dealing with pain and dysfunction


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Sex category.

the worst

I’ve mentioned before that I’m pretty insecure about my sexytime skill level, seeing as how the whole pelvic pain deal kind of puts the kibosh on really figuring out what I’m doing.  Instead of honing skills, I’m focused more on “is the pain bad enough to stop now?  what about now?  would it be less awkward to call it quits now or deal with more pain later?  am i going to cry in the bathroom and possibly have to explain myself to this person?”

All this leads me to wonder if I am the worst sex partner ever.  Maybe these dudes discuss it with their friends and roll their eyes a lot and say things like what the fuck is wrong with her I can’t even believe I bothered wasting my time dude just find someone else because she is terrible.  I bet they do.  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH and et cetera.

But you know what, dudes?  You’re ALL the worst.  So there.

The only way I could rank my sexual encounters (relationshippy types notwithstanding) is from mildly painful to excruciating—all with strong undertones of totally fucking awkward.

I’m still trying to figure out why I do this kind of thing (and why I will continue to do this kind of thing)…


i do not know better

ugh, regarding the ETA in my last post, I have been having stabby pains all day :(

you’d think I would know better by now, but it just doesn’t work that way.

1. still soooo not over ex-boyf and and have been trying to majorly distract myself from that with a series of debaucherous interactions for, oh, a year or so, and

2. hellllllo, i am in college, sometimes (many times) i want to get laid like a normal person

and with those forces combined, i end up with random dudes and stabby pains.  again.  BALLS.  neither of those things are good for me.  and writing drunk posts is verrry difficult.  but it is late at night, ithaca shuts down at 2:00a, all my girlfriends are dating dudes (aka boooring), all my guy friends are Nice Guys so they can vayan a la mierda, all the girls i’d bring home are dating girls who are not me, all the dudes i’d bring home are nowhere to be found, and the one dude i’d actually like to date probably hates me and i’d feel bad for asking him about it.  DRUNK POST.  sorry, internet.  this is what happens on a saturday night when my vagina hurts and my soul hurts and i need to let you know about it asap.

as a sidenote, I feel like whenever I use the “sex” tag, i also use the “pain” tag.  uhh.  are those even two separate things?

Now that this is a hungover post, I can go where I was actually meaning to with this.  Even though sex still hurts and I know I’ll have stabby pains for a few days or so, I still consider a dry spell to be a bad thing.  After nearly eight years (wtf really?) of pelvic pain, my sex drive is very much intact at the moment.  I’ve definitely gone through phases where it disappeared and I thought it’d never be heard from again, but that’s certainly not the case right now.

I’ve been through a lot of trial and error (okay mostly error let’s just be honest) with sex, and even though it hurts more often than not–or will for a few days after–I just keep trying like sometime I’ll magically be all better.  As much as I want to blame hormones and biological imperative, I really think I’m probably using sex as either a distraction from emotional issues (uhh, see above, wow that is embarrassing) or as a way to feel like I’m a little bit normal.

Anyway, that is what I was trying to say last night.  I need a coffee and to get my shit together enough to get some work done.  Or maybe I’ll just keep looking at Columbia’s course listings to cheer myself up.  It appears that moving to NYC will not, actually, be a way for me to get over my aforementioned issues and maybe it’ll be just like Ithaca where I hide in my apartment a lot, but hey.  Haters gonna hate.


LOLCoping

Back in the days when I used to force myself to have painful sex, I’d get through it and distract myself by singing Just Keep Swimming from Finding Nemo in my head.
I don’t have to do that anymore but sometimes I do out of habit.


Consent and Vulvodynia

Of the handful of times I’ve had penetrative sex, I’d say the majority were nonconsentual.  I’d now like to qualify this to point out that the vast majority of times I’ve had penetrative sex were with my first boyfriend.  I don’t want to feel like I’m required to protect the feelings of previous sexual partners or prevent someone from feeling uncomfortable about this subject matter.  Because really, you should feel uncomfortable.  I feel uncomfortable.

Naturally, I’m using the more feminist approach to consent, often called “enthusiastic consent” or “yes means yes” (as recently popularized by the 2008 anthology, Yes Means Yes:  Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape).  In the enthusastic consent model, it is assumed that the “neutral state” of sexual partners is nonconsent, and sexual activity should only go forward if both partners are clearly and enthusiastically consenting.  This is opposed to our society’s current model, in which partners are always assumed to be in a state of consent, and sexual activity will go forward until a forceful “no” is heard.  More simply, enthusiastic consent means that consent is not the absence of “no” but the presence of “yes.”

