MAY IS MASTURBATION MONTH! Hear me out for a hot sec. As part of my bodywork training I have to mindfully masturbate for at least 30 minutes everyday for 30 days. This has been one of the most selfish and indulgent experiences of my life, and FUCK has it been worth it.
I’m a busy person. I have a hard time saying no to new exciting projects, new exciting people, making other people happy, seeking out information, having sex, quality time, movies, good food, puppies. I want it all, all of the time. Which makes time a very limited resource; taking the time out of my day to do more than just rub one out seemed excessive, to say the least.
But I’m dedicated and passionate about this little big path I am on so I hunkered down with the information given to me and started mindfully masturbating. For closer to an hour everyday for almost two weeks now.
I want to be very clear about something. I knew I had to do this 30 day practice before signing up, and in my head I thought “Oh, that’ll be easy enough. I’m a masturbatin’ champ. No one can give me orgasms like I give myself. EASY PEASY PUMPKIN SQUEEZY.”
Little did I know. This post is going to be very succinct compared to the giant pile of feelings and experiences that have occurred to/within me, but here goes:
– As one of my cohorts so aptly put it, I realized that I have been “mindlessly” masturbating for… lord knows how long.
– My mind becomes engulfed in fantasy, pushing myself to peak arousal as fast as I can. This isn’t a bad thing. BUT…
– I’m not present in my body during this. Haven’t been for years. Maybe not ever.
– Mindful masturbation is comprised of multiple variations of touch, movement, sound, kegels, breathing, and basically whatever creative things your mind can come up with.
– In doing some weird, beautiful, creative things to myself, I have begun to slowly train myself and my body to feel pleasure, to seek pleasure, to acknowledge pleasure. I DIDN’T KNOW HOW MUCH I WASN’T FEELING. I anticipate that this will only increase with practice.
– I’ve had a couple really intense orgasms. These have come up in the past couple of days compared to the first week or so of this all. But the orgasms aren’t the point. You needn’t orgasm at all for this.
– Science thing: something about emotional affects on the brain during reward experiences (science doesn’t stick as well to my brain as other things, sorry). One is “interest-excitement:” this is what happens when we watch porn, or see someone hot, or think of a fantasy. It’s an INCREASE in neural firing that’s like PEW PEW PEW SEX SEX SEX and then you orgasm and it’s over (this isn’t a bad thing, btw, just usually the only thing). The other is “enjoyment-joy:” which is a DECREASE in neural firing, akin to how you feel during a head rub or after you cum, it’s that “shit I feel real good right now” feeling, very trance-statey, relaxed. The practice I’ve been engaging in is bringing in the enjoyment-joy to sexual experiences. WHY, might you ask?
– My brain feels incredible. I feel like I could do a million things more than I would ever do on a day before I started this practice. My body just like FEELS NICE, just as a neutral state of being. The fact that I’m even noticing how my body feels speaks wonders — it’s like all of a sudden I’m tapped into the rest of my personhood, not just my brain and clit. I massaged my tummy the other day and started crying it felt so good. Then I cried more because no one has ever really massaged my tummy and how sad it was that I’ve gone 27 years and just now my tummy gets to feel pleasure.
– I broke my habits and now don’t NEED to masturbate in a certain position, thinking about certain things, touching myself a certain way. More than those specific things feel nice.
– I could never really figure my body out when I was young. I knew I had bundles of sexual energy inside me. All I could think about was other people and being close to them. But alone I couldn’t figure out how to tap into this to bring it to the surface. This practice is what I wanted when I was 12.
There is so much more then these things, but I will leave it at all of this for MASTURBATION MAY.
“If you want to change your life, change the way you masturbate.”
*Presented at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Pleasure Week, February 2017
Kink has been a part of my life longer than I have understood what kink is.
Things I wish someone would’ve told me:
That I would not become a raging, hedonistic, deviant shadow-version of myself. These were my mother’s whispers of her past partners and their ‘dark’ and ‘secret’ selves that they kept hidden in a cupboard in the basement. She would tell me she always had an inkling that those shadows were there and knew that her partners were struggling with their demons. The demons, I wish someone had told me earlier, were not because of the demons of whips and chains, or latex and knives, but the demons of guilt, shame and fear surrounding the symbolic whips and chains of whichever kinks we are drawn to.
