Saturday, September 1, 2012

We have a new home!

The Coming Home project has a forever home now at -- join us there for the ongoing writing and wrangling with orgasm and masturbation as radical self care for everyone, and particularly for survivors of sexual trauma.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Coming back to old knowing

The first official non-NaMaMo post, here eleven days into the new month. I think I said, at the end of the last post, that I'd be back here tomorrow -- that I'd still be coming and posting. And it turns out that I was wrong: I needed a break after the intensity of the month; after thirty-one days of thinking about how I was going to write about my orgasm as I was coming, I needed some time to get out of that sort of meta-masturbatory headspace, and think again about coming just for me.

Too much interrogation of my sex, of how I'm doing it, of what I'm doing wrong and what I want to do better (too much allowing myself even to think in terms of wrong and better when it comes to sex!), and I begin to feel like I'm back home in Omaha in the house my stepfather built, and that's not at all the sort of coming home we're supposed to be talking about here on this blog. So I took gave my fingers some days off; in the shower, for the better part of a week, I just showered. I took the writing, this project of returning to the wholeness of my erotic embodiment, back offline -- and now I want to share with you some of what I wrote just this weekend:
Thirty minutes to write until the laundry is done. I read Eric Maisel while I eat breakfast: He says you must create from exactly where you are, in the middle of your everything -- keep writing. Drop everything. Make a schedule and keep it. There's no "getting away from it all" -- the only way to create is to figure out how to do it in the middle of your everything. (And isn't that true for these layers of recovery, too?) 
On Friday, I told my friend that I'm beginning to look around the edges of the lens of Incest, I'm beginning to wonder what exists of my sexuality not shaded or shaped by trauma. I tell her, Incest has been the lens through which I took in my entire life, and I thought I would be that way forever. Incest shaped everything, colored and bent everything; there was no pat of me not affected, not permanently altered.  
I saw the world through/as Incest, even before (could it be?) I saw the world through/as woman, through white/Caucasian, through middle-class: it was my assumption and breath, was my body and blood, my blink. The chalk taste that lined and limned the inside of my mouth, my tongue, the scrape that bit and bore at my shoulders. Incest was my base, by assured knowledge, the playing field, it's where I always started from -- always and first. How could there be any way around that? 
You understand about the kind of lenses I'm talking about, right? I'm talking about the way we look at the world, those experiences or identity that affect and shape how we see the world around us and that we expect to shape and affect how the world engages us; I'm talking about a constantly-worn pair of glasses, often that we don't even know (aren't expected to know) that we're wearing. Think about gender, sexuality, race, class, national or regional identity, ability, physical size, education, political belief system, friend network, community, experience of trauma -- we have so many lenses that, subtly or radically, alter how we view the world, how we experience our every day. Incest has been the lens I look through first, consistently. 
What I'm talking about is this: Incest has been my clapboard, it's been my house. It's been the sum total of my sexuality. Of course, that's not entirely fair -- but can I be honest? Incest has been the root reality of my sex, the place I come from. because I have so few memories of sexual experience prior to my stepfather's indoctrinations and abuse, I cradled sex and shame together (which, as an American woman, would have been my birthright anyway); I experienced my sex as entirely inflected by Incest -- the grace note that wouldn't go away, my entire sexual foundation, lodestone, education. 
I am beginning to ask, now, if that's actually true. I am beginning to question that lens, I am noticing that I have the ability to look around its edges, to view (and thereby engage) the world with a different valence. 
What does a lens do? Focuses. Colors. Textures. Opens or closes. Commutes. Centers or blurs. Shades or clarifies. It changes what and how we (can) see. What if this Incest lens isn't soldered around the insides of my eye sockets (like Molly Millions' mirror shades were)?
What if I can take them off? What if I can choose not to look at the world through Incest? 
I am not ready to remove my Incest glasses -- I am afraid of who I will be without that mantlepiece, without that wedge and megaphone. I can't quite imagine who I could be without them on. But I have a strong experience right now of peering around the edges into the body of my sex and finding brought colors there, new morning sun, finding heat and breeze, Finding my unincested body, a girl child with skin and nerves and bones, a girl child with hope and silence, with the fairy tale romanttic desire to be swept up and away, a girl child who played bondage games with a neighborhood friend -- who had a sexuality before Incest. One that preceded Incest. 
Ten years ago, I wrote: "Incest is the coffee I drink, all the air I breathe.
Today I am inhaling this possibility: that might not be true. Incest is not the air I breathe, not the food I eat. It is a lens, an experience, a knowledge, it is a knowledge my body holds.  What if Incest is not the only way of knowing anymore?

