Category Archives: Real Life

The more mundane, emotional and parts of me visible in my real life: professional – mother – wife – daughter

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Body Positive Catch-up time: Days 9-11 (#bodposfeb)

Yep, because I can’t always find time in my day to write and because the shit show of the news has captured most of my available attention span, I haven’t kept up with body positive February posts. Not that you were necessarily keeping track, but here’s my attempt to get caught up. These are somewhat big assignments, so I can only break it down into a few days at a time per post:

Day 9: Express appreciation for a source of support in your life.

It would impossible for me to narrow in on just one person in my life, or just one source of support in my life. I could talk forever about the gratitude and appreciation I feel for the sources of support I have access to in my life, especially my husbands and my family. But I thought I might highlight a few people who don’t get the praise and recognition that they deserve. Here are a few highlights.

  • For Blush – To say she’s my girlfriend would be inaccurate unless you also include the fact that she’s the closest I come to having a true best friend in my life. She is the earthy, airy equivalent to my intense fire and watery adaptability. We have similar tendencies, similar callings, similar structures in our relationships. But offer each other a non-judgmental place to vent and work through problems as well as a place to obtain release without the strings of expectation or over-attachment. I love her feedback in my life and love the safe space she provides always.
  • For S – To say that I look forward to his emails, to his manner of prose and his confessions of the challenges he faces in his life would be an understatement. He has an ability to see into my heart whenever I write and to pull out the main points much better than anyone else. He’s a writer, teacher and lover, and his messages never fail to lift my spirits, touch my soul. He “sees” me and that is one of the most powerful ways to support me in my life.
  • For Chris (PA) –  Well, there are two Chris’ in PA in my life, but if I were a goddess, this one would be the high priest of my temple. In fact, a lot of out interactions these days focus on me building my temple. He offers such unconditional support. When I’m feeling down, he’s there to remind me who I really am. When I face hardship or a loss of faith in the process, the system or my own fate, he is there to remind me that I am building something grand in my life, something worthy that only those who are equally worthy can witness. He promotes my spirit without making me entirely inaccessible on a pedestal. He guards my soul.

Day 10: Share a song, poem, book, movie or TV show that helps you feel body positive.

There are two of them. I always listen to these songs back to back in this order:

English translation of the lyrics:

Lyrics for Soy Yo by Bomba Estéreo has been translated in 2 languages

I fell down, I stood up, I walked, I rose up
I went against the stream and I also got lost
I failed, found myself, I lived it and I learnt
When you fall harder, the deeper the beat

I keep dancing and writing my lyrics.
I keep singing with all the doors open
Going through all these lands and you don’t have to travel so far to find the answer

and don’t you worry if they don’t approve you, when they criticize you, just say
That’s me That’s me That’s That’s That’s That’s That’s
That’s me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me

I keep on walking, keep on laughing
I do whatever I want or die trying
Nobody cares what I’m doing, the only thing that matters is what’s on the inside
I like to be on the sand, bathing on the sea without a reason without a care
To sit down doing nothing, looking far away and being relaxed

and don’t you worry if they don’t approve you, when they criticize you, just say
That’s me That’s me That’s That’s That’s That’s That’s
It’s me me me me me me me me

I’m like this I’m like this I’m like this
Relaxed
and you don’t even know me
So relaxed
I’m like this I’m like this I’m like this
Relaxed

and you don’t even know me
You know what I mean
You know what I mean
Relaxed
So relaxed
Relaxed
So relaxed
and don’t you worry if they don’t approve you, when they criticize you, just say
That’s me That’s me That’s That’s That’s That’s That’s
That’s me me me me me me me me
Yes, That’s me


Oh holy shit. This was a hard one to do, partly because crawling into the brain of my past selves is an exercise in confronting many of the same insecurities I feel today. I am in tears at a coffee shop writing this…But I suppose that’s the point, isn’t it?

So, here we go:

Dear Janet, 

At this point in your life, Spring 2004, you gave birth a few months ago to your amazing and wonderful little boy. You carried a life inside you, have been nurturing him to grow into a healthy and happy little boy. And you are impatient to finally act on all the return of your sexual energy. And you’re starting to delve into the world of polyamory, one salacious LiveJournal post at a time. 

For the time being, you are keeping your inklings secret from your husband because you don’t want to hurt him, you don’t want him to feel like he isn’t enough. You remember being good at seduction and by this time in your life, you’ve decided to take a few tenuous steps toward exploring multiple partners and satisfying a voracious and vivacious sexual appetite. But because you have not yet found your local communities to create a safe space for this exploration, you are talking to people on Yahoo messenger who are more invested in the thrill of the illicit conquest than being a caring partner in your journey. But remember this: 

YOU ARE NO ONE’S CONQUEST

You just met with a guy who we’ll call Mitch. A professional cheater. He meets you close to the office and you give him a blowjob in his Mercedes. When you meet with him again, he asks you to hike up your skirt so he can see more of you (since we’re just before the days of sending digital photos). 

