Category Archives: Journal/Blogging

The experience of journaling and blogging. Updates and corrections will be under this category.

SexEd Tales: Self-Sabotage, Deservingness and Success

This week I’ve been a very busy sex educator, but not a terribly prepared one.  This always happens. I get word that I’ll be presenting. I have plenty of time to prepare. But I leave it until the last minute to get my notes together and to prepare a loose outline of what I want to cover. Then throw in packing, finishing up the taxes, my period and a heap of work pressure and I’m pretty primed to be stressed by the time I arrive at the hotel tomorrow and fully drained by Sunday.

This is how I sabotage myself and drive my perfectionism into overdrive mode. It’s a vicious and ugly cycle that keeps me running from one extreme to another. I spend most of my time so amped up and I don’t know what to do with myself when it’s calm. My stress, my guilt, this ugly pattern of high powered ambition matched with crippling fear of failure. Eventually, I stack so much on myself that I’m not fully present either as a partner or a presenter. 

It’s just another way to make myself undeserving. My procrastination, my addiction to stress hormones, my anxiety and perfectionism, my insecurities are the manifestations of my fear that I am just not deserving of the success I want in this arena.  Because…

If I’m successful, I have to show up.

If I’m successful, I’m responsible for being present within that recognition.  

If I’m successful, I have to own it.

When I’m not successful I can avoid it–the responsibilty, the ownership, the risk, and the reward. But that avoidance, the wallowing in the seeming inevitability of failure, is what invites my inner shrew to take up residence and keep me stuck exactly where I am.

The shrill call of the inner shrew

I hate that term in general, but it’s the voice that lurks within all of us that tells us we’re not good enough. “No one is going to listen to you”. “You’re not an ‘expert’ and everyone will see you’re a fraud”. “If you’re not 100% careful, you will get disbarred.” It really never stops. That self-talk that says I’m not good enough or smart enough or gosh darn it, nobody likes me. It’s a relentless critical nagging in the back of my head. 

This voice is at its strongest whenever I’m at my weakest. When I’m worn down by stress and anxiety already present in my life, it’s easier for that voice to beat my psyche to a bloody pulp with all its accusations, suppositions and assumptions. So highly critical of my own success, that voice gives me excuses to sabotage myself at every turn. To stay stuck where it’s safe.

Risk and reward

Why risk defeat when you could just stay safe?


Self-doubt accumulates and builds over time. It starts as just a slow drip. An occasional stray thought that goes through your head sounding plausible and rational and then it dissipates. But then the next drop falls and the next, each dissipating more slowly, like each new doubt gains power from the one before it. If I’m not careful, I’ll go from the very reasonable “You really need to double check those stats before the conference” to “Everyone is going to hate you and they’re never going to invite you back and you’ll never date again and die without ever feelings NRE ever again.” 

I can go from a drop to deluge to  drowning in 10 minutes flat.

As a sex educator, I talk a LOT about self-care. It’s a tool in dealing with the inevitable fuck-ups you’ll encounter along the way. We all make mistakes and have bad experiences in our relationships and sexual expression. Self-care is a great tool to recover and get yourself back out there again. 

But it’s just as much about recovering from the moments where our own inner shrew seems hellbent on beating us down, especially in our thoughts and fears about our intimate relationships. She’ll criticize us for needing care. She’ll belittle our attempts to ask for what we need because she’ll convince us that we’re not deserving. She’ll wrap us in indecision and fear of rejection, causing us to stay silent about boundaries or unmet needs.  She’ll convince us that we’re not smart, or pretty, or fun enough to be loved. 

We steal our hope to protect us from success

It wasn’t until last night that I realized how insidious my own relationship with this voice is. My son was having trouble sleeping before a big day of testing. He was putting so much pressure on himself to succeed, to force himself to perform even if he was already giving his best. It was making him sick with worry and fear.

This is the curse of my family — growing up Latino, I was taught I had to prove myself by giving 110% all the time, every day.  It was ingrained in my upbringing, rewarded but not always recognized. Stopping for something as silly as self-care was a luxury and indulgent. Vacations were few and far between. And don’t even get me started on massages, manicures or parties. The point was drilled into me, not just by my Mexican family but by the Catholic Church, that I am not worthy and nothing I could ever do will make me worthy in the eyes of either the mainstream or the divine.