I'm off to spend a bit more time with this body, fingering into what unIncested particles are percolating around under my skin. Be as easy with you as you can be. Come again, just as you are.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Coming Home: Day 31 -- getting curious about radical self love

Today's the last day of National Masturbation Month -- how have these thirty-one days of radical self love treated you? Have you come every day, or loved on yourself most days, or thought more frequently about how your body likes to be tended to? How have you marked National Masturbation Month -- and what are you carrying forward with you? What will you leave here in May?

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For me, self-acceptance is the notion that I am not fundamentally wrong because of my history or physical body. It’s the realization that I am fundamentally right because I am neither my history nor my body. It’s the choice to recognize my humanity just as I recognize and respect the humanity of others. And, sadly, in our culture and in our time, accepting ourselves is really radical. It’s not common. It’s not expected. And, yet, it can be the greatest difference maker in moving forward gracefully in doing the work we are meant to be doing in this world.

Read more here:

Rosie Molinary, author of Beautiful You

Read more here:
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I'm thinking about radical self care, radical self love, and radical self acceptance -- these are all intertwined, don't you think?

I'm both excited and disappointed that it's May 31; I have been consumed by this daily project, which perhaps has not been the best for my own personal orgasm. It's easy for me to get obsessive, especially about how I'm doing sexually (and by doing, I mean recovering/healing): Are we all better yet? Are we fixed? Can we stop worrying now?

I learned well how to focus overmuch attention on the how of my sex, whether I was doing it right, whether or not (mostly not) I was coming, and why, and what I should be doing about it. I had to spend a lot of my adolescence in those sorts of conversations, whether overtly or covertly. This particular layer of my obsession with sex was fed to me, and I learned to breathe it in order to survive.

Obsession isn't the same as curiosity. What I've found this month is that I am happier and so much more functional when I can be curious about my sex, my desire, my orgasm rather than obsessed about these.

Curiosity, I think, is a feature of radical self love/care/acceptance. What happens when I get curious about this aspect of myself, meet it with love and interest, rather than with knives and hammers and microscopes, ready to study it away, ready to slam it into a new shape?

Here's an interesting definition I found just now:
obsess - haunt like a ghost; pursue;
Haunt like a ghost. Right. Exactly. When I am obsessed, particularly around my healing or my sexuality, I get into a rigid, numb place. It's hard to breathe easily. I want to be fixed now. I take on the characteristics of my old, scared self -- that girl who had to actively interrogate her body just in order to get through the night. I don't have to inhabit that ghost anymore. I can choose to meet this body with different lenses, different stories, different possibility.

I feel like this month of orgasms has invited me into a new relationship with my body, has invited me to consider my blocks and struggles, the places where I'm selfish and the places where I'm generous, where I'm still terrified and overwhelmed, where I'm still armored, where I ride shame, how much I need laughter with my sex, how I release and where I hold tight -- and has invited me to consider every breath a practice. Even coming, particularly for trauma survivors, can be a place of meditation and centering.

