taiWelcome! I’m Tai Scarlet Kulystin, the creatrix of Purveyor of Pleasure. I am a somatic sexuality educator, occultist, professional harlot, and gender & relationships coach. This blog is my personal exploration of gender, sexuality, spirituality, kink, and the pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.

I identify as a queer fat genderqueer polyamorous switch and prefer the pronouns ne/nem/nir or they/them. I spend a lot of my time thinking about sacred sexuality, sacred kink, relationships, the body, queer theory, depth psychology, erotic psychology, sexological bodywork, and so much more. I'm in a long-term live-in relationship with my partner Onyx, and I also have a few other relationships and lovers.
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Dying, Dying, Dead

I am dying. I am dying. I am dead. Pulling parts of myself away from the tangled mess I have weaved together throughout all these years. Endless pain and discomfort in the name of growth and abundance. What needs to die? What needs to be reborn? Strips of self that I have taken the time to mold out of experiences now need to be carefully separated from the rest of me, the parts that are useful stay, the parts that hold me back must go. Where do I go?

My back is hurting from stress, from the weight of the words that need to come out of me, but that I am having a difficult time getting onto the page. I cannot sit in this chair in a way that does not hurt me, it seems, in a way that keeps me embodied. I am out of my body, attempting to be in my mind only while writing about embodiment. How does that work?

I am carving out my space in the world. Bringing pieces together from culturally disparate places and creating a whole. At the same time I am digging deeper into myself and carving out spaces in my psyche where I can fit as well. I don’t fit anymore. I need to take what does not work and transmute it into something that does. I take myself apart so I may be whole.

My body is uncomfortable. I have a weeks-long headache of exhaustion and perfectionism. Yes, I’m having a hard time giving that up. It’s coming to the point where I do not have a choice.

I am weaving together my own ideology, my own theology, my own sacred sexology. Embracing on all the strength I have in order to focus and get this done, and it is not enough. It will be enough. Eventually it will be enough, as long as I can die. As long as I can clear this channel, get rid of this blockage, let this part of me go, it will be enough. I am enough.

My body is here. I am here. I am whole.

Stream of Consciousness Life Thoughts

Instead of attempting to do a catch-up post before I write the “real” post by trying to recap all the things that have happened since the last time so many ages ago that I posted on here, I just need to write. I’ve been doing so much writing the last few years, but so little personal writing. Grad school has sucked up all my writing time and now that I’m writing my thesis I’m going a little bit insane. I am having a difficult time getting words down on the page, however, and I’m hoping that a bit of a free write will assist with that.

I’m struggling. As always, it seems. I have had so many epiphanies and breakthroughs and beginnings of changing long-ingrained patterns, but it never seems like it is enough. And I suppose it will never be enough, because if it was I would have nothing else to work on or nowhere else to grow. I would like a breather, however. Can’t there just be a time with a bit of a relaxing, settling down, and not working on any major shit? No? Okay.

I’ve changed so much in the last few years, even just in the last year. I used to be terrified of, well, just about everything. Of myself. Of other people. Of getting what I want. Of my own power. I’ve been on a path of discovering and rediscovering my own personal power and shedding those things that have been in the way of my embracing and expressing it. My pathways were clogged for so long, and finally some bits of my own light are able to come through them and shine out of them. Still not all of them are clear, and others are gathering new gunk, but that is one of the continual processes.

Golden Dawn spiritual work, grad school, my father’s death, relationship changes, explorations in polyamory, coming into my own as a Hierophant and High Priestess, all these things have shifted and changed me internally to the point of sometimes I actually realize how strong and competent I am. Other times I am still frightened of the world and my part in it. I’m still insecure. I’m still socially anxious, self-deprecating, and uncertain of myself a lot of the time. I have worked on and healed a lot of wounds and changed old patterns for the better, but I still fall into the old pit of depression sometimes.

