Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Inner Struggle

When it comes to maintaining relationships, I'm a very physical person.  When life gets in the way of my time to be alone with partners to share affection and intimacy, I start to feel very disconnected from them.  I do my best to go with the flow and respect that they are just as tired as I am, that maybe they aren't sleeping well, or work is stressful, or the kids were monsters while I was away at work. 

But after several days of this disconnect I get restless, morose, and out of sorts.  When asked what is bothering me, my first reaction is to shrug it off and blame my mood on work, tiredness, etc.  I know that this isn't helping anyone, that I need to communicate, but who wants to hear "I was just hoping for some intimacy" when they have other stuff on their mind?  Who wants to feel like they aren't satisfying their lover?  Because it's not about being unsatisfied, it's about connecting to someone on a core level, without all the bullshit words and societal nuances we've made up in our culture.

I don't want my partners to feel like the only thing I care about it sex... but it is an integral part of how I operate in relationships.  If we aren't connecting enough to have a healthy, rather frequent sex life, I start to worry that we are falling apart.  If we go from multiple times a day to barely once every three days, I start to see potential problems where there probably aren't any.  I start to over analyze my own actions and needs, thinking maybe I'm too high maintenance or expect too much. 

In short, I get a little crazy. 

I know the answer is to talk to them.  It's just not an easy thing for me to talk about sometimes.  Most men say they would love it if their female partners wanted more sex... but the reality is, they often take it personally when you do ask for more.  They ask, "Am I not satisfying you?"  The honest answer is, yes, you do, and I want more!

So why can't I just say that?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Finding My Kinks

I recently read an article by Jillian Keenan describing how hard it can be to expose a particular fetish, in her case spanking, to our partners. It got me thinking - not only did I used to have trouble expressing my needs to partners, but for most of my life even I wasn't sure what they were, exactly. From almost the beginning of my sexual experiences I remember feeling that something was missing. I remember moments where what was happening was almost what I needed to orgasm, but not quite.

For the first 15 years of my sexual life, I only climaxed from penetrative sex a handful of times, usually on accident. I usually came via manual stimulation if I did it myself with a partner kissing me or helping me. It was not until I found the Libertine, and also discovered kink, that both of those things became easy for me. Looking back, I should have looked for this outlet years ago. I live close enough to a major city, I have plenty of access to the internet and kink-friendly resources, that I should have put two and two together a long time ago. But I didn't.

I remember being a young girl dreaming about my first kiss. I remember the picture in my head clearly: he would wrap an arm around my waist, pulling me close, the other hand holding my head and then clamping down roughly on a fistful of my hair as our lips met. My actual first kiss was trembling, bodies far apart, neither of us sure what to do. For years I looked for a man to kiss me the way I really wanted to be kissed. By the time I got married I had pretty much given up, thinking that perhaps I was being unrealistic and setting the bar too high. The first time the Libertine kissed me I nearly fell over in shock because he read me like a book, and spent several hours giving me exactly the experience I had been craving my entire life.

When I was 12 years old I got into a verbal argument with a boy. I pushed the envelope of the argument to a personal level, and his response was to full-armed slap me across the face. I was thunderstruck, and so conflicted with the excitement that rose in me that I just stood there, never breaking eye contact until a teacher dragged us both off to our punishments. I have thought about that day many times since, and when I first learned to pleasure myself (before I had concrete physical experiences to draw from) I would use it as a focal point. Being slapped still holds the same effect for me as an adult.

When I was 19 years old I ventured into a sex shop by myself for the first time ever. One would think that my first sex toy purchase would have been a vibrator or a dildo, but I was drawn to a set of gleaming steel nipple clamps. I bought them, took them home, and hid them. I only ever used them when I was flying solo. I never showed them to a partner until I met the Mister. He was willing to use them with me but was not really interested, and after one try I put them aside. When I started dating the Prime last March, one of the first things he tested on me was a set of clamps, and I could not believe the response my body gave when they were used by a willing partner. Now, with the Libertine, clothespins and rough play are two of my absolute favorite things in the world.

At age 22 a partner physically assaulted me during a disagreement, throwing me into a wall and then forcing me to the floor. The situation quickly escalated into extremely hot sex, resulting in one of the few times I climaxed during penetration. At 25 a partner grabbed me as I entered his apartment and ripped off my shirt, leaving it in shreds. After our quickie was over, I was forced to wear his hoodie over my bra while we were out with friends for a night on the town. I felt exposed, aroused, anticipatory. He apologized for what he thought was awful behavior, and when I revealed how I felt about it he seemed to disapprove. I have asked every partner that I've had repeated sex with to tie me up at one time or another. Most vanilla men will do this once in a while, but having it done by a man who is as turned on by it as I am? Words cannot accurately express how much that excites me.

