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Tag: sexuality

Why I Don’t Hide Or Deny My Past

OK, time for a super personal blog post about who I am and what I used to do for a living. Yes, I was some version of a porn star.

I do not hide or deny my past work because I think once you have done sex work you should be allowed the freedom and opportunity to do other work – without having to say you were a victim or a survivor if you do not identify as one.

I do not hide or deny this aspect of my life because this experience has brought me to where I am today. It has helped shape me into the woman I am today. I’m an empowered, hard-working, creative, generous and compassionate woman.

I do not hide or deny my past work because there is power in being OUT about it. My past is not a dirty little secret busy-body gossips can try to use against me. It belongs to me. While they can frame it however they want, I know the truth. So do my friends and loved ones.

I do not hide or deny my past work because I do not feel shame over finding pleasure in consensual sex and sharing the documentation of it.

I do not hide or deny my past work because other people are not comfortable with talking about sexuality in general or theirs in particular.

I know when it is appropriate to talk about sex and when it is better to be more discreet. I am a responsible and respectful adult. My friends actually find me prudish and too proper when it comes to public sex talk! I am an educator and believe in age and developmentally appropriate ways to discuss sexuality.

I do not hide or deny my past work because I know all online content (adult or otherwise, commercial or otherwise) is stolen and shared. It will live online as long as there is digital technology.

When I am 90 and in the old-folks-home some attendant will be taking care of me and then unknowingly view pics of a much younger me during their own private moments of pleasure. This type of thing happened to Bettie Page. It will happen to me. It will happen to you if you have ever taken a sexy selfie.

The Internet is forever for all of us.

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Clearing Space, Mindfulness & Sex

I have been doing much clearing this year. Of damaging habits, old strategies that were hurting more than they were helping. It is an on going process of internal, mindful recalibrating of the way I think, perceive and respond.

I have also been doing this in a physical way. If you follow me on Twitter you will have noticed tweet about shredding and purging.

One of the other things I have been doing in this recalibration is a mix of the mind and the body. I have created a new morning routine for myself! I was inspired after reading Be More With Less‘  Courtney Carver’s mini course How To Create a Meaningful Routine. I am going to apply the principles (slowly – you gotta do it slowly) for my evening routine.

Well, what does this have to do with sexuality, you ask?

Everything.

Because nothing we experience as human beings exists in a vacuum, in isolation. It is all interconnected. Practicing mindfulness allows us to be present in the moment. Not get lost in the past and simmer in regretful thoughts. Not Worry about the future or get lost in fantasy futures. Just the here and now. It is really all we have.

Mindfulness can be a part of all of our experiences – including sexual ones. In fact, as someone who had a tendency to (over)analyze, (over)think and (over)dramatize when it comes to sex I have found mindfulness an amazing tool to get out of the stories in my head and get connected to my mind, body and spirit.

This morning I read this passage from The 7 Lively Sins: How to Enjoy Your Life, Dammit  and it seemed rather relevant to sex as mindfulness practice.

Sex is just a sweaty form of meditation. Think about it. The best lustful sex is about being in the moment, not obsessing about the past or future… or if your thighs look fat in a particular position… and so this means that orgasm is not the ONE AND ONLY big lure of lustful sex. A less obvious secondary benefit is that feeling of supreme peace that comes after sex – and this peacefulness isn’t entirely due to reaching orgasm, but ALSO due to reaching one’s metaphysical spirit, by being fully in the metaphysical moment. SO when we feel good after a lustful sex, it’s partially because we’ve emptied our cluttered brain of its chattering.

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Being Truthful – Feeling Whole

February was hard. Don’t get me wrong. There were many highlights during the shortest month of the year. It was my birthday at the beginning of the month and I had such meaningful happy moments with family and friends (including lots of aunt + niece time), but the month was also filled with a fair amount of travel, some illness (woo! gastro!) and a few interactions with toxic people (woo! emotional gastro!). There was also a walk down memory lane (woo! high school!) which had me feeling so disconnected.  I was unsure of how to be myself as I am now among people who knew me when. I behaved in such an awkward way and I didn’t feel like myself at all. I felt way more like how I felt in high school.