Aside from the stress of school and relationships, however, I am arguably the most content and least depressed that I have ever been, or at least for as long as I can remember. I am doing my work in the world, and sometimes failing at it. I am at least moving toward my work in real and tangible ways, and getting better at what I do.

I am not as enlightened or close to my ideal self as I would like to be, but I’m at least working on it. That is something. I’m grateful for the chance to be getting this really ridiculous self-designed degree in a subject that doesn’t even seem realistic or plausible to the majority of the world. I realize the privilege in that and am astounded by it. I think I’m calling it Sacred Erotic Psychology now, though even that isn’t quite right. It’s gone though a bunch of different iterations.

Relationships are consistently a struggle right around the end of the quarter. It’s like all the stress likes to get saved up until right at the end. So that’s fun. Onyx and I have had some rough patches in the last few months specifically, though we always go through alternating rough and smooth times, as is the nature of long-term relationships it seems. We had a period of really great connecting after a major shake-up in our relationship due to a rather major breaking of our agreements just before the end of last quarter. We both have come to a lot of insights of our own patterns in relationships and the patterns in our relationship with each other that we need and want to break. It has been really useful and there have been lots of growing pains. The period of connecting was really lovely and some of the best moments of our relationship in recent memory, but that too was broken and we’re now in a slightly awkward phase again. Yet not as awkward as a lot of the last year has been, so I don’t know. Only now there is a limited amount of time and energy available to really get back to smooth due to thesis writing.

So. Thesis. Yes. I need to be writing about the theoretical orientations that are foundational to my thesis, as well as historical background related to the body that informs my thesis, and the beginnings of articulating my own theoretical synthesis as well as my praxis approach. It’s a lot.

My current thesis statement/elevator speech is this: I am articulating how I as a practitioner can present eroticism as an embodied experience of love that promotes and nurtures intra-, inter-, and trans-personal connections. By integrating our embodied and mythological experience of our minds, hearts, and body/genitals though the process of identifying the disconnected parts needing to be integrated and using a variety of psychological and bodywork techniques to foster mutually beneficial relationships between ourselves and these parts we move toward experiencing and expressing our Whole Erotic Self through embodied sovereignty. This is important because loving connection and embodied erotic experiences can advance our own developmental learning, enhance our quality of life, and benefit the earth.

Not bad, right?

04.29

2014

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Light at the End of the School Tunnel

For those of you who don’t know, I have been attending Antioch University since the Fall of 2011 working on a self-designed Masters program in Psychology. Last Wednesday, the 12th, I had my Application Project Plan Approval Degree Committee Meeting (yes, apparently the name is that long). I met with the three other people who will be assessing, evaluating, and helping me through the process of my Applied Thesis in my last three quarters at Antioch.

My plan for my thesis was approved, which means that today I am submitting the syllabus for the next three quarters of my Application Project! This is a big deal.

This means I am nearly at the end of my time at Antioch and will, at the end of the year, have a Masters in Integrative Studies in Psychology, focusing on Sacred Erotic Somatic Psychology. I plan to graduate at the end of Fall Quarter 2014.

The proposed timeline is: I will begin working on my Applied Thesis next quarter, starting in April, and I will finish in December, giving me nine months to work through the nine credits of my Application Project. I have been referring to this as my Grad School Pregnancy (“I’m pregnant with grad school,” I’ve been saying) and I plan to birth my Thesis Baby in December.

This also means that my time from now until December, with the exception of the breaks between quarters, will be extremely limited. I don’t yet know if this will be more limited than it has been in previous quarters, but I imagine that may likely be true.

I do at some point want to get back into writing on here on a regular basis and reviewing on my other site. I have aspirations, but I will likely not have time for that until December.

Sexual Identity Story

I was recently answering a question in a queer poly FAAB/woman/feminine-oriented group I’m part of and thought it would make good blog fodder. I have a ton of posts I keep working on and meaning to finish, but keep putting off, so I figure I could slap this one up. I have no idea what my readership is like these days (not that there’s many of you since my writing gap has grown larger and larger), but I imagine this might not be new information. Oh well!