What a depressing and utterly exhausting way to live. So undeserving I felt I was that I purposely threw some of my tests in high school just so others would get awards and not me. I don’t like the spotlight in general, but recognition was far beyond the scope of what I could hope for or want for myself. I just didn’t deserve such accolades. That voice told me that I had to be perfect in all things before I could be entitled to any rest.

To see that reflected in my son–beating himself up in the same sick way I’ve done it to myself, it really hit home.

It’s time to Tame the Shrew

Taming of the Shrew

Kiss Me Kate was one of my favorite musicals growing up. It doesn’t help that I was equally in love with Howard Keel & Ann Miller. Too darn hot!


Recently, I’ve had some remarkable experiences where I’ve had to accept that maybe, just maybe I’m deserving of my own success–if I would stop standing in my own way long enough to receive it. I’ve had to start coming to terms with the fact that it’s not the voice that is my problem, it’s the fact I keep listening to the voice and allowing it to lure me away from what I want to achieve. I have been giving my power away to a liar and the thief of my joy.
Back to the context of my current situation: I am 2 days away from a weekend of presentations, connections, debates, potentials, emotional enlightenment and not a small amount of consternation with my family about missing Easter dinner.

Freedom of Choice is my best method to taming this voice. I get to choose what I want for my life. I don’t have to be subject to the fears and victimization that this voice tries to impose.  I can choose how to prepare myself and own that choice no matter what the outcome. Should I choose to prioritize self-care over researching that one last statistic, so be it. Own it. Should I choose to write an outline for the Poly Political Agenda but skip doing one for the self-care workshop, so be it. Own it. Should I choose to prioritize a hotel weekend with Warrior and Blush over mingling with new couples, so be it. This is my choice and I own it.

By keeping myself locked up in fear all the time all I do is make it harder for me to achieve the successes that I want. I allow my procrastination to accumulate, the self-doubt dripping down from on high to make it excusably sloppy so that I will never know what it feels like to truly shine in my element. But if I want to be the woman I have always wanted to be, I have to step into that right now and choose to live my life in such a way it drowns out the voice of that indidious, traitorous shrew. 

It’s time for me to rule my life as the Queen.

Long Live the Queen. Choosing to live my life louder and bigger than my critics.


 

 

Origin Story: How we became polyamorous (Part 1)

Everyone comes at polyamory from their own background and series of choices. For some, it’s their “cure” to cheating. For others, it’s a slow slide away from swinging and into more romantic partnerships with others. Others start it out as an experiment with fantasies until suddenly you can’t imagine what your life would look like without sharing it openly with others. And whether I’m talking about my personal origin — how I, personally, knew I was poly–or how my Husband and I came to open up our marriage, these are the fundamentals of what led us to where we are now.

While ultimately the decision was made on a Wednesday in July 2004, right before a Sarah McLaughlan concert, there were a series of events and conditions that led us to that decision. Here’s a look back at the major components that led to our polyamory story.

We are individuals who choose to share our lives together

I’ve known Husband-Writer since 1996 when we went on a musical tour of Europe together. He was a musician and writer with a generous soul and a sharp wit. We got to know each other very well on that tour and he quickly endeared himself to me by being in my life. Our love is based on the friendship we developed at the time, the rapport that was built on a shared sense of humor and a passionate love of expression.

Read the rest of this entry

My Sex Educator CV

I’ve spent a lot of energy resisting the idea that I’m a sex educator in part because I always felt like I don’t fit the image I’ve grown accustomed to: beautiful, flirty, fun, with an elusive effervescence and trendy style. The person who oozes sex with their every word and who can immediately name the different qualities of lube in a dizzying display of scientific sexiness. I don’t own a pussy puppet and am not sure what I would do with it if I did. I don’t teach “how to” be sexy; I help you remember “why” you already are sexy. I can’t tell you how to make your girlfriend have a mind-blowing orgasm; I can tell you how to talk to each other about it with graceful vulnerability.

I’ve been poly for a long time — 13 years. And I’ve been kinky way longer than that. I’ve been public speaking since 4th grade when I went to Space Camp. I’ve taught numerous classes including to law enforcement and other attorneys about poly & BDSM and how to identify nuanced consent and differentiate it from abuse. Yet somehow I don’t feel like I’m qualified to call myself a sex educator.

I haven’t written books or published articles or received awards. I haven’t changed lives with my message or gotten hundreds of thousands of followers. I’m not popular. I’m not credentialed (other than as an attorney and no, I won’t give you legal advice). I’m not a researcher. I don’t hold a bevy of statistics in my head. And yeah, I’ve done presentations and given talks, but most of that has been local and not national.