I wish I knew sooner that ‘being kinky’ is a far reaching spectrum that can range from something as simple as the sensation of someone whispering in your ear, a hand on the back of your neck directing you as you walk, following a direction from a friend without question: Go put the kettle on, choose your tea and wait for me to get back from the store.
That kink is not only relegated to sexual relationships, but can touch into any interaction in whatever way you might like it to. That my inability to be dominant in my sexual relationships allowed for me to be dominant in my friendships with friends who are indecisive, friends who are going through a hard time and need someone to walk them through certain situations, colleagues who overwork themselves. Sometimes the only thing I crave when I want to fall into submission is for someone else to take the reins, and take my body through the motions so that I can turn off my brain for a period of time. Kink can be an excellent way of building intimacy in non-sexual relationships.
I wish someone had told me that the kinks we are drawn to do not define us as moral or immoral humans. I wish someone had told me that while it might be fun to ponder about some of the origins of my kinks, in reality it is often futile to nail it down to either nature or nurture. That while it is totally possible that my first consumption of porn may have shaped my desire to be more submissive in sexual relationships, I can point to even earlier recollections of being drawn to men in power, older men, and I have no clue where those desires came from.
At this point I’ve resigned myself to just accepting my weird brain as it is and just roll with it; it is far more fun this way.
I wish I knew earlier that if I am kinky one way with one person, it does not mean I have to be kinky in the same way with every person. And that while I am a queer woman, my submission specifically comes out only when I am around certain cis-men, and I become more dominant with partners of other genders.
I wish someone would’ve told me that kink is really just play time for grown ups. That the physical playground of childhood turns into the desires of the mind and the sensations of the body. That sexuality is dynamic and you get to choose your own limits. And when you find someone who likes to play the same games you like to play, it is super duper fun.
I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to prove my kinkiness to anyone, to prove how sex-positive I was, how in charge of my sexuality I was, how bold I was. That I didn’t need to lay everything on the table for anyone who asked. So many countless men insisting on knowing whether or not I liked to be tied up or choked before finding out what my last name was. Not that this can’t have it’s own place in time, I just wish I knew sooner that I am the gatekeeper of my own desires and I am the only one that gets to choose who I share those desires with.
I wish someone had told me just because someone calls themselves ‘kinky’ does NOT mean that they are good at it. There are aspects of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadomasochism) that require heaps of research before you go ahead and write your paper. And while it might sound fun and dandy if someone says they want to tie you to a post, blindfold you and treat you like an object, it does not necessarily mean that they have any idea what they are doing, or if they are doing it safely.
I wish someone told me that BDSM and forms of kink play can cause trauma, in both the head and the body. I wish someone had told me that as a submissive person, I have ALL of the power, and any dom who believes otherwise is one helluva a giant red flag. BDSM without the research and prep work is nothing shy of assault. Assault covered up in kink.
I wish someone had told me how to have the conversations about my submission so I didn’t have to rely on other people shaping those experiences for me. It was not enough to say to someone older than me, someone stronger than me “I want you to be rough with me.”
I also really wish I was able to forgive myself sooner for pushing myself beyond my own boundaries and not speaking up about them. I wish I knew how empowering it was just to say ‘no’ without any excuse or reasoning; you do not need one, the no suffices.
I wish someone had told me that the best play partners are the ones who hold the most respect for you and put your needs and requirements on the highest pedestal. The ones who ask what your safe words are before any play starts. The ones who negotiate boundaries prior to getting naked and then continuously during. The ones who want to keep learning and growing and recognize when they fuck up, too, so that you know and feel comfortable in them being able to see their own strength and their own boundaries. It is one thing when someone chokes to hard and you tell them, it is another when they continue to do it without change.
There are many times where I wish someone had stopped after starting something I was no longer comfortable with but believed I had to sit through it because I had already consented.
The best play partners are the ones who create containers that allow you to feel safe to communicate. The ones who, after getting your permission, will slap you across the face and then ask you “Where was that from 1-10?” and wait for your answer and then ask again “How hard are you okay with me going?” And if you say “don’t go harder than a 3” they hear that, respect that, and don’t go harder than 3.
The partners who check in, read your body language and ask “Would you like to use a colour?”
The colours, respectively, are Green, Yellow and Red.
