Rx: Masturbation

This week has been rough!! Is there something in the water, in the air? Starting on Monday, I felt so tired, feeling like I was going to fall asleep at work. My eyes so heavy, feeling like I could cry at anything and everything if given the chance. My usual inner lightness I can feel, even in the midst of other inner turmoil, had disappeared. I thought I was going to lose it. I didn’t work out for two days because I felt so depressed and crushed and tired. And then last night, I was in bed for 10 1/2 hours. I feel much better today.

I also made a commitment three days ago to myself to masturbate EVERY DAY for the next week, at least. I realized that I haven’t been, and it’s largely due to my BDD. That fucking thing- it sometimes feels like it is destroying me, little by little. Really, it’s been this roller coaster since I started by therapy for it. Two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, three steps back. Some weeks my symptoms feel greatly relieved, other weeks (like this one) they feel was bad as they ever were. But like my dear friend mentioned: this is disease maintenance. What is the healthiest and happiest I can be, managing this thing? Let’s get there.

Forcing myself to reconnect with my body, and look at it, while I am experiencing pleasure has been calming and helpful the past few days. All I need: a juicy imagination, my fingers, my Hitachi. It’s been a relieving few minutes each day.

How do you connect with yourself, emotionally, sexually, physically, and spiritually- especially when you feel like you’re going to lose it? Do you count masturbation as one of your tools?


I’m 5 Again

Going through counseling for body dysmorphic disorder is, recently, making me feel like I am 5 years old again. Perhaps because my BDD is mild-medium severe, the treatment isn’t super intensive. The “homework” I’ve done has certainly exacerbated my symptoms at times, but a lot of what my counselor has assigned me to do looks like your basic self esteem work (with some specific behavior abatement and exposure work, too).

For instance, some of my recent homework has been to:

-Make a list of things I like about myself, and put that list in the bathroom at home and on my desk at work.

IMG_20140520_145228_394-Objectively describe body parts, starting first with those that I am mostly satisfied with and working up to describing those that I am less or not at all satisfied with.

My counselor has encouraged me to recruit J into my homework (ask him what he likes about you!). I’ve been encouraged to strip more, to dance naked at Sesso more and wear less clothing- all of which are counter intuitive, but the counter intuitiveness is what exposure therapy is all about. “You’re weight matters a whole lot less than you think,” she keeps telling me. “People do not notice as much as you think.” I’m still not totally sure, but I’m trying to repeat those lines as my new mantra (it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter). Reading my positive qualities list is having a positive effect, I think: when I zone out at work, I’m at least reading positive self talk, instead of focusing on my stomach which feels too fat or what food I should or shouldn’t eat later in the day.

I’m working on my self confidence, which is something I had long dismissed as the work for a little kid- shouldn’t I have learned all of this already in life? And if I should have, I probably did, right? So I don’t need to work on it now? What I am realizing, is that self confidence takes maintenance, and needs to be built into my self care. Making clear associations between how I take care of myself and my other self care activities is important, too (feeling good that I go to counseling as a way to do personal work, feeling good doing the work that I do as a form of helping others, feeling good getting a hair cut as a way to take care of my hair, etc.). Maybe some people do just “have self confidence,” but I am finding out that I need to consciously work on feeling confident and happy with myself.

What things do you like about yourself?

Feeling Like a Fraud

This post has been brewing subconsciously and consciously for quite some time, so here goes.

I love talking about relationship diversity- it’s something I am really passionate about. I love talking with other people who are new to ethical nonmonogamy about “it all”: jealousy, cultural influences and norms, family of origin influences, compersion, boundaries and rules, communication skills, personality differences, identities, preferences, kinks, porn, feminism, and more. I could do it for hours and hours. I feel like I am supporting and contributing to an important cause, something that is changing our society for the better, and I feel proud to be part of the wave. I obviously love writing about ethically nonmonogamous/polyamorous relationships and all of their triumphs and pitfalls.

What I don’t love recently (the past six to twelve months) is another feeling that has come alongside all of the pleasant ones: that I am a fake.

I should specify: I don’t feel like an “ethical nonmonogamous fake.” J and I have had sexy fun times throughout this past year, and they’ve all been swell, as far as I can remember. Friends with benefits relationships and fuck buddy relationships are satisfying and fun and largely void of yucky emotions for me.

