#PlayingWithMyself

If you have that itch…

May is now over but orgasms are always something to celebrate. Last month was Masturbation Month. I started to write this piece then as an ode to the female-identifying body and the pleasure it feels. But, as it does, life got in the way and I’m finally publishing this today. Nevertheless, self-satisfaction will always be something that I want to write and talk about. I never shied away from the details my solo sex life (I’ve always been that person who’s fine with the nudity on television but never with the acts of gore and war). Despite the current stardate, I know that masturbation is still taboo and embarrassing to talk about. But by being open with my sexual habits, I hope to start chipping away at that stigma. Masturbation is a healthy part of one’s sex life, as well as positive contributor to one’s physical and mental health.  

I like to play with myself. Maybe a little too often. But I do it because I love myself. 

I’ve never been shy with admitting that I enjoy enjoying myself. As someone with chronic anxiety, I’ve been looking for the perfect cocktail of medication and meditation to help calm my demons. Masturbation IS good for you. I always believed that everyone deserves a fulfilling sex life, whether it was partnered or solo. But masturbation has always been a little bit more for me. It has been self-soothing, calming down my mind and getting me in touch with my body. It is one of the few times that I can completely emerge myself in the present moment and let’s face it- it’s the best form of exercise. 

I never felt pretty growing up and was a late bloomer sexually. In high school, my friends would talk about the various people that they were sleeping with and how sex felt for the first time. I’d listen, feeling jealous and alone but at night, I’d escape to the fantasy world that I created for myself. I’d shove my hand under the fabric of my underwear and break free. It was a place where I felt beautiful, sexy, desired and powerful. I could be whoever I wanted to be, as long as it wasn’t exactly me.

I had a typical west coast education- we had an okay sex ed program and learned about puberty and pregnancy. At the end of the school year, my health teacher, Mr. Padilla, had a Q and A where we could submit anonymous questions. There were plenty of asks about heteronormative sex; none about masturbation. We all asked questions about humping which probably two of the 30 students were actually doing. I guarantee the majority of us were masturbating, though. 

Throughout my 20s, I had various partners and an active sex life. Despite the frequent heartache I’ve experienced, it has never been truly detrimental because there was always masturbation. I’d relive certain sexual moments I had with a partner or fantasize about the guy I gave my number to at the bar. Masturbation is what I turned to when my most serious of relationships started to crumble. He didn’t want to have sex anymore and I thought about cheating. I’d lay next to my now-ex and think about being underneath him. I’d grab my breasts the same way he did, hoping to confuse my brain into thinking my touch was his. If I could only be as gentle as he was when he touched me. I often thought other people, mostly his friends, touching me as I touched myself. I’d feel guilty when I came, like I just shared a horrible secret.

Since that moment, I’ve approached diddling with more tenderness and compassion for myself, trying to not associate the attention for myself with the attention (or lack of) from a partner. Turning 35 was a game-charger. I often heard about that big sexual energy twist that happens in those few years left of fertilely- my body is saying, “you need to mate” while my brain is very happy in its little single bubble. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought about going back on Tinder to escape the loneliness. But then I would hear the small, muffled cries of my vibrator where it was hiding in my sock drawer. “Play with me instead! Keep yourself and others safe! We have more fun together anyway.” (How can I resist that sweet voice?!) I credit masturbation for keeping me sane during the pandemic.

As I age, I’m trying to figure out other ways to use this immediate rush of serotonin and endorphins to my brain- could the benefits of masturbation be helpful outside of the bedroom? One night over drinks, my friend and talked about our frustration with our jobs and how we managed the stress. I admitted to the occasional cigarette, a habit that I hate.

“I masturbate,” Christina said. 

I thought about it for a minute before replying. “I wish that I could do that. But it takes me forever to cum. Everyone would suspect why I’m gone so long from my desk.”

Christina shook her head. “I don’t masturbate until I cum. I just diddle myself until that mental light clicks on in my head and I’m full of good feelings again.”

Christina is clever and I often follow her advice. The following week, after a particularly awful team meeting, I slipped into the last stall in the restroom (the office’s private family room was unfortunately occupied). I bit my lips and went at it. The pain of my boss’s shrill voice vanished. I wasn’t a screw-up. I feel good. More good. I felt great. Everything was right in the world again. I didn’t need that cigarette. I was better to my body. I treated myself to the best feelings human have experience. I felt beautiful, powerful and satisfied. 

I then washed my hands and walked back to my desk with a smile on my face. Masturbation made my frown flip upside down.

I’m not going to ask you if you do masturbate, dear reader (because I know that you do). But what are your thoughts about breaking the taboo behind it? How do we start talking about the positive sex experiences in our lives?

#LoveLetterToThePassingYear

Dear 2020,

You were a year of calm. Okay, it was the year of absolute utter bullshit but it’s the year that I became calm. Well, calmer.

