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Let’s Talk About Sex?

Earlier today I was watching The Great on Hulu.

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a brand-new show about Catherine the Great of Russia and what it was like for her in the early days. Like most young girls, she had a lot of daydreams and romantic ideas about what love would be like. For instance, here is what her mom told her about sex:

The man caresses you softly, pressing his lips to yours. Your breasts and skin awaken and shiver with palpitating joy. Between your legs quivers and moistens with longing. He enters you and you become one. Your bodies meld, your souls mesh. As a sensation takes hold of you, you fall into a black sky filled with the shiniest of stars. You float for a time in ecstasy, before waves of pleasure push and pull you back into your body. Your body ushers forth yelps, and sometimes song, before he and you explode within, collapsing together, spent and unified. Then, you lay together, laughing softly, weeping occasionally with ecstatic joy, and finally, he wraps his arms around you, whispers poetry softly into your ear, and you fall into a… delicious sleep.

She soon learns that her mom’s experience is…different from hers…

I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say it’s a lot less like The Tudors and more like The Handmaid’s Tale.

I had a lot of very romantic ideas of what love would be like. For the most part, they’re true. The things that aren’t haven’t really been a letdown because I know that real life isn’t a romantic comedy. However, love and sex are different things. They can-and often do-go together, but not necessarily.

I know what you’re going to say, “They’re just doing it wrong.” Maybe so. I’ve had experiences that were very intense, very meaningful. I know that’s what it can be like. But in this day and age, we’re usually not given a “flowery description” like this.

You know what I was told about sex, from different sources?

I will say that I could have been told these things in an effort to keep me from getting pregnant as a teenager. I knew several girls who did. I have, however, seen the truth of some of them.

“Your first time will be awkward as hell, assuming it works at all.”

And it didn’t. My high school boyfriend and I tried to have sex once but it did not physically work. To be a bit graphic, he couldn’t get into me. I was probably nervous but a lot of that could have been that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I was supposed to wait until I was married, and I wasn’t going to marry him. It fits. I did other things, but my husband is the first and only man I’ve ever “gone there” with.

“Nobody knows what the hell they’re doing.”

Yep. My first “real-time” was on my wedding night. Everything went fine, I guess, but I was so tired after that long day that I didn’t do much. Most people are able to “learn on the job”, but I was not because I got into a wreck less than a year later that pretty much rendered me unable to, ahem, assume most positions. The ones that worked for me didn’t for my husband. I thought my hip replacement would fix it and, in terms of mobility, it did. However, the gynecologist confirmed that everything-everything-had been pushed to the right. As a result, I know absolutely nothing about how to please a man. Where to touch a man (besides the obvious), what to do with those things when I get there, how to get/keep anything going-nothing. I did other things before I was married, but 1) a lot of that was allowing things to be done to me, and 2) they were done with the agreement that the full expression of sex and love is meant for marriage. It must be even more awkward for men.

I’ve learned some other things, which is helpful. I know how to speak of it-I had some erotic stories online once but I got rid of them. I know what to do to myself. One thing I didn’t count on was the fact that both I and my husband are on medications that cause problems in that area. Looking back, that’s probably why we never really were very passionate. At least that way I know it’s not me.

“Sex is pretty much all men care about.”

This isn’t true about my husband, but it definitely is about some people I’ve dated. There were a lot of times I did something I didn’t particularly want to do because I felt like I had to. Either that, or that was the only way I could get him to leave me alone. I have friends and relatives who have been raped and one thing they’ve all said was that it did one of two things-either they fear sex or they treat it like it’s nothing. My sister told me that she ended up giving it to whatever guy wanted it because she figured that they were going to take it anyway so at least that way she would have *some* control of the situation. I can totally see that.

I can’t imagine that the good men out there enjoy being lumped in with the assholes who think only of themselves.

“What you think you’re going to like and what you actually end up liking are two different things.”