Green, as you might guess, means All Systems Go, Keep Going, Don’t Stop, I’m Really, Really Enjoying This even if it looks like I’m in a great deal of pain or distress. Green is the ever joyful: I’m on board with this, whatever ‘this’ is.
Asking for a colour is a moment of stepping back into reality to ensure that everything you are doing continues to be consensual.
Sometimes, when in sub-space, you don’t even know where you’re at or how you’re doing unless someone comes and pulls you out for a moment to bring you back into the present: how is your body? how is your head? Sometimes this doesn’t even work…
“During the scene, the intense experiences of both pain and pleasure trigger a sympathetic nervous system response, [… a] part of the fight or flight response, produc[ing] the same effect as a morphine-like drug, increasing the pain tolerance of the submissive as the scene becomes more intense. Since the increase of hormones and chemicals produces a sort of trance-like state, the submissive starts to feel out-of-body, detached from reality, and as the high comes down, and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, a deep exhaustion, as well as incoherence. Many submissives, upon reaching a height of subspace, will lose all sensation of pain, as any stimulus causes the period to prolong.” – http://www.submissiveguide.com/encyclopedia/subspace/
Yellow hits pause. Yellow is the beautiful space of taking a moment to check in with each other. Yellow can mean various things to various people so always requires a conversation, no matter how small. Yellow might mean ‘less pain’ or ‘loosen your grip’ or ‘slow down’ or ‘we need to move onto something else’ or ‘I’m done with the paddle, but I’d be really into the whip’ or ‘let’s do you now.’
Attention to someone’s yellow is when kink play benefits both people. Attention to someones ‘yellow’ is attention to the details of their reactions, their bodies, their mental state. Whoever is momentarily in charge (the person acting as ‘dom’) is held to paying a great deal of mindfulness to a situation that might take you away.
Red is the immediate STOP. This is it, this is all. Release your hold, cut your ropes, stop your movement. Do not do ~one more spank~. Do not ever continue whatever it is you are doing. BDSM play can only function enjoyably if your partner KNOWS that their hard lines will be respected. Red is a good safe word. “Safe word” is also a good safe word. My partner and I made up our own safe word because it was romantic. I was supposed to say ‘dust bunnies’ but in a moment of panic, not able to breath properly, unable to recollect what stupid word we had romantically settled on, all I could say was “safe word.”
Safe words are also good for many other things. Like being tickled. This has been a good way to practice with my partner.
I wish someone had told me it isn’t always quite as simple as you might hope it would be. Just when you’ve become comfortable with exploring a certain area or realm of kink, something new sparks interest in your brain that confuses you just as much as the first one did. I wish someone had told me that this is totally normal and completely fine.
Only a couple of years ago did I finally feel safe and welcome entering into the kink community: I am a bold personality, I am assertive, I am probably a little too confident. I did not feel that I was allowed to call myself “submissive,” because I am not and did not want to be known as such. I had to hear from another, powerful and impressive woman, that she held her submission in her own way, just as her soft-spoken and kind partner held his domination in his own way. There is room for me in this community; no one will define your role or what you want and how you want it, but you. I can be stubborn and assertive and confident, and still want to be pushed into submission. There is room for you if you want it.
When I was 19, I had already become a self-proclaimed Slut. I held this title proudly (as I still do, but with far more understanding of what it means to me personally).
At 19, I tore through sex partners like it was my god damn life force. I went to Irish pubs downtown, I would get wasted off beer and tequila shots, wear short skirts that rode up over my ass, dance to Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy, and I would wait patiently until 1 or 2 in the morning when I would vacate the premises with some random boy. I was so proud of my achievements… like each different penis that entered my body was a notch I could carve into my Professional Wall of Fuckery, and, with this, each notch had the magical ability to give me a golden star of self-worth and desirability (shout out to society for this fucked up psychological training).
This is where the grey area starts and I feel like such giant outcome of everything our Westernized culture has told me I should be and I am enraged.
I have an unusually high sex drive. I knew this at 19 and I know this now. I was working with the information I had at my disposal to achieve the goals I wanted to reach: have as much sex as I could.
If I hadn’t been ferociously recording everything in journals, I would’ve told you that I rocked that shit. That I was the one in power in those situations and that sure, the men folk were using me, but I was also using them. The playing field was level. After I realized how easy it was to get laid, I upped the ante and often orchestrated these intensely intricate dates in order to not only bed the men, but get them “hooked”. I got high off seducing men that held more power than I did: older, *better* looking, wealthy, teacher, CEO, etc.