I feel like a “poly fake.” Though, calling myself a “poly fake” isn’t quite right, because I feel like I am capable of holding another relationship of depth and intensity and caring, and giving that relationship the time and energy and love it needs. And although not pertinent to my fakeness or not, J is obviously capable of supporting me in that.

What I question is my ability to ever be “good enough” at poly so that J can also truly experience having another relationship. I know how I felt and acted three years ago and two years ago and a year ago, and while my understanding of myself and my triggers and emotions has deepened significantly, I don’t know if I have had enough practice for getting skills under my belt to where I can actually sit with gross feelings and not bother J with them so much that he can actually function in another relationship.

I don’t know how he feels about this, truly. I don’t know if he’ll read this, and completely agree. I don’t know if he’ll read this, and remember past events differently than me.

I have said numerous times that I have made a commitment to him and to our relationship, and with that comes a commitment toward working through gross things in part so that I grow as a person and in part so that he has the relationship he wants and deserves. I come back to that commitment often, and I worry about whether it’s good enough.

Am I enough? With my shortcomings and past mistakes and past hurts? Is my striving toward independence and separation in our relationship enough?

I brought up this struggle in my women’s group recently. The response I received from most of the women there was a “levels” approach: have you taken things slowly enough? Have you asked for specific boundaries and worked up to more challenging situations? You’ll make it to the next level eventually!


I appreciated my one dear friend’s response: maybe there are no “levels.” We’re not playing a “poly video game” in which you have to “win” each level in order to proceed. Maybe there is no hierarchy of “poly”ness. There’s just you, and your comfort levels, and your path.

I weigh those different approaches in myself, and I know that for me it’s both: I like to proceed slowly, to know that I get to have a say in how my comfort levels are tried and tested, to know that my partner(s) will respect my discomforts and work with me to grow. I also know that as of yet, I am not some expansive blossoming flower of pure flowing love, able to completely and freely give up a relationship if it needs to go away. I know myself, and I know my sticky spots; I have lots of them. I also know I am afraid of having my fears go away completely: what would that life look like and feel like?

My counselor today, after talking to me about how my body image disorder is exacerbated by being around more naked people as a result of our open relationship, asked me how I deal with anxiety when J is dating other people. And she asked me, rhetorically, if it was healthy to do something that causes me so much anxiety. Immediately I withdrew from her, because the question reeked of poly-misunderstanding and phobia. Good grief! I am here to face anxiety related to my body! How can I not use a similar approach for to my relationships?? So that was not super helpful.

I guess this post is just my continuous self-reflection: my comfort levels change slowly, and that’s okay. I’m trying to focus on relaxing, working on my self-confidence and letting go of personal insecurities, and being grateful for how life changes. I don’t need to feel like a fraud, but I guess welcoming those feelings will help me move through them.

Sex Worker/Social Worker

Somehow I missed the publication of the roundtable I participated in for Tits and Sass. Here it is:

Sex Worker/Social Worker: An Ethics Roundtable

I am floored and humbled and motivated reading (and re-reading) the other workers’ experiences with school and sex work. There are so many rich and complex stories here. So much insight, pride, solidarity, and action. I love it.

And thanks to T&A for including me!

Working with Student Sex Workers

I can’t wait to see the roundtable I participated in on being a sex worker and going into counseling or social as a profession, but in the meantime, Tits and Sass published this lovely interview with two social workers who work with sex workers: Discussing Other People’s Lives: Social Work & Student Sex Workers

Quotes of note:

 Programs like Project Rose send the message that you can only be a social worker if you are a) not a sex worker and b) see sex workers as people that need to be rescued.”

In social work right now and in dominant white feminism, we need to be really critical about how we think and talk about this issues, and how our ethnocentrism impacts how we think people “should” live their lives. I am deeply troubled with the way that we are discussing other peoples’ lives over and over again in these conversations.”

A really dangerous liaison is happening between evangelical trafficking organization and “radical feminists” and social work organizations. There is a history of this, it’s not new. It’s my opinion that in social work there isn’t a critical eye being turned to this work because we are so deeply uncomfortable with sex work and social workers are so deeply invested in their identities as “helpers” and “saviors.” Annie and I present to lots of different audiences and recently I heard some feedback that there was the impression we were “encouraging” students to enter the sex industry, simply because we did not “condemn” the existence of the trades. Moving away from theoretical conversations about “empowerment” and victim/agent dichotomies makes people deeply uncomfortable because you aren’t making an assessment about if you think the sex trades are “right” or “wrong”.”

