Opening Up

Or, Cliche Title is Cliche


S and I have been talking about the possibility of opening up since last year. Originally it came up as something for him to do, since for years I was on libido-killing, vaginal-canal-drying medications that just made the whole thing more trouble than it was worth. We talked extensively about the world of possibilities that non-sexual kink has to offer, like kitten play, service, and so on. And then at some point about 6-8 weeks ago, around the same time that I’d ever-so-slowly, ever-so-painfully weaned myself off of anti-depressants without the help of a medical professional partly so that I could try giving my libido a go again, he came to the realization that his previous 5 years of attempting to be anything more than a light top in bed didn’t come naturally. And just like that, our kink life was over.

It wasn’t all that surprising – the writing was on the wall for a while. What may have felt like us being adventurous was more like us desperately trying to find something for him to call his own, something to make a D/s dynamic click and make sense. At the end of the day, though, I would almost always have to ask for everything I liked, verbally remind him that I really enjoyed, and sometimes needed these things: hair-pulling, spanking, telling me what to do in the sack. Catharsis. And those are just the basics. I knew that if he didn’t already get some kind of thrill from seeing bruises, or tears, or uttering threats and calling names, then it was never going to happen.

The open marriage thing was initially for him, though. I was on antidepressants, and a strict regimen of birth control that I was only able to stop once I’d had my hysterectomy. Together, these things made me feel that sex was boring, un-fun, and sometimes, depending on my mood and endocrine profile for that day, repulsive. As somebody on the aro/ace spectrums, this was actually a pretty good way to go… if I were single. Knowing that I had once enjoyed sex quite a bit, coming off the medications and letting my natural hormone profile return for the sake of my sex life became just a matter of logistics. I could flip it on and off like a switch if I wanted to, which, in some respects, is pretty neat.

And then things got trying when my relationship with my husband started getting a little less blissful. He became oddly distant, took up smoking pot a lot more, and stopped initiating sex altogether. Eventually, he comes to me and says that he’s seen a description of autochorissexuality and thinks he identifies with it. So wow, that’s both of us who have been shaped by an imposed approximate sexuality.

Turns out, he’s not actually all that sure what an open relationship would do for him just as I start to talk about how I might benefit from seeing someone on the side to get my kink needs met.

So in less than a year, we completely switch roles – I go from having zero desire for sex and scared of letting him get what he needs from someone else, to him doing the same. (Needless to say, he’s having a really hard time remembering that I was exactly in his position not long ago, wrestling with the same demons, the same feelings of insecurity and swallowing my ego so that he could be happy.) He’s not dealing with jealousy to my knowledge, but anxiety, loss, and inadequacy. And I know deep down in his heart he wants me to say to hell with all of this, but I can’t unless he forcibly closes the door, because this has the potential to be a tremendously good thing for me. And he won’t do that.

So yesterday, I met with a guy from OKCupid.

He’s a soft-spoken nerd for the hour we talk in the cafe, chatting about everything from his kid to his involvement with Burning Man to my precarious immigration status. But things take on a different tone when he notices that I’m just about done with my drink and says “Let’s go for a walk”.

For the next half hour he’s talking boundaries, limits, needs, scenes, checking in with me practically every few minutes to ask how I’m feeling since I made it clear that I get nervous easily. There’s joking, oohing and ahhing at cute babies in strollers as they pass us in the park, but the rest is business. He asks permission for every single instance of physical contact after I first reached out to shake his hand. He puts his arm around my shoulder and does a little stroking with his fingers, and asks me how it feels, how my anxiety is doing.

And even in spite of the fact that I’m a macrophile and he’s one of the tallest men I’ve ever met, giving my 5’8″ a run for its money, I can’t help but think that I’ve somehow won the jackpot. He’s patient, he’s understanding, and he can read me like an open book. He’s also been poly for almost all of his adult life, currently with a primary girlfriend and a second on the side, so I would be the third person in his life. He gets that gender is fluid and is perfectly comfortable with the idea that my innie-junk is not inherently feminine. He doesn’t mind meeting my husband to help assuage some fears, and he wanted to make sure that our relationship is happy and healthy before he gets involved with me.