It's not just these things that should have told me I was looking for more in my sex life. During the early 2000's, when CSI was a huge hit of a show, there were a series of episodes featuring a character named "Lady Heather." She was the madame of an establishment that catered to the BDSM crowd. My boyfriend at the time could only say, "That's some fucked up shit." I could only think, "Oh my god, I want to go there." I've probably read the Claiming of Sleeping Beauty trilogy by Anne Rampling (Anne Rice)at least 50 times. Ironically just before I found partners to teach me what I'd been missing, I donated the books out of misery, thinking I should put aside the dreams and try to live in reality.

Today, I'm enjoying an extremely healthy D/s relationship with the Libertine. Giving him the consent to use my body for his pleasure gives me the release I need to achieve sexual fulfillment. Even when we don't play, my response to his touch is immediate and passionate. Finding my kinks has helped me become a better person. I'm no longer constantly wondering what I'm missing, and my confidence in daily life has skyrocketed. I know who I am now.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sexy is a Mindset

Saturday morning found me waiting for the gym to open so I could squeeze 30 minutes of interval running in before going to work. It turns out that the only other people working out at 7am on a weekend fall into two categories, a) insanely physically fit and b) soccer moms using the workout as social hour before their busy day of team sports and suburban insanity.

After my workout I showered and got ready for work in the locker room. I am not shy at all in a locker room situation. If I'm getting dressed and a boob is showing, so what -you've got them, too. I'm not going out of my way to stare at other women, and I'm not going out of my way to hide my body while I'm in the process of dressing it.

So there I was, in my work trousers and a bra, blow drying my hair. Nothing remotely sexual was showing. There wasn't even a hint of an areola to worry about. But over and over women from the above two categories would come into the shower/bathroom side of the locker room, see me, and make this "ew, cover that up" face. I wanted to punch every single one of them.

I'm a plus sized woman. I live in a body that, while pregnant, saw the scale top out at 278 pounds. I cried that day, two days before giving birth to my firstborn, because I thought that I would never ever love my body again. Five years later, I love my body even more now than I did before I got pregnant.
I love the way my hip curves into my backside. I love that despite being rather large and pendulous, my breasts are firm and pleasing to behold. I love that my skin is soft and my hair is shiny. I love my smile, my laugh, my eyes.

So to see these women - these skinny, "average" women - glaring at my naked torso and my satin-clad bosom as though I was disgusting made me irate. What right did they have to decide what beauty is? What right did they have to judge? Sure, I was at the gym, where people go to become skinny - but that's not why I go there. I go there to feel healthier, to breathe better, and to increase my endurance for my other (ahem) physical activities.

I tweeted about my experience, and The Hippy Chick 33 (@TheHippyChick33) pointed out that perhaps these women were simply unhappy with themselves for not being as confident in their bodies as I am in mine. I'm sure that to some extent that is true, and that makes me sad. Every woman should have the ability to feel beautiful in their body. Every woman should be able to feel sexy and desirable.

I don't spend time looking in the mirror and telling myself I'm beautiful. But I do make it a point to do something for myself every day, whether that be painting my nails or going for a run, or making myself a cup of tea and sitting by myself for 20 minutes. I wasn't able to project this confidence until I was able to truly love who I am, from top to bottom. Yes, there are parts of me that I would like to change, and I'm working on them. But overall, the person that I am and the way that I look? I earned that, I've been to hell and back, I made it, and I love it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Stepchild Guilt

The Libertine's daughter stays with us every other weekend.  I love her to death, and so does the Mister.    If you google "stepchild guilt" you get hundreds of stories of step-parents who hate their stepkids.  That's totally NOT the case here.

The problem I have is that I feel like I just don't know her very well.  I don't know what she likes to eat.  I don't know what kinds of toys she is going to want to keep here.  I don't know if she even enjoys being here, to be honest.  I know that she likes to play with the Monkey and the Mongoose, but at times it seems like she is totally overwhelmed at being in a house full of boys (though I can relate on that count).  

The Libertine is doing his best to help me figure it out, but in the gaps between Princess visits things often change, so what was true two weeks ago might not be true this weekend.  This weekend she might eat chicken nuggets, next time she won't touch them.  Last time she was with us we went to the store with her and I asked her to pick out things she wanted to eat, and she was afraid to ask for what she wanted.