I’d like to discuss my experiences with consent while suffering from vulvodynia and vaginismus.

There have been many times when I had sex because I thought I had to.  Because I hadn’t been diagnosed and thought that saying no would mean I was admitting that the pain was real and that there was something wrong with me.  Because I thought this time maybe it wouldn’t hurt–but when it did, I thought I wasn’t allowed to say no since we had already started.  Because saying no would make me a bad girlfriend.

In our current model of consent, there’s nothing wrong with this.  I didn’t say no, so that makes it okay.  Move along, nothing to see here.  But I was definitely not an enthusiastic participant in these encounters.  Most of the time I would cry.  I was good at hiding it, though, so he wouldn’t notice and feel badly about himself.  Every time I would dig my nails into the palms of my hands until I drew blood, just so I’d have a different pain to focus on.  Every time I would go to the bathroom afterwards I would sit on the toilet to pee and it would just be the most excruciating, searing pain.  I had to do it though, or else I’d have a couple weeks of agony with a UTI.  I’d sit there slumped over, my face at my ankles, and cry and cry and cry.  How could I be so weak?  Why couldn’t I just force out the necessary NO that was required to stop this from happening?

For me, pelvic pain has added a terrible layer of complication to how I think about consent.  How can I be an enthusiastic participant in anything that is hurtful?*  Besides that, my own fear of repercussions from saying no muddle things further.  It can’t be rape if I hide what pain I’m in, if I pretend like I’m okay, if I act like I’m into it, am I right?  Who knows.

The encounters that are most confusing to me are the ones that I instigated.  Where I’d talk them into it, they wouldn’t want to hurt me but I’d insist.  The times that I was enthusiastic, but for the wrong reasons.  What does it mean when I’m the one coercing, I’m the one forcing and rationalizing.  I’ve had doctors tell me that I was making up my pain in my head or that deserved pelvic pain, and I believed them.  On the outside I’d get real indignant about it, but really, I thought they were right.  If I was making it up, I could force myself out of it.  If I deserved it, well, why not have sex?  It’d make me a “real” girlfriend and I’d get what I deserved while I was crying in the bathroom.

I guess I had a lot of different reasons for instigating, now that I think about it.  The fear of hurting me led to a lot of rejection.  The fear of being hurt led to far more, of course.  Sometimes I’d get so furious and angry about having to constantly reject someone I loved or about being rejected by someone I loved.  So I’d force myself to have sex, I’d think that maybe this time it’d be different and if it wasn’t, once again, I deserved it.  Sometimes I’d get so distraught over my disappearing sex drive that I’d instigate in order to prove that I was Clearly Okay and obviously I Still Love You, or else why would I do this?  Typing this up now makes me feel delusional.  Sometimes I’d get so far in denial that I’d think I had magically overcome vulvodynia and this time was it and sex was going to be delightful and so I’d instigate, and once again end up crying in the bathroom.

And what I’ve been up to recently, though I kind of hate myself for it, is just how I’m proving to myself that I’m normal.  Well, normal-ish, at least.  I’ve spent so long feeling completely and utterly fucked up and broken that I’m just trying to make myself believe that I can be just like everyone else.  I guess it’s that and a combination of being crushingly lonely, but even people with totally functional vaginas can be lonely.  I feel like it might be a different kind of lonely though, the kind that we have.  A lonely that is worried about being lonely forever.  There’s a woman in an online support group I’m in who’s worried she might never get married, might never have kids.  It breaks my heart over and over again.  That kind of lonely.

There are millions of reasons why people have sex.  It’s just the more that I think about it, the more I hate my reasons.  I don’t know if that means that I should stop or go to therapy or have sex with someone I’m in love with or just take some sleeping pills and shut the fuck up already.  I don’t know.

Though I believe in enthusiastic consent on a general level, I’m not yet to the point of feeling that I, myself, am deserving of it.  I need to fix this part.  I wrote this earlier and I don’t know what I meant by it.  I think it’s something like this:  I really want to believe in enthusastic consent, I really do.  I like the notion of it, it makes sense, it’s egalitarian, it starts to dismantle the rape culture in which we all live.  But in recounting my experiences and my reasons for having sex, I’m drawing a box around myself that positions my consent as different.  That’s the part I’m uncomfortable with.  How can I do that?  Why would I feel that my enthusiasm isn’t as important?  I just can’t make myself believe that some of the awful reasons why I’ve had sex fit into a new definition of consent.  So, what?  Have I raped myself, then?  That doesn’t make a damn bit of sense.  None of this does.  Once again, I’m going to end up coming back to this.

