as it was. I had been doing all kinds of healing work to get to the point where I could finally have a mutually uplifting romantic partner experience. I was healing and growing and rediscovering myself in a new way, and so when this pattern popped up I was at least in the space to recognize it. I could actually see and feel that it was not in alignment with who I really felt myself to be. I saw myself behaving in ways that were no longer comfortable but that I almost couldn’t avoid. Through detached eyes I was able to see that this was an unconscious pattern that was stuck on the repeat button. I saw the dominos tracing back through time and decided I was ready to topple the stack.

I sat with the pain and did my best to communicate through it. I still fumbled, but with each stumble, I checked in with myself. What I realized was that if I want to have a wonderful, actualized, mutually loving, communicative, and uplifting relationship, I needed to do some more work to get there myself. I could only attract to the level that I was at or below, and what I wanted was vibrating a little higher than I was. It was time to get serious.

I realized that I was going to have to spend some really good quality time with myself. It was time to explore my terrain as an independent and empowered woman, to dig deep, to open and expand. I needed to do this before I got into relationship with someone, and sex from a disempowered place can confuse things for me. I want a relationship that has it all – a partner that I consider a best friend who is also a delightful lover. I want a man that knows what he wants and is living his soul purpose. I want a man that is so confident in himself that he has no doubts about us. In order to have all of that, though, I need to be all of that. And I couldn’t find that while looking for validation or a false sense of bravado through sex. Until I am fully and authentically empowered, sex cannot be fully and authentically empowered. I need to create space and then respect the space to learn and understand exactly what it is I want so that I don’t forsake it and therefore myself. Already I’ve been granted the opportunity to be tested, so to speak. I’m grateful to myself that I did what I needed to do to move through it while maintaining alignment with my current personal ideals.

And so I was lamenting to a dear friend my plight, which isn’t really a plight except that I have had less sex in the last year and a half than I have in the last many and that was feeling a little grim to me. And she asked me if I felt that conscious celibacy might feel a little better. Well, I’m still not getting laid, but yes, conscious celibacy seems like a much more empowering choice. The moment I stepped into that circle felt like a breath of fresh air along with a gentle and loving nudge of personal accountability. This is a space I can hang out in for a while.

 

Happy Bio Pic

When not running around with her 11 year old son or chasing after a member of their menagerie, Janet Raftis plays as an energy healer, psychic medium, and wellness coach. She focuses on helping women to break through fear and trauma that is holding them back from expressing their true selves and from finding their authentic and empowered voice. Writing is one of the tools that she has used to heal herself and to reach others. She has been featured on Manifest Station and elephant journal, and she maintains a personal blog as well.

Janet has a new website under construction (janetraftis.com), but until that is up and running, you can still reach out to her at either totemguidance.com or through her personal blog happilyyes.wordpress.com.

 

 

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It's magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It’s magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com with questions or click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

 

 

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Sex

Sex & Sickly Girl.

June 11, 2014

By Litsa Dremousis.

I stood nude in my doorway and laughed.

“Thomas! Come here!” I called to my dog, a willful Pomeranian who’d jetted into my building’s hallway on the heels of my new boyfriend Greg. So much for my sultry goodbye. Greg burst out laughing, too, scooped up the wriggling Thomas and set him behind my door jam, where I nudged him back with the red lacquered toes of my left foot. Still giggling, Greg and I kissed again, once more wrapping up a delightfully carnal twenty-four hours in which we only stopped for Thai food and cherry-almond pie.

I shut the door, hobbled to my bedroom and collapsed on my disheveled bed. The surrounding terrain resembled a Motley Crue video, with all manner of sex detritus strewn about, minus the drugs and hairspray. Thomas yelped and looked at me with pleading eyes, so I sat up, scooped him onto Greg’s pillow, then resumed lying flat, as joyful as I was immobile.

Greg had arrived at noon the previous day, ostensibly to see a documentary playing up the hill. It was our fourth date and when he kissed me hello as I reached for my purse, we kept kissing and soon were horizontal and writhing, despite Thomas’ unbroken barks of protest. I kept apologizing that my dog was losing his mind and Greg kept assuring me he didn’t care. And based on his performance, I believed him.