Hopefully I can help S figure out what, exactly, he’s scared of before the three of us get together this weekend, so that he and I can work on dismantling those fears.

I think, though, that this is the situation of my dreams. Something cool and casual, intimate but not romantic by any stretch of the imagination. I want this guy to know how to push my buttons, not how much cream to put in my perfect cup of coffee. Not what’s in my medicine cabinet or my bank account. It’s like how I told the both of them: “When I used to get crushes as a teenager, it wasn’t like how everyone else described it. Instead of holding hands and watching movies together, I wanted my crush to give me tasks to do. And then, when I completed them, I wanted them to pull me into their lap and pet me and tell me how good I was.”

Love and romance have never been what I’m about. To me, intimacy = hierarchy. (Which is probably why I found myself rebelling against authority in all of the other non-comforting, non-intimate aspects of my life. Every time a stranger or someone who I felt didn’t know me tried to tell me what to do, it was like being groped on the bus. Enraging.)

But the polyamory label doesn’t feel like it fits, mostly because of the “-amory” part. I’m not in this to love anybody else in a way that I don’t already love most people just by virtue of existing. (How’s that for “love has no limits”? I don’t just one two or three people, I probably love millions.) This relationship is goal-oriented: to create exciting scenes and mindscapes, to make really pretty bruises on my skin, to tell me what to do and for me to gain satisfaction from doing it, to slake my macrophilia, to give in to catharsis and powerlessness, to achieve subspace. I don’t want to spend the night, I don’t want to cuddle, I don’t want kisses that aren’t loaded with the implications of our power differential, I don’t want to go to his place if D/s isn’t happening. (That’s not to say that I don’t intend on being friends with him in some capacity too. All that talk of Burning Man and his involvement in the local art scene makes him, believe it or not, a really interesting guy outside of sex.)

So what does that make me? (Confused.) What does that make this situation? (Complicated.) For all intents and purposes, this is an open marriage; I’ve got a QP life partner on one hand, and a burgeoning sexual and D/s relationship on the other. When I think about it like that, it somehow makes a lot of sense to me. Like… duh, of course the primary source of sex would come from outside the LTR! In no other aspect of life is it considered sound to put all your eggs in one basket and expect it to work out.

At any rate, because I have more free time than my husband does, I told him that I’d help him do some research on dealing with anxiety and jealousy when opening up for the first time. Here are some links I’ve gathered so far:

If anyone has any pointers, let’s hear em!

9 Months Post-Hysto

Seeing as how I’m probably one of the few NB folks who have had a hysterectomy and wish to continue to have PIV intercourse, it’s really no wonder I haven’t seen this addressed at all in the transosphere. (Granted, it’s not like I’ve really gone looking all that hard either.)  But after you have a hysterectomy, and probably especially with a complete one (removal of uterus, tubes, and cervix), the vagina can narrow, shorten, and/or atrophy.

And, as I discovered a couple of weeks/months ago, that is exactly what mine has done.

Penetration, as brief and slow as it was, was so painful for me that I was sore to the point of cramping for the rest of the day. Now, I probably would have been warned about this had I not lost my insurance right after the surgery and couldn’t afford to go to my follow-up appointment, so I had to find out the hard way. Please don’t find out the hard way. If, for some reason, you can’t make your follow-up and everything else about your recovery seemed to go just fine, a word to the wise: check to see if your vag has changed since the surgery. Do it with your fingers, because honestly, even just one might be too much anymore.

There are a few remedies for this, and it’s definitely not an unsolvable issue. If you do go to your doctor, they might do either or both of these things: put you on vaginal hormone therapy, or tell you to get a set of dilators. The hormone therapy is basically a cream and/or pill that you insert into the vagina that will help change the thickness and elasticity of the tissue, and as far as I can tell, it’s almost always used in conjunction with dilator therapy. Dilators, as I’m sure you guessed, are exactly what they say on the tin – a series of plastic tubes with rounded ends, that you insert into the vagina for a few minutes each day to help retrain your muscles. You start with the largest one that can be inserted without pain, and work your way up from there.

