Being Alone With Arousal

Note: this post talks about my eating disorder, including mentions of purging through vomiting, and my experiences of being sexually abused, including subsequent dissociation and general difficulty being alone with arousal. If any of those are tough for you, give this one a miss – I’ll be back on Saturday with a post about why you might find more autistic people than you’d expect in your local kink scene!

My fear of wanking came up in eating disorder therapy.

This is not wholly a surprise. Lots of things come up in eating disorder therapy, because eating disorders are deeply rooted, born of decades of cultural conditioning, dysfunctional coping mechanisms and adverse childhood experiences. But the more I’ve reflected on it, the more I’ve come to realise that my fear of wanking and my fear of food are two heads on the same beast.

One common starting point for eating disorder therapy is to consider what we’re actually afraid of. In my first round of it, two years ago, we unpacked a lot of my internalised fatphobia and my fear of taking eating to its extremes, which is an offshoot of my anxiety: it’s pretty common to consider the logical, if unlikely, extremes in any scenario. But I only got six sessions, and we didn’t have time to dive any deeper.

This time, I get a whole eight.

The thing that scares me about food is that I enjoy it. Enjoying things, I have learned, is scary and dangerous and often has real and terrible consequences. Having lived with abusers during a few critical formative periods, I learned and internalised that nothing good is without cost and that the more pleasant the calm is before the storm, the more devastating the storm will be. Best not to let my guard down, enjoy anything too much, or trust my senses to tell me when something is safe or nice.

Then there’s the complicating factor of having learned to wank through being groomed. As well as reinforcing my existing belief that my own sensory pleasures must always come at a cost, it created some really specific associations between the physical act of masturbation and a strong sense of danger. Specifically, fucking myself with an object when nobody is watching feels so wrong that it’s akin to practising a secret handshake on your own,  and fucking myself with fingers is very much the same. If there’s no webcam between my legs, nobody watching my face and nobody talking dirty to me – if there’s no audience to validate my pleasure and benefit from it – it not only feels asymmetrical and disconcerting, but dangerous.

Indulgence has always led to violence in my life.

I am now, of course, free of all the abusers who have made and reinforced that connection, but that doesn’t undo it. It’s wired into my brain like the connection between an object flying at one’s face and one’s inclination to duck. And because I’ve had so much else going on, and so many spectators available to me, I haven’t had time to rewire it.

Being horny alone feels like being in pain. It’s frightening and distracting and I don’t want it. If I do attempt to masturbate, I usually dissociate, failing to orgasm and also failing to feel my own face or entirely remember where I am. If I don’t, I have this constant nagging sensation somewhere in my physiology that feels like an alarm going off, reminding me that indulgence is possible, and therefore, so is danger.

I am fucking sick of it.

I wrote out a plan for a Masturbation Boot Camp (and yes, I titled it exactly that) which instructs me to spend day zero practising mindfulness, day seven touching my body and exploring sensation, and day fourteen actively attempting to come, with every day in between requiring an incremental step towards these goals. I showed it to my tipsy, dyslexic girlfriend, who saw straight through me and said, “And how much of this is procrastination so you don’t actually have to wank?”

It’s a great idea and it’s one I’m going to try, but she’s right. I live in fear of my body and the pleasure I can experience within it, and even the idea of self-massage or watching porn for fun fills me with sickening dread. I suck at most mindfulness activities because, between the chronic pain, the chronic trauma and the violations I’ve been subject to when I have indulged in pleasure, I don’t want to be in my body. I don’t want to ground myself in it. It’s a horrible place to be.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any other vessels to contain my soul (this is a Kingdom Hearts joke), so I’ve got to get used to this one.

I’m getting better at indulging in food, and even at indulging in food without punishing myself. Sometimes I devour cheap kebabs with gusto, and sometimes I go halvsies on a £27 Hotel Chocolat Easter egg with my partner and savour tiny mouthfuls of gourmet chocolate. I’ve managed to bully myself out of the bulimic practice of purging my meals – at first, this was because I was and am on oral hormonal birth control, and consider it a consent violation to jeopardise that without notifying anybody who might jizz in me, but over time, once I’d detached the act of eating from the act of puking, the mere hassle of purging became enough to deter me from it. Eating can still be a challenge, but it’s a rewarding one.

I’ll get back to y’all about my success with Masturbation Boot Camp. I’m hoping it’ll be a challenge, but a rewarding one, and I’ll learn to indulge in self-pleasure like I’m about to indulge in a sliver of salted caramel chocolate.

Thoughts On Being Groomed (Yes, That Kind)

Content note: This post refers to my experiences of being groomed sexually online by an adult whilst I was a minor, and the knock-on effects those experiences had on my psyche. The hyperlinks included in this post also deal with topics relating to grooming, assault and CSA. Please make the decision that’s best for you with regards to reading this post, and if its content is too heavy or triggering, next week’s update will be a hot Smut Saturdays post that (hopefully) anyone can enjoy.

When I was fifteen, an adult I trusted got me to do Sex Stuff™ on Skype.

I’ve discussed this publicly before, and I did go to the police over it. I’m always unsure which and how many details I’m legally allowed to share about it, especially after police involvement, but what matters to this post is: the whole affair fucked me up.