This month I got to tell people, over and over, about this project, that I was writing about masturbation and healing, trauma aftermath and radical self care, and got to push more deeply into the shame I hold about the very work that I feel has chosen me, and that I choose every day. For ten years, I have waited for people to tell me that I should be ashamed of myself for doing this work, for talking about powerful sexual desire and sexual trauma in the same breath, in the same workshops, in the same piece of writing (as though their disapproval would mean I had to stop!). But when I talk to people about the work, I am consistently met with encouragement, enthusiasm, curiosity, new ideas and subjects to consider, even tears: we all of us need more spaces to talk about the complexity of our desire and our relationships with our bodies, not fewer. And so, as I move into the end of this first part of the Coming Home project, I am so deeply grateful to get to engage in these conversations, to think critically about the ways we talk about healing in our different communities, to get to revitalize my own relationship with orgasm while doing the other thing I love most in the world: writing.

So thank you for being with me during this month. I look forward to more challenge, questions, laughter and wonder to come.

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Coming Home doesn't stop on this 31 May 2012. I'll be here again tomorrow, June 1, and we're going to be moving within the next week to our own domain, and will continue this curiosity-centered engagement with healing from trauma through (and sometimes against) radical self love and exactly the sorts of orgasms we want. Stay tuned, ok?

Be curious and adoring of your body today -- just exactly as much as you can be. Come again tomorrow. See you then.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Coming Home: Day 30 -- my body is more than a crime scene

I'm not hiding my love anymore...


where her body ought to be  

She wants to put her body where her words are, fully into the flavor of sex, stunned with the liquid of meaning and possibility, and the most hostile vulnerability.

This is the skin I settle into, the girl behind the screen, the safely ensconced in pixels or pencils / and yes, writing is an embodying affair / it sloshes your stones with hopes / it asks your nerves to show up for the aching / but I can forget how to breathe today / and I would almost always rather write than fuck / because behind the skin of my page, I can just be that free woman / the one with no safety torn and scabbed beneath her nails / the one whose triggers are taxidermied and mounted on the wall for all to see / they are quiet behind glass when I am writing and cannot startle or snare anybody — not there. When I am writing, my triggers become works of art / almost admirable / almost:

See, that one looks like her sister’s face cluttered over with fallen feathers, the plucked body of a girlchild / and / that one is a diorama of her high school, cardboard cutouts of her graduating class cluttering the forefront, the teenagers’ faces all stained a kind of rakish purple that meant they had eaten the fruit of tomorrow and lived / (Her face is stained only an off-shore eggshell white with what she had to swallow, and there is no tomorrow for her in that picture) / in this one, the boys are all backhanded, they each have a piece of her virginity poking out of their ragged back pockets, though the full flesh of it lives at her house, in her parents’ room / (there’s its carapace, over in the far corner) / there are diagrams — this one here, and that one — of the ceilings she shut her eyes to, and then studied and tried to find shapes within

All these pieces so containable when I write / when I write sex / I can shut the door to this exhibition / leave it for the curator and night staff to tend to its reedy exhalations and stains of saliva / when I’m writing sex, I don’t feel them on my body / I put words where my / body / ought to be able to be

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Today I'm strong in that place of shame, which is shaped around an exhilaration so big that my body doesn't at all know how to hold it. Do we really get to be in love with our bodies? Do we really get to bring joy to all those places that were -- and here I freeze. Were what? Were shat upon and sliced, were called beautiful and desirable by the people who were meant to protect us (I learned to hate being called beautiful), the places in us that were feasted upon?

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In Sex for One: The Art of Self-Loving (that manifesto to the power of masturbation!) Betty Dodson writes:
Masturbation is a primary form of sexual expression. It's not just for kids or for those in-between lovers or for old people who end up alone. Masturbation is the ongoing love affair that each of us has with ourselves throughout our lifetime. 
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The ongoing love affair we have with ourselves throughout our lifetime.

There's a lot I didn't accomplish this month with this blog-project: I wanted to totally alter my relationship to orgasm, free it up (in 31 days!) so I could come exactly how I want, whenever I want. Ok, so maybe that process is still ongoing. Maybe the effects of a month of orgasms is still unfurling in me. Stay tuned -- Coming Home isn't going away after May 31.