I’m going to end up adding to or editing this post over time, but I feel the need to get out what I can immediately.

*Use of “hurtful” is an attempt to differentiate from “painful” as pain can be both consentual and welcome


Pain and Detachment

The assholes tag on this one is for me this time.  I’m very uncomfortable writing about this because I’m very uncomfortable with what I’ve been doing.  I mean, kind of.  In a way.  I don’t know.  I’m not doing these things to be hurtful, I’m doing this because I don’t know how to be by myself.  This summer (or whatever timeframe) is supposed to be a time for me to sort out what I’m like when I’m not in a Big Important Relationship, and that’s what I’m trying to do.  I’m not really navigating it very well and the whole thing makes me very upset and weird.

I had sex and it didn’t hurt.  It was with first with someone that I really, honestly hate and later with someone I don’t know.  That is very upsetting to me–I’ve been in two serious relationships (one of them sucked, but it still counts).  And when I was with someone I really love (or loved, as the case may be for ex-boyf #1) I wasn’t capable of having pain-free sex.  There are two reasons I’ve come up with that might be the culprit here.  The first time this happened, I had been drinking a lot–which for me, is a little.  I mean, I hardly ever drink at all.  My first hypothesis, and one that makes a lot of sense, is that alcohol both relaxed my muscles and made me less psychologically tense–i.e. it seemed like a good idea at the time.  My other hypothesis, and one that developed after the second time this happened and I hadn’t been drinking, is that there’s a lot less at stake in a casual encounter.  There’s not a feeling of this could be it! or I’m a bad girlfriend if this hurts *again* and therefore I’m less tense.  Plus I won’t ever have to see this person again, so that lowered the stakes even more.

The good thing is that now I know what that’s like, I guess.  I feel a lot more normal, though it’s been sort of hit-or-miss as to whether or not I’ll have pain.  The times I did have pain, I acted like everything was totally fine, which is one of the worse ideas I’ve had, and probably just made me seem boring.  These encounters haven’t been drawn out or happened more than a couple times, so I don’t have to have a ~*~conversation~*~ about pelvic pain, which is great.  That would make me feel decidedly not normal, anyway.  But I’m really, really disappointed about how this happened.  I wanted this to be an important, meaningful thing, with someone who would understand why it’s a big deal, someone who’s listened to me whine about this and brought milkshakes to the pity parties I throw for myself and my vag, someone who’s worked with me toward this.  We could make a cake to celebrate or go out to dinner or something, I don’t know.  But instead I’m by myself and this happened with someone that I really, literally can’t stand to hear talk–or someone who seemed decent enough but I’ll never talk to again.  I can’t discuss it with either of these people, because 1) embarrassing 2) I don’t want to speak to either of them and 3) what’s the point.  I can’t discuss it with the one person who should have been there and who should be excited with me because it wasn’t him.  It should have been.  I feel so awful about this whole thing, I don’t really know what to do.  This moment was supposed to be the culmination of years of horrible doctors, anti-depressants, painful pelvic exams, steroids, awkward talk therapy, awkward physical therapy, medical bills that have my credit card maxed out, and instead it’s just… sad.  I guess I’m glad this pain-free thing happened at some point, but I’ve detached myself so much from these encounters that it hardly seems like a victory.

So in an amazing twist, I managed to make even this part of this stupid situation suck.  Apparently I can turn anything into something to whine about.


Improvement Time!

I spent all of today in bed.  Well, I got home around four this morning, and did walk across the hallway of my tiny new apartment to make some food once, but other than that?  In bed.

I think today will serve as a good precursor to tomorrow, which is my new Time to Start Improvements Day.  I can’t find a job, my classes are easy, and there aren’t enough people here to keep my attention.  I sit around reading or on the internet all day, and I could be using this time to improve my health.  I can’t afford to keep seeing the one physical therapist in Ithaca, but I am going to try to call and see if I can get something super quick/over the phone/I don’t know but it needs to be free or else I’m hanging up.  If that doesn’t work, there’s a new blogger that has listed some of her daily exercises so perhaps I could use some of those.

I’ve been using a lot of my unemployed time to bask in the sun at an outdoor cafe or on the slope (aww Cornell, ilu), but starting tomorrow that time is going to be used for hiking or at the very least, walking all over the place.  Summer always makes me so sad about not being able to ride a bike.  I know that I wasn’t born with this pain because I remember riding my bike pain free until maybe 13 or 14.  I miss that proud feeling of getting to the top of a steep hill and then getting to coast down, with the wind in my hair and sun on my face.  Sigh.  Maybe someday.