Our first time was free from the awkwardness that often hovers over such encounters, as each of you figures out who likes what and where and how. Greg and I simply clicked: we made wonderful discoveries, but felt like we’d known each other forever. He had the wisdom of an older man, but the parts of a younger one and while this wasn’t why I soon fell in love with him, it certainly didn’t hurt.

Thomas fell asleep and I wrapped the bedspread over myself and basked in post-coital giddiness. I was happy. Pure, undiluted happy. Greg was brilliant, compassionate, hilarious, had read my work before we’d met and was as handsome with his glasses off as he was with them on. (I have a thing for glasses.) My longtime partner had died four years prior and it’d taken me a long time to feel like a sexual human again, as opposed to a decaying lump of seaweed. The man I’d dated previously had helped me navigate this complex transition, but with Greg, I was starting off wholly libidinous and feeling like myself. My life was good. Great, even.

Then I tried to stand up.

I assumed, perhaps naively or maybe prematurely, that because my sex drive was fully recharged and because Greg already knew I have both a dead partner and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, a chronic, incurable, degenerative illness that presents similarly to M.S., our sex life would be relatively uncomplicated. Which sounds counterintuitive, but all the weird stuff I can’t control was already out in the open and Greg still pursued me. He shared tales of his past to level the playing field, as such, and I still very much wanted him. I’m 47 and he’s 51 and as he sagely noted, it’d be so much stranger if neither of us had shades of color to our past. If you make it to middle age without some deep wounds but, also, a greater perspective and richer appreciation for joy, well, you’ve likely padded yourself in bubble wrap or just haven’t been paying attention.

So, traveling along merrily, I didn’t see the upcoming speed-bump. We’re engaged now, and our sex life largely consists of perpetual lust, food and dog appeasement. With no disrespect to our previous loves, Greg and I sometimes hold each other, laugh and ask, “Where the hell *were* you?” There’s an old Greek adage, “The pot rolled down the hill and found its lid” and we’ve heard it from my family a dozen or so times now. I’m the master of complicated relationships, but this one is as easy as it is loving. Unfortunately, though, no amount of love cures an incurable illness. And over time, any amount of illness will impact your sex life.

At first, the effects weren’t evident.

Greg and I reveled in each other’s minds and wit and this prompted still more disrobing. We remained devoted to our respective jobs–each of us is fortunate to love what we do–but quickly adjusted our schedules to see each other as much as possible.

And that’s when the speed-bump rose, forcing me to slow down. Because adhering to deadlines for two books and several essays, all while constantly seeing the love of your life and boffing him with vigor will, it turns out, lead to some immuno mayhem. The ceaseless activity and lack of sleep, i.e. frequent components of a super-fun new relationship, quickly led to less fun things like falling and fevers and secondary infections. (No, not those kind.) Nausea, chronic pain and near paralytic levels of exhaustion, all hallmarks of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, began kicking the crap out of me more so than is usual.

I’ve had M.E. for 23 years and excel at symptom management. But I’ve grown sicker since the last time I spent this much time with a partner, and Greg is now my fiance, no less. I genuinely like partaking in his world. So, despite his culinary wizardry, I’m learning to make dishes with more than four ingredients and figuring out how to use his NASA-level coffee maker. I like watching him teach at the University of Washington or listening to him explain the finer points of his photography equipment. Not because Greg is pressuring me. Far from it. Indeed, he’s incredibly understanding that I do some of the aforementioned while lying flat on his couch. And he has immersed himself in my worlds, spending much time at literary events and with my friends and family. Basically, to poach Cole Porter, we get a kick out of each other.

The unavoidable fact, however, is that for the first time in my life, and much to my chagrin and occasional humiliation, there are brief times I’m simply too ill for sex. And then I feel like an idiot. Because I love Greg and we consistently have great sex. Saying no, however temporarily, is like declining the steak and ice cream right there on the table before me.

He and I can approach this in the touchy-feeliest way possible, but barring a fetish, there’s nothing sexy about illness. I have friends who don’t like to shag when they have a cold, for god’s sake. If I waited ‘til I felt well to have sex, I’d die celibate. So, I’m always ill when I have sex; it’s just a question of degree. Mildly symptomatic? “Fire down below!” Extremely symptomatic? “Can we wait ‘til morning, honey? In the meantime, can I have a shoulder rub because it kind of hurts to breathe?”