The experiences I was living empowered me. The experiences I am re-recalling shatter my heart because I know now I could not tell where being empowered stopped and being accommodating started.
What do you mean, Caitlin? I will give you an example dear reader.
One evening at Grace O’Malleys, all dolled-up real good, I went to the bar to get a Corona. The bar was busy and a friendly, 40-something old man who was sitting watching sports very politely and non-presumptively called the bartender over to our area so I could order. I teased him about wearing a baseball cap inside, and he revealed a totally bald head underneath and let me know it was because his head got cold otherwise. He was not hitting on me in any way shape or form – which I was confused by. He continued to help me get the attention of the bartender throughout the night, not once making any sort of sexual advance. At 1 or 2 in the morning, when I came up to the bar again, he asked me why I wasn’t dancing. I held out my hand, prompting him to come dance with me. He seemed astonished, but indulged me and lugged himself out to the dance floor where I pushed him up against a wall and started grinding on him, taking his hands and placing them on my young 19-year-old hips, my face tilted down, eyes staring up at him. After I lured him into making out with me for 15 minutes, I asked him to invite me back to his hotel room. He promptly complied.
I seem in charge so far, don’t I? Stupid, perhaps, going back to a 40-year-old strangers hotel room after I had inhaled 4 or 5 drinks (a lot, for me), without getting any of his information to give to my friends. But nonetheless, I set this situation up for myself. Of course, we fucked. It was fine, I’m sure. After he had finished (I couldn’t orgasm during partnered sex at this point so never even tried), I was lying naked on top of him, being coy with pillow talk and astonishing him with my real age which he had never inquired about. When, hard again, he inserted his penis without a condom into my vagina. I hesitantly accommodated. He came inside me without any warning. My reaction: a slightly inconvenienced “ugh, now I have to get Plan B tomorrow”.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???This 40-year-old man came inside a 19-year-old strange girl without any follow up conversation and I was under the impression that my reaction needed to be neutral.
So here we have a slew of things:
From this experience, I walked away feeling powerful because I felt hugely desirable. My Professional Wall of Fuckery notched this achievement of seducing a male in a position of power (because bedding men is hard…).
And also this intensely problematic pandering and accommodating to said male in position of power.
At 19 I built up a tower of self-worth through sexual conquests because I recognized that this was how I could become powerful. I was utilizing femininity to my direct benefit. This is what society, my childhood, my education, my culture told me: Be desired and be worthy. And I played and enjoyed the game because it directly benefitted me: I got laid.
Now, as I re-read all of my old journals, my sense of proud Sluttishness is mixed with a dense sadness for respect I did not get and did not know to ask for. For a deep love for my young self for fighting against gender stereotypes with bold sexuality but an immediate and intense empathy for the unrecognized and unseen trauma my body knows but I did not.
How many times I gave men access to my body and never stopped to recognize at which point I was being taken advantage of. I have so much fear and sorrow for the countless amount of young women who also don’t know where these differences lie because, as a society, we are letting our youth down because we are too scared to talk to them about sex.
At 25, this past year, I learnt that I am an accommodating person. Through no fault of my own, I was hand-crafted and sculpted into a beautiful statue of ~always putting other people first~. There is fine line between trying to better yourself as a human by humbling oneself and always thinking about other people (which is an actual thing I convinced myself I was doing – just ~being chill~ man), but realizing that you are realistically allowing people to wipe their shoes on your back as they tread through your life is a very sudden and horrific realization.
I don’t know how I can completely undo this. There is too much. So many interactions I did record, but so many I did not, and I am nearing the hundreds in regards to how many male partners I have had. And hundreds of experiences that I never directly understood as negatively until now is… too much… How much of myself have I indirectly given away? I don’t even know if I can wholly appreciate how it has effected me beyond having a deeply penetrating empathy for a completely different person that holds space in my past. And now I can’t unsee where this embedded accommodating comes up.
Am I doing myself a disservice when I choose not to speak up? Can I see clearly when I am allowing myself to be used? Am I using kink as a coping mechanism to deal with years of being used by men? Do I have a realistic standard to which I can understand power and when to utilize my own or not? I both feel as though I should brandish power in every instance because I was not given it, but equally understand how often power hinders conversation from moving forward.
