Category Archives: Sexuality

Personal Post

This is a post about my past, much of it written long ago. Not to dwell on it, but to expunge it from my head. I am not in this place mentally anymore. I’m actively choosing a reset and finding happiness.

Because the thunderstorm was about to commence, she decided to bring inside the two plastic oval feeders that jutted off the balcony. Instead of placing them on the floor, she put them on the stove. She was drinking, of course, a ritual that started as soon as she came home from work. A routine might have given her sanity, but it erased her ability to live a normal life. Many mornings, she woke up very early and started drinking. “It’s just beer,” she’d say, drinking all day and night.

Much later, I got tired and wanted to lay down. She was in her energetic yet lethargic music mode, cycling through a good yet repetitive list of music from her past. She often spent hours blasting music at high volume. While I loved and enjoyed much of the music, she irritatedly refused to let me pick music almost all the time. She would withdraw into herself as I sat there next to her immobile and waiting for her to engage me. Much less give me affection or attention. She often danced to highly sexualized dances while she listened to music that way. If I tried to touch her or respond appropriately, she would push me away and say, “beep beep.” Later I deliberately practiced asking. The answer was no every time I tried.

At some point, I felt her lay down next to me. As she stumbled up out of the bed, I opened my eyes and for some reason had a little trouble breathing. Light filtered through from wall plugins and light in the bedroom or kitchen. I couldn’t clear my eyes because everything looked cloudy. As she entered the kitchen I heard a strange piercing scream. I literally jumped from the bed, coughing a little. I ran into the kitchen to see her standing in front of the stove. Thick smoke and flames for shooting up from its surface. She grabbed the burning and molten plastic bird feeders as both the feeders and the contents burned. She flung the contents into the sink, onto the floor, and around her. Although I couldn’t understand what was going on, I knew she might be burning herself as she grabbed the molten plastic feeders. I intervened as best as I could and tried to determine if she was burned or injured.

The apartment was filled with thick smoke but luckily the fire had not progressed. The burners were ruined from melted plastic and it smelled pungent from the burning plastic and birdseed.

I looked into the sink. She was so confused that she had confused the round bird feeder with a skillet and had cracked an egg or two into it to cook the egg. And then lay down next to me as the feeder began to burn.

She began to wail and cry in frustration and anger. I tried to calm her but she was wild with confused embarrassment. She laid on the floor half-naked, her robe barely covering her. She screamed and cried in bursts. I was scared for both of us and I wasn’t sure how far down the mental rabbit hole she might go. I have pictures of the mess and it evokes a lot of mixed feelings.

I spent an hour cleaning even as I tried to calm her down and console her.

I finally got her to lay down. The next morning, I changed out her burners with mine. And then went about the long process of cleaning.

Because she stayed in bed really late, hours past her normal waking time, a friend of hers had reached out to me asking if she was okay. I did the best I could to explain away everything and say that she was okay. I chose my words carefully. One of the things that had always stuck between us was that she insisted that our relationship be kept secret from her male friend. It was a huge red flag and I tried communicating repeatedly about it. It’s not her fault – it’s mine. Had I to do it over again, I would have said, “No” at the outset. Despite what she says in her narrative, I carefully navigated the line to let her friend know she was okay but had experienced a brutal night.

I don’t know how to characterize her mental state when she got up. But you can imagine… I had hoped it would be ‘the’ event to get her to stop drinking.

That was also the day she decided to do multiple hits of psychedelic mushrooms.

I was still confused and upset, and also nervous because of what had happened the night before.

Though she had promised me she would have no one else around when she did drugs, the allegedly concerned friend came over without invitation, another thing that she told him he couldn’t do. They proceeded to sit on the floor and cuddle and kiss while I was in the room, repeatedly telling each other how much they loved each other and what their friendship meant. She was deep into her mushroom hallucinations. It did not look like friendly cuddling though. At one point he lay on top of her as she lay on the floor. I had to tell her twice to close her robe because she was exposed.

As a result of the hours of laying on the floor, she had bruises all over her body.