Question posed: What is your story with your sexual identity? What’s your relationship with being queer?

My post:
(tl;dr, early bloomer. much queer, but always awkward. so genderqueer. much kink.)

I had my first sexual experience around third grade with a female friend of mine at the time: kissing and rubbing our bodies, including genitals, against each other while sleeping over at each others houses. I fooled around with a few people in middle school and high school, had my first boyfriend in middle school, where we ended up in a polyish relationship where he was dating me and another girl for a period of time. We weren’t together for very long, but mostly because it was middle school and less because of the poly. I had a few girls who were maybe sort of almost girlfriends, but who were mostly friends who were girls that I made out with or had sex with once and not really ever again. I was horribly awkward and shy and I didn’t know how to approach girls, or anyone for that matter. I did experience some discrimination and uncomfortableness from others because of my visible and unapologetic queerness, but I was used to being othered for most of my life anyway.

Being attracted to people regardless of gender was always a non-issue for me to some extent. When I learned the term bisexual around 6th grade I began calling myself that and coming out as bisexual, which lead me to being the President and Co-founder of my high school’s Gay/Straight Alliance (as they were commonly called then), and also lead most of the people in my school and my hometown thinking I was a lesbian. I came out to my mom somewhere around freshman year of high school and her response was: “oh, I thought you were a lesbian.” A non-issue. My older sibling identifies now as queer, as I do, and they were where I learned the term bisexual from all those years ago.

I discovered the concept of bdsm/kink around 6th grade as well, having had fantasies about it for as long as I’d had fantasies. That became and has always been a central part of my sexual identity as well. I first believed I was strictly a Submissive or Bottom, but have been identifying as a Top and Switch for the last seven or so years now.

I started playing consciously with my gender in high school as well, probably also leading a number of people to assume queerness from me (even though the conflation of gender and sexuality is inaccurate and not useful for anyone, imo, it is unfortunately pervasive, and gender does in fact tie in to sexual identity, since sexual identity is based on it, e.g., one cannot be homosexual or heterosexual without having a gender to base the homo or hetero aspect of that identity on. But, I digress). My genderfucking once included a fellow student that I didn’t know once asking me if I was a guy in drag (I was wearing a wig and “feminine” clothing). This was highly amusing to me, even though it was obviously meant to be offensive (I didn’t take it that way, though). I also did a lot of acting all through school (elementary-high), and basically during the plays in 6th and 7th grades I went through a phase where I only wanted to play guys (a big part of that, I think, was that I was always taller and larger than all of the girls and most of the guys in my age range at the time, but also probably something else).

I started identifying as queer around when that became common language, somewhere around 2005ish while I was in my undergrad in Gender Studies. I started identifying as genderqueer around the same time, though I had played with gender for long before that.

Onyx and I met when I was 19. It was my first real long-term relationship, and we have been together ever since. We’ve been poly since we met, and I had a long-distance relationship at the time we met as well, and that was also a non-issue. I wasn’t familiar with the term polyamory when we got together, but I knew the concept of an open relationship and was happy to expand my identity to include poly as well. We were only theoretically poly/monogamish for the first few years of our relationship, though.

For the first few years of our relationship I also had a difficult time with him being cis male and us being in a seemingly heterosexual relationship. I was not used to experiencing heterosexual privilege and it was really uncomfortable for me. I felt invisible and ignored by both queer and non-queer communities and people. I began feeling uncomfortable in queer circles and queer community because of my primary partnership with a cis guy, and I experienced individuals change their way of relating to me once they found out about that. I had my first serious girlfriend when I was 23; an attempted triad with me and Onyx that ended horribly. We were mostly monogamish for a while after that, until over a year ago when I met Rose.

On Longing to Meditate on the Will of Someone Else

I miss the feeling of steel encircling my neck. The weight of it made it difficult for me to sleep on my back, and I still have difficulty sleeping that way, even though it has now been over nine months since I last wore it. It lost its meaning long before that, though.

