Hi all! It's been a couple more weeks and I thought I would stop by and give an update.
The trip went really well. It was my first time being back with my partner since I started posting here and digging deep into learning about my sexuality. Through the day of the trip, I was still feeling really anxious, nauseous, and resentful. As soon as we were back together, though, we cuddled to reconnect and talked about everything that's been bothering me, including some of his reactions to our most recent text conversation on the matter. We talked about how the societal scripts that encourage us to center men's pleasure by default have shaped the way our sexual life has been, and that that needs to change. I told him everything I had been feeling, and he listened and was understanding and kind. We talked about how he had been feeling too.
Since this is the first time we've seen each other in a while, this trip was also our first chance to implement months of observations (like things we've noted that I like and that make me feel particularly comfortable, and vice versa).
And through that entire week, that talk DID manifest in action! There was a lot of cuddling and a lot of full body touch. We slowed down a lot more. I got some practice saying "no" and "not yet" and "how about this way instead". I initiated a lot more. In the past, I knew presence and connection were important, but I understood these in a rather passive way, like: cool, I'm present, this is happening to me, now what? But this time I felt much more aware of my responsibility to be an active party, not someone things just happen to. During that first kiss I had the thought "I am my tongue", which was honestly a really transformative revelation. I don't just exist up here in my brain: I exist in all the parts of me, and I can move "me" down from my brain into my mouth and the rest of my body to act and to feel. I'm here to do things, not just to be passively present and aware of what is done to me.
We did a lot more things that were my idea, and made changes to eliminate things I don't love. To revisit one gritty example, I swallowed only once- out of my own curiosity as to how it might feel this time, which turned out to still be a violent gagging experience, and we both laughed it off- and he finished in other places the other times, which was great. We laughed a lot, we talked a lot, we spent time working and eating together, we slept together, we watched a movie, we went bowling, we tried kohlrabi. We were still both working from home full-time, but I've never gotten to spend so much time with my partner, and all of that quality time felt really, really good. I felt so enormously happy and comfortable to be spending so much quality time with my favorite person and to feel like my pleasure and experience are centered too. We also made time to discuss the past experiences that shape both of us in these spheres.
One other interesting thing about that week is that a close friend gifted me a bullet vibrator. We broke into it together. THAT has certainly been a new experience. My experience with it so far has involved a lot of "hmm, I'm not feeling very much" and then finding the teeny tiny spot or angle that feels like a LOT, and in a few seconds it slips away somehow or I can't stay on it anymore, like a hand in boiling water. I've also noticed that I enjoyed it MUCH more when trying it with my partner. Trying it on my own is pretty boring, I rarely find one of those spots, and I just don't feel super into it, which I think tracks to my experience of just not having desire for solo sex. So that has been really interesting, and I think it will be a useful tool to have in the box (hah) going forward.
It's really interesting to me to see my total transformation in mindset and interest in sex and sexuality when I'm with my partner and I feel comfortable and centered. Spending the week with him, not even just in sexually intimate moments, but just in quality time, I could feel that all my anxieties and resentment and worry about sex were on another planet. I felt happy and cared for. It's only when I've been alone for a while that my mind gets back to worrying, since I just don't feel any desire or arousal at all by myself, and that starts to feel like that's the way it always is and will be, even though intellectually, I know now that my environment and who I'm with makes a big difference for me. It's like when I'm alone my brain gets bored and gets to ruminating about things like "you're not enjoying it ENOUGH" or "you've never had an orgasm" or "you don't remember what feeling up to sex feels like so you must not be able to feel it ever again". But I know that I felt really good last week, and this is just my anxious brain, and that there is nothing wrong with feeling good about sex in particular settings and not being interested elsewhere, even if that means I'm just not super into masturbation.
I've been apart from my partner for five days now and I miss him like hell. I don't know if I've ever felt this way before; I'm not someone who ever really "misses" people emotionally, even if intellectually I know I would enjoy being with them. I feel really attracted to him on several levels and really happy about how things are between us, and I miss him.
I'm also about halfway through Angela Chen's Ace! I've really enjoyed it and found it validating. I identify with the narrator, who's not sex repulsed, and does like to engage in sex with loving partners, but who doesn't understand or relate to the way non-ace people talk about sexual attraction and desire. Something that feels particularly good to read about: there is no pure "gold star" asexual experience. It's okay if I resonate with asexual experiences even if I'm always worrying that something like my particular mental health or my past experiences might have "caused" it, making it invalid somehow. All of our experiences interact to create all of our preferences and proclivities, and that doesn't make them any less valid. As someone who's always identified with asexuality but always shied away from the label because I'm scared my experiences don't fit one narrow definition, or that I'll change someday so this will be invalid, or that I "caused" my asexuality somehow, so it isn't real... this has been a really good read. Thanks, Heather, for the recommendation! It's something I've discussed with my partner, which has felt really supportive and interesting to talk about.
I don't have any questions right now, I just wanted to stop by with an update, because I'm really incredibly grateful for all the guidance and help I've been receiving here and I guess all the readers of this thread might be invested
. I very well may come back to this thread with more questions at some point, but right now I feel like I'm in a place that's so much better than it was just a month ago, and that it's only going to get better from here.