Not only had I survived a near-miss with possible death due to the fire, but I had to witness what I consider to be a nervous breakdown exacerbated by alcohol and mushrooms. Adding insult to injury, I had to witness her being very inappropriate with a so-called friend. She and that friend had previous interactions, as well as interactions with his ex-wife. And although she had friendzoned him, it was obvious that he always wanted her and loved her. You can imagine that internal conflict inside me. Because the intimacy between her and I had come to a standstill, the hurt was amplified. I’d communicated my longing and needs multiple times, each time rebuffed. To see her behave that way with someone who obviously wanted her was beyond indescribable. She definitely did not cuddle with me like that, or tell me she loved me in that way. I tried to interact with her, but she pushed me away and made several hurtful comments ridiculing me. The friend also provided her with a mushroom supply.

Coming out of that confusing night and drug-filled day, the same friend reached out to me. I know that he already knew that she and I were together. Anyone would. Only she believed he didn’t really know. She on the other hand had insisted for months that our relationship be kept a secret from him. No matter how I explained the pain that caused me, she violently insisted. I asked her more than once to just tell him and sort the consequences. This confused me too because she too had been in a previous relationship where the other person was ashamed of her and demanded that she be kept a secret from his life. That evening, because the friend was hinting, I told him that of course, I had been with her all night.

The next day and for days later, even though I had been there for her and cleaned up the incredible mess, she was most focused on the fact that I had allegedly ruptured her demand that I do not say anything about our relationship to her friend. The friend’s possible reaction dwarfed being in a relationship with me.

She couldn’t understand that I had not planned it or the incredible circumstance she had put me under the night of the fire or the entire day with the mushrooms.

Much later, too late, I decided I could not tolerate her secrecy anymore and told her I’d had enough. All the months of me being communicative and honest and open with her had not worked. I should have said no to it all from the very beginning because all the red flags and warning signs were there. Secrecy is always a problem. And that kind of friendship with someone who wants you in that way was always an ongoing problem. It too was exacerbated by the fact that they were drinking buddies and his presence made it impossible for me to be around her when she wasn’t drinking. And it robbed me of conversations that we should have had together. It’s not her fault. It’s mine. I ignored my instincts and boundaries because I loved her and feared losing her and the loneliness that would ensue. I did have multiple conversations with her, trying to explain the hurt that she was causing by refusing to see it from my point of view. It’s okay to have friends, but not ones who spend their fantasy life imagining being with the person you love.

When she stopped drinking entirely, I think she understood the gravity of that night and what she put me through the next day.

I will never forget it.

Part of any relationship is the negotiation of boundaries between both people. I have learned the hard way. It is perfectly okay to have friends, but it is equally true that there has to be a discussion and acknowledgment when it’s not working. And to me the principal ingredient is secrecy. If the interactions are transparent and nothing is kept from the other, it’s healthy. I experienced something before myself that was similar. For 90% of the time, it was just friendly. If the relationship is working and there is physical intimacy between you and your partner those sorts of things almost never cause a major rift. But when one person is not being listened to and not getting what they need out of the relationship, the danger increases tenfold. Not getting the attention you want inevitably leads you to look for it elsewhere.

After the birdseed night, she wouldn’t let me be around him, and she continued to have him over and drink with him. I wasn’t allowed or invited. Anything above board and open would be okay, but to be excluded knowing how I felt was a red flag that I should not have ignored. Whether she sees it that way or not, she was more concerned about his feelings than mine.

My therapist had me write down a bunch of my stories and to see how they looked written out. Had they happened to another person, obviously I would have said that I was being disrespected and to get away until she changed her behavior.

People who knew me asked me why I was dormant some days, with both my blog and social media. I wrote three dozen entries, not with the intent of disparagement. Rather, to get my thoughts on paper and look at them like a third person. It’s a story of constantly asking for attention and affection. And yes, intimacy. Drinking was the third person between us. Her friend was the fourth.

The good thing that came out of it is that I flat out told her I was done explaining sharing my life with anyone I wanted to. And then I wasn’t going to explain or defend her insistence on secrecy.

Having a secret relationship is not privacy. Telling the other person he or she can’t talk to people about the ‘us’ should have been a deal-breaker for me early on. Factoring in that I couldn’t even be around him, much less have our relationship known to him, or discussed after he already knew, seems toxic to me now. She had stopped interacting on social media with me, too, and never publicly acknowledged me. Due to covid and her tendency to be a hermit, drink, and follow a hellacious sleep routine, we did not go out once as a couple.