The garnets inlaid in the steel ring began falling out of it months before it stopped living on my neck. We replaced them, one by one, but they never stayed in place for very long. I knew that their falling out marked that the power dynamic we had crafted and worked to forge over so many years was beginning to end. We were both so tired of pushing and pulling and talking and talking and talking but never seeming to ever get what either of us wanted or needed from the other. There were problems and circumstances, as there always are. I’m sure I could have done many things better, but it was what it was.

I have only ever been good at service and surrender in my imagination, which was a large part of the problem. The reality of it has never quite worked out the way I see in my head. There is part of me that still yearns for it, though, that has always yearned for it. I’m yearning for it especially now that it has been absent for so long.

I’ve changed so much in the last few years, and so much more in the nine years since we first talked and in the nine months since I’ve not been wearing his collar. I wonder if I could do it right the next time, if I could dedicate myself to serving in whatever way I could make work. I wonder if I could surrender myself in the way that I crave and fantasize about. Or am I too stubborn, too bratty, too unreliable and unwieldy to ever experience what I really want. I wonder if I could actually do it, and I think I have changed enough that I could. I am better at relationships now, better at knowing and communicating my own desires. I have had glimpses of it in myself and see the potential of it there, but it’s never panned out in the past.

I’ve been working consciously on vulnerability, on opening up, on surrendering, but all of it outside of the confines of a power dynamic. I think that has been good in some ways, but the submission dimension of my life has been shut off for too long. I couldn’t make it work in the years that we tried, and so I abandoned the wanting of it long before nine months ago. In the last nine months, though, I let myself forget what it felt like to kneel at the feet of someone and pour myself into their hands. I let myself forget what it felt like to have consistent subtle reminders of being owned and loved in that way all in order to not allow myself to feel the pain of the loss of it.

I miss feeling owned. Claimed. Held. Treasured.

I want to sink into the comfort of the will of someone else and put myself aside with the trust that I will also be taken care of. In my work I get to do some of that now. I get to focus on what is best for them and put myself aside, but the reciprocity is purposefully not there. In the rest of my life, though, that aspect of it has fallen away.

I wonder if I have the time to add it back in, though. That’s the rub right there, I think: time. It seems that this would need to be with someone new. I’m fairly certain none of the people I’m currently seeing have the craving in them to be served in this way, or the time to make it happen themselves. Between school, work, and the partners I already have I don’t know how I could add someone else in to the mix like this, but I want to. I want to know, to figure it out. I have a wonderful girlfriend that I get to Top, and Onyx and I engage in kink and rough sex, but it’s really not the same. Due to how our lives are now I don’t think this is somewhere I can go with either of them, even though I would like that if it could happen. I could experience the occasional surrender with each of them, the bodily sexual experience of submission, but probably not the experience of a sustained power dynamic over time.

I do need to find another person to be with, in all this spare time. This deep need in me to submit isn’t getting met and doesn’t seem like it will any time soon. I would enjoy for that person to be one that I can lay myself bare to, and one that I could grow for as well as with, but this seems like it might be more work than I have the ability for. If nothing else I need someone to submit physically to regularly in a way that I am not experiencing, and maybe service in other arenas could be part of that as well.

Now that I am allowing myself to remember the longing for surrender, submission, and service that is within me it is beginning to feel overwhelming. I miss the warm feeling I would feel in my belly when kneeling next to him with my head against his thigh and his hand in my hair. The comfort of the heavy steel pressing on the nape of my neck. The feeling of being owned. Someday I’ll have that again.

The phrase “meditating on the will of someone else” in relation to service submission came, I believe, from a video of Mollena’s on Kink Academy that I watched many years ago.

Struggle

I’m feeling small and sore from beating myself up today. I’m thinking a lot about what it is like to practice gratitude and self-compassion, and trying to practice it. I’m wondering what I will be like on the day I find myself much closer to the non-perfectionist end of the perfectionism spectrum and am able to marvel at the change that has occurred.

