Why do I do what I do?

Tw: cishet sex, men, rough, boundaries

I just got back “home” (or whatever I have right now of it) from an online date. With a straight guy.

We had sexted before so we knew some about what each other was expecting, but it’s one thing to sext about being used and it’s another to not be sure where the line is in real life.

I wouldn’t have done this if I was doing okay emotionally. Sex with cis dudes is part self-flagellation. I won’t deny I was turned on, of course I was, but I was also at times in pain, and I didn’t come. And it was all fine until the last few seconds, when I told him to go more gently but he was so close he pushed on. I know what that was, that shit doesn’t get past me no matter how much we smoked before.

I knew that if I told a guy I wanted it a little rough, he would be rough with me; but in the fantasy he’s also gentle when he needs to be, he’s also focused on me. But he did less foreplay and more “warming me up”… maybe women are just way better at sex than men are, and the last 5 years has upped my standards of “doing it right”.

Sex with cis men is so different. I’m sure some decent ones are out there, but I found what I was looking for: a way to get off as self punishment, which I haven’t quite yet learned to evolve into something pleasurable. I haven’t quite learned how to play with boundaries without getting them crossed.

Cool. Got that out of my system.

Steering into the skid: overcoming trauma

Tw: sexuality, sex, sexual assault, dominance/submission, anxiety, r-pe, healing.

 

I haven’t had to process trauma that happened to me just before grad school, and all previous traumas, for 5 years. I retreated exclusively into the queer dating world in all its beauty and wonder, and loved it. But I feel as if I’ve been ignoring part of my identity out of fear, fear of not knowing my limits. I struggle with relationships and even friendships because I don’t know what my boundaries are; I don’t know when I want someone and when I need to use them/let them use me. I don’t think I can sort it out until I work through everything that happened to me since I began my journey into the sexual world at the ripe age of 17–or maybe even before that.

I’m feeling icky and triggered right now for two reasons. One was that date on Thursday night; the one where he massaged my shoulders a bit at a show and I left minutes later and started crying on the train. I’m still not okay, days later. I actually had to take my vest off and readjust my bra straps earlier, because of how they were weighing on my shoulders.

The other was that this man that I’d been texting explicitly with… turns out his girlfriend (whom I’d known about but he’d made it sound more casual/open than it was) lives with him. We were never going to meet up; I was hesitating before. The fantasy was better than the reality anyways. The fantasy was healing; the reality would likely be triggering. But this shattered the fantasy of a guy who would throw me around and use me on my terms, in safe play, let me give trust over to him… and suddenly I didn’t trust him. I’m not okay from that either.

A straight friend of mine and I had coffee yesterday, because I had to process all my icky feelings. But for all the shitty triggering that I’ve been experiencing I learned something big about myself: whereas I never thought I wanted this before, I find myself in desperate need of a (presumably cis straight male) partner I can trust to dominate me and work my boundaries with care. One who runs the risk of triggering me, but with whom I can build mutual respect.

This is apparently a common thing in survivors of assault: BDSM and kink are ways of building radical trust and reclaiming one’s body, crucial things for healing after trauma. There’s even a very healing experience in being the submissive. I’ve never ever been interested in anything remotely in this direction so I never realized this; now it seems painfully obvious.

It surprises me because nobody’s ever held me down and r-ped me. I’ve just been guilted and coerced and denied emotional comfort until I gave in. I found myself after my first sexual experience wishing he’d just gotten it over and r-ped me; I felt that worthless. The gentle touch can be triggering sometimes, because it can be dishonest; it’s not violence and it’s not cold distance, it’s a “nice guy” who is using his gentle touch to mask the true power of his desire and lack of respect for my needs, and if gentle touch becomes icky it’s hard to get close to another guy after that. So in my fantasy world, I get used and I get fucked and the other person has complete physical control but I am in complete psychological control over the situation. But they know my boundaries and my triggers and will turn it into play.

For the first time in a long time I’ve shattered another wall, and after talking with my straight friend about it I was finally able to feel positively about what I need from a partner, finally able to process it completely, able to explain what I need to get past everything.

I’m not discovering anything new here. This is an age-old game. But to me it’s brand spanking new. Do I trust someone else bigger and stronger and maybe even cis het male? Do I trust myself?

I’ve talked with a few more people and learned more about the psychology of kink and my boundaries and open communication than I have in all my 12 years of being sexually active. How are we not teaching open communication and knowing ourselves and being in tune with ourselves in sex ed?! What the fuck. And how are we not as a culture talking more about sexual play outside of a wink-wink context? Again, nothing new here that kinksters didn’t already know, but wow, have I ever been repressed.