This is the deal. I have my tribe now. I can share all facets of my life with them. The fact that my work revolves around sexuality does not phase them. Remembering a time when I did not have that kind of openness and acceptance in my life is low on the enjoyable experience scale. Even lower is having to talk about myself with people who knew me as a child or adolescent, but not knowing how to express myself – my truth – without alienating those I care about.

I feel trapped in the sex work ghetto. I don’t want to feel like that forever.

This theme of what to reveal and how to reveal has been coming up quite a bit in my mind recently, but it is not a new thing. When I began my porn work it was easy. I would be super vague. I create websites, is what I told people. Never told them what kind of websites or that I was the star of the content – except with my nearest and dearest friends. Then there were those people from my hometown and who I went to high school – some lovely person outed me in a big dramatic way and it spread like wicked stomach flu (woo! 3rd gastro reference in one post!). Most people who found my website usually didn’t say anything to my face. Nope. They talked behind my back. It made (and still makes for) this disconnect between us. The elephant in the room. I hate it.

I kept doing my thing – making porn with friends, sharing so much of myself to a nameless (often demanding and insensitive public – the bad apples ruining in for the good ones), travelling to industry conferences, doing hour long webcam shows 5 days a week, more sharing, HTML coding and writing about sex.  I started to feel like the only thing that I had in my life was my site and the only way I interacted with people was through porn. I was feeling cloistered in the XXX world. I was ready for different experiences.

So, I became a sex worker rights activist. I joined a community group and went to conferences and organized workshops for other sex workers. I got sick with an auto-immune disease and realized how fragile my life was because if my body wasn’t working I would lose my livelihood. I began running with a group of women my age. The kind that follow mommy blogs and drive minivans (didn’t out myself to them – we mostly talked running). I set running goals and met them. I did a 21K. I began doing burlesque and vaudeville. I created and produced shows and plays.

My world expanded and so did I.

Still, I kept a big part of me and my life away from these new experiences. I even thought after my separation that I could change my life all together and start a totally new career. Lots of trial and error and a bunch of reflection has led me to see that I don’t want to do that. I am passionate about sexuality and want to continue my work in the field AND I want to stop having such a major part of my life, a major part of who I am, hidden away. I have had enough of it.

It is funny because when it comes to my porn work I did my best to share so much more than sex with my fans and the members of my site. I wanted them to see me as more than a sex object. By talking about other aspects of my life – family, friends, my struggles, my dreams, etc – I think I accomplished that. But when it came to my non-porn life I didn’t know how to include sex work into the conversation. And I know why.

Fear of judgement and rejection. Experience has taught me that these fears are valid. It happened numerous times and put a huge burden on my relationships with my immediate family. The judgement, I know, says more about the person doing the judging than it does about me. Doesn’t mean I am not hurt by it. Oh, this sex negative, sex work stigmatized world, you don’t make things easy for anyone.

Note: I am fairly comfortable talking to new people about my work – blogging, sex education and even porn. I can even speak with confidence and clarity in these situations. This is not the case with family or connections from my past. In these situations I am bumbling mess filled with fears and angst. 

Over the past three years therapy has helped me come to terms with all of this. It has helped me bring the issues to the forefront. Before they were mixed up with all my other uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Like a tangled mess of yarn.

Therapy has helped me get to know myself beyond the stories I had in my head and the more I accept myself the stronger I feel. I am now ready to bring all the areas of my life, all aspects of who I am and what I do, together. I am ready to stop saying I am a webmaster when people ask me what I do. I no longer need to be super vague – even lie – when they ask what sites I work on. I am ready to say the truth as it stands right now…

I am a writer.

If they ask what I write about I will say the truth – that I write about sexuality and relationships. If they want to know more I can say more. I am curious and passionate about the issues of body image, gender dynamics, sex entertainment and sex worker activism. I also am an educator and speak at universities, seminars and conferences. I am developing a series of sex-ed for adults workshops and working on an e-book.