This is what I realized the other day, however: that through the course of this month, I have stopped thinking of my body as a crime scene, as aftermath, as a place that ought to have police tape around it. My body is more than the trauma that my stepfather inflicted. My body and psyche are not simply duct-taped battle wounds.

There are scars in here, but more than that -- there's delight. There's forty years of curiosity and exploration. There's this lifetime of reaching out, wanting my skin on the grass, against trees, putting everything in my mouth just to see what it feels like there. There're hugs and tastes and orgasm and sleep and waking and walking in rain and pushing muscles against stone and loving animals and planting seeds and slicing garlic and reading everything my eyes came across and writing late into the night, early into the sunlight, there's candlelight and bubblegum and learning and riding my bike down the tall hills and the smell of jasmine and rosemary and ocean spray and Polaroid cameras and tears and movies and rage in my muscles like ice water and so much laughter that my face will forever be marked with it.

What I'm telling you is, my body-love is larger than my trauma.

Do I have to find the words to express both my joy about this, and the deep reaction from the old voices, the ones that want to keep me/us in the place of simply scrambling to survive?

Thus the walking around in shame and celebration. I'm doing a lot of deep breathing, and listening to the numbness and terror, listening to the old songs, telling those overly-protective parts of myself that they have done an excellent job for these twenty years, and that I am finding them a pasture to live out the rest of their days.

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So yes, today I will continue this love affair with myself. Here's something else Dr. Betty writes: "We need to see sex as an advanced form of moving meditation that grounds in our bodies by getting us out of our self-conscious mind that is constantly chattering away. Practice is always beneficial." 

Yes. Practice. Let's get a conversation with Dr. Betty here onto the Coming Home site, shall we? A woman who's spent the better part of her life advocating for the power and necessity of masturbation (for all of us) will have something to say about healing from trauma and reclaiming our big body-joy.

Be as sweet to you as you can be today. Come exactly as you are. See you again tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Coming Home: Day 29 -- Perhaps

On this near-last day of this month of transformative work, I'm hearing all the censor voices, the voices who don't want this writing to happen, the voices who think this work is useless/indulgent/perverted/dangerous/stupid/non-revolutionary. I am hearing the voices of shut it down. I am hearing the voices of you are doing harm. I am hearing the voices of the perpetrators, the afraid, the lost, the broken -- all those voices that still live in my skin.

Here I am writing anyway. All of that might be true: here I am writing anyway.

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I would like to tell you about the orgasms yesterday, but I made a promise to my psychic-inside self that those would be just for me alone, and so I am going to keep that promise. What I will say is that I'm grateful. And sore.

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So I'm going back to the beginning.
(From ACT UP NY) In 1994, at a United Nations World AIDS Day Conference, Dr. Joycelyn Elders (then the Surgeon General of the United Staes) was asked:"...if masturbation might be taught as a way to prevent AIDS?" Joycelyn Elders replied: "masturbation is something that is a part of human sexuality, and is a part of something that perhaps should be taught."  (later she said, "masturbation is really something you don't have to teach.")
She was fired for this: ...perhaps should be taught. Fired, I'll remind you, by our ostensibly-liberal Mr. Clinton. You'll recall what he thought should be taught.

Perhaps, she said. Dr. Elders' statements would still be controversial if uttered today by a public figure. 

This is why I'm writing. This is a why of this blog.

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How and whether you come is entirely your business. The fact is, though, that everyone has the right to deep pleasure, to self-knowledge and self-care, to knowledge and information about bodies and sexuality and sensuality. We get to resurrect the parts of ourselves shoved into a closet, or shoved under our heartbeats, or tossed in the trash, when all we were able to do was survive day to day with our breath intact. Whether or not you want to re/claim those parts of yourself is your business -- don't stand in the way of anyone else's desire do to so.