And one last thing; this exploration of gender I’ve experienced, just like my early college weight gain, is an effort to protect myself. It’s a way to feel in touch with my masculinity and my strength and to distance myself from (and even punish myself for) the things that make me sexual. I struggle, still, to embrace my femme side, because it can feel like vulnerability.

Even as I’m working through the triggers of the last few days, I’m learning or at least trying to channel it by steering into the skid and exploring things one step at a time. It feels terrifying, but it feels like what I need. I will be safe and listen to my bodily reactions; I will learn my boundaries; I will know myself. Who knows; someday I might even feel empowered.

 

A bilemma

I’m so happy to be back “home” right now. Quotations necessary because I don’t have a home right now.

I’ve expanded my tindering to men and women, if only to explore all sides of me and maybe see what others see in me. Hence why I’m back tonight after my first date with a cis straight guy from Tinder, and hence why I dragged myself to the nearest queer bar to nurse a beer, hug myself to myself, reassure myself that I’m safe, and talk with an incredibly charming, much older butch.

The guy I met up with was easy going. I wasn’t not attracted to him. But by the end of the evening, when we were at a punk show and he was standing behind me rubbing my shoulders, I felt suddenly claustrophobic. I gave him a hug and told him to enjoy the rest of the show just before I bolted. On the train, I wanted to cry. I was shaking. I made it all the way to the queer bar and sat down with relief, nursing my $3 beer and letting the evening sink in. He hadn’t even kissed me; all he did was barely more than friends would do to one another.

I texted two friends about it, one of whom is monosexual and didn’t understand at all the need to explore other genders; and the other who tends toward the monosexual but gets it. I think a big part of biphobia in the queer world is just not understanding the ways in which experiencing different genders are inherently different experiences.

I don’t get it. Alright, some more context: I have been (very explicitly) texting another cis straight guy from Tinder. It gets me so hot and bothered that I sometimes have trouble concentrating on work. He asks me about my preferences, turns my individuality into something fun/cute/sexy, and makes me feel really validated. I, on the other hand, imagine myself relinquishing control, giving it up to someone else bigger and more masculine, and playing to my own strengths in a cishet context for the first time in my life (rather than trying to be someone else within that context). I wish I weren’t into it, but I am. I wish it were about dating someone, but it’s not: he’s got no redeeming qualities. We’re supposed to meet up in a few days, quite honestly just to have sex. I’m not sure yet if I’ll go through with it. It makes me feel really dirty and guilty, especially as someone who identifies as a queer woman, to talk about hooking up with someone so overtly heteronormative; but at the same time undeniably excited. In immersing myself in queerness, cisheteronormativity has become taboo. In discovering sex that respects others’ bodies, being used on my terms feels like a way to reclaim my own body from other peoples’ terms.

Why is it that one guy rubbing my shoulders is more invasive than another guy sexting me? What will happen should guy number 2 and I actually meet? (I predict I will be into it, and then run outside to cry soon after.)

Where does that leave my sexuality, that I can date women but I can’t date men but that I want to sleep with men but also the thought of a man’s hands on me makes me want to curl up in a tight ball, retreat into a shell, and never emerge?

Do I really think that hooking up with, or even just getting a shoulder rub from, a man would be simpler than hooking up with other genders?

What are my wants and needs?

Holy shit. I’m part of the problem. I got invited to play Puerto Rico with some friends of friends (distancing myself now). The game entails guess what, literally colonizing the island of PR, via various acquisitions of resources and building of markets and trading houses and resource storage (as if the island is completely wild and NOBODY was living there before). Also you’re supposed to activate the resources you get by amassing colonists, which are LITTLE BROWN CHIPS. I’m part of the problem because I played through, though making it clear I would never play it again. It’s a well thought out game but very un-woke. Just… don’t buy this game. Don’t give your money to this bullshit.

———————————————

My wants and needs. What are they? I have to almost switch modes from doing something technical to exploring my needs; distractions in daily life seep into the cracks of my thesis, freeze there, and threaten to splinter the whole thing. I still wonder if I should have delayed applying and given myself a few years to know myself better. It would have made me a better scientist.

I went on Tinder, created a super chill profile that misled people into thinking I was a super chill person, and reeled in a few. One person I started hanging out with is going through their own breakup, so we were of course a great match to process feelings together. They had a picture of themselves smiling, they were masculine of center, they were not skinny, they had beautiful curls. So of course I’ve taken to processing feelings about exes with the first queer friend I’ve made in a while, with whom I definitely wish I could make out with.

For one tho, they definitely don’t seem to go for my type or send flirty vibes. For another, I’m just looking for a rebound and I’d hate to ruin another queer friendship with dating. I am drifting not really living in one place and my ex didn’t really wanna have sex toward the end (at least, not with me…) and I need something comforting and validating.

I want this and other friendships. But I also would like to supplement that with a thing that fills the void left by all the other shit. I miss being held. I miss making out. I miss touching skin and being touched back.