A moment of truth for you. No one but Husband has seen you naked since you gave birth. A birth that took a severe toll on your body. Stretch marks. Weight gain of 60+ lbs that no matter what you to try to strengthen your core you just can’t seem to get yourself back into shape. And a paranoia about food thanks to gestational diabetes.  

Honey, I can feel the shame and self-blame washing over me as I write this. I hate how we’ve felt about our body. Our miraculous and beautiful body for what happens in this moment and for the moments you will endure after this. 

Because in this moment, he looks at you, at your vulnerable state of wanting to be accepted and cherished like the good old days. He takes one look at you and says, “Well, at least you’re good enough for a blowjob” as he pulls your head down for a blowjob in his Mercedes parked in the law school parking garage. You will feel dirty and used and wholly disposable and that will carry through for years to come. But more than anything you feel ashamed. Ashamed that your body isn’t good enough for this beautiful man with the empty heart. You will feel ashamed that the men you will encounter after him will reinforce this message–leaving at the restaurant to pay a bill because your clothed appearance “sickened” him and turned his stomach. Finally, sending a naked photo of yourself at the request of the man who has been giving you orgasm after orgasm on the phone for the past 2 months–only to not even get a thank you for two full weeks.  No response at all. 

All of this crushes you. Makes you feel unworthy of love. You look wistfully at swingers’ websites, longing to be as pretty and desirable as them to be able to attend their events. Subsequent people you will meet will reinforce the message that big isn’t beautiful (even though to be honest, your size is pretty normal). You will enter the poly and kink communities already apologizing for your body before anyone ever sees it. You will compare yourself to other women, opting out of relationships if they start dating someone thinner than you–assuming that you aren’t desirable, you’ll start to withdraw from relationships to make room in that person’s heart for the thinner, prettier, younger, or sexier partner. You choose not to pursue connections because you don’t want them to see your flaws and deem you unworthy. You do the work for them.

You’ll continue to push yourself to own that vulnerability and at least try to take nudes, to share yourself and to project yourself as someone with confidence in herself, because it’s important to you to at least try. I know because I still do it today. I still challenge myself to show up, to show myself to some degree or another (although being outed certainly had a chilling effect on ever being so public ever again). You’ll reject the compliments and shun those who claim to desire you. You’ll assume that your tits are your only asset and you will tell your body every day that you hate it for the shape it took after this pregnancy. 

But I am here to assure you that if you can recognize the opportunity, what is happening to you right now is not a reflection of who you are, but of the values that infect our society. You do not reflect those values and so to stand against them, to speak up against those standards is to pose a threat to them. Their words are not the world you want to live in. This will fuel your passion for social change–to change the very fabric of our societal values. This isn’t easy work, but these experiences are only a reflection of the reasons why the world needs an adjustment. 

Trust me when I say that the most common word people use to describe us is “stunning” with “radiant” being a close 2nd. And that is extraordinary. Because that is  what we want to be known for. This is who we are and what we want to project into the world. 

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Artist unknown 

We are Colorado girls. And we love what is natural and true to self. We are Chicana and driven by a fire and passion for societal change. We are amazing and beautiful and know how to seduce both men and women with ease and with compassion. What happens in these early days of your polyamorous expression is only a dismissive grumble from the unworthy world of the objectifying masses to the world of the thoughtful lovers. I promise, by the end of the year you will find people with a desire to truly see you and know you and they will change your life. Laz, Min, Husband, Hawk, S, BeachBum, Ambyr, and so many others will see you for not just the value that you bring into the world, but will absolutely worship at the temple that is your body. 

Have heart, my love. You are beautiful and loved and these early experience will prepare you to establish your boundaries, assert yourself and eliminate anyone who cannot approach you with the awe and reverence that you deserve.  Believe that we are growing more powerful by the day.

Don’t let these insecurities get you down…you will change lives in sharing who you are–stretch marks and all. You are sacred and holy and will one day rise as a queen and a goddess to guide those seeking the light in the darkness. 

 

 

 

 

Day 6: #bodposfeb – Spend an hour on self-care

Hahahahahahaha! 

I feel like all I’m doing these days is self-care. The work I do, while incredibly rewarding and for the public good, is exhausting and I have been more and more drained, especially since the Inauguration. The emotional toll is sometimes just too much to bear. 

So while this challenge is needed, it’s also a bit redundant because at least an hour a day is being consumed with self-care that isn’t changing anything for me. 

So what could I do for self-care that is radical and different and body positive? 

Giving myself permission to be selfish is hard


Sex as self care

Yesterday was difficult. I knew I was walking in to bad news. Not devastating but I knew I would have to absorb the damage at work. Had a panic attack before work, cried all the way to work. Self-care seems almost impossible when you’re caught in the spiral of anxiety. All of my normal coping mechanisms were just not going to cut it.  