That night she sat on the couch next to me and texted a previous interest nude pictures of herself, ones I had never seen, that about killed me. She angrily defended it until she stopped drinking. The person receiving the texts is one I had warned her about, and a person who everybody believed that the two of them had an affair. He is married. She also behaved inappropriately with him at work, something that really bewildered me, given how she angrily pretended she barely knew me under the same circumstances. She would die of shock if she knew that everybody knew that she had behaved that way with him. She drunkenly insisted that it didn’t mean anything and that it wasn’t sexual, even though they were beautiful nude pictures of her when she was younger and the language they were using was extremely graphic. She said they were pictures of her before so they couldn’t possibly be sexual. I had the same visceral reaction, in part because she was not being intimate with me for several weeks at that time. It is difficult to reconcile being physically starved while watching the person you want to be with be flirtatious most verbally and physically with other people, much less sexting while you are sitting right next to her and being ignored.

That she had shared stories of being with people she worked with reminded me that words and actions must align. Secrecy should have been my biggest red flag.

I asked her to let me see all those pictures four times. She said she would but never did. When she was angry with me, she insisted that she was going to text me all of them. She didn’t.

She also told me that there was a website out there that a few people had access to, pictures of her when she was younger and very sexual. I never got to see that either, even as other men out in the world had access to them. I can’t believe I tolerated that or that she thought such a repository of pictures and excluding me would be anything other than deeply hurtful. I’m not complaining that the pictures existed. I’m complaining that I wasn’t allowed to see them.

There is no shame in me admitting that her sexuality was explosive from the very beginning. It’s true that it was always while she was drinking. But I had never experienced anything like that. She told me crazy stories of her sexual past. She opened me up to new things. I of course did not begrudge her the past. My arrogance shielded me from realizing that I was just another person in the pattern, one with feelings who was about to learn what it feels like to be slowly starved of those things. And she did starve me. Both for what I call routine affection and physical intimacy. It was a terrible affliction to be in the best shape of my life and to want someone like that and be unable to express it.

I insisted she stopped drinking. And I also asked for more intimacy. She stopped drinking but couldn’t provide the hugs, the kind words, or her hands on me. I hated to give up asking. As it turns out I never got to be with her once when she wasn’t drinking. So I don’t know if her wild sexuality is really a part of her or a residual symptom of something else. I do know that she reeled me in with that wild sexuality. And then turned it off. She wouldn’t hear any compromises, no matter how serious or heartfelt they were on my part. I have a feeling she’s done this before. No one wants a relationship without physicality.

People become more uninhibited when they drink, but just like hypnosis, they don’t do or say things they don’t want to. They just become uninhibited about doing so.

Weeks after she stopped drinking, I found her friend has indeed come over and brought alcohol. She had some. It’s hard to believe that anyone who cared about her would expose her to drinking again. It’s not that he is a bad person – it’s his right to behave as he sees fit. He wasn’t the problem, not in the relationship sense. But to an extent he needs her to be the person she was before, for a variety of reasons. She maintains contact with people who bring discord and needless stress to her life, one that she needs to leave behind to be happy and satisfied.

When I wrote on social media about HSV2, she was not happy. I didn’t name or her or point fingers. I did it because I don’t like secrecy.

My part of the story is mine to tell, even if I do so without naming people or hurting them needlessly.

I tried to show her the normal attention of someone who appreciates her and life. Most of my efforts were treated as intrusions while she drank.

Our biggest problem other than her drinking was that she could not see that I was not exaggerating my need for love and affection. I was made to feel crazy and “extra” for wanting it. I wanted her to be happy and to have a normal relationship. She’s getting older. The old patterns won’t serve her anymore. I couldn’t continue having a life bereft of what most people would consider basic affection and intimacy.

I know this is a rambling, weird post. I’m tired of it mocking me in my draft file.

PSA Personal And True

Despite some of my missteps, I’m still not a fan of secrecy. It leads to all sorts of behavior, much of it counterproductive. I learned the hard way! Which seems to be the way I learn everything. I’m using the word “learn” very loosely here.

When I talked about anxiety and taking Lexapro, this social media platform restricted my account a few months ago. Given the content I see, I’m still perplexed by this.

I can only imagine what this post might trigger. It’s personal and honest. And maybe a little irreverent. I have a sense of humor about it, just as I do with everything else.