I’ve been trapped in life-paralysis for so long, waiting (not consciously) for some external force to knock me back into reality, but I’m realizing the messages I’ve been getting: the only way through it is through it; do the fucking work.

All of my life my self-worth has been connected to my accomplishments. I was told “what matters is that you do your best,” but then what was considered “my best” was also dictated to me. I was praised for excelling and giving disapproving and disappointed looks when I didn’t meet the acceptable standards. This wasn’t so bad, as I often excelled, but I also became terrified of not producing perfect work.

I have been struggling. The last year and a half has brought many things to light as I’ve worked to excavate my own self, my own darkness. I haven’t known how to ask for help. I still don’t know, as I don’t know what will help, but admitting it is a step. I have been struggling with so many things that I haven’t known what to do or where to start.

As I’ve been struggling, though I’ve also been working and I’ve been healing. I’ve been doing and changing and growing. I feel stronger and closer to that person that I want to be than I ever have felt before. I’m simultaneously nearing the end of one path and beginning another.

But, still, most days I’m struggling. I can find the strength in it and I can give it a positive spin, but I’m still hurting. I’m still feeling small and sore and there is still a part of me that is whispering “you’re wrong to feel this way” and “you’re not good enough” and “you don’t belong here.” There’s still part of me that is paralyzed and living in a state of constant fear of being found out. That part that thinks that some day everyone will realize I’m not really as interesting, intelligent, awesome, skilled, attractive, insert-positive-opinion-here, etc. as they think I am, that I’m really just unworthy of their time, energy, and love.

I know the things I would tell a client or friend who admitted this to me: everyone experiences this to some extent, some less than others, but you are not alone. I would tell them that part of themselves as their best interest at heart, it thinks that it is helping, that it is somehow keeping them safe against the threat of shame and judgment, that it really just wants them to be happy (even though its tactics are not useful). I would encourage them to feel love and compassion toward that part, to thank it, to engage with it, to work to integrate it. I would encourage them to hold themselves accountable, but also cultivate self-compassion and imperfection. I would encourage them to sit with their feelings and find where they’re rooted in the body. And so on.

These are all things I’ve told myself and am working on, but there are some days when that paralyzing part is the loudest voice inside of me. There are many days when I just break down and witness myself being paralyzed. Today was one of those days. I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to be imperfect. Telling myself to lean into the discomfort and embrace vulnerability. To fake it until I become it. To do the fucking work. To Breathe.

Adventures in Amsterdam: Reflections and Declarations

Adventures in Amsterdam is a series of updates about my time in Amsterdam from July 12th-August 12th attending the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society at the University of Amsterdam. This is a four-week certificate program focusing on eight topics around sexuality and sociology.

Yesterday was the end of the first week of classes, which also means the end of the classes I’ve had this week. Next week the two classes we move on to “Adolescent Sexuality” and “Sexual Politics in the Netherlands.” Both will be fascinating, I have no doubt, but I’m expecting the third week to be my favorite. You’ll understand why when I get there, I think.

I seem to be more outgoing here. More confident. Less shy and more expressive. I go through phases, of course, and there are times when I need to be quiet and alone and introverted, but there is something about having something to do every day that helps me. It’s different than back home, where I can spend an entire day–or multiple days–at home without interacting with anyone except for Onyx.

The lesson of the trip so far, though really of the last few weeks including before the trip, has been one of “worthing” or worthiness. What I mean by that is life seems to be conspiring to remind me of how worthy I am to be in it, and how worthy and relevant my work is to the world. I have struggled with this for a long time, as long as I can remember. I have been working on this and working up to this for a long time as well, and I have been slowly chipping away at the walls I built up around me during childhood. Chipping away at those walls that kept my tender heart safe, that kept me safe from the pain and grief of rejection and ridicule, but those walls that also kept out joy and belonging. As Brene Brown says: “you cannot selectively numb emotion,” which I would extend to you cannot selectively numb experience (though that’s basically the same statement, isn’t it?).