So about midday yesterday I decided that something had to change. I needed out of my well worn groove of stress, isolate, sleep, repeat. What if doing something for me, without worry as to what my partners would think, what was needed of me at home, was the way out of this. 

So I texted a newer potential, a gorgeous, submissive boy in his mid 20’s to see if he was available later that night. I’ve gotten together with him only twice before. The first time he became super detached after sex and I kind of spiraled, assuming it was a rejection of my body. The second time was right before my trip to PA and I was rushed and feeling guilty because I had told Warrior to stay home that night. 

I had no agenda. We usually negotiate a bit over text. He usually wants to be called a cute little boy. I usually resist too much humiliation. He loves the idea of me using Whispr to collect pictures of cocks that are bigger than his. I can’t wrap my mouth around the lie that his giant dick is somehow small and sad (because it really isn’t. Nope, it’s big). 

We have some kinks that we share (Slut-celebration, pussy worship) and a few others that we’re both stretching to be with each other (him: slight pain–hair pulling and scratching, me: sissification, pegging). And inevitably we’re done and go our separate ways. Not a whole lot of overlap of other interests, just a willingness to explore the delicate tendrils of a dominant/submissive dynamic together. 


A quick trip home for a shower, shave and a kiss to Husband. I was there 10 minutes later. And while I no longer publicly do scene reports, I was impressed that he read my body language and knew I would need a shoulder rub. And later a foot rub. 

I don’t often ask for what I want which is why dominance can be such a hard thing for me. Hard to give myself permission to be make my own pleasure primary. It’s hard with him, even with his eagerness to please, serve and remain in his place until I tell him otherwise. I’m susceptible to begging and I don’t want to ever disappoint him–but last night needed to be about what I wanted and needed. 

And he gave me so much of what I needed. Whether it was affirmation by taking pictures of my body and his or riding the wave of lust of a moment. The juxtaposition of his body, lean and toned and fucking beautiful, against mine, large, soft and cuddly, always gives me a moment of pause. 

But the moment that really took great care of me is seeing him let go just a little bit. I have a knack of always connecting with him in the midst of transition–exams, interviews, family deaths. Which probably suits my calling as the hands of the Dark Goddess, shedding light at he crossroads. But he gift he gave me last night wasn’t just his submission, always valued, it was the gift of seeing him…his desires…his emotions…his patterns. That feeds my soul more than a bubble bath ever could. 

And last night’s self care was to find my own desirability in someone else’s eyes. Trusting that if I was invited over that I was wanted. Believing that I would be wanted the next day. 

Radical self care begins with finding inherent value in yourself 

I came home from last night’s adventure a little lighter, a little giddy (due in part to a stint at a local bar for Hendrick’s & tonic). I didn’t explicitly tell my partners anything that transpired last night because this was for me. This was about doing something for me. 

And it’s so fucking hard. Being an empathetic woman, who absorbs so much of others’ pain and trauma to transform it into something beautiful and sacred. And somehow in all of this time I’ve been doing his I haven’t found the ability to find myself deserving of the same.

So this is another step in recovering my deservingness. To find myself worthy of being taken care of. And to find someone that even in a short span of time is able to give of himself to do the same. But the key is I have to find myself worthy first, sacred and deserving of having the spotlight on me. 

Even for an hour. I am worth being taken care of.  And this too is sacred. 

Days 3-5: Nice Things & Indulgences #bodposfeb

I honestly haven’t been avoiding these challenges, but when Warrior has a long weekend at our house I have a hard time finding the mental space to write. And as he and I negotiate whether he’s moving in after his divorce, these are the things that keep me hesitant. 

Anyway, all of that is to say that these challenges have been on my mind this weekend but I haven’t gotten around to writing them. 

So…

Day 3: Write 3 nice things about your body. 

This one is definitely one of the hardest for me. My body is a source of significant angst for me and it’s hard for me to admire myself or to ignore the faults for the beauty of this vessel. So, for this one I had to imagine what I might say to a lover or a friend in giving them a compliment or gushing about what I love about them. 

  1. I love how soft and silver my hair is. I have good hair days more often than not and I love my silver streaks, even the silver poking out at the roots. I love that it’s given more texture and depth to my hair. I still love the streaks of red, the patches of black. But silver actually has made me look younger. 
  2. How can anyone not enjoy my breasts? I mean they aren’t perky and taut, but they are soft and infinitely touchable. Even my gay leather brothers love snuggling close because of them. And for the lovers who pay attention the right kind of teasing, the right kind of play can induce orgasms. 
  3. I also really love my eyes. I want my eyes to communicate what may be difficult for me to find words to encompass. They change color and turn a bright sea green when I cry. While others prefer my smile, I like my eyes better. 