PS: This interview makes me so much more excited about my potential MSW program since these women work at the school I applied to :)


I’ve been quiet on here the past few days. No real reason, just have been.

Let’s see:

My counselor had me start exposure therapy. I was not prepared for the consequences. I literally bawled my eyes out after my shower last night because I was trying to keep from visually checking my bod.

J and I had a sexy time after I calmed down and he snuggled me. It was much needed and really hot.

I made cinnamon rolls last night. And I let myself eat one today. It was so good.

I have been really tired lately. I don’t know if it’s the little bit of sun I have been in or allergies or my counseling stuff. But I feel tired this week, and particularly today. Like all of my energy has flopped in on itself and is sitting in a little pile deep, deep down.

I got invited to a femme sex party, which actually sounds really exciting and hot and fun. Too bad we are hosting my parents this weekend and I won’t be able to go. Next time!

Someone from my speed dating event messaged me on Facebook, and it was such a sweet message!! She has been silently crushing on me :) So we’re planning a tea date and I’m sure I’ll have updates for that if it goes anywhere…

I am nervous to see my parents this weekend. I am happy- I want them to see the house they helped us buy and to help us paint. But I have a feeling my mom will talk about her 500-calorie diet and it sounds hard to be present for that conversation again.

I kind of want a snuggle buddy. Just someone that would come over whenever and cuddle with me for a little bit and then leave. Just want some extra physical closeness.

My DatingAdvice editor asked for some new articles. I decided to write one on hotwifing, one on BDSM, one on putting out the gay vibes when you look straight, and then she also asked for one on deciding to film yourself having sex (how/when/why/boundaries/etc.). I’m always taking suggestions from my readers, too. Have anything you want to see written here or there?

Those are my updates, for now.

Happy Thursday :)


“You have some pretty severe delusional thoughts.”

RWS_Tarot_12_Hanged_ManI shifted in my seat. No one has ever said that to me. Maybe, I thought. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m talking aboutThis new counselor doesn’t even know me.

Then again, having delusional thoughts is a major characterization of BDD. I’m about 90% convinced that my weight gain is super noticeable and makes me way less attractive and desirable, and that other people take notice and don’t want to socialize with me. I’ve convinced myself well over my life that having “extra weight” on my body is a pretty big deal. It is taking a lot for me to do the social events this week that I put on my calendar. But my counselor was adamant that I should do my best to socialize and be with people, and to make sure to continue dancing, in order to lessen my anxiety. It’s part of exposure therapy.

I’m still convinced that if “I just lost 5 pounds” that I’ll feel better and that “all of my problems would be solved.” That self-talk is constant. Even though I also know somewhere in my brain that even when I weigh a little less and have a slightly different shape, I am still hyper-vigilant, stressed out, and insecure about my body.

Never has my low self esteem and confidence been so apparent to me. Never have I felt as raw as I have been the past couple of weeks.

Documenting my thought processes and behaviors related to my body over the past week and a half has brought everything to the surface, revealing how extreme my body image stuff is. I’m also now more aware that this BDD thing has been my root issue for a long time, and that it just becomes worse when I experience other life stressors. The past few months have exacerbated my BDD, and I am at least grateful I have the chance now to work on it more systematically. In addition to my new counselor, I am trying acupuncture. I went last weekend, and have felt remarkably better since. I’m looking forward to my next appointment. I was impressed with the difference in how my body physically felt afterwards, and how long it has lasted.

I’ve also experienced how difficult it is to talk about it with other people. Besides my new counselor and J, I don’t feel like I have many people (if anyone) I can talk to about it. No one yet really gets it, as far as I am concerned. My best friend from high school gave me the classic “But you’re so beautiful! I just don’t get it!” talk (after I explained some more about BDD she understood a little better). I feel so stressed out thinking that there are people who will notice I’ve gained weight. I can get myself to the place of thinking that I’ve gained so little weight that no one will notice, but to think that people will notice makes me feel nuts.