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Be so sweet to yourself today. I'm practicing the same. Come again tomorrow -- see you then.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Coming Home: Day 28 -- when is it too late?

Today I want much more than my hands on myself, than the water between my legs, than some simple contractions. Today I want the soar of connection, of hands touching, of love in and through a body that didn't expect to do any more, ever, than just survive.

Today I am slippery in all the poems, I am drinking tea and not eating enough, the tears are all stain and open throat, the quiet is broken by the sad songs, the puppy I let myself love is curled into a small groaning ball. Today I am preparing for what has always been my vocation. Today I want to slip out from under the writer/watcher, the part that analyzes and is already crafting description of my every lived moment -- I want to breathe into an unwritten moment. I am writing now, will come later, and I will not tell you about it. Today's orgasm will be just for me. 

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Didn't we have to include this one during this month's ode to the love and struggle of masturbation?

The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator

The end of the affair is always death.   
She’s my workshop. Slippery eye,   
out of the tribe of myself my breath   
finds you gone. I horrify
those who stand by. I am fed.   
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Finger to finger, now she’s mine.   
She’s not too far. She’s my encounter.   
I beat her like a bell. I recline
in the bower where you used to mount her.   
You borrowed me on the flowered spread.   
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Take for instance this night, my love,   
that every single couple puts together   
with a joint overturning, beneath, above,   
the abundant two on sponge and feather,   
kneeling and pushing, head to head.   
At night alone, I marry the bed.

I break out of my body this way,   
an annoying miracle. Could I   
put the dream market on display?   
I am spread out. I crucify.
My little plum is what you said.   
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

Then my black-eyed rival came.
The lady of water, rising on the beach,   
a piano at her fingertips, shame   
on her lips and a flute’s speech.
And I was the knock-kneed broom instead.   
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

She took you the way a woman takes   
a bargain dress off the rack
and I broke the way a stone breaks.
I give back your books and fishing tack.   
Today’s paper says that you are wed.   
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

The boys and girls are one tonight.
They unbutton blouses. They unzip flies.   
They take off shoes. They turn off the light.   
The glimmering creatures are full of lies.
They are eating each other. They are overfed.   
At night, alone, I marry the bed.

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What does it look like to let go of hyper-vigilance, to release the energy that has been focused for twenty years on looking back over all my inside shoulders? What does it look like to have all of this one self present in this one moment, no fragments floating off to keep watch for any interlopers, any threat? What could it possibly mean that I am beginning to imagine such an embodiment, that, in my moments of meditation, I can feel the tremendous relief in my muscles, that I weep (it feels that heavy) with the ability to let my shoulders fall into right here, right now

What does it mean to know that I will still get hurt, whether or not I am hyper vigilant, whether or not I was on the lookout for the next assault, whether or not I thought I was protecting myself? What does it mean to breathe into that assurance, let it be just true: not a tragedy, just a human fact?

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I'm all questions and huge hope today, and I think this isn't so hot -- last night I dreamed about the Masturbate-a-thon: I logged in to the site just in time to see a gorgeous friend of mine saying, calling to Carol, that she'd just come. She had her clothes mostly on, a red dress to offset her pale skin and blonde hair, she'd been on her back and had her hands under the dress, the dress was wrinkled where it'd been pushed up around her hips. But when I get to the video stream, she's already pulled the dress back down, her face red and grinning, already re-composing into her public-performance persona. Later in the dream, I got to the Center for Sex and Culture just after the event was over. The room was filled with the energy of the just released, a few stains on the floor (the room was carpeted and in some industrial building, nowhere that the CSC has ever actually been housed during the years I've known about it.) I was disappointed to have worked up the courage to come out for the event and then have missed it, was a little electrified. I helped Carol and Robert with the last of the cleaning up -- 

What can I say about this dream? This line was in a poem I wrote in response to this weekend: too late to find / comfort enough in such small daily moments -- and I wrote, over and over, is it too late for me? I'm forty years old -- is it too late for this embodiment, this understanding and acceptance, this joy, this still-mourning. Is it too late to expect that I will wake up happy tomorrow morning, that my dreams can come so true that I will finally need new ones? Is it too late to take hold of my own hands and bless them? Is it too late to wake up?