Day4: write three nice things about you that aren’t physical

Umm…that might be harder because while my body is superficial, there’s a shred more objectivity. I can compare against others (“Why yes, we agree that your boobs are rather extraordinary compared to a, b and c!”) and I can piggyback onto the components bestowed upon me. But internal stuff, well, I could think that I’m nice and kind, but am I really

Retweeted from VoluptusHedone (@VHedone)

But I guess that’s true point of this exercise–to say something candidly nice about ourselves without the safety net of knowing whether it’s true. It’s about embracing that it’s true for us. 

  1. I value my spirituality. I care deeply for my calling in life, for the meaningful connection to ritual and symbolism. I feel called to serve a more divine purpose in life, to serve as the hands of the goddess, to be devoted to the service of humanity and to give of all of my talents, all of myself to this calling. 
  2. Of all my talents, I have an inane gift for acceptance. I’m not easily scared by the darkness of others. I give love through my unconditional acceptance of who someone really is in their soul. I try to abandon judgment and shame but my acceptance doesn’t always mean approval, it is just a loving embrace of their path and their humanity and the vulnerability and trust they’ve placed in me. 
  3. I likewise find my greatest courage comes in moments when I am at my most vulnerable. I am always willing to risk being seen especially if it might help someone else find their own courage or light. I am willing to face my fears, to use my voice, to connect to others, to wade through darkness even if I make a fucking fool out of myself because the risk of staying hidden becomes larger with each passing day. Visibility is vulnerability. And I am secretly so proud of myself each time I can show trust in the compassion of others. 

Day 5: Treat yourself to a food you love. 

Every Sunday Husband and I have been sitting down for lunch to plan out our menus for the week. Today I had a huge craving for G&B’s Fish n Chips. Half order of prawns, chips, a side of curry sauce and a Bloody Mary. It is quickly becoming my favorite part about Sundays. They now know my order too! 

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.

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.

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Reflections of Resilience: Origin Story

It’s an ambitious title up there.

Intimidating.

I feel like I should have something profound to say to live up to that title.

Instead all I have are distant observations that are colored by the more vivid memories that I deliberately want to block out.

TW:  Descriptions of sexual assault, rape 

SilencingTwenty years ago today, I was raped.

I was raped in a college dorm room. Right before Thanksgiving break in 1996, my freshman year. It was less than a month until my 19th birthday.  I was 900 miles away from home, there alone, without any of my familiar friends or family nearby.

I was an A student, sorority girl and up and coming leader when I was raped. I had just been initiated into Alpha Chi Omega. Within a few weeks I elected to be Vice President of Intellectual Development, unprecedented in our chapter to have someone so young on the Exec Board. I was chosen in part because of my academic credentials, which i admit now were pretty decent. It helped that I was mostly articulate and could flirt easily with the men in the fraternities on campus.

I was raped by someone I knew. I was in the room of my current fuck-buddy at the time. His friend was visiting from out of town for his last hurrah before getting married. We sat and watched the Fly while drinking beers. I left for a bit to sit and talk with the Indian guy down the hall whose name escapes me.

I was raped after a lot of alcohol had been consumed. But I had two beers that night. Two over the course of maybe three hours. They had the rest of the case to themselves. I’d say they had at least four or six on me each.

I was raped after I had previously consented to a sexual activity. When I returned to the room I was caught in a three way kiss between the fuck buddy and his friend (not the bachelor) that I had previously fucked with. This kind of threesome had happened a few times before and we always had a good time with each other. They invited Bachelor to join in and I consented to that–three pairs of hands on me at once is so magnificent.

I was raped after someone had drunk so much that they passed out: At one point in this 10 minute group grope session (which, if I’m not mistaken may have hinted at some man-on-man action too), fuck buddy had to get up and take a piss, so we all stopped. We turned another movie back on and pretended to watch it. Fuck-buddy’s friend noticed that fuck buddy had been gone for a while, so he got up and left to go find him, leaving me alone with Bachelor (and a creepy dude in the opposite corner of the room trying to go unnoticed).

I was raped by someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer.  He suggested that we make out while we waited for Fuck Buddy to return. I consented to making out. When he tried to grope under my clothes, I didn’t feel comfortable and told him to stop. He didn’t.

I was raped by someone despite trying to fight back. He continued to undress himself and me. I struggled as he was trying to get my jeans off. I told him no repeatedly. He was able to get my pants and underwear off while keeping me pinned down with his knee. He had slithered a hand between my naked thighs and I was squeezing them hard to try to get him to stop. I didn’t want to be touched anymore and I gave every signal both verbal and non verbal that would be recognized.

I was raped by threat and force. As I struggled, he had flipped me over onto my stomach, his hand holding me down into the pillow by the neck. I could only look to the side–I couldn’t even tell you which side. We were on the top bunk and my head was smashed into a pillow. Tears and drool on the pillowcase, blacking out for a moment because I couldn’t breathe. I remember being outside my body at that point, ready to make due with whatever happened so long as I didn’t die. That was my bargain. If I don’t die, God, I promise I will deal with this. Even our bargains with deities are soured by internalized misogyny.