“You’re a beautiful woman. I wish you had more confidence in yourself.”

I’ve never had a counselor say that to me either. I almost cried.


There was a great piece in my “Psychology Today” about daydreaming and fantasies, and how our daydreams are a strong force in shaping our goals and future. Past research suggested that people, children and adults alike, who daydream are distracted or lazy or have their heads in the clouds. More current research suggests the opposite: that folks who daydream have a rich inner voice to guide them through life, and that daydreaming is anything but a waste of time. (Whew!)


What are your current daydreams and fantasies and how are they shaping your life?

Here are mine:

-What to do with this house J and I bought. Short-term plans include re-painting the whole inside and refinishing the original hardwood floors. Longer-term plans include renovating the tiny bathroom and finishing the basement. What should the basement be? A pole studio? A sexy cave? A bedroom and living area? All of the above? I want to landscape the backyard- I’m so excited about sunbathing nude this summer!

-I want to start brewing my own kombucha! How Portland is that?! I keep thinking about getting the stuff I need to make it happen- mostly just some glass jars. And the infamous Mother (SCOBY) to start the brew.

-Where I am going to go from this job I’m in now. It’s a great launching pad so I’m excited about where I’ll launch myself to. I have dreams of having my own nonprofit that does counseling, workshops, support groups, and education around sexuality. Will I get into my MSW program? What will that be like?

-I love stripping now that my time is so crunched I can’t do it very often anymore. I daydream about dancing and when I can go work at the club next. I think about other kinds of sex work and sex worker advocacy and creating a support group for sex workers in the area.

-Who are the people I will meet this year? What new relationships and connections will I make?

Happy Weekend to All!

Tarot Cards, Food, & Counseling

I like finding metaphors in my life in new and different places.

I went with my friend to a psychic this past weekend- it was my first time. (I’m no longer a psychic virgin!!) Aside from what made me feel uncomfortable (I didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask questions or talk a whole bunch since it wasn’t really private), it was really interesting and thought-provoking for me.

She had me think of a question to myself before drawing my first hand. I couldn’t think of anything specific, but being a romantic at heart, I just kept thinking “love life, love life, I want to know about my love life.” (That’s a little embarrassing to write but it’s the truth). The cards I got, and her interpretation, were interesting. My main card was the Queen of Cups, which she said represents receptivity and relationships. Underneath was the Tower, which represents a really impactful and important event, and above was a card representing soul mates. In the position representing the past was a card for an important relationship, and in the position representing the future was a card representing change. In the position representing the present was a card for tension, mostly mental tension and stress. To fill out the piece between the present (mental tension) and future (change) she had me pull a few more cards. From what I remember I pulled a King card representing really unmovable and grounding energy and another card representing fluidity and spirituality (I remember her saying that the card represents a need to see situations from a higher place and the ability to laugh at situations more, and that it was likely I would need to adapt to the unmovable energy in order to arrive at change- a frequent pattern I am familiar with). Her interpretation of all of this: the stress seemed to be related to something physical (money, house) and that the relationship wasn’t breaking off, but simply changing. Because of J and I buying a house, that seemed to sum up my love life pretty well at the moment.

For my next hand I thought about my BDD/body image issues, and when I could expect to experience relief. The cards I pulled again included the Queen of Cups, as well as the Lovers card and the Magician card. She said that all of these could mean that the use of a relationship to help heal and cope could be possible. (Which has always felt true for me. I know I tend to obsess about my body more and overeat more when what I really crave is touch.) She said that the Magician card is really powerful in that it represents intention setting and the achieving of goals. She had me pull a few more cards, and one of them was the Hanged Man, representing delusion. (Ha!! I love that) I can’t remember the others… but she did say that one of the others, which is ruled by Aries, shows that now is a good time to seek change, assistance, and help in planting the seeds for change, and that I would expect to see the fruits of my labor by the winter.

It was a cool experience, even if it has a similar tinge for me in reading my horoscope.

That being said, I also find the description of The Year of the Horse to resonate with me so far:

“The time for pondering and planning was 2013 Snake year. Horse year is time to act fast, buy that home, launch that business, travel the world, make a big purchase, get a promotion at work, have a breakthrough – take a leap and fly.