There’s also a lot of Imposter Syndrome talking here.

Over the next thirty days, I will be giving four different talks about sexuality or sexually related topics. Tocday, I am a guest lecturer at a local community college for a human sexuality class — essentially debunking myths about BDSM and polyamory. Then, in two weeks I will be presenting at Rocky Mountain Poly Living (“Extending Empathy” and “Poly Political Agenda”). Then the week after that I’m leading a discussion at StarFest about Intergalactic Influences on Love and Sexuality (Sci-fi and Fantasy’s influences on our own sexual development and experiences with love).

It’s a busy, whirlwind of activity and the likelihood of my anxiety making a nasty return is very, very high. And while self-care is certainly necessary, I always do better when I can talk it out. Both husbands are asleep — so allow me to use this space right here to remind myself — 

My Sex educator super power is just being me. Photo by Anthony Graham of Broken Glass Photography (Colo Springs, CO)

I am a sex educator and I am qualified because:

I know my own experience. I know how to call out shitty experiences. I know what it feels like when you don’t call out a shitty experience and swallow disappointment and discouragement.

I know what it feels like to gather up the courage to ask someone out and to be rejected (oh fuck, I know that one well).

I have met and loved (and lost) soul mates.

I have encountered submission as a spiritual transformation and inched my way closer to deeper dominance. And love the romanticism of vanilla sex as well.

I have been publicly shamed and outed. I’ve been unemployed as a result of how I identify and the perverse assumptions that people make as a result.

I’ve grieved for the loss of my sensuality and triumphed over its return. Over and over again.

I have been sexually assaulted in both the vanilla and sex positive worlds and have healed by sharing my stories and connecting with others who need to hear they’re not crazy or alone.

I have seduced and loved many impossible people–people who felt they were unlovable, people with outward importance who needed an inward experience, people far more beautiful, popular or genuine than me.

I have slept with more men than women, but can tell you what it’s like to fall in love with both.

I have walk-of-shamed my way down lonely Chicago streets and given my sex as comfort to the broken-hearted.

I’ve been a wife and a mother and had difficulty with balancing the expectations of both roles.

I have been a sexual healer, a divine mistress, a wanton whore and a demure princess in one night.

I have walked this earth as an intelligent, passionate and spiritual woman. I am femme and geek and Chicana and fucking brilliant when I choose to be. I am curvy and vulnerable and maternal but I’m not your Mommy. I am the laughter of seduction and the mediator of souls.

How can I possibly be an imposter?

By sharing lessons through my own vulnerability and experience, my learning and mistakes, I serve as a companion on the journey.  By weaving stories of empathetic experience, I aim to illustrate the patterns of our own truth and experience. This is both who I am and who I want to be. That is the most real and authentic me I can offer–my own lessons and experience and knowledge and outlook.

That is the most real and authentic me I can offer–my own lessons and experience and knowledge and outlook.

And for some, that is exactly what they need.

 

 

 

Intro: Origin Story Series

Part of a series of posts in which I revisit my past, look on my origin story with new eyes. Draw lessons, revisit fond memories. Could be any of the people, places or choices that have influenced me over the years and shaped me into who I am now. 

Nostalgia is fun. 

For the years that I’ve been attending conferences and giving presentations, I’ve been asked the same types of questions: How did you know you were poly? How did you become kinky? What made you realize you were bisexual?  Maybe it’s the geek in me, but I think we’re acculturated to crave origin stories. Adam & Eve. Batman Begins. We want to know where our heroes come from. We want to know their backstory. We’re dissatisfied as audiences if we lack context for the image in front of us. Sometimes, the more unattainable, the better.

It’s a way for us to keep ourselves detached from our dreams and ideals. A ready excuse for why we’re not exceptional. Why we’re never going to attain our dreams.  When I go back to my hometown, for example, I’m told “of course, you’re polyamorous. The rules don’t apply to you.” They don’t because I chose for them not to. The rules don’t apply to me because I took a chance on being authentic and making hard decisions for myself and defining my own rules. It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t without its consequences, but I am not fundamentally special in this ability. If i can, you can. 