I know -- it's a ridiculous question. We can say, reflexively, that it's never too late.

 And yet -- to feel it. To feel it.
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Come again tomorrow, ok? Only and always as you like it. See you then.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coming Home: Day 27 -- in such close proximity to my own organs.

This evening it all feels very far away -- the orgasms, my body, that strong and clear sense of embodiment. It could be I'm a bit drained, emptied out, the words flushed through me, just sitting inside the edges of my skin, waiting to ripen enough to emerge.

I had high hopes for today: after a workshop this afternoon, and dinner with four friends (two gorgeous adults, two gorgeous kids), I planned to go out dancing. But my eyes are heavy, and I haven't even posted this blog yet -- not to mention, there have been no orgasms yet today, on this the fifth-to-last-day of National Masturbation Month (and the day of the Masturbate-a-thon at the Center for Sex and Culture!) -- what can I do when the heaviness of reality settles in on my shoulders for a long-winter's nap, especially now that it's coming into summer? What can I do with the part of myself that has called itself "reality" for close to half my life, that voice filling my heart cavity just now with words that sound like, "you don't deserve any of this. who are you to claim an unquestioned happiness? who are you to decide when to let go, who are you to trust your instincts, your body, your heart?" This part has swelled me up, and I feel ballooned all through my chest, and breathless, as though there's someone sitting on me.

That weight -- it's terror, ok, sure. But terrified of what? Failure is too easy, I think. I think the terror is way more clearly aimed at success. Afraid of getting exactly where I'm dreaming I could get.

This is the image, I think -- when we remove a bandage that has covered a serious wound, some deep puncture or a broken bone, and we expose that skin, that part of our body, that new scar to the sun, to the dirty air, to the world. That new scar is tender, isn't it? It's our body's newest growth. How do I trust that the world won't slice into me again?

I don't, do I. Isn't that the learning? The hurt will come again. The point is to bare my scars to the mouth of the wor(l)d anyway.

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My dear friend says, "will you get out of your own way?"

How do we recognize that that's what we're doing?

We don't, I think is the point. We need others to show us, tell us. We need friends, folks who love us enough to be honest, to turn us toward the mirrors we've been avoiding and say, look. look at that beauty. those wings are ready for lift-off my friend. come on over here with me to the edge.

We -- I need people who love me enough to encourage me to jump, to risk, to fly. I need people who will be there to fall into, who hold all the tears and flailing, who hold my hands even when it means I am digging my nails in to the tender skin of their palms; I need people who will know when to grit their teeth against the pain, and when to pull my fingers away and let me go.

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Just for today, I am ready to stop writing in such close proximity to my own organs. I'm going to go come now -- I don't see dancing in this evening's plans, although, if I had just a bit more energy, dancing would be the day's orgasm, without question.

( prompt: air time )
This is what wants airing, this naked raw emotion under the armor, the stuff beneath where I am so protected with you these days, I want to let it all out in a mess, the heap of me, untended, not folded or neatly presses; let me be uncontained, let the rush push through and notice, after, what clings, what has stuck and stained, and where. I 'll already be gone and after this onslaught you won 't be clean but you will be washed through with all my old wanting, too-horned angers and the fears with teeth that chewed at my belly for years. How long before we let go the nice and plesant raging, before we unswallow before we untether uncatch unhold unbend unleash?

Let's be easy with all these good bodies, and the joy fear terror loss wanting hollow singularity indignation ease hope exhaustion exhilaration that all twines around within us, into our spaces of peace and into our spaces of shame. Here's to breathing anyway. Here's to what home actually looks like: practice.

See you tomorrow. Come just exactly as you wish.