Almost as soon as I was struck with this hard, deep truth, I made a vow to myself I would not compromise on my needs, wants or desires in order to accommodate another person, specifically a male person that I might be dating or fucking. I’ve begun to accumulate an elaborate list of things I will no longer tolerate:
– not checking in with myself and clarifying exactly what is is I need and want; and holding myself accountable for finding the time, space and energy to communicate these things.
– countless last minute cancelations:my time is worthy and important. I’m a fucking busy person running so much shit. I have no time to put up with your flakiness.
– not coming during partnered sex: I now push this portion to last longer often because I feel as though I need to make up for years of saying ‘oh, don’t worry about it’.
– sudden halts in communication followed by a highly expectant late night “sup?” (Read this fucking awesome article by Jess Beaulieu about Actions Speaking Louder Than Words.)
– catering to the men I was sleeping within order to “get” to keep sleeping with them (because apparently dicks are a godsend in short supply and I should be so lucky??)
– giving an endless supply of energy into relationships that do not mirror back that energy (going through the trouble to do human-care for another person: cooking, touching, kindness, listening, and not receiving these things back without any expectation on my part).
– not being frank and honest about where the fuck you are at; omission counts as miscommunication.
Amongst other things. This new self-imposed rule has deeply and positively changed the foundation for my life and my relationships. I’ve forced myself to speak up for myself in situations I feel are being mishandled due to poor communication. I’ve actually sat down with myself to figure out what the fuck I want and how do I even go about doing that…
This weight is with me. This weight will never leave me. It is this weight that will constantly keep my fire burning to fight for better sex ed so I don’t have to worry about other young women not finding value outside of a physical body, outside of sex, outside of being desirable. This slut is still a proud slut, but now my pride comes from the energy I’ve put into investing in myself and my life experiences.
At 5, my mother asked me if I knew how to play the piano. I said “Yes, of course.” I had never touched a piano before in my young, naive life, yet remained boldly confident that my brain and hands would figure it out because where else would this information come from?
I also believed I could fly, speak several languages and that my younger sister was my personal stepping stool.
It’s possible this big-thinkin’ could’ve turned me into the child prodigy I never was if just maybe my parents had a little more faith that, DUH, of course I could play the piano without any training whatsoever.
(Also: flying? I have that shit FIGURED out so hard in my dreams that I can literally [*what meaning does ‘literally’ have within a dream context?] just START FLYING whenever I want. I can physically feel what it muscles need to move and now it’s like riding a bike. Gravity is much more flexible in my subconscious…).
I have no clue where this innate insistence on being all-knowing came from… A combination of having stubborn-as-fuck parents and the privileges I gained from being raised in a middle-class, white family, I’m sure. Anyway, I can’t play the piano and I do not know how to speak any other languages.
I did, however, carry this absurdly brazzen confidence into my teen years and early twenties. With a very small amount of information, I nixed my University education and delved forth into proclaiming myself a “Sex Educator”.
Now, this probably had about 20% more merit to it than telling people I am pianist… I had boldly bared my naked, non-sexualized bod to be eternalized on the internet, I had read maybe two or three books about porn and non-monogamy, I was having a rampant amount of sex (that I now recognized as confused and vaguely problematic) and I had a pile of self-assurance sitting atop my self-constructed pedestal.
Thus the birth of this blog. And ya know, it hasn’t been for naught and sometimes you just gotta start somewhere. But after 5 years of navigating this world I man-spreaded myself into, I can very accurately tell you I was usually not totally right, often mis-spoke and was poorly informed despite my best intentions.
At some point around 2 or 3 years ago, I recognized the immense amount of information I did not know and how irrelevant my voice was and that there were SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE that were doing a better job than I was and whose voices I valued more than my own on the topics at hand… And I kind of just shut up. Not totally… I still had the absurd amount of stubborn confidence to start a porn company and run queer events (neither of which I had had any training in), but my blog has kind of withered into a ghost of what it was: slightly relevant, humorous (at times), wrought with poor grammar and largely misinformed.