I have allowed myself to be disregarded and walked on because I got used to it. I put on a strong facade well, but inside I have been terrified by life. I have been terrified at fucking up and doing the wrong thing, making the wrong decision, saying the wrong thing. Of course often this experience means I keep myself from doing what I need to or want to. Often this experience paralyzes me into inaction. Often this experience keeps me from showing my full and true self to those around me, even those close to me.

I am sick and tired of living my life this way. I’m done. I’ve been dedicating myself to opening up, to connection, to vulnerability, in an intentional and conscious way now for a couple of years, and working to find the right direction for many years before that, and now I’m ready.

I’m ready to stop selling myself short and really embrace my strengths, rather than just focusing on my weaknesses and where I need to improve. I will still recognize those things, I will still work toward improvement, but I do not need to ignore the strengths in order to change the flaws. (In fact, I believe embracing the strengths will help me change the flaws; funny how that works.) I’m ready to stop cowering in the face of my own abilities.

I’m ready to stop inconveniencing myself for other people in hopes it will make them like me. What is inherent in that is the assumption that I’m not worthy of being liked, that I have to trick people into liking me because I am not good enough. I still want to offer my help to people and inconvenience myself for them at times, but to make it a common practice when first getting to know someone is just not useful. The reasons behind it are not useful.

A lot of these realizations come out of a relationship that blossomed and then wilted before I began to talk about it on here. I’ve had a draft of that up for months now and haven’t known what to say about it, which may have been a sign in and of itself. These are realizations I have needed to make for a long time, and there are more where these came from, but it’s a start.

Adventures in Amsterdam: At the End of Day Four

Adventures in Amsterdam is a series of updates about my time in Amsterdam from July 12th-August 12th attending the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society at the University of Amsterdam. This is a four-week certificate program focusing on eight topics around sexuality and sociology.

20130712_133547
One of the many canals.

It is officially the end of day four in Amsterdam. There has been much getting to know people in my program and exploring the city. Went to a karaoke bar and queer club on Saturday night, both were great fun! We were celebrating the birthday of one of the other people in my program, which was lovely.

I bought a nice bike for dirt cheap that I will hopefully be able to sell when I leave next month. I spent more on locks for it than I did on the bike! I’m really excited about the idea of exploring Amsterdam by bike. It’s been a long time since I cycled, and I forgot how much I missed it. It’s definitely easier to bike here on many levels. First, it is almost entirely flat. Second, there are bike lanes everywhere and often include special traffic lights just for bikes, which just makes it really easy. Third, bikes have the ultimate right-of-way (functionally, not legally, I think, though I could be wrong); I was told it goes: bikes, pedestrians, cars.

Today was the first day of classes. Our two classes this week are “Introduction to Sexuality, Culture, & Society” and “Professional Identity & Values Clarification.” There will be six more classes (two per week) while I’m here, and only four days of each class (we have three-day weekends). I’m enjoying the program, the reading is pretty familiar so far, but good to have it packed into one place. I went and got the reading packet copied off and bound by week, which was over 900 pages including the readings that were too large for the .pdf packet! That was more expensive than I would have liked, and probably should have gotten that done in the states before I left, but having the readings is necessary; I can’t just do pdf reading.

My Mum1 and her new beau will be coming over tomorrow for a couple of days, which will be great! I haven’t seen her in over a year and I haven’t met him yet, so I’m definitely looking forward to this. I don’t have any other plans besides that for the upcoming week except for school.

It’s mighty pretty here. If I wasn’t already in a Masters program I would be really tempted to stay and do their Gender & Sexuality program (it’s only a year!). I could go on, but I should finish some reading and go to sleep. I’ll update again soon.

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My new bike!

  1. Not my mother; Dad’s widowed girlfriend–they were together for over a decade []
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