For some reason, dilator sets are ridiculously fucking expensive for what they are: 4-10, sometimes hollow, pieces of plastic. And that’s it. What’ll this run you if your insurance doesn’t cover it? Oh, anywhere from $50-100. Another bit of proof that the medical industry doesn’t give a shit about vaginas. Here’s a set that costs $90 for no good reason:

Like seriously, they’re little more than silicone tinker toys. I guess you’re paying for the box.

At any rate, because of this, and because I’m too broke to be able to afford even the cheaper sets and not get angry about it, I’ll be using fingers. (Though on second thought, there’s really no reason that you couldn’t use veggies or another similarly-shaped household object if you also have access to condoms. Just be sure that the thickness doesn’t vary, and that the end is ROUNDED. If it’s tapered, I imagine that it could be pretty painful if that tapered end hits the end of the vag where the cervix used to be.)

Oh! And one more thing: I read something about taking vitamin D supplements while doing the retraining/dilation therapy, as it has something to do with improving the strength and sensitivity of the vaginal walls.

At any rate, none of this is in any way ideal. But I can’t possibly be the only NB kid who has been left high and dry after a surgery, so here’s some thoughts and advice in that case from a very-not-medical professional. Oh, and good fucking luck.

Hormone Imbalance

Majorly, majorly doubting my OB who, for several years, maintained that I had perfectly normal hormone levels for an AFAB. I had my hysto, so without periods or endometriosis to contend with, I stopped my birth control regimen because I was sort of getting sick of the pseudo-menopause symptoms I was getting from not giving my body a break every month like most other folks do.

Then, as you may or may not remember, the monthly surges of incessant sex drive came back, driving me up the wall. In the past few months I’ve gone off of my anti-depressants too, and I still hope that I can manage my illness without them. (I do not like the feeling of been held “hostage” by potential side-effects and withdrawal symptoms, especially since I was practically hallucinating when I had that stint of being unable to secure a refill when I needed it. It’s humiliating, demoralizing, and just downright scary to feel like a pill runs your life like that. Especially one that fucks with your head more than anything else.)

So then I was back to wanting to crawl into a hole and die every day that I had to deal with my libido, since I’ve also been cursed with the inability to ever really have my unorthodox sexual-interests-bordering-on-orientation satisfied. I quickly became reacquainted with what it’s like to feel that all of my sexual problems would disappear if I could just be dead. Not necessarily suicide, but close; if I could just not be alive when I needed to, that would be ideal.

And because I had a hysterectomy while leaving my ovaries intact, I still have the PCOS to deal with; which, granted, isn’t nearly as painful as the endometriosis ever was, and can be only just slightly uncomfortable at times. But that’s the thing: I still have PCOS.

And then it occurred to me, when noticing that my face and neck was beginning to bubble up with acne like it hasn’t done since puberty, that maybe, maybe, I have too much testosterone in my body, and this is why I used to feel like such utter pathetic shit every month before going on the birth control.

But I like having a little bit of a libido. I think. (Y’know, so long as my husband has an interest in trying to satisfy my dire need for sensory play rather than just orgasm. Which, tbh, I don’t know. He’s going through some sexual soul-searching right now too.) So what could I do about the acne and the hormone shit-feelings without completely killing my sex drive (assuming that keeping it will add to my life)?

When I’m back in the states, I think I’ll pay a visit to Planned Parenthood or something and see about what my options are. One of them, interestingly enough, though, is spiro.

Apparently spiro can be prescribed to AFAB-types with PCOS to manage their acne, hirsutism, hair loss, or all of the above. Also apparently, because it’s not a hormone, but a blocker, the side effects are different, and for me personally, they seem less frustrating.

Here’s more info on using spiro for treating acne.

Here’s a brief rundown on what spiro can do for PCOS-sufferers.

This is interesting to me, though, as someone who mostly identifies as nonbinary (if I have to identify as anything); I have a chemical cocktail naturally occurring in my body that other AFAB NBs go out of their way to achieve with HRT. And this chemical cocktail has been with me since I hit puberty, really; I likely experienced a small, but noticeable, amount of development from my elevated androgen levels. My broad shoulders, my naturally toned arms and back, my jawline, my body hair. In a way, I got many of the traits my siblings are artificially trying to achieve, and for a long time I hated how ambiguous I looked. I hated that I felt like a “man” whenever I put on a dress.