I can see this as well. The magazines that give you all these ideas about what a good sex life should be aren’t usually talking about people who have medical issues that make things difficult for them. The movies don’t show how long it took that actress to get into that position. Media often makes it sound and look a lot easier than it actually is. I’m very interested in sex but sometimes I’d rather take care of it myself than try to do anything else.

They also make it look like it’s easy to separate sex and love when it’s really anything but. Stupid flings aside, I wouldn’t even *kiss* someone if I didn’t have some sort of feelings for them. I once tried a “friends with benefits” thing thinking it was just silly fun. Nope. Feelings got involved.

Similarly, my morals are often different in fantasies. There is no way I’d go home with a guy after the first date, no matter how much I loved him. Yet, some fantasies have me doing exactly that. That’s the fun of fantasies, though-you get to be someone you’re not, if only in your mind.

I will often dream or daydream about what it might be like to kiss/touch/be with a particular man, but I do this in the context of a larger story line starring a version of me. I’m usually dating whoever it is I have a crush on at the time. It’s always a younger one.  A lot of them take place during a time in my life that could have been a lot better or at least happier had I made different choices. The choices are almost always about breaking up with or never dating a particular person, but sometimes my entire world is different. I wonder if it’s my way of trying to get that time back.

I have no ending for this except to say that sex is much different from what I thought it would be, but that’s okay. That’s what I hear from pretty much everyone I’ve talked to, men *and* women. I got to bond with my husband in a lot of ways I may not have-or not as much-had I not gotten into the wreck. I also learned that it’s not really all it’s cracked up to be, but there are other things in life I’d rather have.  Even so, it’s still fun to dream about.

Similar Features?

One of my favorite singers has long been Melissa Etheridge. She’s often known for her angsty “scorned lover” style, but she has a pretty good range. The reason I’m mentioning her here is because I was listening to one of her songs and it made me think of a situation in my own life. You can read the lyrics here:

I tried to find a site that would let you read the lyrics *and* hear the song, but they were all behind paywalls. Sorry about that. It’s a great song. Check out YouTube?

Go on and close your eyes, imagine me there/She’s got similar features, but longer hair

In college I dated this guy I’ll call “B”. I met him through my then-roommate. “J”. J and I both had dark hair, dark eyes and glasses. We looked similar enough that people often mistook us for sisters, but her hair was a lot longer than mine. A lot longer.

All the women’s magazines are right when they say that having two intense and emotional people in the same relationship rarely works out. It definitely didn’t for us. To be fair to him, I was going through some stuff and one of my ex-boyfriends was causing a lot of problems trying to get me to go back to him.  I wasted so much of my life dealing with this psychopath (the ex), but that’s another post. 

The relationship only lasted a few months, but it was an intense one. During spring break, he drove 3.5 hours to my house just to tell me he loved me. It was completely unexpected and my parents loved him. He once stood out in front of my dorm and imitated the boombox scene in Say Anything, which worked because he looked like a young John Cusack and I have hair like Ione Skye. 

I was not good to him at all…or. I was. but there were a lot of things going on with me that he didn’t deserve to be saddled with. Our breakup was a lot less dramatic than our relationship-just a simple phone conversation. I don’t know why, but after that I was kind of jealous that he just *happened* to be hanging out with my roommate a lot more than before. That could be because she was also going through a breakup (with one of his good friends), but I don’t know. He wanted to try to be friends because he said he missed me, but it was so awkward there was no way that was going to work. 

A week before I graduated, he came to my room to ask me to take him back. This was completely unexpected since we had not spoken for months, and the last time we had spoken was him telling me he was sorry my mom had died. I was already dating someone at the time, but he didn’t care-he just wanted to be with me. I said no because I was graduating and going back home but to be honest I probably would have said no anyway because we did not make a good pair.  When I told J about it later, she got really upset but I had no idea why.