Greg loves me and has wryly noted it won’t fall off if he has to wait a few hours. He has lead the way in figuring out new and creative ways to make gravity work for us. In the best way, our bed has become a sort of laboratory. And because all sexual experimentation, sick or well, requires trust and communication, in a roundabout way, my illness has brought us even closer. I’m not fabricating a silver lining, but that is pretty wonderful. Especially as we plan to spend the rest of our lives together and all.

Of course, should there be a cure, start a pizza fund for us and please donate generously because we’re leaving the house again never.

 Litsa Dremousis' work appears in The Believer, Esquire, Hobart, Jezebel, McSweeney's, MSN, Nerve, New York Magazine, The Onion's A.V. Club, Salon, Slate, The Weeklings, on KUOW, NPR, and in sundry other venues. She’s completing her first novel, assuming it doesn't complete her first. On Twitter: @LitsaDremousis. Photo: Trent Hill


Litsa Dremousis’ work appears in The Believer, Esquire, Hobart, Jezebel, McSweeney’s, MSN, Nerve, New York Magazine, The Onion’s A.V. Club, Salon, Slate, The Weeklings, on KUOW, NPR, and in sundry other venues. She’s completing her first novel, assuming it doesn’t complete her first. On Twitter: @LitsaDremousis.
Photo credit: Trent Hill

 

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above!

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

funny, Guest Posts, R Rated, Self Image, Sex

When the Man Talks to Me about My Lady Parts. *R Rated.

February 16, 2014

**This humorous essay by author Heather Fowler has strong sexual content and is R Rated. If you have no interest in that…stop reading right now. Seriously. I have every intention of providing a space for women to keep it real. (For everyone, really.) This a light, frank, body-positive post. Proceed with a sense of humor please 🙂 And I bow to Heather for being so bold. We had a great conversation where she brought up the fact that women aren’t allowed to really talk about their own genitalia without causing a stir. So, here ya go… ~ Jen Pastiloff, Founder of The Manifest-Station.

~

When the Man Talks to Me about My Lady Parts by Heather Fowler.

I can’t help it.  I’m excited.  Who knew I had something so great?  It is with extreme enthusiasm that he engages this topic.

As for me, during this engagement, I’m agog by my own former underdeveloped awareness. I can be forgiven. We often undervalue the things right under our navels. I mean, I know I’ve taken pleasure from this anatomy variously in my past, without even recognizing how important this particular part can be. But he specifies criteria like a pussy aficionado.

He doesn’t mind when things get wet and impromptu.  He is a fierce explorer. Fierce!

Now, his opinion should not be discounted because he is actually an expert in this field, belonging to a Harley gang and all.  This means he’s had lots of pussy.  He has enjoyed it as a meal and a la carte.  I like a man who talks the walk.  He squeals he has had more than one at once.

Several of them, many times. We discuss.  “Tell me about your sexual past,” I say, because I am a role-bender that way, intrepid.

When I reflect deeply, I recognize that his interest in pussy is parallel to the interest of a guy who loves sports statistics. Maybe this one keeps statistics.  He certainly knows about his bat.

Why did I do this?  Not sure, but here’s the good part: Usually, I’d pay for analysis from this level of “expert in the field,” wherever research is needed.

But I got lucky, and with this level of lucky, I don’t have to pay.  I pull the sheet up and wait.  I am covering my boring breasts, which he largely ignored. I smile, trying to be innocuous.  I’m about to understand my pussy, really get the lowdown, articulated from a guy’s point of view, probably for the first time.  This is huge.

I tremble. I have to be humble. I look away.

I hope I don’t look too curious because, sometimes, that puts guys off.  Nope.  He still wants to talk about it.

“Some women just had too much,” he says.  “They can’t feel a thing.  Not like you.  Yours is still sensitive.  And you have great padding in the back.”

“Oh,” I say.  “Right. Padded ass. That’s good.” But I nod, intrigued.  “Go on.”