Of course now I couldn’t give less of a fuck, but still. It’s interesting to think about.

I do give a fuck about this goddamned acne, though.

Re: Bored

These are some essays by people who very intelligently, very eloquently, illustrate the point I was trying to make yesterday. Some of these authors are people/collectives I deeply respect, and some I’m not familiar with at all. Anyways, the point is that you should read at least one of these if you want to better understand where I’m coming from.

Lines in the Sand by Peter Gelderloos

  • Gelderloos is way fucking smart, and damn prolific anarchist author who I happen to like for both challenging me and just saying things I already accept way better than I ever could. Here he talks about the polarization of identity politics and the binary of “oppressed” vs “privileged” that gets in the way of mutual understandings. Also talks about wtf “identity politics” even is. This is a long read.

    “Even though a negative identity is still an identity, it doesn’t feel like one, so building a politics around that particular experience of the world, as CrimethInc. has done quite effectively, I would argue, doesn’t seem to have any commonality with identity politics, though in fact it does. In fact it is typical to the category that I grew up in that I have generally never wanted to belong to an identity group, and I always felt awkward and pretentious when I tried one on.

    Until I met anarchy. I don’t mean anarchism, or the anarchist movement, I mean the shared experience of struggle with people who have my back, who comprise my material and emotional community, who share my history, and who learn and grow within a very real continuity of struggle that goes all the way back to the Spanish Civil War, the Russian Revolution, the Paris Commune (a continuity that doesn’t exist in the United States, in my experience). People who will invite you into their home and feed you because they share the same dream, people who will risk themselves for you in the street when they don’t even know you, because they can look at you and know you’re on the same side. It was when I met the grandparents of the struggle, who fought in mythical 1936, met them as friends, and doing so realized that one day I or my friends, if we survived, would be the grandpas and grandmas telling stories of a struggle equally distant in time; it was when my friend took me on a tour of Moscow (or Barcelona, or Berlin, or that little village in Friesland) and showed me — this is where they killed our friends Stas and Nastya a few months ago, and here is where the Bolsheviks executed some anarchists in 1921 — and I realized that these places had the same meaning; that’s when history became demystified and I discovered that the anarchists are my people.

    This is not an identity I want to ideologize or spread beyond my own personal experience. But it’s something I feel very real in my bones. And it’s something that shows me that my discomfort with identity was in part an alienation from the history of struggle.”

Essentialism and the Problem of Identity Politics by Lawrence Jarach

  • Don’t know who this is, but this is short and sweet. A series of thoughts jotted down in list form.

With Allies Like These: Reflections on Privilege Reductionism by Common Cause Ottawa

  • A medium-long essay that provides a critical analysis of privilege, the current state of anti-oppression work, and allyship within the context of identity politics.

Re-Queering Pride: Why We Need to Return to the Radical Roots of Our LGBTQ Movement on AlterNet

  • This one touches much more on my primary grievance with identity politics at wanting to assimilate into capitalist culture by being turned into a commodity. Aces, and everyone else, we don’t need to be sold or sold to. And if you think that’s the only way we’re going to be seen as “legit”, then you’ve still got work to do. I don’t want to see myself be reflected in a culture built by and for assholes.

From Politics to Life: Ridding anarchy of the leftist millstone by Wolfi Landstreicher

  • “The political necessity of appealing to “the masses” also moves the left to use the method of making piece-meal demands to the current rulers. This method is certainly quite consistent with a project of transforming power relationships, precisely because it does not challenge those relationships at their roots. In fact, by making demands of those in power, it implies that simple (though possibly extreme) adjustments of the current relationships are sufficient for the realization of the leftist program. What is not put into question in this method is the ruling order itself, because this would threaten the political framework of the left.