About 50-80% of adults have oral herpes (HSV), a virus that we usually know as cold sores. Another 16% have been diagnosed with HSV2, the kind that typically hits below the belt. Many more have it, as they are either asymptomatic or the symptoms aren’t apparent. There is no cure. Over time, most people tend to have fewer symptoms. Women in particular often have it without any visible signs given their anatomy.

I have HSV2. I recently used Everlywell at-home testing to confirm it again. It doesn’t usually have any serious medical complications. There are exceptions for some people.

Most of the people who have it don’t talk about it. That’s a problem for a lot of reasons. The principal consequence is that so many people don’t tell their potential partners. Additionally, most people don’t get tested for STDs, or even have their yearly blood tests for the spectrum of other possible diseases or illnesses. Testing for STDs is essential for sexually active adults. So many people have one without being aware. No one likes to imagine that a partner might be infected; either the potential partner knows or doesn’t. It’s on you to be proactive, no matter how phenomenal someone looks standing next to the fireplace while wearing a come-hither look in the dim light from the Bed, Bath, And Beyond candles on the mantle.

If you are wondering, you can get herpes of any kind even when you’re with someone who has no symptoms. Even if you are careful and use protection. Using contraception as an example, none is 100% effective. As I’ve personally learned, being ugly isn’t a guarantee, either. Someone will look at you with fire in their eyes. It’s one of the most complicated parts of being a human being. We superficially talk about it, of course, but few people are direct about how important this side of private life is. It’s possible to have a fulfilling life without sexual expression, but it’s one I couldn’t imagine. I can listen to only so much NPR.

If you have an STD, it is the least you can do to have an uncomfortable conversation with your partner before engaging in the horizontal mambo. Such discussions will likely be awkward. All important ones are. It’s possible to avoid transmission to a long-term partner. But it is equally valid to remember that nothing you do is 100% safe. Your libido will lead to a satisfying sex life if you’re lucky. Any potential partner worth having will be glad you took the time to allow them to make an informed choice. Giving someone an STD is the best example to prove why “it’s better to give than to receive” is problematic.

Suppose you want to test without the embarrassment of going to the doctor? In that case, you can use a service such as Everlywell to test yourself for all manner of medical conditions affordably, STDs included. It’s better to know the truth than to risk someone else’s health.

I know what you’re thinking. No matter how attractive someone is, they likely have something for you to worry about, not the least of which is bad credit and a penchant for being best friends with their exes. Hopefully, an STD won’t be an additional worry. If you haven’t had comprehensive blood testing and an STD test in a while, you owe it to yourself to do it.

You can get back to Chad or Suzanne afterward. Or Chad and Suzanne if that’s your thing. No judgment here.

Love, X

PS Yes, I will say anything on social media.
.

A Follow-Up on Miley

Yesterday, I posted on my blog about the Miley Cyrus cover of “Heart Of Glass.” I hadn’t seen the live video until then. Several people commented, and all who did so loved the song. Regardless, such things are subjective as hell. That’s okay. There are times when I can’t explain why some songs earworm their way into my head and others don’t.

I also mentioned that Miley’s performance was sensual. It was.

More importantly, it reminds me that people will always bring their own filters to anything shared, voiced, or written.

Even if they are wrongly stretching words to mean things they don’t.

Take the word ‘sensual,’ for instance; it is NOT a congruent synonym for ‘sexual.’ It CAN be used similarly. But when someone deliberately uses ‘sensual’ in context, it doesn’t signal that the reader should infer whatever meaning they wish to, especially with the intent to change the intended spirit of what’s said or written.

In the spirit of honesty, this performance is very provocative. But it is her voice that is the focal point of the song for me. The internet is full of much more revealing content, if that’s what I’m after. Her song, “Midnight Sky,” among others, is certainly more focused on sexuality. I love that song, too.

We see a lot more skin at swimming pools and beaches. And tv shows, in catalogs, at Walmart, in commercials, sporting events, and just about everywhere else.

While I’m not one to brazenly advocate provocative behavior, it’s none of my business when an artist chooses to do so. I can click away. But don’t fault me for saying that a particular song is sensual. Or sexual, either, if I had been making that argument.

My sexual proclivities aren’t something that I expound on in public, but I could. We are all humans with similar desires and behavior. There is no shame in saying someone is sensual, sexual, or beautiful. It’s an acknowledgment of our senses. Being 54 doesn’t detract from my human response.