And for that I need to remember to have a work life balance, to fill my mind with my graduation strategy and my publication strategy and bigger goals that remind me that I’m more than my body.

Whew.

With 20 minutes to kill before my already-postponed Tinder date, I got another text. “Can we push it back another 30-45? Got caught up at work.” Feeling relief, I suggested putting it off to another day. I sat down on a bench in a tiny park wedged between three roads, listening to the traffic. My shoulders sighed with relief, tired of carting around my deodorant, tooth brush, computer, back-up underwear and t-shirt, book, and all my chargers. I have time to spare for the first time all week. Free time is unpleasant these days.

My ex had called me the night before, needing to talk to someone after a draining fight with her family. I stupidly felt the need to comfort her etc etc, fell asleep there. The next morning I cleaned the apt a little, got my stuff in order, talked with her a bit, then I headed out. It took me until 6 hours later, sitting on that park bench, to let the full weight of her telling me she fucked someone else to hit me. After she’d told me she wasn’t that sexual of a person, (even though she cheated on me and fucked someone like less than a month after breaking up w me) to get out of sleeping with me for the last like month and a half of our relationship, instead of just telling me she wasn’t into me anymore. She seems perfectly capable of being sexual with everyone else. Just tell me you need me more than you love me, so I don’t feel like a repulsive fucking human being.

That’s who I’m living with right now. A person who needs me but doesn’t want me. I fell for it.

I texted my friend asking for a place to crash.

So there I was sitting on a bench, with my change of clothes and all my toiletries in my bag, plus everything I need to go to work, wondering if I had time to go home before hanging out w friends for movie night.

But then I realized who I was and where I was and who was living in the place I’m paying for; I don’t have a home right now. I teared up like the pathetic little shit I was, waiting for my friend to get back to me.

I don’t think I’ve been loving myself enough.

I’m not tired anymore.

I’m energized. Two great things happened:

1) I went to DC to talk science policy and rub shoulders with other policy wonks. I was the overeager young grad student, but I met a lot of great people and networked effectively for the first time. Still no job prospects, but lots of potentially useful contacts, and I have a year to get jobbing. The meeting highlighted the grim outlook for federally-funded science; but, at the very least, I’m inspired careerwise.

2) My girlfriend and I broke up. We are still living together, but we will save money and are getting along better than we have in a while. It’ll get complicated no doubt if/when we date other people, but thus far it has been a huge relief. I have places to stay too so I’m not here every night.

3) Financially I’ll be okay, thanks to a small bailout from my parents. Apparently not enough of my taxes are being withheld, leaving me in the position of owing over $1000 and I’m not sure why because I’m at 0 allowances. I hope never to need a bailout again, but feel really fortunate that they were there for me.

The sun is out; this will all end up just fine.

I’m tired

On gender and sexuality

I thought dating women would fix everything. I felt pain and numbness and I never want to touch a man again. I grew weary of the costume and the fakery and not knowing my attractions. I think I blamed myself for a long time for not knowing my own attractions, for not being in touch with my sexuality. And then the bubble burst when I felt for women. And I thought I’d replace the detachment men exude with something deeper and more meaningful. I thought I’d experience connection for the first time. I didn’t think about the trauma inherent in womanhood and how difficult it is to have two people broken in the same way in a relationship. That balance can be hard to come by.

And I certainly didn’t think I’d ever experience emotional trauma again. I’m just so broken right now. I detach a lot from stuff going on around me, and probably have been for a long time. And as a result I hurt others and I can’t process my own pain. My life is not my own and I just detach to deal with that.

Dont get me wrong. Transition is absolutely the right choice for many. I need that disclaimer before I say I t would not be for me. I’ve gone back and forth about gender and overall don’t identify strongly with femalehood even stripped of its stereotypes. But it would be a mistake for me not to realize that I do desperately want to escape my lot in life, that getting a new stronger body is incredibly tempting. It would be a mistake for me to fail to realize that my self would follow me to wherever I transition to, that I can’t divorce this body from this mind no matter what I do to it. That muscle will not protect my tender spots. That changing myself will be a lot harder than that. I want to run from it but it would be a mistake.

It would be a mistake of me not to take ownership for my own situation. I can’t face my therapist because I’m ashamed of my current situation. I keep wanting to show that I am doing better, but I can’t when my life is not my own, and when I’m too embarrassed to explain myself.

That’s it. I’m tired. I’m trying to pull through and get out whatever way I can… we’ll just have to see what way that will be.

Im on my way to a science and tech policy meeting right now and I am hoping to death I love it and meet people and make steps in my career; otherwise I’m not sure if I will keep this grad school charade going much longer. So much is riding on this… keeping my fingers crossed for a bright future.

I’m tired.