    Implicit in this piece-meal approach to change is the doctrine of progressivism (in fact, one of the more popular labels among leftists and liberals nowadays — who would rather leave behind these other sullied labels — is precisely “progressive”). Progressivism is the idea that the current order of things is the result of an ongoing (though possibly “dialectical”) process of improvement and that if we put in the effort (whether through voting, petition, litigation, civil disobedience, political violence or even the conquest of power — anything other than its destruction), we can take this process further. The concept of progress and the piece-meal approach that is its practical expression point to another quantitative aspect of the leftist conception of social transformation. This transformation is simply a matter of degrees, of one’s position along an ongoing trajectory. The right amount of adjustment will get us “there” (wherever “there” is). Reform and revolution are simply different levels of the same activity. Such are the absurdities of leftism which remains blind to the overwhelming evidence that the only trajectory that we have been on at least since the rise of capitalism and industrialism is the increasing impoverishment of existence, and this cannot be reformed away.”

To Change Everything by Crimethinc

  • And last but not least, a primer on anarchism and anarchist praxis. Here’s the section on representation; it references both political and media representation at once:

    “You can only have power by wielding it; you can only learn what your interests are by acting on them. When every effort to exert leverage on the world must be channeled through the mediation of representatives or translated into the protocol of institutions, we become alienated from each other and our own potential. Every aspect of our agency that we yield reappears as something unrecognizable and hostile to us. The politicians who always disappoint us only show how much power we have given up over our own lives; the violence of the police is the dark consequence of our desire to avoid personal responsibility for what happens in our neighborhoods.In the digital age, when every person must continually serve as his own secretary to manage his public image, our very reputations have become external, like vampires feeding on us. If we weren’t isolated from each other, competing to sell ourselves on so many professional and social markets, would we invest so much time and energy in these profiles, golden calves made in our own image?

    We are irreducible. Neither delegates nor abstractions can stand in for us. In reducing human beings to demographics and raw experience to data, we lose sight of everything that is precious and unique in the world. We need presence, immediacy, direct contact with each other, direct control over our lives—things no representative or representation can deliver.”

    If you read nothing else on this list, I guess read this.


I’m getting sort of bored with the theme of this blog. It’s not useful to me anymore, and I’ve moved on for the most part.

Mostly though? I’m basically over identity politics. As an anarchist, they don’t interest me, especially of the single-issue variety. Fuck that. I’m ace/aro-spec, I’m trans-spec, I’m neurodivergent, mentally ill, white-passing, and chronically broke. And discussions of any of those things by liberals (which, lets face it, constitute 90%+ of the dialogue) don’t serve me anymore.

I don’t want the “right” to enlist in the military. I don’t want the “right” to get more government benefits. I don’t want the “right” to get arrested without incident. I don’t want the “right” to be able to pay off my student loan debts without going hungry.

I don’t want “rights” at all.

Rights are things given out by governments who lengthen the leash and hope that you forget that they’re holding it. Seeking rights is seeking assimilation into and approval by the state. Who in their right mind wants the state to like them? Especially a capitalist state, where your value is defined solely by your capacity to generate surplus value for your bosses, and the ease with which you’re willing to part with your meager earnings? Let’s stop kidding ourselves: every new “equality” measure and social breakthrough boils down to there being one more demographic to sell shit to.

Aces want a big-budget Hollywood coming out story? Okay, it’ll put asexuality in the spotlight for a few months. You’ll have urged all your friends and loved ones to go spend $20 to see this shit so that they can somehow, in a roundabout way, support you? How does stuffing the coffers of white, hetero, capitalist Hollywood execs help us exactly? How does it help aces not in western countries? How does it help aces living in poverty in developing countries? Aces in regions where marriage is often arranged and marital rape a given? Hint: it doesn’t. And before you try and say that anything helps, what you’re saying is that conscious consumerism is what counts here. That showing capitalists and the state (because states have a long history of fraternizing with filmmakers) that we care via our dollars (what if we don’t have dollars?) is the battle to be won here. Guess what, it’s not. Pride parades have already been co-opted by big business and fucking beer coprorations, when the first pride was an anti-capitalist, anti-police riot. STAR didn’t give a rat’s ass about identity politics; it cared about saving lives, and it cared about ending state-sponsored brutality. Follow the trail long enough, and all brutality ends up being sponsored by the state.

Enough with the hate crime laws that just put more power in the hands of a fucked up judicial and prison system. They are not here to protect any of us.