During the past few years, I feel it’s safe to say that I’m putting in the research and reading and learning to actually refer to myself as a “Sex Educator” – if I stand on my toes I can just touch it. And I do largely believe I MAY have something to add to the discourses happening and reach at least SOME people who don’t have access to listening to the same voices I do. But where is all of your ~educating~ happening, Caitlin? It’s a nice title and all, but how exactly do you think you’re informing anyone? Just hoping that the thoughts in your head permeate into the minds of those around the world? Yeah, neat.
Thus, I will have to begin to write again instead of just sharing articles on Facebook and debating with people I know too well. And 19-year-old Caitlin is jumping in her seat because that tattoo of a quill on my back promising to ‘always be a writer’ might not just be a pretty design anymore.
To start, things I have begun to understand that I have not talked about in the past three years (amongst other things):
My own queerness and my own fluid gender expression
My preferred lovestyle and how to navigate authentically through that
Speaking up for myself in moments I have been taught not to – to hold space where I have often been ignored or undervalued
Intersectional feminism and how to actively be anti-oppressive to those who don’t hold the same privileges I do
My privilege & I are now very well-acquainted
What consent is. Slapped in the face with it and figured out how to be an active participant with it.
A deeper appreciation for bodies and minds that are different than mine and that I cannot be a spokesperson for anyone except myself.
So, with this, here is my official “I’m back for To Be A Slut 2.0” and I’m going to be less wrong about more things. Hopefully.
It happened guys. I got my first STI (note: this post is reeeeaaal personal, you’ve been warned). Realistically, given the amount of sexual encounters I’ve had within the last ten years of being sexually active, I’ve been continuously amazed at my general vaginal health. As a sex educator I am painfully aware of the risks involved in banging, let alone condomless banging. Our fragile human bods are capable of catching all sorts of things when we mash ourselves against another person. But duh, this doesn’t stop us.
Now, even as a sex educator, the logic in my brain can go into a spiralling deficit of hormones when in the midst of heavy-petting with someone I’m into. At this point in my life I’m fine to own up to the fact that I’ve definitely overlooked condom usage a handful of times. It’s fine. It happens. Like, you shouldn’t do it. But it happens.
This is where the kicker comes in… I got the STI that is also not an STI. Molluscum Contagiosum is common in children and can be transmitted through water, gyms, changing areas at pools (some websites claim pools themselves, but there is a whole lot of chlorine in most pools) and yes, also from skin-to-skin contact.
So while there is a possibility that someone in the last two weeks to six months (molluscum has a long incubation period) gave me molluscum from unprotected sex, there is also a high possibility that I contracted the skin virus from working at camp, from sharing a towel, from sitting nude on a surface at a sex club, or even from holding hands/hugging with someone who actively (and, hopefully, unknowingly) had the virus on their skin.
Fun stuff, right?
Like. Meh. I could do without it though.
You’re probably wondering why I am sharing the details of my genital health all over the internet. Accessible to… well… everyone (hi Mom…). Because in the moment of diagnosis I felt wholly and completely: gross, isolated, unloveable, alone, unworthy, dirty, sad, angry, depressed, anxious, unfixable. You name it. It was a fun night…
I’m writing this on the tail end of healing up, so I am in a considerably better headspace than I was a week ago. But having people that I could talk to (also, send them heaps of really gross and unflattering pictures just to get a second opinion) 1000% saved me from drowning in a pit of sadness.
I LOVE my genitalia. The whole shebang. My entire life is a testament to how much I enjoying utilizing my erogenous zones. So when I read on the internet (thanks, internet) that molluscum, while not harmful (no itching, no pain, no nothing, just little inconspicuous bumps that are contagious) will leave the bodies system on its own in 6 months to 2 years I almost barfed. TWO FUCKING YEARS. HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAH.
The longest I’ve gone without sex since I was 19 is probably about 3 weeks, tops (this blog isn’t called ‘to be a slut’ for naught). This potential 2 years of no sex was absolutely not a thing I was down to swallow (pun intended). Not even just the no sex part – the potential of having an intimate relationship with someone would just not even be an option. That’s SAD. STI’s are SAD. But they don’t have to be AS sad if we can talk about them openly and reduce the stigma attached to them.
For 3 days, I lived on the internet, scouring every corner to find a solution. There are creams and lotions and potions you can get (that apparently costs lots of money and do not work). You can go and get them frozen off, but there are always a bunch of dormant ones under the skin that haven’t surfaced, so this is an unnecessary amount of pain to go through. Or you can just wait two years and then get on with your life.