I'm afraid that I'm somehow earning the "Stepmother" badge - you know the one.  I never yell at her, I never ask her to do anything that my own kids aren't expected to do (pick up toys, etc), and I try to love on her as much as possible.  I worry constantly that something I'm doing is making her mother angry.  I try to make sure her hair and teeth are brushed each night, that anything she leaves behind is kept safe, and that she has a place in our house that is just hers to keep her things in.  I'm judging myself constantly on my parenting skills of a child that's not mine.  I probably judge myself harder regarding her than I do my own two boys.  

I know this is silly.  The Princess and I will work out a relationship over time.  But right now it is emotionally really hard.  And things happen sometimes that result in knee-jerk emotional responses that make me seem totally crazy.  For example, the last weekend that the Princess was here, her Mom fed her immediately before the Libertine picked her up.  I was at home making a dinner that I knew she was going to want to eat, so when he told me she had already eaten I felt a bit like I'd been punched.  The first thing that popped into my head was "Her Mom doesn't think I feed her.  She thinks I won't make her things she likes and she goes home hungry every weekend."

Isn't that the most irrational, crazy thing ever?  But that's exactly the thought I had.  Maybe it's a subconscious fear I have.  Compared to my kids the Princess does not eat much - my two are almost always eating a piece of fruit or a handful of pretzels.  The Princess reminds me of the little alien dude that Scotty was stuck on the ice planet with in the new Star Trek movie: "You don't eat anything!  You could eat a bean, and you're done!"

When I told the Libertine how I was feeling, he reminded me that they do the pickup/drop off right near a restaurant.  It's only natural that the Princess should see the food advertisements and ask for something to eat - she's 6.  My 5 year old would do the same thing.  

I never expected that I would consider myself a bit of a stepparent.  Having a girl around here is pretty awesome.  I just need to adjust to everything being so different from being the parent of boys.  All of a sudden there is pink stuff, and dress up toys, and theatricality.  The Monkey and the Mongoose love when she comes over.  We'll be out shopping, and the Monkey will see Hello Kitty and exclaim "We need to get that for the Princess!"

I guess we needed a little girl around here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Snapshot of a Day

Well, I missed a day of NaBloPoMo.  Do I get a pass if that missed day was due to an extremely sick toddler?  The Mister took the Mongoose in to the pediatrician yesterday where they did a breathing treatment and prescribed an inhaler every 4 hours and a liquid steroid to help clear his airways.

On the way home the Libertine and I had to stop at the pharmacy for his medicines, which involved a very long line and a lot of whining on my part.  I dislike the pharmacy, and lines.  Once I figured out the new "express pickup" feature at Walgreens, though, I was much less whiny.

By the time we administered an inhaler treatment to a very upset Mongoose, fought with the Monkey about bath and bedtime, and got them both tucked in, I was done for the day.  I snuggled up on the couch with the Mister and the Libertine and watched some science channel before we all passed out before 9pm.

Aren't we a blast?  This is pretty much what every day is like for us, more or less.  We are an extremely normal family, we just happen to have more than two adults in love.  Just because we aren't "mainstream" doesn't mean that our day to day lives are any different from the rest of suburbia.

Although I'm totally NOT a soccer mom.   

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Raising Geeks

I spent the greater part of this afternoon completing the first of a set of crochet Star Wars figures.  As I was getting closer to being done, the Mongoose, who is almost 2, kept coming up and taking the partially assembled figure to examine it.  "That's a Jawa," I told him.

He then proceeded to run throughout the house chanting "Jawa.  Jawa.  Jawa.  Jawa.. JAWA."  He thrust the little figure into people's faces, hugged it, and refused to give it up.

We're training the kids young to appreciate the glory of geekery.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Poly Problems: When Incomes Clash

As we are finding our way as a cohabitating poly family, we are finding there are certain aspects of life that are ingrained so deeply that adjusting has been harder than we thought.  The Mister and I are solidly in the "median household income" category of Americans, while the Libertine is not.  We are blue collar workers, while he has a very white collar, flexible schedule type career.  

To the Mister and I, $50 is a lot of money.  We are very experienced at dancing the fine line between making sure there is enough money in savings to cover an emergency and making sure that we have a little bit of fun every few weeks or so.  We splurge on the kids to the point of sacrificing for ourselves - something I'm sure every parent does, but for us it means that I will mend holes in pants instead of just buying new ones or that the Mister will eat a yogurt for lunch for a week straight to make up for the extra spending.