Eliminate governments, capitalists, the police, and you’ve eliminated most of the problem we face as minorities. Identity politics will make us feel better, but it is by its nature a dead-end trajectory. You bide time by asking your abuser to be nicer to you, but it will never be the same as escape.

This post has been brought to you by someone who is disappointed that I don’t care for stories about asexuality and would just prefer to have asexual characters in other kinds of stories because I’m not a fan of any one particular genre, arc, character archetype, setting, or anything. If it’s good and I have the time, I’ll expose myself to it, because that’s what adds to my existence. Not token books and sitcoms that vie for my money just like all the rest of them.

No, this isn’t a direct response to them personally, this is just the straw that broke the camel’s back. It provided an opportunity to realize that I just don’t give a shit anymore. There’s bigger fish to fry.

Been Gone

I’ve been thinking about that last post of mine for the past month; I’m going through the thing again right now, but I’m doing better at not letting it take over 24/7. What’s better is that I can focus on learning about it, too, figure out what, exactly, is happening and how it feels. A few observations so far:

– It’s almost entirely adrenaline that I’m feeling, and its endorphins are what trigger a HUGE dopamine hit for me, not necessarily other “cozy” feel-good chemicals associated with sex. This is probably why I don’t focus quite so much on orgasm and direct sexual stimulation:

“The power of dopamine and our reward circuitry are seen in classic experiments done on rats. Consider what happens when sadistic scientists put a starving rat on one side of a grid with electric current running through it and food on the other side. The rat will not cross the pain-producing grid. Yet put a rat with an electrode planted in her reward circuitry on one side of the grid and a lever she knows will stimulate her reward circuitry on the other, and she’ll dash across the grid to tap that lever nonstop. Stimulation of her reward circuitry becomes her top priority, because it’s telling her inner compass that a big reward is just around the corner. She will ignore food, even if starving, or abandon her unweaned pups just to tap that lever until she drops.If the rat is male, he’ll ignore a receptive female to tap it until he drops. Humans implanted with similar electrodes (decades ago) experienced a constant urge to tap their levers, as well as intense sexual arousal—but not pleasure or orgasm itself. They also reported an undercurrent of anxiety.”

This describes me when I’m in this brainspace pretty fucking well. Dis…concerting.

– My heart rate is elevated when I’m “here”, almost all the fucking time. I feel like I’m ready to fight almost every moment that I’m awake, except… it’s 100% sexually-charged energy. This is probably why I would drop so hard when it was all over years prior; my adrenal glands were EXHAUSTED after a few days of this. This time around, if I take things slow and don’t give in, then I can keep my heart rate lower. Still not normal, but lower.

– Because of the above, I’ve noticed this time around that I get cold and clammy a lot easier, my appetite is suppressed (I’ve only had 2 half-meals today), and I tend to tremble the tiniest bit at seemingly random intervals.

This is all I’ve got for now. I’ve been reading a fanfiction today and yesterday, though, that has not only been pretty hot, but has also somehow given me a lot to think about in regards to myself and my sexuality? It’s really long and some parts are boring, but it’s otherwise an utterly fantastic read, and wow, they feel like real fuckin’ people: After Hours on AO3 Something else that prompted me to write this is that I was replying to someone else, a longtime community member on a fetish forum I’ve been on-and-off with for a few years now, who was talking about their inferiority complex and how that is the biggest reason he has the fetish that he has:

Not at all man <3 Everyone’s got their demons, their secret things that they just fucking hate. I was on birth control every day for 7 years to keep my gonads from self-destructing. The amazing by-product of this medical necessity was that I found I wasn’t singlemindedly horny every month like clockwork. And it was soo freeing. But now that I’ve had my surgery, and after starting to develop some perimenopausal symptoms from my BC, I stopped because it was probably going to fuck me up way more in the long run than help. So now I’m left with this hormone fluctuation thing and it’s so maddening and I hate it but I don’t hate it because I guess it’s just part of who I am? And back before I went on antidepressants, I would basically curl up into a ball and cry every month because I wanted so so so bad to be small and have sex with a GT and it was never going to happen. I don’t miss that feeling of hopelessness and anger, but it still doesn’t feel quite right to not feel so intensely about it. But I’m still left to deal with the monthly horny thing. It makes me stupid and needy, like a dog when I’m like that, and it takes Jedi-level mental prowess from transforming me into a useless junkie for 4-5 days who doesn’t want to eat or even shower. But it’s still there and I gotta fucking deal with it. I’ve talked with the hubs about trying to integrate that part of my body chemistry into our relationship dynamic, and boy howdy it’s going to be damn awkward for me, but it’s better than just trying to ignore it or continuing with the self-loathing thing. Anyways, I guess what I was trying to say is that shit man, “alone” is a planet in another solar system and you haven’t even left earth. Beating yourself up really doesn’t help anything, yannow? (I know, I’d do well to take my own advice lol.)