“If it’s right, then there’s nothing to think about. Just follow instincts. Even if you miss the mark, you’ll have all of Wood Sheep year 2015 to get cozy and enjoy life’s comforts in all their artistic forms.”

The whole “planting seeds for change” thing is right on target. I have an appointment with a therapist who specializes in BDD set for next week. I’m also trying a diet change for a month (we’ll see how it goes) to see if cutting out certain things helps with the OCD part of my problem (the obsessive, out-of-my-control thoughts). I’ve been doing the diet change for about a day, and so far it’s actually helped quite a bit. I have a complicated relationship with food (as I’ve chronicled on here before), and so I am wary of feeding that compulsivity through external food regulation and control. But, the lack of sugar in the past day or so has seem to influenced my energy levels (increased), overall way my body feels (less bloated), and my OCD thoughts (running more slowly, less frequently, more on the back burner instead of the forefront). I’ve been more focused and present at work and at home- both of which make me feel more alive and happy.

Any helpful metaphors that you have encountered lately?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

bddAs many of my long-time readers and friends know, I have struggled with body image for a long time- since I was about 8. There have been periods in my life which have felt better and periods which I have felt much, much worse. Much of my mood surrounding my body image has been pinned to my weight, and a particular number on the scale.

Last year, about this time, I put our scale down in the basement and I haven’t weighed myself since. I want to feel good about my body, and not have an external message, in this case a pretty arbitrary number, tell me how to feel and think about myself. I even closed my eyes both times I was weighed at the doctor’s last week.

But since about October, my negative self talk and obsession with weight and body shape have been on a downslide and the past couple weeks have become worse. I finally typed in “body image disorder” into Google and was amazed to read about body dysmorphic disorder. I don’t necessarily think I could be clinically diagnosed with the disorder (although I do think it’s quite possible), and that part doesn’t really matter to me. What does matter to me is that what I deal with on a daily basis has been experienced by others, and it is considered a significant and detrimental experience; it’s not just a “silly” concern of mine, narcissism, vanity, or selfishness. And when people tell me that it’s “crazy” that I have body image concerns, I think to myself: You don’t understand. I logically know that my body shape and size is healthy and that many people find me attractive. But I am compulsive in my self-critiquing and worries and have no relief from my obsessive thoughts. (And many, many people in my life have told me I’m “crazy” or “silly” for my worries- it’s a common way of trying to compliment someone on their body.)ME_108_BodyDysmorphic

I spend hours a day obsessing about the parts of my body that displease me (usually, my thighs and stomach), thinking about food (how much I’ve had, what I want to eat, what I should and shouldn’t eat), and thinking about exercise (how much I have had, what I want to do, what I should do). I mirror-check constantly, to the point that it cuts into getting other things done. My obsessions interfere with my ability to concentrate on work, personal projects, and conversations I am having with people (including J, friends, and family). These obsessions have impacted my social life, making me feel as though perhaps people don’t like me or respect me. They have impacted my sex drive and sexual life. This comic is a pretty accurate portrayal of my internal world, most days, a lot of the time:


My counselor understands that these are deep concerns, but because she is a psychotherapist, she is less driven to help me with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and much more interested in why and how I got these concerns. She sees my obsessions rooted in a fear that I won’t be valued or loved if I am not a particular body shape, and thinks I received these messages from my mom.

I don’t think my counselor is wrong. I definitely think all of that makes up part of my BDD/body image obsession pie. But I’m really not sure how far I am really going to get in dissecting my early childhood experiences related to body image, eating, and exercise. I’ve already thought about it all way too much, and I just want relief.

I want to wake up in the morning and think about social plans or work goals or personal projects, and not in a frantic dizzy over “needing” to exercise a certain amount, obsessing over my breakfast, or worried that yet again today I will not look good enough to myself in the mirror. I want to stop constantly looking at myself in every mirror, analyzing and critiquing and absolutely hating on myself. I want to appreciate and love the body I have, because it’s the only one I have.

bdd sign

Eating disorders are stigmatized, and it seems from the little bit that I have read that BDD that it  is particularly difficult for folks to talk about because it can come across as narcissism or vanity. However, it is way more like OCD or anorexia to warrant such dismissals.

I want to reclaim my mind and my body from my mom and from my childhood friends and from the media and from the fucking mirror. I’m on the road to figuring out how.