And so in this series, I’ll be talking about my own origin stories. Maybe it will be my Catholic upbringing. My calling. My bisexuality. My awareness of polyamory.  Maybe some of them will be short little statements or photos. Maybe some will be entire chapters of insight and story. Most of them biased by hindsight. All of them a true reflection of who I am. 

I look forward to sharing my stories with you. 

Suggestions for future topics?

New Categories (Blog Maintenance)

Going through and changing the categories of all these felt like a hopeless task since a) the blog has gone through a LOT of purposeful changes since I started it so many years ago and b) it was a little painful and embarrassing that I haven’t been more dedicated to the role of this blog.

But since my posts get broadcast to 1200+ people on Twitter at least, I figured it was time to get this rolling and start getting serious about what I want to discuss here. So for those that were keeping track here are some other changes:

  • Some posts that are more personal or meant for a smaller audience are being moved to the Private category
  • Sub-categories are a thing now
  • Manifesto posts have been transitioned to The Queen category – it’s not just about a plan of action for my life, it’s about stepping into the role I want to live in. Each of the sub-categories represents aspects of the Queen – other archetypes that are also a part of me.
  • I haven’t messed too much with content–yet. I’m a strong believer in preserving the past, no matter how embarrassing, but some posts need to be retooled.

It’s actually been eye opening to gain insight into my patterns of blogging. Giving me ideas for the future.

Day 2: #bodposfeb – Take a selfie 

Selfies aren’t hard for me. I take them and post them often enough that some of you will think that this is just a normal day for me.

But what I don’t do is show my unedited side. I don’t show the frowns or the tears or the less polished aspects of myself for a camera. I brag that I’m authentic and real, but there is convincing evidence that I’m not always showing my full self. Part of that is my tendency to play the people pleaser, to feel like I need to be “on” all the time. How many selfies have I not posted because of some critical eye I have toward how I look or how I feel about those looks?

I can’t look objectively at my self. The loathing I have for my imperfections is deeper than I admit sometimes. I string along facsimiles of confidence hoping that it will cover for the deeper insecurities I have about my size, my uneven eyes, my flat hair, my giant nose, my freckles, my scars. But those insecurities cover up the darker corners of self-worth where the wounds of adolescence and childhood reside.  The ones that were taught to be pleasing to everyone, to give them what they want even if it isn’t what I feel.

Shit, I’m delving into rape culture territory here–a burden most women shoulder without even thinking. Performing for the approval of others has been a big way I can fake self-worth and hide from the harsh criticisms of others.

But if I really want to be radical and sincere in my personal changes, I need to show myself in the moment. How I actually feel. How I actually present in the world. Unadorned, unedited, undeterred.

So for today’s challenge I give you an imperfect selfie. Fucking hard for me to post. The imperfection of my face, my body, my lack of great curves, my disproportionate structure–gah! It just gets to me. But I promised–so here you go. Unedited, no filters and only a tiny bit of cropping. 


Now that I look at it, it looks like all the rest of my photos–maybe it appeals to you and maybe it doesn’t.But this is 1030pm me: waiting for Warrior in the bedroom.

This is the me that is recovering from an acute PTSD episode that has had me on edge and loopy the past two days.
This is the me that has burned out and is in need of replenishment.

This is the me that is disappointed and hurt that my love isn’t reciprocated by the people I actually want to pursue.

This is the me that is fed up with giving the emotional labor to people who can’t be bothered to learn me and truly be there for me.

This is the me ashamed I don’t make more time for dating; and the me that is determined to not need anyone in my life.

This is the me of this moment. And maybe, right now, I just need my own acceptance and love.

#bodposfeb

Here I go again: getting ambitious with a writing project. And this time it is a daily challenge during February. 

Write about why you want to do this challenge: 

As I am getting back into being more actively, rather than passively, polyamorous I find myself hitting against a lot of dark edges of my core self. The part of me that finds myself undeserving of attention or recognition or care or love or admiration or…or…  it’s fucking exhausting always passing up opportunities because I don’t find myself deserving of keeping them. I do this with the people in my life. I do this with my work. I do this with my own abundance. 

Maybe it’s about healing the Catholic in me. Or the Mexican in me. Or the genuine overachiever in me. But this is my core work. And my commitment is to shining some light in this awful pattern of mine and healing it from within. 

That is the only way to make my dreams and visions come true. This is the hard work and it starts here. 