I was raped anally. I had never done anal play of any kind. I had a boyfriend ask for it once and it just never came to anything. While still holding me down he first tried my vagina.  Then when I was still blocking him with my thighs and movements, he raped me anally. No lube, no prepping, no asking.

I was raped as a demonstration of dominance over me.  Rape is and always will be a crime of power. This is about power and control over another human being–sex is just the vehicle for that exertion of control. It’s pathological, angry and destructive by intent. It is not impulse or a force of nature. It is a deliberate choice. I was his promised Bachelor’s gift (I would later find out) and fuck this bitch for daring to say no to me. Entitlement. projection and blame is the environment where our rapists dwell.

I feared for my life. I screamed into the pillow the minute I felt him enter me, his grip became tighter around my neck.  I was worried my neck would snap. I froze. In shock. I still don’t know where my head was looking. I was out of body again. Maybe blacked out.All I know is how much all of my senses were on overload. The only thing I felt besides life-threatening fear was the white-hot, searing pain from my ass.

I was raped in front of a silent accomplice. Remember creepy dude in the corner? He was still there, watching the whole thing. When my rapist was done, all i could hear was the fapping sound of his hand on his skinny, shitty prick. He was getting off on this.  I was doubly humiliated. I call him an accomplice because he was complicit in what was happening. He would have been clearly witnessed me saying no. He would have clearly seen me struggling. He would have clearly known that I didn’t want it. And what’s worse is that he got off on witnessing that.

 


Other facts:

  • Fuck Buddy had passed out in the bathroom. Friend was blocking people from getting into the room I was in.
  • Fuck Buddy’s roommate heard me screaming and the Friend told him to not worry about it that we were all role playing.
  • Another guy who was just getting back in that night, heard banging against the wall and faint sounds, but the music in the hallway was too loud for him to know what was going on.
  • At least 5 other guys on the floor heard me that night; not one of them intervened. Two others (in addition to the in-room witness) had gotten off to it.
  • I found out he had used a condom. I heard him snap it off when he was done.
  • It took me more than 10 minutes to get back to my room, from getting over the shock to getting my clothes back on, to drying my tears, to breaking through the guys who were trying to block me in and make me go for round 2.I stumbled down the flight of stairs to my floor
  • I was bleeding and in a lot of pain. I already had a bad back and it had completely seized up.
  • I called one of my major crushes who was in school in Detroit. He was an architecture student, so I knew he would be up. I cried on the phone with him for 2 hours without being able to say much.
  • I skipped all my classes the next day.
  • I skipped my date that night with a man who I’m pretty sure would have taken me straight to the police to report it to distract me while he would have been getting his mob friends to dispense justice.
  • I did eventually shower, but only because I couldn’t sleep.

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By the end of that weekend, I had taken myself down to the lake at 4 am. I couldn’t sleep more than a few hours at a time. I decided to take a walk to the lake, halfway torn between suicide and victorious resistance. One of the guys from that night who had been just getting home from a date, saw me leaving. We didn’t really talk much as we walked. I confirmed his suspicions: that I was really saying no and crying out for help. His feeling of guilt and shame was evident.  We found a bench outside the library, looking out at the lake.

Right now, I’m reminiscing about Lake Michigan. All the healing that happened in that spot over the years. Not just from this, but other things too. Remembering one of my most stable and stalwart lovers during my years there. A Navy Man who still provides me comfort and protection from my overthinking and strict need for control even after years and many miles apart. Texting with him right now. 

As we sat there, he just held my hand. He was present for me as I channeled whatever strength I had left into the words that tumbled out of my mouth. It was just a stream of consciousness. Acceptance that what happened to me was real. Resolve that it would never happen again in the future. A commitment to dictate the terms of any sexual encounter I had from there on out. From now on I was in control of my body, my voice, my actions, my motives. And if a sexual encounter didn’t align with what I waned then it wasn’t going to happen.

But there was one glaring absence in my bold speech of recovery:

I didn’t call it rape.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections of Resilience: Shine On You Crazy Diamond

(This is a story of my comeback from rape, prior and subsequent experiences of sexual assault and harassment, internalized misogyny, depression, anxiety, PTSD and Catholic guilt. Read Part 1 here. )

TW: Descriptions of rape, sexual assault, child sexual assault, sexual harassment.

It wasn’t until the past year or so that I started to see the night of my rape in the larger scheme of things. Patterns started to emerge that were both good and bad for me, for us as a society. The following is just a dispassionate description of those observations, loosely woven into the part of my personal story i’m willing to share with the public.

Sexual assault is far more common than we think. 

In the three years I was in college (yes, gradutated a year early), I encountered many stories from women and men who had been sexually assaulted. Either taken advantage of when drunk or high or coerced and pressured into sex by a needy, jealous and demanding partner.

One night, at the end of my senior year as our sorority held one of its fireside chats (usually an attempt to clear the air about our grievances with each other), I confessed to them this story I shared here. More than a third of the sorority shared similar stories that night. I remember all of us sitting there, tears in our eyes as we recalled the humiliation of objectification and dehumanization. It had never been quantified for me like that before.

But beyond this, I started to recognize and see all the minor ways in which sexual assault has been normalized. So when we talk about rape culture, this is what we mean. The legitimization of smaller aggressions against the consent of those involved in a sexual scenario.

Tolerance and acceptance of sexual assault, harassment and objectification have been way too common in my life.

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As a woman and at that a Catholic, Mexican-American woman, I had been conditioned to accept violation of boundaries on a near constant basis. I mean, when the Church condemns women to a grave sin for exercising control over their own bodies, we send a very powerful message about the sanctity of female autonomy. Or rather, the lack of it. When we control, regulate, gaze at and objectify women we create a world in which rape and sexual assault is normalized and accepted.

I learned just recently how normal it was in my life (and I mean even as a child) to put up with this kind of behavior. I use the word “inappropriate” to describe these today, but I was definitely trained through experience to treat these things as normal and expected. Because going along with it has usually been safer than calling it out–after all, I’ve been close to death a few times for daring to say no.  And it’s not just the assaults or attempts or harassments that are important, it’s the cultural attitudes and expectations that made them acceptable and relieved the perpetrators of any consequence or responsibility for honoring my consent or autonomy.  Here are some examples of what I mean.

  • Someone close to my family sexually assaulting me at the age of 6 or 7.
  • Grown men in the Army sending me naked pictures of themselves when I was as young as 13. At least two of them knew my real age.
  • My boyfriend at 13 stalking me, slashing my neighbors tires and making threats outside my window while I slept after I refused to have sex with him.
  • Co-workers at my first job taking monetary bets as to who would get to fuck me first.
  • A 36 year old co-worker trying to finger me when I was 15.
  • A 40 year old delivery man inviting me to his house alone when I was 16.
  • The biggest womanizer in school stalking me until I’d have sex with him. I lost my virginity to him at 16.
  • Being pressured into having sex with a classmate as a way to be jumped into a gang at 13. I backed out at the last minute. Getting punched by one of my friends afterward for chickening out.
  • Compulsively craving the attention of all men to the point of making a complete fool of myself. Because what was supposed to matter to me was how attractive I was to men, not how respectful I was to myself.
  • Engaging in sexual activity as more of a defense mechanism than as a rational and enthusiastic choice.
  • Being drugged by two men who secretly tried to record me “consenting” to sex. I eventually escaped.
  • Being outed and slut shamed by a republican blog and losing my job as a result.
  • Being “okay” with not orgasming so long as the other person came.
  • Being uncomfortable with someone going down on me because I wasn’t supposed to be the recipient of pleasure, my job was only to give.
  • Being in scary domestic violence situations with four different men. I was lucky to survive each of those.
  • Telling the story of my rape and then the listener trying to coerce me into anal sex a week or two later.
  • Getting unsolicited dick pics whenever I’m on any dating site.
  • Relentless harassment to coerce me into sending nude photos despite personal risks I would have to bear.
  • Having a job held over my head in exchange for sexual favors. Having those promises not realized with no recourse.
  • Sexual prowess in male co-workers are joked about with ease; sexual interest I expressed being condemned as a stain against the organization.
  • Pressuring me  into sexual activity that I clearly don’t want.
  • Emotional manipulation including guilt and shaming if I express  limits. Usually takes the form of “not a real submissive” or “not really poly”, especially when trying to hold someone responsible for behavior that violates those limits.
  • Threats of violence for refusing a drink/kiss/ride home.
  • A president-elect who has bragged about women he’s sexually assault as a result of his wealth and power. A president-elect who feels entitled to judge women based on their appearance.
  • The powerful slut shaming whenever I do ask for anything that I want. What’s worse is how internalized it is.
  • The silent treatment if I stand up for myself.
  • The boy in high school who shamed me for having any body hair at all and stopped dating me as a result.
  • having  men propose to me without possibly knowing me well enough to know I’m the right person. They’re convinced they’re being romantic and impulsive and were angry with me when I declined. Two of them stalked me for years after.
  • A man passing out during a blowjob but I get in trouble for not finishing him off.
  • Being called the wrong name during sex.
  • Told I’m “good enough for a blowjob but not good enough to fuck” because of my weight.
  • Being given a dildo as a present by my boss when I turned 17; my acceptance of that gift was used to imply consent for all sorts of touching, grabbing and propositions for years to come.
  • Subjected regularly to groping when doing absolutely nothing–like ordering a drink at the bar or even standing at a bus stop.
  • Having to be “okay” with men just disappearing after getting what they want. The constant trigger of feeling used, rejected and discarded while still feeling so fucking connected, attracted and smitten with them as well.
  • Having my consent violated in a scene by an “elder” who never obtained my consent for a needle scene he had planned.
  • Not reporting any of these because of the fear of retaliation, ruin and rejection.
  • Having no recourse when men I send photos to as a gift of vulnerability and trust will later share and publish them to cruelly mock me and expose me–because it’s happened.
  • Being judged not thin/white/ethnic/tall/young/hot/attractive enough for a man.
  • Screaming red in a dungeon and having no one intervene in our scene; this was after the DMs held me down for a tickling scene I did not consent to.
  • Being banned from a club because I was critical of the consent practices of people close to the club owner. Being banned from community events when I speak up about consent.
  • The protection we offer to the abusers, rapists and harassers in our communities but require victims/survivors to encounter their abusers, rapist and harassers face to face because it’s always going to be he said/she said or construed as just a “misunderstanding”.
  • Making any situation he said/she said and for it always to balance out that we believe the “he” part of that formula.
  • Sacrificing my own needs and voice in order to protect the ego of the person I was with.

I just don’t have the energy to describe each and every detail but I think you get my drift. I have been raised to not just expect this behavior, but to reward it with my attention, time and politeness. And guess what? So have you.


This is about as far as I can get tonight. The rest is just too raw on the surface.

Too much shit has been stirred up lately.

Example: Playing with a new submissive boy, still dipping my toes in the water of what my own dominance might look like, he fell oddly distant and cold afterward. Stirring up those feelings of rejection, feeling exposed and like I was being judged for my size, my taste, my age, my grace, my fashion, my ignorance. That feeling, that all too familiar feeling like I was supposed to change myself to accommodate invisible expectations that he didn’t communicate, but I am supposed to somehow anticipate. I could be wrong–we haven’t discussed it, but even my equivocation of how I feel is evidence of this trend to set aside my own insight in favor of someone else’s.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

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How much of my existence has been defined as being the pretty, little doll existing solely for the pleasure and whims of others? And let’s face it, I’m not the prettiest, so it’s an existence that is easily defined as being the doll at the very bottom of the trunk that carries nostalgia, memory and this sensation of soul-full-ness. I’m kept around for memory’s sake, but used, discarded and forgotten until I’m needed again.

I have spent most of my life trying to convince myself, through the excuse of my calling, that this was the purpose of my life. I molded myself around these awful, horrible experiences, trying to become the perfect woman that could easily slide into people’s hearts unobtrusively to bring out goodness and love. It’s not to say I didn’t do that or that the goals were bad, but it was that I became an avatar of myself, a projected 3-D image of myself that was real in every way, except my own desires, needs, hopes and dreams. Those were always irrelevant to the more important business of pleasing the people I was with.

None of this is to say that the rape was my fault, that the sexual assaults and harassments I’ve endured are my fault. Those men made choices. Choices that they knew were wrong. Choices that knew were a violation of my autonomy and free will. These violations, because they bundle together super vulnerable things–like sex/nudity, self-worth, guilt and shame–they are easier to manipulate and exploit. It’s not our fault that these things are vulnerable–they are vulnerable for everyone, but we are wrongfully accused of being too open to sharing those intimate parts of self, when it was the manipulator who violated the terms of that sharing. Most of the time we are left shadow boxing with ourselves in a distorted mirror of shame and guilt, feeling utterly responsible for the fallout of choices that someone else had the audacity to make for us.

We have to remember that this mirror only reflects a particular facet of ourselves. The part locked away in time and trapped behind the glass. But diamonds, those hard as fuck little mini crystals that manifest from the pressure of the earth, have several facets to them. The ultimate in resilience, radiant with reflection and beauty. And what we see in that mirror, in that battle with ourselves, the shame and guilt that were projected onto us, that’s just one facet of who we are. But we contain so much more than that and deserve so much more than that.

So shine on you crazy diamonds.

I sit with all of these thoughts, reflections on what it took for me to become a whole and healthy person. I can’t say I’ve done it well, but the fact that I’m still here, still fighting, still making these realizations, understanding my patterns and fighting to change the perverse patterns of exploitation around…this is how I will continue to shine, the crazy, hard as fuck diamond that I am.

 

 

National Coming Out Day

It’s 9:45 pm here on October 11th. I got home late and am making an ambitious (for me) dinner of shepherd’s pie. So as I wait, I think back on another marginally bad day.  It wasn’t horrible, it just was angsty. And most of the angst was mine. I was impatient, unorganized, forgetful and foggy all day. And it wasn’t until later in the workday, when I was beyond the point of salvaging it that I finally realized why I was so on edge.

Today was National Coming Out Day

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For the past 10 years I’ve been flirting with various forms of outness, to varying degrees. And to the point where I’m essentially out to everyone except extended family. Even professionally to some degree it’s been know how I identify. Especially over the past year or so I’ve become far more comfortable with being out.

But today it was scary and triggery. It brought back memories of a workday interrupted by a call from a friend telling me that a website had posted my online journal and that it was circulating. It brought me back to the pacing through the hallways going mad from the ringing of the phone. It brought me back to 8 months of unemployment and 10 years of trying to scrape my way back to believing that I deserved to make an earning even close to what I was making before. It brought me back to the rumors, the panic attacks during the news, the fear, the cowardice, the ignorance, the victimhood and the punishment. It brought me back to a night where I was as close to suicide as I’ll ever get and breaking down to ask for help before I could finish the act.

I didn’t come out on Facebook today like I had wanted to. I have family who, as well intentioned and loving as they are, tend to call my parents over ever minor quip I post. As much as I love my parents, my coming out isn’t worth them having to field phone calls from worried family members and well-intentioned, but clueless friends. The choice to come out is mine and not theirs.

So, instead, I came out on Twitter, reminding all 686 followers of who I am.

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Those things are some of the easier to identify things about me. It’s what most people care about when they talk about coming out. But identity is such a rich and powerful blend of concepts, stories, and aspirations that simply saying I’m bisexual, polyamorous, kinky, queer, Chicana, femme, Mother, wife, lover, educator, lawyer, spiritual and geek is just a superficial part of the story. Some of it is the sensational part of the story because ooooh—bi, poly and kinky–that’s out there. But it’s just scratching the surface.

There are other aspects of identity that go beyond the census items of nationality (American), race/ethnicity or income. There are the aspects of self that evolve over time but create the refinements of self that truly identify us closer to our core. Those aspects of ourselves are just as precious and vulnerable, worthy of being spoken as personal truths.

So tonight, I define more of who I am. Coming out as the woman I truly am at heart:

I am a public servant. I have always been drawn to government, politics, and the business of policymaking. But moire than anything I have been drawn to a life of being in service to the public in some capacity or another. Right now I provide direct services through a nonprofit,. but in the past, I’ve served in capacities that were more about the public good than my own advancement.

I am half white and half Mexican but identify as Chicana. This is very important for me to distinguish. I love both of my families, but the Mexican half of my family was the most influential in my upbringing. My dad’s family valued education but watching my Mexican grandparents’ pride when my mom earned her master’s struck a chord with me. It told me the legacy that was going to be passed to me to build upon. It is a responsibility that I take seriously. My father’s family is full of intelligence, accomplishment, and distinction–my role with them is less to carry on their legacy and more to just not fuck it up. But what I accomplish for the Mexican side of my family, like a law degree, creates a path for others to follow. I’ve already helped one family member with his law school application and LSAT prep. We rise together.

That said, I am also very privileged. Because my last name is white, my skin is light and freckled and my hair turning gray faster than my more indigenous parts of the family, I’m a dead ringer for your standard, run-of-the-mill white girl. That’s not what I feel inside and so I get somewhat defensive during conversations about race. I am so eager to relate to people that I end up ignoring my privilege, the same privilege that makes it easier for me to be heard. It has been an uphill battle for me to remember that my story isn’t more important than anyone else’s, particularly those who don’t get the benefits that come with passing for white, cis, het and able bodied.

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I am bisexual and married to a man. So another privilege I carry is that I at least am always perceived as heterosexual. I’m not, of course, and that’s where some mental health issues come into play for many of us–being misidentified, ignored and rebuked within the LGBTQ community (mostly getting derision from the Ls and Gs) creates an insidious amount of hardship as we try to navigate our way through the world.

I am bisexual and I have known it since I was 12. But to the outside world, I had a fairy tale wedding and lived happily ever after. And while I love my husband dearly, part of why I love him is that he’s never had an issue with me living my life as fully as I am able. He’s always given me support and encouragement, to pursue what makes me happy–including exploring my attraction to women and non-binary/gender nonconforming folk. Ultimately this is aided immensely by being polyamorous–we negotiate the terms of our marriage and it decidedly doesn’t look at all like the heteronormative ideal. And I am happier for it.

Finally, I’m coming out as a visionary within the Catholic meaning of the term. Again, from the age of 12, I believe I was called to something powerful. This calling initially spoke to me through the images and rituals of the Catholic faith–I was strong in my devotion to the Church at the time (see, I still capitalize it). But as I grew into the woman I am, I recognized that Catholicism at its core no longer fit with the calling that I was given. It was just too large for such a narrowly-defined faith structure. So, I departed from the Church. I still miss it sometimes–going to Mass and adoration, praying the rosary, the cleansing I’d feel after confession. It is like my hometown. I’ll always have a connection to it. It’s part of my story. But it’s not where I choose to live now–I have moved on. My calling is what matters most to me, not ascribing to any one issue of faith.


With all of that said, I have an update on the shepherd’s pie: I burned myself making it last night which is why this is posted late. i’m doing better today–but I guess I also need to add clumsy to the list of identities that I have.

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