My mental health was something that I took seriously this year. I became really conscious. I paid close attention to my thoughts, to the words that came out of my mouth, to what I put in my body, to the actions and people that were lifting me up and putting me down, to how much movement I was doing every day, to the things and moments that made me feel truly happy and alive…

Back in February, I just discovered this song and have listened to it at least ten times a day since. One of Nao’s lyric went like this: “I wish that perfect was enough for my own heart.” It got me thinking about perfection and how much I self-sabotaged demanding perfection all the time. I think back on something my friend Lisa once said- don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Yes, I didn’t get the “dream” job that I wanted but I was able to work and buy the things that I needed (I got new glasses!). I didn’t find my perfect Mr. Right but I met some really cool and kind people. I found my hobbies again, as well as my tribe here in Austin, after being lost for such a long time. I also got more into biking, finally finished a painting and really celebrated my Puerto Rican background this year- three things that I’m really proud of. I feel good.

I learned a lot. I learned what I really wanted out of my life: the type of career I wanted, the relationship that I desire and deserve, the kind of lifestyle that I wanted to live. I may not have an exact five year plan but I finally defined my goals. I learned how to breaks- I took a social media break over the summer which was a godsend. I learned what triggers my depression- mostly finances but surprisingly, not loneliness as I once thought it did. I learned that I have a voice in my relationships and with the world around me. I learned that our country, though incredibly divided, will stand for what’s right. Black Lives will ALWAYS Matter and I’m hopeful about the state of our country. I do believe that we are slowly healing from the hate, as well as COVID-19.

In short, we keep fighting. We are intrepid. We carry on.

To end on a positive note (because the world needs more positivity), I hope we take the lessons that we learned from you, 2020, and keep in our hearts. I hope we continue to keep each other safe and let everything know that they’re loved.

Thanks for the memories. You were a dumpster fire of a year but I loved you, Andrea

#CuffingSeason

You said it, Marilyn.

It’s winter. It’s cuffing season. My social media feeds are filled with couples being cute and cozy, leaving us single people feeling lonely and unwanted. Usually, I’m one of those singles pinning away for someone special to spend the holiday season with but this year, I haven’t experienced that feeling. Maybe it was the last couple of months I spent dating and the heartbreak that came with it. Maybe I might be a little bitter, broken and bruised. But can I be enlightened, as well?

I wrote in my last post about my big plans to be single. I was finally going to do it! Get off the apps. Stop giving out my number. Etc. But then at the end of October, I was bored, lonely and horny and hopped back on Bumble. I met some great guys and had a couple flings that didn’t pan out for various reasons: we were not in the same place emotionally or in our life timeline. We were both playing games. I was ghosted a few times. It finally got to a point where I was so emotionally exhausted that I canceled a date a few hours before we were supposed to meet, explaining my truth: I just wasn’t dating place anymore (sorry, Jose).

I spent Christmas weekend thinking about what I learned about love this year- the love I have for myself; the kind of relationship I want to be in; new revelations about dating. I definitely know, more than ever, what I want in a partner and out of a relationship. I took a hard look at my dating and attachment styles ,and what my expectations are with meeting new people. A big part of my identity is tied to my dating history. My friends always ask me for dating advice, or who is latest dude that I’m seeing. Dating is as much a hobby for me as a low-key addiction. I do get buzzed when I match someone on Bumble. If I’m not getting “high” from it, dating then only adds a low-key anxiety to my life.

When you’re truly honest with yourself, you realize that you are an asshole sometimes and have developed a lot of bad habits. I know that I have with dating and being a girlfriend. I’ve had the wrong idea about love all along. I thought that being alone was the worst thing in the world. Growing up, I would listen to all cheesy 90s pop songs about falling for someone and how was the best thing in the world. It was the key to happiness; the end all, be all. That’s bullshit. This year, I found myself happier being single, doing my own thing. Although I really cared for the men I dated (especially for Amit), I feel lighter and more free being single.

My final breakup with Amit taught me a lot about the stigma the world sees when relationships end. I started seeing my “failed” relationships as end points- and that’s it. I’ve had a lot of successful relationships, ones that taught me a lot. I have a lot of good memories from them. I’ve been able to experience a lot. Because of those relationships, I know exactly what I want in a partner. I think people assume that breakups are sad and depressing (which they can be) but mine this year have been major pillars of growth. I found a part of my voice during my breakups.

There is still a lot of things that I need to work on with dating. My choice in men definitely says a lot about me as a person- I’ve been reevaluating the type of people that I’m flocking to and getting naked with. That goes for sex. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had partners that don’t care about my pleasure. Although I was eager to have sex and get them off, I felt like a human FleshLight to them. Life is too short for one-sided sex. My orgasm is important, too! If I’m expected to act like a porn star, I at least deserve kisses during and to be held for a while afterwards. I deserve to be savored and need to hold out for someone who will treat me that way.

I’m at the point where dating and relationships should be fun and stress-free. As much as I want to be partnered and am looking forward to one day being married and raising a family with someone, I’m happy being alone. I’ve been debating whether or not to take a break next year from dating and/or hopping on Reddit for a hook-up. I’m thinking about how much of a challenge this would be for me since I do get lonely pretty often. But being lonely and dealing with those feelings are only part of the dating experience. It’s all a learning lesson and I’m determine to be the best relationship student I can. Love can be troubling but through those trials when we grow.

How is your dating life, dear reader? What did you learn about love?