The whole point of my previous post was to say that the song resonates with me powerfully.

Love, X

If You Can’t Shake The Can, You Can Always Shake The Skillet

“If you can’t shake the can, you can always shake the skillet.” – X

I resurrected this phrase of mine today for someone’s social media post. They referred to J-Lo and Adam Levine’s Super Bowl performance last year, implying that if they looked like J-Lo, they’d be out there shaking their tailfeathers too. It’s a bit ridiculous, given that the people involved are attractive and know how to smile. (Hint: it is the smile and enthusiasm that galvanizes other people’s attention. Turn the smile and enthusiasm toward another person and you have the only successful recipe for convincing someone you are interesting and interested.)

I’d also like to mention that it is a bit weird to think that they’d shake their tailfeathers like J-LO if they were as attractive. It would be the same act, except with the perception of desirability or a feast for the eyes. The act itself? The same. Their claim in some way that’s hard to pinpoint dismisses the observer’s ability to find a wide range of people to be attractive. If you think there is a single standard for beauty, you’re wrong. And if you think that people can’t look at your defects and find something worthwhile, you are doubly wrong. People forget that a defect is not a defect to everyone. Many men find J-Lo’s most notorious physical asset to be unattractive. As for Adam Levine, he is a beautiful man. But there’s a lot about him many women dislike. In both J-Lo’s and Adam’s cases, their wallets are beautiful too – which helps alleviate many of the issues with their appearance. That is exactly what a smile, attentive ear, and other subjective things bring to the table. There is no single standard.

The quote goes directly to the heart of using what you have.

For those with sublime inclinations, it also could be used as a way to say, “Show love through food.” Though food is a necessity that sustains us, anyone who doubts the intimacy of preparing food for someone you love is a fool. It is an expenditure of time and energy, resulting in the simple pleasure of enjoying the food you need to live. It is magic to take a mundane task and add a dose of love and appreciation to it. As you get older, you find yourself wondering if ALL the true moments are hidden in plain sight like this.

The reason I wrote the phrase originally was to remind people that all of us have our peculiar likes, dislikes, fetishes, and inexplicable things that ignite us. Bald? Big nose? Scars? Thin? Heavy? Big hands? Small hands? High voice? Low voice?

No matter what it is, someone appreciates it.

It bothers me when people forget that their familiarity with their own perceived defects blinds them to the fact that someone else might appreciate them – and especially their alleged defects or faults.

You shake the can, or you shake the skillet.

Use what you have. Pivot. Be enthusiastic about the ‘you’ that you bring to the world. That’s worth all the money in the world.

It is in the act of realizing that you bring something to the table that makes love, life, and happiness possible.

No matter who you are, you can shake your can or skillet.

And…

If you show attention and enthusiasm, most defects are rendered invisible.

Stop being in a rush to tell people you’re not attractive to someone – or a lot of people. You have no idea.

The Hollow Place

The hollow place isn’t a place at all, even though it occupies space.

It isn’t a metaphor for an empty heart, nor a simile for what’s missing.

It is a place of comfort, joy, and reckoning.

It’s free – and freeing.

It’s simultaneous mindfulness and mindlessness.

I can’t wait to meet you there.
.
.
.

.

.


Whether you read this as a metaphor or literally, it is your mind that gives it life and power. Almost all of our sexuality resides there.

The Picture (A Romance in 185 Words)

She did not turn to acknowledge that he was about to snap a photo of her, nor did she tilt her head in disapproval. If she turned toward him, he would assume she disapproved and not take the picture. Instead, she walked slowly toward the sunrise-lit curtains. The part of her life controlled by fear or self-doubt would stay behind her, even if she had to choose an “as if” to propel her.

He gifted her the ability to see herself as imperfectly perfect. In her previous life, she would have hidden herself, stepped behind a door, or refused to be in light sufficient to draw attention. Such refusals inevitably lead to apathy, the architect of so much unhappiness.

Today, though, she crawled from the unfamiliar bed and walked toward the balcony. She knew that the light shone around her in a gauzy corona, giving him an unvarnished view of her. Letting the sheet fall away, she turned toward him. She smiled, one born of genuine acceptance.

Instead of snapping another picture, he tossed the camera on the floor. The camera was no longer necessary. Confidence was its own illumination.