After writing this today I realized that integration is going to be something that I really WILL need. And I have no idea how I’m going to go about it, but hubs said he did like the idea of me begging for play. So I’m hopeful. Anyways, gonna end with this chart, just for my own future reference since holy shit, I see myself in most of either of those unhealthy categories:

Dopamine Levels (or altered sensitivity to dopamine)

Excess Deficient “Normal”
Addictions Addictions Healthy bonding
Compulsions Depression Feelings of well-being, satisfaction
Mania Anhedonia—no pleasure, world looks colorless Pleasure, reward in accomplishing tasks
Sexual fetishes Lack of ambition and drive Healthy libido
Sexual addiction Inability to bond Good feelings toward others
Unhealthy risk-taking Low libido Motivated
Aggression Erectile dysfunction Healthy risk taking
Psychosis Social anxiety disorder Sound choices
Schizophrenia ADHD or ADD Realistic expectations
Sleep disturbances, “restless legs” Parent/child bonding
Contentment with “little” things

I occupy almost all of the left column when I’m “here”, and its an uphill battle to get to the right-hand column; this was much, much more pronounced, and much harder, if not impossible, to counteract prior to me being on antidepressants. When I’m not “here”, I’m between the middle and right-hand columns. Fuck, this explains a lot.

Rock and a Hard Place

I really don’t want to write this entry. But I have to. It’s the right thing, the healthy thing, to do.

I think I’m a porn addict.

There. I said it. Now let me explain…

Actually, how to explain? Where do I even start?

I guess I could start with the fact that I’ve been both horrified and transfixed by erotic imagery and stories since around puberty. That my addiction switches on and off on its own, in concert with my monthly hormonal cycles.

I’ve always had a really difficult relationship with my hormones, fraught with both euphoria and deep, deep depression. During the few days of the month where I’m probably ovulating, I turn hypersexual. The addiction is switched “on”. In a matter of hours I start to think more and more about sexual imagery and scenarios, and by the next day I’m usually frantically scanning or or AO3 for something, anything, “good”.

When I was a young teen, any kind of sexual content was “good”. But now, more than 10 years later, I find myself getting into all kinds of risky edge play, humiliation, degradation, and fear. My fantasy giants have gotten bigger and bigger over the years. When I first admitted to myself that I was a macrophile as an 18 year old, 10′ was tall enough for me. Now I’m writing smut featuring 100+’ men. Escalation in response to a building tolerance is a classic symptom of addiction.

Cambridge Neuropsychiatrist Valerie Voon was featured last year in the UK documentary Porn on the Brain. Her research demonstrates that the brains of habitual porn users show great similarity to the brains of alcoholics. A brain structure called the ventral striatum plays a significant role in the reward system of the brain—the pleasure pathways. It is the same part of the brain that “lights up” when an alcoholic sees a picture of a drink.

When having sex or watching porn, dopamine is released into a region of the brain responsible for emotion and learning, giving the viewer a sense of sharp focus and a sense of craving: “I have got to have this thing; this is what I need right now.” It supplies a great sense of pleasure. The next time the viewer gets the “itch” for more sexual pleasure, small packets of dopamine are released in the brain telling the user: “Remember where you got your fix last time. Go there to get it.”

Norepinephrine is also released, creating alertness and focus. It is the brain’s version of adrenaline. It tells the brain, “Something is about to happen, and we need to get ready for it.”

Sex or porn also trigger the release of oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones help to lay down the long-term memories for the cells. They “bind” a person’s memories to the object that gave him or her the sexual pleasure.