In other physical fitness news, I downloaded Yoga for Better Sex, and will also give that a go tomorrow.  Yoga and breathing exercises have been recommended to me by both physical therapists I’ve seen, and it seems like Yoga for Better Sex would be killing two birds with one stone, as it were.  I like yoga, I like calming down my pelvic floor muscles, and ideally, I’d like to have better sex.  I’m getting kind of concerned that I’m terrible in bed (at least as far as any penetrative sex goes), which is really stressful and annoying.  I’ve been at it for like, almost seven years, I feel like I should know what I’m doing!  It’s not even really an issue, but now that I’m not in a relationship, it’s in the back of my mind that I am bad and don’t know what I’m doing and everyone else does.  Ugh.  I’ve been really pissed that I’ve been robbed of my seven years of sexual experience, I should have this shit down by now.  If I didn’t have any pelvic pain issues I’m sure I’d have some great skillz by now, right?  Damnit.

In trivial news that is also about some kind of improvements, I am decorating the shit out of my apartment over the next couple weeks.  And not in a classy way, either!  I’ve got rolls and reams of colored paper, and there will be cutout flowers and birds and clouds and and and it’s going to be the awesomest apartment ever!  On a slightly more related note, when I moved it took me forever to find my good lube (Hydra-Smooth, which they no longer carry at Babeland!  I don’t know what I’ll do when I run out!).  I was in a straight-up panic, tearing shit up, trying to find this lube.  Because seriously, there’s no way in hell I would even consider doing dilator therapy without it, let alone any other activity that may be made easier with lube.  I eventually found it hidden somewhere–it seemed like a great idea at the time, my dad was helping me move and so I discreetly distributed anything he wouldn’t want to discuss with me among my other things, wrapped up in sweaters or feather boas or something.  I found it eventually though, big sigh of relief.  And I just found Hydra-Smooth is at drugstore.com, so I’ll have to find some other way to support Babeland.  I’m sure they’d be able to help in my new-found lack of sexual confidence.


way to joy train*

Last night was my first night in my new apartment.  And tonight I remembered that vibrators exist!  Besides my lack of a sex drive and the fact that I was rarely by myself, I shared a door with two of my roommates last semester, and I could hear them breathing or twiddling their thumbs or fucking (mostly fucking).  And with those powers combined, it was the shittiest episode of captain planet ever made there was no vibrating fun to be had.  But that’s all gonna change, ’cause I’m unemployed, in a college town for the summer (aka ghost town), and living by myself.

*sign from botanical gardens in pondicherry, india

Dilator ≠ Penis

Okay so I should have seen that coming.  At least I tried with someone I’m comfortable with, because it would have been completely impossible in any other situation.  I’m now able to comfortably start with the third-to-last dilator, second-to-last is challenging but not painful, and the last one is not good.  Maybe an inch or two in it feels like hitting a wall (vaginimus, obvs) and if I push it, it’s just painful.  And instead of taking that as a warning sign, I decided to pretend like everything’s okay and forge ahead anyway.

The bad:  it hurt just as badly as I remember it.  It had been a really long time, but it’s still just as painful.  The tearing/papercut feeling afterward was just as bad, and I didn’t really want to move or bend over at all.

The good:  Since I’m so ridiculously prone to UTI’s, I always have to dash to the bathroom afterward.  Usually I use that time to curl up into a ball and cry because I’m so burny at that point.  Like imagine peeing razors.  But this time it wasn’t so bad, it hardly hurt at all.  I’m still a little achy (I think this was Thursday night, it’s now Saturday) and feel a little bruised or something, but the burning was gone in record time.  I think that might have to do with my regular use of the lidocaine/aspirin/gabapentin cream.

The stupid: Sex is nothing like dilator therapy at all, I think because I have so much less control over the situation.  I don’t know what possessed me to do that, I knew it was going to hurt.  It might be helpful to use something more realistic for therapy, but frankly I don’t want this guy hanging out in my room.


In which I find new and innovative ways to humiliate myself

Firstly, I’ve managed to (kind of) work out the issues that I thought were going to keep me from writing here.  Therefore, I have an awful story to share.  This builds upon an older entry which is now much more relevant to my life.  I guess I’m single?  Or something?  I know it’s a good idea to be by myself for awhile but I’m kind of working through it—and not necessarily in the best or healthiest ways.