For the Libertine, $50 is nothing.  He will frequently take me out for lunch or dinner and think nothing of paying for it.  I have largely given up trying to pay for my fair share and instead make sure that I'm cooking dinner for him at least 4 nights a week and that I'm keeping up with the housewifery as best I can.  The Libertine is used to just going to the store and getting whatever looks good, something the Mister and I have just never done.  

It's been difficult for me to put aside my pride and my penny-stretching skills and ask the Libertine for help.  He repeatedly asks me how much money we need to accommodate for the addition of another adult to our home, and for a long time I would just dodge the question with "whatever you think is fair."  Lately he has taken to simply handing me random amounts of money, or getting the odds & ends at the store that he knows we need.  Money is a touchy subject, more for me than for him, and just because the Libertine and I love each other deeply doesn't mean that talking money is any easier.  I don't ask him much about his income or his spending, and he doesn't really ask us much about ours.  We each have a general idea of what is going on with the other money-wise, but we really don't get specific.  

It's very hard to change the way someone thinks about money.  The Mister and I are used to not having much to work with and making sure that we have what we need before we get what we want.  The Libertine doesn't really have to worry about delineating those things, so sometimes it's hard for us to communicate about why we can't do something.  For example, it took probably a month longer than necessary for us to get the Libertine a bed of his own in the house.  "We can't afford it right away" was met with "I will just pay for it," and we wanted to feel like we were participating in the changes to the household.  The Libertine just wanted a bed!  He felt like we were trying to make excuses for him not to be here full time, and the honest truth was that we just wanted some time to save up a little money to help pay for things.  

In the end, he did just pay for it.  We are learning, slowly, that we are now dealing with life on a totally different budget and scale.  It's taking us a long time to come up to his level, and a long time for him to come down to ours.  We're sometimes spending more than we intend to, and he's sometimes having to go without something when I come home from the store.  

But that's life, right?

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Response to the "Deli Line" of Polyamory

Amy Shiner is someone I follow on twitter, and she writes occasionally for the Huffington Post about her life as a kinkster and poly person.  Yesterday she posted this article, which prompted me to think really hard about how my interactions with the poly community here in Chicago have shaped the way my relationships have grown and the way I've dated.

When the Mister and I first started this, I was excited to date around and explore getting to know new people.  The first few months I met and dated 3-5 men, and talked to many others online without them getting past the initial screening process.  But as I made more and more contacts with others, I came to realize that many of the people labeling themselves as polyamorous weren't truly looking for relationships, they were looking for friends with benefits.  I'm not trashing their choice of label, I'm saying that their interpretation of polyamory didn't mesh with mine.  Perhaps that's why I had such a hard time finding a place in the community.  

As I got closer and closer to the Libertine, and also the Prime, I realized that I was looking for meaningful, lasting relationships.  I didn't want men to flit in and out of my life willy-nilly.  I didn't mind sharing them with other partners, as long as I was still able to see them often enough to maintain a meaningful bond and not have everything be about sex.  

Now that we are down to just the V, I look back on all the dating and chatting I did... and it was fun, but it was not fulfilling.  I still identify as polyamorous.  I still think that we are sex-positive and open to many different walks of life.  But for US, this family unit we are creating is the lifestyle we currently want.  That's not to say that in the future one of us won't want to date again.  And that will be okay as long as we are able to maintain our family bond through communication and trust.

Polyamory doesn't have to be like a deli line, as Amy describes it.  It can be so deeply fulfilling, and warm, and full of love.  Just like everything else in life, you get out what you put into it.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Teachable Moment in Sex Positive Parenting

A bleary-eyed Monkey stumbled into the Libertine's bedroom this morning.

Monkey: Hi Mommy.

Me, half asleep: Hi Monkey.

Monkey: Mommy, why are you in Mr. Libertine's bed?

Me: Because I love him very much.  

Monkey:  No, you love Daddy.  You sleep in Daddy's bed.

Me: Well honey, I love both Daddy and Mr. Libertine.  Daddy was at work last night, so Mommy slept in Mr. Libertine's bed.  

Monkey: No, you love DADDY.

Me: You can love more than one person.  Do you love Mommy?

Monkey: Yes.

Me: Do you love Daddy?  And Grandma?  And Grandpa?  And the Mongoose?

Monkey: ... Yes.

Me: See?  You can love more than one person.  

Monkey:  Okay.  Can I watch Phineas & Ferb now?

I am so grateful that our kids are young enough that this is just something they are going to regard as normal as they grow.  This is their family, and while it may not be traditional, it's full of love, acceptance, and support.