The body releases endorphins, natural opiates that create a “high,” a wave of pleasure over the whole body.

After sexual release serotonin levels also change, bringing a sense of calm and relaxation.

This is powerful shit. And this cocktail of self-induced drug bingeing can last for days.

Being in that space… you’re basically high. You’re high but you’re cogent enough to be single-mindedly seeking out every way to keep the high going for as long as possible. More, more, more. Some sex or porn addicts call that headspace a haze. It’s very much an altered state, and I can tell you that it’s very dream-like in the way is causes you to detach from the real world and even from yourself in an episode of dissociation. Things that you cared deeply about, things that got you excited and happy 24 hours earlier? Suddenly completely flat and uninteresting compared to whatever erotic shitshow is going on in your head. (And it goes on 24/7.)

This haze has cost me sleep. It’s cost me homework assignments, it’s set me back at work. Once you’re there, it becomes impossible to concentrate on anything in the outside world that doesn’t remind you of sex. And it’s funny, because actually lots of things remind me of sex when I’m stuck in the haze. Music will turn me on. The way a shadow falls on something in just the right way. The stupidest fucking things will make me think of sex and push me further into the haze. I pushed a sponge into some water in the sink so it would rehydrate and I could wash a dish recently. That was sexual to me. And that’s actually the moment when I realized that I was fucked.

  • You feel powerless over how you act sexually.
  • Your sexual choices are making your life unmanageable.
  • You feel shame, embarrassment or even self-loathing over your sexual acts.
  • You promise yourself you’ll change, but fail to keep those promises.
  • You’re so preoccupied with sex it becomes like a ritual to you.
  • The negative consequences of your behavior are getting worse and worse.

I cried myself to sleep last night for the first time since I’d gone on SSRIs. It’s been over a year since I’d been in such a dark place. I’ve written here pretty extensively before how much I’d always hated my libido, and last night I hated it more than anything else. The thing is, I know how to get rid of it– the combination of anti-depressants and birth control pretty much squashes it completely; so completely, in fact, that I’m not even hardly interested in kissing. So my despair was more about how I hated what my libido is, what it’s always been, versus what it should be. How can I be healthy? I don’t even know what being healthy is like. If sex is to be part of my life, which is what I want, then how, dammit? All I see from where I’m standing is two equally shitty options: indulge, and continue to dance on the edge of addiction, or abstain, and turn away from intimacy with my husband indefinitely. I’m at a complete loss. I don’t know what the fuck to do.

What’s more is that I have no idea how this developed. My sex drive has triggered this like clockwork ever since I could remember. All I know, and this is something that exploring my nonbinary gender identity has taught me, is that there is something profoundly broken about the way I exist in my body. Something in me is so unhappy that it’s numbing me in every way it can. Since puberty I’ve also had some very close calls with anorexia, and more recently, I’ve turned to alcohol. Meanwhile, this porn/sex thing has been going on in the background.

Is it the testosterone? Am I spiraling into depression and dysmorphia every time my natural T levels spike in tune with the menstrual cycle? Or am I just like that all the time and the T makes it impossible to ignore?

I don’t know. I don’t have any fucking answers.

All I know is that I’m questioning a lot of things about myself right now. Things I’ve taken for granted over the past few years. Am I really ace-spectrum, or am I so sexually dysfunctional from over a decade of porn bingeing that I’ve accidentally trained myself to not be sexually attracted to real people? Am I really trans or are my hormones playing such havoc with my brain that I don’t know how to be cis?

Why am I so self-loathing? What part of me can’t I stand?

I don’t even know how to start bolstering my self esteem because I don’t even know what body part or aspect of myself  I don’t like. I didn’t even know that I didn’t like myself to begin with. I thought that I thought I was pretty okay.

I remember crying once or twice after having perfectly fine and normal sex with him. I felt disgusting for some reason. I felt hideous for asking for I wanted. The same kind of disgusting and hideous that I would feel after crashing after a binge. After the haze couldn’t sustain itself anymore and my brain gave up, exhausted from pumping out an adrenal response and erotic high for almost a week straight.

I don’t know how to heal. I don’t know what to do.


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