So, I had to have the pelvic pain talk.  Well, that’s not true, I did it accidentally.  Either way, it was horrifically embarrassing (mostly because I answered the wrong question—it didn’t have have to come up [keep reading to see why this is a pun!]).

Dude*:  So we’re both on the same page concerning the seriousness of this encounter, right?

given the circumstances, i assume this is a question about ‘we both know where this is going, are you okay with that?’** and answer accordingly.

Me:  Well, I should probably tell you that I have a pain condition that might make things difficult.  If I’m in pain it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be doing this or that I’m not into it, it’s not your fault.  We’ll see where it–

dude looks kind of taken aback

Dude:  No no no, I meant like… there isn’t really any meaning behind this, right?

Me:  Right, of course not.

*is dead of embarrassment*


In an amazing turn of events, however, I was not the dysfunctional one!  Even though this was a totally casual, just for fun situation, I feel infinitely better knowing that he can’t get it up when he’s stressed out.  Because now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that at least one guy has to understand what it’s like when your body doesn’t cooperate with your mind.  So (luckily?) we were both insanely embarrassed, called a raincheck, and tried to sleep.

Maybe before that, though, the pelvic pain thing was mentioned again.  I don’t have much of a grasp on timeline here, but… it wasn’t in the morning, so it had to have been before sleep.  I’m practically a detective, y’all.  He was apologizing and explaining, and I said, “Oh, don’t worry, I’m probably more embarrassed for having launched into the pelvic pain lecture at the worst possible moment, blah blah blah.”  And rather than making a big deal or demanding an explanation or causing a scene, all I got was a calm, “yeah, I didn’t really know what you were talking about.”  So all in all, slightly awful but nothing as nightmarish as I had imagined.  Regardless, thinking of how I must have sounded is enough to make me physically cringe and turn a little red.  Whatever, if nothing fun happens with this guy I’ll just think of it as taking one for the team in the name of consciousness-raising!

*he’s got an asshole tag now, see below

**this is extra lulz*** in light of this

***and also by lulz i mean what in the actual fuck


In Which I Defend My (Nonexistant) Honor

Attention  privileged, puritanical, assholes:  just because I am a godless heathen does not mean that I fuck everything that moves or am guilty of “sexual sins.”  Kindly piss off.

Once again, something about my outward appearance/attitude/loud feminism/lack of religion/something has convinced someone that I’m a total whorebag.

AS A MATTER OF FACT, that almost couldn’t be farther from the truth.  And I can’t say a damn thing about it, because pelvic pain is pretty silencing, and no one wants to hear about it.  So as usual, I channel my rage to the anonymous internet.

First off, how, exactly, is someone with vulvodynia and vaginismus going to find all these partners with whom to be promiscuous?  While I’ve never had a one-night stand or anything resembling one, I think it might go something like this:


[at a party or some other social gathering]

Dude/Chick:  Yo, let’s talk about something like school or music or travel.

Me:  Okay, blah blah blah.

Dude/Chick:  Want another beer?

Me:  Oh, actually I don’t drink.  [I just hold this cup so my hands have something to do and I’m not the only person here without one.]

Dude/Chick:  Yeah, why’s that?    -or- Bye.

Me:  Um, family history, would you like more detail?

Dude/Chick:  That’s cool.   -or- o_O  Bye.

[Somehow miraculously progresses through my social anxiety/general awkwardness to some kind of hookup situation]

Me:  So there are a few things you’re going to need to know before we begin… [vulvodynia, vaginismus, vulvar vestibulitis, no quick movements please, you may scare it]

Dude/Chick:  O_O  BYE.

So as you may understand, I’m a bit confused as to how I am committing these egregious sexual sins that someone else’s god is so upset about.  Is it the part where I CAN’T HAVE SEX?

I think what the real problem here is as follows:  some asshole is uncomfortable with sexuality and is mad that I haven’t joined him in the ranks of obedient followers, ignoring sexual impulse and condemning others while probably still making time to furitively masturbate in the shower, crying and repenting afterward.  You can go on and on about how “everyone’s guilty,” but no one’s gonna convince me that a life of shame is the right path.  Even if I can’t have sex (by hymen fetishist standards, at least), I’m still going to have a damn good time and not feel ashamed about it.  Just, umm… probably not with someone I’ve just met.  And you know what?  Even if I did fuck anything that moves, your ridiculous concept of “sin” is useless to me and has no place in my life.  So, hey.  Fuck off, buddy.