No one has ever spoken this frankly.  I examine his hair, that blond stuff on his head.  It is long in the way that motorbike riders enjoy, since their hedonism extends to the wind at play.  Everything is play. I think about washing the sheets.

“And some women are hard down there,” he says.  “Like a plank.  You can bruise your hipbone on that.  And sometimes you can’t go that deep.  Some women have what’s like a slit, hard to push into, and other women hang loose and open all the time.” He mentions to me that a condom might have skewed his view of this pussy, my pussy, a little bit, but it was still good.  He says I couldn’t possibly have experienced it like he does.

Right, I’m thinking. It must be like that freckle on one’s face that becomes rather insignificant in light of the whole face.  I have a whole face.  A whole body.  But he is a pussy specialist.

“Would you say these things if it was bad?” I ask. “I mean, go on like this?”

“No, of course not,” he says.  “Then I’d just say nothing. I’m not a total cad.”  He kisses me like he thinks I’m cute.

I am not cute like he imagines.  I am pondering how it would feel to experience my own pussy, from the exterior, with nerve endings, by inhabiting two bodies at once.  I wish I could bodysnatch him and enjoy being both of us.  I get lost in this fantasy.

“It was great, great,” he says. “And so I could just sneak in here and help you out,” he says, pulling at a tendril of hair near my face.  “Like I’m the rogue character in one of your novels.  I could be your bad boy.  Does your pussy squirt?”

“I haven’t thought about it,” I reply, neglecting to mention that I don’t write romance novels.  “I’m not down there, you know, watching.  Does squirting imply a sort of specific distance?  Does it involve a quantity of fluid? Maybe you can tell me.”  I do like the idea of having a bad boy, especially one who so appreciates my pussy.  But if I want a bad boy, I want one with mad skills, one who cannot be denied.

He smiles, petting my head, and I say, “If you gave me five or six orgasms a session, that could be worthwhile.  But we’d have to be monogamous for fluid-bonding.  We could build to that.”  I’m thinking that’s a low bar for taking on a bad boy, if he doesn’t plan on nurturing or taking out the trash.

His face falls.  Maybe he thought two or three was really big shakes.

For me, it’s not. Two or three is an introduction. Nonetheless, from this exchange, I realize I have an excellent, frequently underutilized pussy.  This is a subject to ponder.  How can I do better for my pussy? Why, and for how long, must my organ remain underutilized?

He asks what I think about his dick.  “It’s fine,” I say.  “Good.” But I have no new remarks to issue here.  What does one say when one means, “Truly average.  A decent size.  Not too large?” but knows these comments won’t go over well.  I think about saying, “Your dick is important to me insofar as it functions well when we are engaged in romantic exchanges, aided by outings and interpersonal connection, though I would not be upset if it wasn’t functioning, provided I loved you enough.”

I determine he is too bad boy to appreciate this distinction.  “You have a good dick,” I conclude, going for minimalist.  When he leaves that day, I think:  I won’t remember it.

Later I examine my pussy as if it is not attached to me and think about other women.  Do they know how great their pussies are?  How underutilized? Someone should tell them.

This someone might be him.  Then again—he might not know enough.

I’ll be a crusader for the femme O.  Look out world, I got this.

***

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Heather Fowler is the author of the story collections Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books, Dec. 2010), People with Holes (Pink Narcissus Press, July 2012), This Time, While We’re Awake (Aqueous Books, May 2013) andElegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness (Queen’s Ferry Press, forthcoming May 2014). Fowler’s People with Holes was named a 2012 finalist for Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award in Short Fiction. This Time, While We’re Awake was recently selected by artist Kate Protage for representation in the Ex Libris 100 Artists 100 Books exhibition this February at the 2014 AWP Conference. Fowler’s stories and poems have been published online and in print in the U.S., England, Australia, and India, and appeared in such venues as PANKNight TrainstoryglossiaSurreal SouthJMWWPrick of the SpindleShort Story America,Feminist Studies and others, as well as having been nominated for the storySouth Million Writers Award, Sundress Publications Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine and a Fiction Editor for the international refereed journal, Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures & Societies (USA). Please visit her website: www.heatherfowlerwrites.com

writingrefractedJennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what her retreats are like. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. `