And then I found this heavenly little nook on a blog. The post has comments from the past 4 years of people going through the same problem and finding an actual, quick solution: Apple Cider Vinegar baths (or direct application).
The vinegar burns the bumps from molluscum virus so they turn into scabs and DIE. The baths also bring out any dormant bumps that haven’t surfaced yet, so you have the added benefit of making sure you get everything (although quite a horrifying site if you are not prepared for the surplus).
I smelt like salad dressing for a few days. It could’ve been worse.
I also accidentally burnt some of my vulva with too much vinegar (over-sharing ftw, if this happens to you, potential molluscum-virus-holder, coconut oil is super restorative, but use it sparingly as it can spread the molluscum).
I have been overwhelmed at the incredible quality of people I have in my life. While a good handful of the people I sought comfort from are also involved in sexual health (and therefore, typically have good knowledge of STI stigma), a good handful of them don’t know anything about sexual health at all and they were just really wonderful. A massive shout out to the lady who stared into my butthole for me without even questioning it for a moment (I’ll stare into your butthole any day, girl).
The startling realization that never in my life had I had the opportunity (or even desire) to not have sex with someone I was dating was daunting. While I had never even given my high sex-drive a second thought in regards to dating, all of a sudden I was immensely reassured that I held value as a person. Something that I KNEW (I’m a pretty confident person, she says humbly), but I had never actually experienced it so directly.
This is not the reality for most people. For good reasons people generally like to keep their health issues to themselves. I was very dubious about posting this out of fear of becoming the poster girl for molluscum (whatever. It’s fine). I was skeptical about posting this out of fear of my peers deeming me sexually unappealing or continuously contagious. Or causing previous sex partners to worry about their status (I didn’t give you anything, don’t worry, but you may have given it to me, so you may want to get checked). I didn’t want to have to bear the front of any of my friends or family not knowing enough about sexual health and then having to over-educate far too many people in my immediate life. (I was about to write “worried about job opportunities”, but really, Caitlin? There are FAR more reasons that someone wouldn’t hire you other than the over-sharing about your STI… [*ahem, porn*]. But this may be a reality for other people.)
My week long battle with molluscum has come to an end. It has been emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting. Quite frankly: it fucking sucked. But I am here, at the other end, and I’m FINE and it’s completely because I had people to talk to openly and honestly about it all.
So… If you’ve had or have an STI and want to write about it, you can send it to me and I will post it here, anonymously. For an entire week I was bursting with things to say/write, I can’t imagine I am the only one.
I turned 25 a little less than a month ago. Age is a strange and bizarre concept. At 12 I think I was older than my years. At 22 I was younger. At 25, I feel my age.
I feel my body taking longer to recover from hangovers. I feel my back getting crunchy if I don’t stretch during the day. I feel last nights bed-time french fries clinging and sticking to my insides. I feel my energy dissipating for particular sorts of interactions. My patience has both grown and completely gives no fucks when the situation calls for it.
At 25 I feel more alert to the fact that I am sharing so personally so globally. But I am struck by the ultimate goal I once had for this blog – to start a dialogue. So thrust forward I shall.
My penchant for states of mental intoxication is infrequent and often comes with a strict mandatory list of fulfillment before I can go down the road of “hey brain, you might not be back for a few hours”. My capacity for brief relationships and interactions is dwindling and I’ve come to realize how strongly I value one-on-one time with people.
At 25, I finally feel my body is my own.
When I was 19 I ordered “The Art of Seduction” online. I was ecstatic and embarrassed when it was delivered to my door. A young, awkward, and hypersexual teenager learning to seduce. Such a strange experience it was. Dolling myself up on a day-to-day basis, taking hours to pamper and dress myself before I could even leave the house. And when people would stare at me or men would hit on me, I would feel my eyes well up. Walking out of the bathroom from the Eaton Centre, a woman looked me up and down and verbally slapped me with “Well God, sorry I didn’t brush my hair this morning.”
Traveling to Scarborough for school, I would get hit on repeatedly by young men with the one liner of “Hi… Do you have a boyfriend?” and the only way I knew how to push them away was to say “Yes” and let the highly-acclaimed Male Respect wash over my new fan-base and leave me even more convinced that my body and appearance were not for myself, but for the men around me.