I am ready to use the appropriate title and description for me – all of me as I am right now.

* When writing this blog post I took some inspiration from this training video from Marie Forleo about reinventing yourself. I really dig her and her work. You might too.

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Big Feelings

Today, I was debating if and how to write about my tendencies when it comes to sex, love and relationships. I have some new insights about them, but I am not quite ready to share them as sharing them is one of my tendencies. As I sat at my computer I was confused and hesitant (still am) so I decided to check out my Twitter feed to see what people were up to. There I found an article that piqued my interest and inspired me to write a sex-ed type commentary about it. Well, that then turned into a personal type post. I was back where I started, but looking in a different direction.

Yep, I love how writing can do that.

I came across an article by Charlie Glickman about his experience with testosterone. It’s a great personal piece on this physical aspect of being biologically male, but I got more from it than just an appreciation for how testosterone can affect the body and the mind. He ends the piece with thoughts on managing impulses and feelings. This jumped out at me.

As an example, if I see someone I find attractive, it can feel like my impulse to look at them is beyond my control. It’s no wonder that so many cultures try to manage men’s sexualities by controlling women’s behavior. After all, if I can’t control myself, then external circumstances need to be controlled so I don’t get set off. The difference, of course, is that it can feel like things are beyond my control without that actually being true. We need to hold onto both of those pieces at the same time if we’re going to make any positive changes. We need to acknowledge how things feel AND the deeper truth that our feelings don’t always reflect what’s happening outside of our heads. When we can do that, we can support learning better tools with which to respond to our feelings.

I really appreciated this comment of his. It’s about recognizing certain realities about sexuality, but also the stories we tell ourselves about it, and responding with care and compassion – not control or suppression.

These past few years have mainly been for me about learning healthy strategic ways to respond to my big strong feelings. In the past I was an escape artist. Sometimes I would literally run away when things felt intense – even good feelings would have me do that because they brought about anxiety and fear of the unknown (like when I was falling for someone new).

Another favourite was to dull feelings with heavy carb meals. When I was  feeling overwhelmed I ate what I called my white diet – toast for breakfast, pancakes and syrup for lunch, and mashed potatoes and gravy for supper. This was comfort food gone extreme. I would end up cuddled in bed avoiding people, feelings – life.

Booze also was another part of my escape artistry. I can be very tightly wound up and booze helped me let go. I felt I deserved the alcohol induced release because I was so good at being a ‘good girl’ in my sober times. But the feeling of release was fake and short lived. When I am drunk often my emotions overwhelm me even more and this has led to unpleasant and destructive social consequences (saying things I do not truly mean, hurting friends’ feelings) – not every time but enough times to damage my image and some friendships. Part of me wishes I didn’t care but I do. I am human and I am a social creature and need to be connected to others. Plus, the negative physical stuff that happens the next day –  my body hates that I went beyond 2 drinks – have left me out of life’s activities in a different way.

It took me a while to come to terms on how all this escaping was only temporary. I would always be right back with uncomfortable feelings (inadequacy, anger, fear) plus some additional ones (shame, guilt and sadness). What an awesome cycle.

Now, being an escape artist is not my go-to strategy. Yes, my feelings are as intense as ever, but I am not so afraid of them. I can tolerate them. I can even explore them. I acknowledge them and look at them with a non-judgemental eye. By sitting with my feelings without reacting to them (even I just pause for a moment) I experience compassion for myself as well as others.

And consequently I don’t fuck things up as much as used to. definitely a much better strategy than being an escape artist.

As I was writing that last bit I took a break and checked my Twitter feed. I came across another great article from someone I follow. This time it is from a Buddhist perspective. It jumped at me because it was about the consequences of reactivity versus responsiveness. Oh! Convergence! Another thing that I love when it happens!

When we feel these negative feelings, it’s extremely difficult to respond to life because we are too busy reacting to our painful emotions. On the other hand, when we respond to life, we take the time to quiet our minds and silence the noise before we offer our words of wisdom.