The Expectations of Performance in Public Spaces 

I woke up feeling heartsick today. Not only did I sleep in beyond what I’m comfortable with–10:30 am–I had bad dreams. Dreams of isolation and emergency. Moving a family out of my home and to safety, avoiding cameras and such along the way so they couldn’t be tracked. These dreams are typical for me…often I’m in a position to protect others, to usher them to something better. But today it just felt different.

It felt like there was this expectation. “This is what you do, Janet, so you better perform as expected.”  It’s an icky feeling actually. What if I don’t feel capable today? What if I have other priorities or responsibilities? What if I get it wrong or don’t do well enough? What if I fail?

img_9541

Via TheCooperReview.com

My entire life has been dictated by this requirement of established public performance. I am plagued by being a people pleaser–if it will make others happy I will jump into action before thinking of the impact it has on myself. If people -need- me to do something I will sacrifice myself and my own needs to accomplish it.

This is a chronic problem with me. Constantly pushing past my own boundaries, or worse not even recognizing my own boundaries, in order to please others.

Read the rest of this entry

Worst days don’t happen to me 

Something snapped today.

I have known for a while that I might break. I’ve been wound too tight for too long without much opportunity for relief. And I know what you’re thinking: sexual relief *giggle*. And while I will get to that in a minute, I mean some actual soul-level relief.

I work in a highly stressful job. Stressful and immensely rewarding. Intuitively it seems like it should balance out, but it really doesn’t. There is a price to be paid for being positive and hopeful and optimistic in the face of overwhelming disparity, trauma, and hardship. And I have been paying that price for much longer than I’ve had this job.

It won’t surprise you that I care about caring. I care about virtually everyone I meet. A kid walking down the hallway who trips over his shoelaces–I care about him. An old friend from HS who is having marriage problems–I care about her. A celebrity’s family after a tragic accident or loss–I care about them. I don’t know these people, but I expend heart energy for them. My personal avatar should be a Care Bear.

Read the rest of this entry

Dusk 

Tonight is about my truth. My whole self out on display, unedited and unfiltered (let’s call it mildly filtered to be safe). This is the part where I start writing and don’t look back.

It feels like fall here these past couple of days. Cool thunderstorms and mild nights. The sounds of crickets during dusk reminds me of growing up in Pueblo. Nights like this were state fair nights, where I could hear the sounds of the midway join with the crank and bounce of low riders up ass up into the air. We lived half a mile away, so the sounds would keep me up at night just like Christmas. We would walk to the corner at starlight and watch the fireworks that would go off at the end of the rodeo. The whole block would watch. And I’d hear the crickets chirp between the bangs of launching rockets. 
It meant summer was over. 
And what a summer this has been. National tragedies like Orlando and the shooting deaths of black men by the men in blue sworn to protect them. In a year already punctuated by the deaths of our heroes and fallen comrades in authenticity, we are at a turning point. Where we go from here will matter so much more. 


Tonight I am sitting on the back step inside the house. Smoking and drinking a glass of wine. My wine cup is stupidly simple because it’s sturdy and makes me feel luxurious in a down-home, could-give-a-fuck way. I picked 4 of these up at Ross or something for like $2 each. But I love it. It’s corny and vintage and it’s all mine. 

I really like the idea that things belong to me. Help define me. Are a part of my identity. So why do I choose polyamory? Because it’s more like a feeling that this person belongs in my life not that they are possessions that I hoard. They contribute to who I am. They have a thread of importance that stays with me throughout my life. That pieces of us will always reside in each other. 
Even when that hurts like hell. 

I’m exchanging messages with Husband about what kind of pizza he wants. I’ve given up on cooking today. I had a kid therapy appointment and an EMDR session for myself. Hence the smoking. And the wine, I guess. 

All the while I’m deciding not to worry that my menstrual cycle is off or address the jealousy I feel at the birth of a friend’s baby. I’m a monster, I know. But I put off hanging another baby until I “addressed my health issues” and with my youngest now 12 years old I feel like I missed my chance. 
My cat, Starbuck (or her psuedonym: Princess Fuzzy) is peeing in her box right next to me. It’s disgusting and oddly cute because of how much she trusts me. I don’t sleep well without her nearby me, so I guess you could say I trust her too.
The boys (Husband, Warrior and DistractaMonkey) are watching the Major League Lacrosse championships. I stepped away because I found myself yellin at the tv and fuck me, I’m not one of those moms. 

So, I smoke, write on my tiny screen, and drink. And think about all the ways in which I am totally not ever going to turn into my mom. 

 

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