And if that’s what it takes to get you through/Go on and close your eyes

Later on I found out that, a few days earlier, he’d been intimate with J in a way he had been with me. It wasn’t sex and there was probably no connection, but the fact that he would try to get back with me so soon after doing something like this seemed very suspect to her.  I thought so too. Someone-more than one person, actually-later told me that he might have been thinking of me while he was making out with her. I wouldn’t put it past him. For her sake, I hope not. I know what it’s like to be the “consolation prize”, which is what she felt like after talking to me. She doesn’t deserve that-no one does. I was pissed on her behalf because the whole thing apparently meant a lot more to her than it did to him. This is someone who won’t even *kiss* someone she doesn’t have feelings for-much less anything more. 

It shouldn’t bother you

Apparently it didn’t. 

Look, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m flattering myself by thinking B’s feelings were more than they were. But when someone comes into your room after not having spoken to you in months and asks you to take them back even though you’re also with someone else and when telling someone about it has the effect it did here, I have to wonder. I’m not the only or even the first person to suggest the comparison. Even if it wasn’t about our looks, she clearly felt as though him asking me to take him back so shortly (within a week!) after doing something like that was a betrayal. I’d feel that way too. 

I don’t know what else to say, except that this is what I think about anytime I hear this song. You probably have a “song story” too, somewhere. 

Deep-Winter Bleakness

I had another anxiety attack tonight-the worst in a long time. I’m not surprised at all. It’s been a long week with a lot of pressure about Valentine’s Day. We’ve been having a lot of meetings because this is one of the busiest times of the year in the restaurant industry and management has been more high-strung than normal. I’ve been working more shifts in a row than I’m used to. I was at the end of my rope and was really hoping to be able to come home tonight and relax before having to go in again. I was in pain and had not slept much this week, but still had to stay and work because one of my coworkers-one who is also a good friend-simply didn’t show up.

There are certain times when things seem a lot louder, brighter, more claustrophobic than normal. There is just so much noise in such a tight space that you feel like you have to fight to get anything done. Everything and everyone is in your way, and you just want to get out. When you have a lot of side work you’re not used to doing that takes you longer than everyone else to do it can feel stressful to anyone, but in the past my coworkers had teased me about being too slow to do things. It’s been a really long time since anyone said that, but it really hurt my feelings. So when I heard “is anyone still here? Is <river in Ireland> done yet?” it made me think that people were bitching about it again. I have this sort of paranoia that makes me think things are about me when they aren’t-that people are saying or thinking things when they probably aren’t. Or, if they are, it’s not as big of a deal as I think it is. It’s like I accuse people of saying or thinking things. Luckily everyone knows that I have bipolar and anxiety, but there have been times when I worry if it will be “the last straw” with someone.

For instance, this past Christmas I got into sort of a row with a good friend of mine that made me wonder if he’ll ever care for me or talk to me again. It was another case of paranoia that blew up in my face, assuming something was about me when he was dealing with crap of his own and had been distant to everyone-not just me. It was suggested that I had a crush on him, which I doubt. Either way, I thought I had lost someone I had a connection with because I couldn’t control my dumb ass mouth. I can’t say I feel as close as I did before, but I don’t know if that’s just my perception. Tonight I thought of saying “Now you’ve seen it, I told you it was awful. Still like me, or am I the psycho hose beast I’ve been telling you about?”

It’s just so ridiculous that I could go from laughing to sitting in my car listening to music and singing along with it to calm myself down. Even if people know I can’t help it, that it’s my disorder talking, I can’t begin to explain how embarrassing these things are. I wonder when people will get sick of it and say screw her, no one likes her anymore. What will be the last straw, if I’ll have anyone left if this keeps up. And it will keep up. That much is certain.

I need to sleep.



This time of year can suck it…

This time of year has always been hard for me. I think it’s partly the cold weather, partly the short days and partly the gloominess that tends to settle over everything. I find myself being a lot more sensitive to things people do or say than I normally am. Or, I’m not as good at hiding it.

Where I live it doesn’t really get or stay as cold as it does other places, so I guess I’m not as used to it as some people.