At 25, I know the difference. At 25 my relationships don’t change when I take my makeup off or wear sweatpants outside or get food on my face. At 25 I feel I have erased enough of this bizarre hypocritical life society expects of its young women. At 25 I have finally undone this engrained backwards thinking.
At 25, I understand how fleeting relationships can be because people are fleeting. You can never hold onto anyone because a person is not an anchor and often one has difficulty even holding onto themselves. At 25 I have learned sometimes it is ok if you don’t have enough energy to give. Some relationships are too drenched in history to unbury new kindling. Sometimes you can sit across from someone you’ve known deeply for years, and there is nothing you can say or do to resolve the personal conflicts you have both gone through together. I have been too loud to hear someone. I have been too quiet to have been heard. There is no possible way to resolve all conflict in all relationships. At 25, I am letting myself have “this is okay,” because if it’s not, I might not be able to anchor myself.
At 25, I breath deeply enough and have read enough Chopra, Mate, Tolle, Robbins, that I *hope* I can stand diplomatically and with open arms in the middle of a world that is very quick to shoot arrows and stay standing with minimal holes to my person.
At 25, I feel I have both lived 7 lives and lived none at all.
At 25, I both want to apologize to everyone I have ever unintentionally hurt and also reside in my bubble of stubborn, holding a mirror up to everyone I have fought with just so we recognize that we are just staring at ourselves. I see my own flaws so clearly in other people. I see my strengths, too.
My heart remains open, even though my head is exhausted. I sincerely appreciate and value the people in my life whose hearts are also open – it is an honor to be surrounded by friends and family who are so eager to give. I hope I am able to mirror your generosity.
At 25, I feel I have worked so hard just to go three feet forward and one foot back. And I think about all of the work that is still ahead of me and a part of me wants to lie in my bed nest with Max dog and just drink wine and fall asleep and a part of me has found the energy to keep going because passion or… something.
Here’s to my quarter-life crisis and the new sets of adventures this feeling of adult-hood will bring on.
At the bright and ripe age of 24, I have successfully failed at marriage.
If you are new to reading this blog, you will probably take one look at the name and think to yourself ‘well, duh, why would you even GET married’. If you know me… You might be thinking the same thing, regardless.
I am countlessly asked ‘What happened?” And as someone who has never been shy about sharing, I can honestly say, in the grand scheme of things… I don’t know. I really, truly, do not know anything about marriage.
And I know that these are things that don’t need to be said. I don’t owe any explanation to anyone, nor do I particularly want to give one. But in the interest in continuing this blog with the honesty and integrity I started it with, with the deep and real belief I have that the more we share and talk about things, the easier they become to change. So here we go.
A lovely thing someone posted on facebook the other day:
“Being married does not mean your relationship has more value than someone else’s.”
Which carries something beautiful with it and is, of course, 100% accurate. The government knows nothing about your relationship. Some of the most malfunctioning relationships could exist within marriage and some of the most magnificent relationships could exist outside of it.
I did not fail without a fight… Probably too many fights. I wrote countless letters that were never shared, attempting to find some wisdom in repetitive insight… (I never did… or maybe I did. Who knows). When it comes down to it, I physically and emotionally had no more to give. My posture collapsed in upon itself, my eyes welled up with tears, I became useless. Even writing this my chest is constricting and I have a headache. I had reached the threshold of what I could give of myself in this particular relationship.
Maybe it was because, as my mother never failed to remind me, “I was too young”… (I think I will always be too young). Maybe, it was because my brain, overridden by countless Disney movies and hollywood chick flicks, had very small amounts of other options of what to do when you are entirely consumed by love but to tie yourself to that person for your entire life. Maybe it was my over zealous spontaneity or confidence in my decision-making skills that marriage didn’t seem as daunting as it does now.
Whichever it was or is… I am okay with it. Of course. How could you not be. It was a relationship and relationships are so infused with love and beauty and consumption of wanting something so badly. Relationships are the epitome of the ultimate human expression, in whatever form that expression chooses to come out in.
There are so many other things that need to be said about being married and separating from the person who you existed in marriage with. There are so many moments that you ache for. There are feelings you wonder if you will ever feel again.
“I love your face. Like, so much so. Everything about it is something I find to be so appealing and handsome – a face I would want to spend forever with if I believed in forevers.”
In the painfully honest words of the most romantic teen fiction novel of our time: