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The Foolish Woman in me.

Light & Darkness - MWilliamson

You’ll have to forgive me, this is a stream of consciousness sort of post. I used to do these all the time back in my LiveJournal days. But back then I was talking to people I knew, I read on a daily basis. I honestly don’t know much about the people who follow me here. Some find me through Twitter or Instagram. Some are old friends. Some are complete strangers in countries like Peru.

 

The openness of blogging is enough to get to me sometimes. Not because I don’t like being open, but more because I don’t like being visible beyond the scope of my awareness. It’s one thing when I know the people reading me. I can tailor that experience and I can face the consequences of the subtext as needed. However, when it’s people I don’t know – it stirs the imagination to a not-quite-healthy destination. It inhibits me and creates an obsessive desire to shut down inside.

My mission has always been quite simple…

I want to nurture a love movement.

Back when I first became polyamorous, this was literally the name of the movement: A Love Movement. And while I am no longer with those partners, the original Brotherhood, I still feel very connected to this purpose.  To nurture a movement to better embrace love for ourselves and for others in our lives.  To create space to accept and give love on a deeper and more nurturing level.

I have spent most of my sexual life experiencing the depths of others. Even one-night stands used to be like that for me – deep and connective. Sex has always held the potential to truly see myself through someone else’s eyes and to act with loving acceptance for them in return.  In this one intimate action, this moment of serendipitous connection, we can share a small moment of acceptance.

But too often our relationships are filled with shame. The look on our lover’s face that tells us they are bored or disinterested. The self-consciousness of body size or shape. The comparisons we make in our heads about our lover’s former partners. The accumulated and acute traumas that haunt the recesses of the brain. The performance anxieties. The worries. We’ve stacked the deck against ourselves – how are we to ever experience true joy if shame is always souring the taste?

How many times has shame prevented me from finding and reaching out for my joy? The anticipated rejection making me too self-conscious to speak up for my own desires.  The past trauma and the self-doubt robbing me of a chance to truly experience myself through my lover’s actions. The suspicions that they don’t really  like me because of my size or shape or age. The hurt and guilt making me less voracious than I might otherwise be.

I’m not the only one, right?

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It’s way more than just me who feels this, right? And so, if we are walking around with wounds, why are we not only are we tearing open old wounds, but we’re recklessly inflicting more.

Once you see it, once you’re aware of it, you realize how pervasive this subtle layer of shame is over everything else in our world. It’s the ash that obscures our view of the brilliance of our own selves.

If you look and listen carefully, you’ll see it:

  • It’s the little jabs at your wife’s weight and the weight of women that look like her.
  • It’s the humiliating comments you make when you catch your husband masturbating.
  • It’s the jealousy of your partner’s Top 5 celebrity crushes.
  • It’s the declaration that bisexuality is just greed.
  • It’s the “sex education” you provided when you handed your kids a book but avoided talking to them about it.
  • It’s the go-to fap fantasies about lesbians but still voting for people who don’t want them to marry.
  • It’s the storage of secrets as well as the violation of privacy.
  • It’s the insult of “beer goggles”.
  • It’s the objectification of someone for their skin color and the racist presumptions and fantasies you’ve placed them in.
  • It’s the taking without giving.
  • It’s the heaviness of the “let’s just get this over with” sigh.
  • It’s the “you brought this on yourself” zinger.
  • It’s the labeling of sexual appetites as addictions.

It’s us – shaming each other. We do it in our relationships when we just select default mode and put the connection on auto-pilot. We do it in our families with how we refuse to discuss sex and enforce healthy boundaries. We disseminate this shame through our churches and political systems, complete with consequences for noncompliance. We require adherence to vague expectations, such as fidelity, that have never been specifically discussed, defined or even decided with any level of mutual understanding. We react with hostility when we see a woman choose pleasure over modesty or if a man expresses even a passing interest in other men. Shame taints so much of our experiences, that a question of worth will always be at play.

Thus, we stay locked in a prison of our own making, the walls generously decorated with the etchings of every awful criticism and self-defeating thought that we’ve received.

What if you could really be loved and seen for yourself?

Consider: What might change if you were free from fighting the icy, cold shoulder battles at home with the spouse? Or if you finally felt confident walking into a first date? What if you knew your partner truly sees and wants all of you?  That is the sexiest feeling in the world.  What if, in our approach to sex and love, we gave each other a sincere opportunity to heal the wounds we’re carrying or, at least, a promise that we won’t make them worse?

I know I can’t be the only one who is ready to finally stand firm, look Shame in the face and tell it to fuck off, right? I know I’m not the only one who is ready to get off the roller coaster of high drama relationships. And for the love of all that’s holy, I want sex to be more worthy of my time than the wispy attempts at foreplay or the vacuous objectification I get online. I know I’m not the only one.

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And while it’s scary as fuck to be so exposed in this space, I know it’s the right thing for me to do right now. That I need to keep talking, to be seen and heard. To be vulnerable and open where others can’t. To hold light and space until they’re ready.

I can’t do this unless I prove to myself that I’m more than the story that brought me here. I’m more than the Outing or the rape. I’m more than bad parenting choices and missed deadlines. I’m more than my story that up until now has been reinforcing my feeling that I’m not worthy. It’s kept me from speaking up for my truth. It’s kept me from reaching for my joy. And I am ready for a new story, no matter how foolish I look or what I encounter along the way.

That is acceptance because growth is never elegant or easy.  So,  at the end of the day, this blog is lovingly rebooting our ideas about relationships, sex and love. It’s about my stories of my stumbling blocks and what has and hasn’t worked for me. Foolish and embarrassing, but it will always be my truth.

And that is worthy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Sharing the goodness

A long time ago when I first started blogging I used to follow someone who would make a daily post identifying the new things he was discovering out there on the internet.  He’d compile it all into one post and call it “Sharing the Goodness”.  Usually with some catchy, awesome title to draw in his (mostly female) readership.  I always loved that concept, sharing the things that interested us whether they be kinky, geeky, sexy, raunchy or just plain beautiful.  So here is my contribution to the Goodness for one day.  This may become a semi-regular feature on this blog.  We’ll see.

  1. First is a local blogger that I only discovered today named QueerRadical who won the Westword award for best activist blog. Only one day into the posts and I’m impressed.  I like the queer-friendly advice that is given and the intelligent look at books, politics and media.
  2. I was quite pleased to find this website today called 25 Things about My Sexuality which is a fascinating read.  It may take me a while to get through all these different posts, but so far I love the candidness of the revelations.  Gotta say there is some freedom in anonymity and yet, a lot of those posts are so similar to what I would say about my sexuality.   Shows we have more in common than we might think in both our heartbreaks and our triumphs.
  3. The folks over at Cracked.com never fail to entertain.  This article about 5 Ridiculous Sex Myths from History (you probably believe) is fucking priceless.  Not just because it’s entertaining, but because it’s illuminating about the arrogance of later generations to think we are the most sexual of history.
  4. A great event for a great cause, check out the Build-a-Bear fundraiser hosted by the Denver boys of Leather.  Something about hot men in leather with cuddly bears that makes me all gooey and happy.
  5. Lately I’ve been dismayed by the number of people who have been treating relationships with disdain and cynicism (in fact, I’ve been so disillusioned by cynics that I’ve added them to the limit list).  But I love this view of marriage brought to us by Neale Donald Walsch (author of Conversations with God).  Yes, I am an unabashed fan of Mr. Walsch and his vision for humanity, but I was honestly moved to tears by this particular writing, which encourages us to view marriage and/or long-term commitment in a relationship as an act of witnessing for that person.It’s about having someone there to witness our full selves, our story, our ups and downs and to affirm our value and existence.  That is what my marriages are about…and something I hope to share with you.

And I can’t say that I’ll be posting these things very often. I’m finding it difficult to use the WordPress dashboard and would welcome any different tool for blogging that might be available.

The beginning of our conversation

The past week has been challenging to say the least. Inspiring in some ways, truly horrifying in others.

As a parent, my sexual nature is often at odds not just with what society expects out of mothers, but with the nature of what we expect to pass along to our children. I mean many of us in this Christian nation of ours look for a Virgin Mary dressed like June Cleaver (is that reference too old for us now?). God knows the conservative, anti-feminist movement are doing their best to put forth this image that might as well be this. But it’s not just the rabid tea partyers, it’s our magazines, tv shows and media that glorify this image of the perfect mother.

I mean I think we all know there is no such thing. There is no such woman out there. We are as flawed as the next generation and instead of glorifying this image, continuing to perpetuate it in our national consciousness, maybe we should just focus on ridding ourselves of the ridiculous notions that are destined to repress, enslave and madden a new generation.

I love my family, don’t get me wrong. But I will always maintain that my family is better off with me living a full and vibrant life than they are if I’m home everyday ready with fresh cookies and milk. My family is better off seeing what happiness looks like than wondering when the mask will crack next.

So that’s why I write here. I may not write about my sexual exploits or prowess (although I might) but I do write about sexuality. Every human has it, shares it with another at some point and has an expression of pleasure and love that is uniquely their own. So I write here because for something we all share we have a lot of fucked up attitudes about it. We think it’s wrong, it’s shameful, it’s dirty. And we spend a lot of time prying into others’ sex lives because we can’t manage to examine our own.

This is nothing new to those of you who know me personally. I’ve been saying this for ages. What is new is the message here will fight against the mainstream, will challenge our notions of society and sex, sometimes with personal example, sometimes with intellectual leaps of faith.
But if there is any legacy I want to leave my kids, my culture it is simply this…

There is nothing wrong with sex.

Say that to yourself out loud. How many of you will read this in your cubicle or your living room and only mouth the words silently to yourself? Are you looking around for adverse reactions? What is so novel about this statement? If youre reading this blog, you probably agree with the statement. But my mission, my calling, my vision for the world is to make statements like this less groundbreaking and more…normal. Make it easier to say and hear these statements.

There is nothing wrong with sex.

So tell me…what have you been told that is wrong with it….and let’s start there.

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