I don’t get to see my family hardly at all. We are all spread out, with my parents in North Carolina (8 hours away) or Virginia (10 hours away). I moved this far away to be with my husband and I don’t regret that but I’d really like to be able to go up more often. The reason I can’t is partly my job and partly the cost it takes to drive up there. It’s not like my job is even that important-I’m a server at a restaurant-but my husband does tech support and can only take so many off days. While we don’t suffer financially here, we wouldn’t be able to afford the sheer amount of gas it would take to get to and from, well, anywhere. Plus he hates being without me.

Staying home or not, I’ve always been kind of standoffish. I spent a lot of time by myself growing up because I was a huge nerd and didn’t have many friends. My sister had a lot of problems that took my parents’ attention. I didn’t know any of this at the time, but she had bipolar disorder and got into a lot of trouble with drugs, alcohol and older guys. When I was about ten she went to California to live with one of my aunts. There was a special school/rehab for teenagers with these problems, but I did not know this. All I knew was that she and my dad argued incessantly, we had financial problems and that they’d gotten to a point where they couldn’t take it anymore. I thought she was being sent away because she was bad and my parents didn’t want her anymore. I was afraid that if I wasn’t perfect, I’d be sent away too.  I almost was.

Shortly after my sister came back home, she told us she was pregnant. I wasn’t there to see my dad’s reaction, thank goodness. It upset me so much that my parents were being so tolerant of her while getting onto me about stuff like bad grades. Getting pregnant was much worse than getting a C, right? I don’t begrudge her anything, but I just didn’t understand why I suddenly couldn’t do anything right.

I got failing grades in some of my classes and wasn’t adjusting to sixth grade very well. My mom asked me if I wanted to go somewhere else to live because I seemed so unhappy at home. Looking back, it was a stronger version of the usual tween-angst crap that a lot of kids go through. That might have been when my depression set on; there’s no real way to tell.

When I heard my dad telling my older brother about all the money problems and how they nearly went into bankruptcy taking her to doctors and getting her help,
I remembered all the times they seemed upset when I asked for things that cost money-school trips, cheerleading leagues, flag corp uniforms, senior-year and graduation stuff etc-I felt like I’d done something wrong. I’m not sure if this would be different if I had been told what was going on, but it might have. Even now, if I ask for something from my husband and we can’t afford it, I feel like I’ve done something wrong simply for asking and needing anything.

You know what bothers me the most? I would have understood. Yes, I was ten, but I was at a higher level academically and otherwise than other people my age. No one ever had to give me grandpa-died-because-God-needed-more-angels or whatever other things people tell little kids because they were straight with me-he got sick and died. I was six. I can understand why they didn’t say anything-perhaps my sister didn’t want them to. They didn’t want to burden a ten-year-old whose biggest problems involved boys and being made fun of at school. I totally understand this. I probably wouldn’t have given the full story either. But it seemed odd that my dad would tell all of this to my brother who he hadn’t seen in twenty years (looooong story) but wouldn’t tell someone who was there for it all.

I have no ending for this, but there’s still a lot I don’t understand about the way I react to things. Maybe I’ll figure it out, or figure out that there’s nothing to figure out. Anyway, good night.


Own It

I was thinking of a conversation I had the other day.

I’ve found that one of the best (and sometimes only) ways to keep people from using certain negative traits against you is to own them yourself. Obviously no one *wants* to be thought of as crazy/a bitch/air-headed/having “issues” etc. I’ve been called these things and they can be pretty hurtful at times. Even so, I’ve found that trying for a joking or “Yeah…and???” attitude-even if I have to fake it-forces people trying to insult me to do one of two things-they either have to shut their mouth or come up with something more interesting to say. They usually pick A.

This doesn’t always work, but I wish I’d thought of this earlier in life. I’m definitely going to temper how I refer to myself out of care for those who love me, but hopefully one day I won’t have anything *to* own. Until then…

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