Self love: more than masturbation

Self love. It’s a euphemism, a way of skirting around something that isn’t talked about in polite society, which isn’t really the way I do things. If it’s not something most people would talk about in polite society – sex, masturbation, writing erotica in your spare time – you can pretty much guarantee I’ll be doing it.

I’ve been lucky, I think, when it comes to masturbation – no one has ever tried to make me feel guilty about it, and the shelf crammed with erotica on public display by my bed is just a grown-up update on the pile I hid under Mills & Boon novels as a teen, and which my mum kindly turned a blind eye to.

I’m with Girl on the Net on wanking, though – it’s not something I indulge in in a sensual, lingering manner. I know what works for me and everything about the way I do it, from the toys I use to the times of day I pick – just as I’m on the cusp of sleep, at night, or when I’m already late for work in the morning, conspires to mean that I’m all about an orgasm in under five minutes – often it barely feels like engaging with my body at all.

And I’m okay with that. Sex positivity often suggests, with the best of intentions, I think, that women should understand their bodies – I’m thinking the hand mirror between the legs trick that teenage girls are sometimes told to try in order to be able to identify what’s ‘down there,’ and the assumption that, once you understand your body, liking it will naturally follow. Which is a nice idea, but not necessarily the reality.

Partly, I think what I struggle with is the separation of body and mind. We talk a lot about women’s bodies, and increasingly we acknowledge their minds in so far as women’s desires and fantasies are more recognised now than ever before, but I still think the conversation about self-love in the sense of being mentally healthy and at ease with ourselves has a long way to go.

Luxuries and indulgent products for women are often marketed as being something for use when we escape from the myriad demands put on our time, often by the people who care about us and who we care about – I’m thinking partners, children. Loneliness isn’t something that’s acknowledged (and yes, I see that it’s not an ideal way to sell products!) – women are painted as always trying to grab ten minutes ‘for themselves’ rather than watching the hours stretching out in front of them, filling their time with as many activities as they can, in order to distract themselves from the fact that something feels like it’s missing. Because it can’t just be me, can it?

I’ve mastered masturbation. I understand my body. My mind, not so much. Which is why, for me, self love is as much about learning to sit alone in a cinema and enjoy the experience as it is about wanking.

Advertisements

On sex, cities and food

I sometimes joke that I could rename the blog ‘Food blog (of sorts) and the title wouldn’t be any less accurate. I don’t blog about food that often, but I tweet about it *a lot*, namely the fact that I exist largely on cake, chocolate, tea and white wine.

For all that I eat badly though, I *love* food. I love eating out, trying new places, revisiting old favourites. And above all those things, I adore food after sex.

It was the boy who introduced me to sex first, eat later – it seemed counter intuitive, since I’d long been under the impression you had to be tanked up to have the confidence to fuck. More often than not, sober fucking meant fucking before dinner, and fucking before dinner meant that by the time we sat down to eat, I was absolutely starving.

So food after sex is bloody good. Being on the prowl for food after sex though is better still. It’s the walk of shame, but the improved version – it’s that same longing for food, often filthy food, that you get when you’ve been drinking. Walk the streets of any city after getting laid and I swear to god that *everything* will smell of food. Curry, chips, hot dogs being fried at the side of the road. Every-fucking-thing.

Recently I took myself to a very good restaurant after sex – a long time favourite. The kind where you have to queue to get in and you sit round the bar and watch the chefs preparing the food. Ok, ok, it was here.

They managed to squish me in because I was on my own – it’s always easier to get seated if you’re alone in a restaurant with very limited covers. Everybody was dressed up for a night out in London. Me? I had a bruise forming on my collarbone, dry lips from my lipstick sealant, and come in my hair. Yes, you read that right. I ate deep fried croquetas, Spanish omelette, tuna and a shitload of garlic. It was a-mazing.

I sometimes wonder if people feel sorry for me when they see me out and about on my own like that on a Saturday night. I wonder if they think I’m lonely. I’m not, not at all. Earlier that same day, I’d walked the full length of Oxford Street, dodging the tourists, cursing the dawdlers. I felt lonely then. But at night? I just don’t.

I’m not a big lover of cities, but I do like the way they change at night – the way the pace both slows and speeds up, the way the crowds thin enough to make your life easier, but not enough to make you feel alone. After I’d finished eating, I walked the couple of miles back to the bus stop, stopping from time to time to gaze longingly into the windows of bookshops that had long since closed for the night or weaving my way around a couple snogging in the middle of the pavement.

I tried to pin down what I was feeling, and for a few moments it escaped me. But that, that being alone in the middle of the city, sated in all possible ways, that feels a lot like happiness.

On connecting and loneliness

If you only read for the hot posts, look away now.

When I set this blog up, I had no idea what it would turn into. My Twitter bio quite clearly says that I write about ‘sex and disability,’ but whenever I do, I feel slightly guilty, like I’m somehow letting down my readers. I lose followers, too. But I fully buy the argument that you should blog first and foremost for yourself, so this post, as you might expect of one written at 4am, is really a post for me. To help me make sense of things.

I have a friend who also has a medical issue that dates back to birth. In the last 5 years or so, she’s on occasion expressed frustration with doctors, saying that they never really understood her condition so what’s the point of expecting them to find long term solutions to pain and other problems that flare up. My answer has always been that things have changed since the early 80s. Doctors *do* have knowledge and solutions now that they didn’t have then.

What I didn’t realise was that that applies to me too. Naively, I thought that because I have a condition that affects 1 in a 1000, it was common enough that doctors understood it inside out, and always had.

That, of course, is not true. And it’s frustrating, given that I last saw a consultant at the age of ten. Since then, my only contact with medical professionals around the whole issue has been when something flares up. Knee and hip pain might get me referred for an MRI. It might get me onto a waiting list for a handful of sessions of NHS physio. I no longer get to talk to specialists about it.

Which means that occasionally, I stick whatever symptoms I’m having into google with ‘+ hemiplegia’ tacked on the end. ‘Depression + hemiplegia,’ ‘Anxiety + hemiplegia,’ that kind of thing. And HemiHelp, which is what that link above leads to, is a massively useful source of information.

Last night, I was talking to someone about why I feel so low, or, more specifically, why I feel so lonely. Part of the problem is that I feel like I don’t know how to connect with people – I have problems with small talk, bonding on a superficial level and making new friends. Sometimes, I said, it feels like I might be borderline autistic.

Well, she said, perhaps that’s true. Have you looked it up? So I did. And here’s what came back:

The answers to ‘does your child have associated conditions?’ were as individual as the children themselves. ‘Yes’ is the short answer, for 69% of parents. A majority of parents said that in addition to the visible physical effects of their hemiplegia, 67% of their children have learning difficulties, while 42% have epilepsy, 40% have visual impairments and 34% have speech impairments. Autistic Spectrum Disorder was also reported by a significant minority of parents (14%). Even more parents (86%) told us about other associated difficulties, with the main problem being irritability (61%). This is followed by attention span (59%), anxiety (55%), visio-spatial issues (50%), maths (49%), obsessiveness (44%) and reading (38%) (Parents’ survey: the findings. http://www.hemihelp.org.uk)

Ah. Suffice to say I think I have a fair few of those issues. Irritability? Definitely. Obsessiveness? Yes, that seems fairly accurate too. And the Visio-spatial issues and maths problems are also relevant.

So perhaps that’s why I have problems connecting. Perhaps that’s why I’m bossy, self-absorbed, selfish, and bad at friendship. It’s not a get out of jail card, but it helps to know there might be a reason for it.