Of course, we don’t set out to hurt others with our words, especially those whom we love. Hurtful words come from hurting hearts, and although we think it will feel better once it’s out, it never does.

The author of this article suggests taking a break when a strong negative emotion occurs, breathe very deeply and with the exhale letting out the all the noise and with the next inhale to replace it with a positive affirmation. I can see the beauty and power in this and I have used this kind of breathing before. However, recently I found something that seems to work even better for me. If you also deal with big strong feelings, maybe it will help you.

Its called Tonglen Meditation. I read about it in the book If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path. Briefly, Tonglen Meditation is a breathing practice where as you inhale you take in suffering and as you exhale you breathe out compassion. When I have those big strong feelings I now use this breathing technique and it helps transform my feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, sadness and hurt into care, relaxation, clarity and comfort.

So, now let me bring this back to sexuality. :-)

Sexual feelings can be strong. We can feel overpowered by them. Not only the randy ‘I want to get it on’ feelings, but those that surround sexuality – like anxiety, shame, judgement, embarrassment, and fear. Taking a moment to feel those feelings can help you manage them and change them into something more positive and satisfying. Escaping them, hiding from them or pretending they do not exist will only make things worse.

I know this seems like common sense, but from my own experience and from those of many readers who share their stories with me, it’s all too easy to get stuck in the avoidance techniques rather than the recognition ones. I am not sure why we stick with the ones that make things worse rather than better. Maybe because we are taught the harmful ones rather than the healing ones. I find now that I am learning other ways of dealing with big strong feelings and impulses, I am rather at peace with myself. I still have desires and goals. I know not everything is as I wish it to be (not by a long shot), but I am inspired and empowered.

Mindfulness has me quite excited. I think looking at how it can play a role in a satisfying sex life is very intriguing.  If you have explored mindfulness as a part of your sexuality or in your life in general, I would love to hear from you in the comments. And if you have questions, let’s explore them together.

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The Power of Hugs

I came across a short article on how to maintain a satisfying libido. Even if you are flying solo like me this is an important read. I truly believe if you don’t use it you lose it so staying physically and mentally healthy helps you keep that drive up.  You never know when you may need it. ;-)

One of the tips…

Hug Therapy

Love a good rub down? You’re not the only one. Some studies have shown that men need to be touched two to three times more frequently than women in order to maintain the same level of oxytocin, the sexy bonding hormone.

Without frequent touch, your brain’s circuits and receptors can feel starved for dopamine, the feel-good hormone. Hugging and cuddling feed and reinforce those connection circuits, ensuring lovey-dovey feelings and hot romps. Even if you’re not in the mood now, a sensual back rub or loving massage can get you there, pronto.

Have You Seen My Libido (Healthy Bitch Daily)
L. Lou Paget

Oxytocin has a complicated reputation, but even if you don’t take that particular hormone into consideration I think that the power of touch, hugs, cuddles and other kinds of close contact is pretty substantial.  I know I need hugs and now that I live alone and don’t go out frequently I am without them and I miss them. There is something so comforting about snuggling with someone you love. Yep, I definitely miss it. I cuddle with the cats, but that is its own thing and definitely doesn’t lead to happy sexy feelings.

I think though non-sexual, non-romantic hugs are important to one’s well-being and that good feeling you get from them can have sexual benefits – it can make you feel better about yourself. I find I go out of my way to ask for them when I am feeling blue or just in need of a good squeeze. These kinds of hugs are not about sex, but they are about comfort and that helps me stay positive and upbeat. I have a couple of guy friends who are tall and teddy bear like. They give great hugs. I love the felling of being held with such substance. One is my friend’s has a boyfriend who is an amazing hugger and I ask her permission first. It feels a bit silly, but she knows he gives good hugs and is happy to share it with her friends.  My girlfriends give good hugs too though they are wee hugs. ;-)

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Me with my friend Halcyon who runs a live broadcast called Hug Nation

Check out the article for more suggestions on how to feel good in general and how to specifically keep your sexual drive a-going.

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