It fucked me up for the, y’know, predictable reasons: I thought I was mature and that this person really loved me, so when I realised that I was a fifteen-year-old child and that the adult involved saw me as such, I felt betrayed and used. My understanding of boundaries was fucked, as was my understanding of consent – specifically, of the importance of my consent. You know, classic CSA-survivor stuff.

However, it wasn’t just sex stuff. Like, I’m sure, a lot of predators, this person was toying with power exchange in ways I was too young, autistic and naïve to grasp. In this instance, this means that the adult involved introduced kink stuff.

I didn’t know why he wanted me to call him kink honorifics like “Master”, although I thought I did. I had brushed up against power exchange in fanfic, and I thought it was a hot thing you threw out in the moment, akin to a gasped “Harder!”, and then sort of forgot about. And sometimes, terms like “Sir” and “Master” can be that – but I can only intuit that he meant for them to be more significant. He liked me calling him “Master” because he knew that he held power over me that I wasn’t even aware of. I have to guess at these things, because we never had a conversation about any of it.

He was also super interested in butt stuff, and he got me trying that on cam to him without discussing, or even suggesting I research, best practices and risks involved. I trusted him blindly, not considering that tearing could be a Thing, or that I might want to use barriers and lube. I didn’t really consider anything that he instructed me to do, I just did it, hoping that it’d make him proud enough of me that he might actually express some affection once his dick was back in his pants.

I am a person who fucking loves silver linings. It’s not because I’m optimistic, it’s because I’m spiteful and petty and I will wring every last drop of joy and positivity from a sour memory or bad breakup just to spit in the face of whoever hurt me. I keep clothes that exes gave me because I’m going to look good as fuck in them, regardless of my heartbreak; I listen to bands that former friends introduced me to even if the friendship went to shit, because I deserve good music in my life, and fuck them.

So I’ve been searching for the silver linings on the heavy cloud of trauma that this whole grooming thing left me with.

The first is that it has lead me to become a huge sex/kink nerd. I refuse to be in any situation ever again where I’m in the dark about a sex act, only realising its significance and implications after fucking doing it – so I do my research. I listen to podcasts, read articles, consume all the information about sex and kink that I can get my grabby little paws on. I share this information, too, so that nobody I care about goes through the same – I’m “the sex friend”, the one that people come to with their awkward, mumbled questions. I blog, I tweet, I never shut up about sex and kink. And I’m always hungry to learn more.

It’s pretty cool.

The only other tangible upside to getting groomed that I can point to is that I know my angles now. My predator lived in another country, which meant hours-long Skype calls, which meant cam sex. Not only do I know how to light my face to look fucking angelic, but I know how to position myself so that I look like a damn hourglass. I know where to wedge a laptop or phone camera so that you can see both my vulva and my face, and only one chin.

I also know very well what my bits look like, which is great for being aware of and maintaining my vulvovaginal health.

On the downside: I don’t wank.

I should clarify: I don’t wank independently. If my Daddy orders me to, with the intention of receiving a video or photos, then I can do that (though I can’t always orgasm). If I’m in a room with somebody, and they want to see me get off, I can do that.

Wanking just because I fancy an orgasm? No chance.

When I was living with a boyfriend, that wasn’t an issue, because I could get laid whenever. When he made me a very tiny bit homeless and I ended up back at my mum’s place, it also wasn’t an issue, because I was living in a haze of depression and probably couldn’t have found my clit under all the hoodies and empty energy drink cans. I didn’t notice I couldn’t wank until I went to uni.

And then it drove me crazy.

Recently, my Daddy was away, seeing his parents – so not in the ideal situation to sext me. My girlfriend was also not available for sexting, and I didn’t have anybody else to ask for encouragement (or, let’s be real, permission) to enjoy myself. So, I complained on Twitter and I tried to ignore my sex drive nagging at me, even as my period pains stabbed at my womb and my subconscious fed me dreams about getting eaten out and creampied. It fucking sucked.

I’m working on it, but I’m full of anger and resentment. In coaching me through my first ever orgasm, and dozens after that, the motherfucker who groomed me rewired my brain to think that orgasms were for him, or at least, for someone. I get five minutes into wanking alone and I feel crushingly self-conscious, I get distracted, and I can’t find the motivation to follow it through, no matter how badly I want to cum. I stare at my junk and whatever toys or hands I’ve got on it, and I think, fuck this, there’s no point. Not to sound like a petulant child, but it’s not fair.

My relationship with my sexuality is improving, albeit slowly. I’m able to tell my Daddy when I’m horny, or in need of a beating, or desperate to enter little space. And, usually, he’s able to meet my needs, or help me to meet them myself.

The thing about kink is that, when done right, fully informed and consenting, it can be super empowering. I’ve explained to my therapist that taking a beating is meditative, that it grounds me, that I feel like I’m inside my body more strongly than I ever would in normal life. (I highly recommend you find an accepting, willing-to-learn therapist if you’re kinky and need therapy. Mine is amazing.)

More than that, in deep subspace, I feel like I’m handing myself over to my top (usually, my Daddy) in body and soul. Which, I realised recently, is incredible. It’s a huge step.

Because, dear reader, in order to hand my body and soul to somebody I trust, it had to be in my hands to start with.

It’s gonna be a long, cloudy journey to recovery. Being groomed fucks you up. But goddamn it, I’m gonna heal, and I’m gonna wank alone.

One day.