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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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.

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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 []

Adventures in Amsterdam: Settling In

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.

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The view from my home for the next month

I’m all settled into my room here in Amsterdam. I arrived about 27 hours ago give or take. My day yesterday consisted of waiting for three other people in my program at Schiphol Airport (we met at a Starbucks of all places), then figuring out the train to Amsterdam Centraal, and catching a taxi to our new home for the next month. Then getting into my room and having a bit of down time before heading out to explore the city a bit. I walked around for a few hours, got a power converter (probably need another one), grabbed food with a couple people in my program, and then came back to my new home for the next month and crashed. I managed to find the red light district in my wanderings, which was fun and fascinating. Somehow I got a lot of sleep last night, thanks to melatonin and jet lag, I think. Thus was my first day in Amsterdam.

It’s about 11am right now. I am mostly unpacked now, though there is still a bit of organizing to do. Realized there aren’t many things I forgot, but I should go grab another power converter and some hand soap today. So far I’m one of the oldest people in the program, which I was not really expecting, but I haven’t met everyone yet.

I like my room, and it’s a pretty decent size! The person who checked me in said he gave me one of the best rooms because my application was one of his favorites (aww, yay). I have a private kitchen and bathroom, which I’m very happy about. The only snag is I have no kitchen supplies, but some of the other people have duplicate items, so I’ll get some things from them and hopefully not have to buy much if anything. I’m also on the third floor (they say second floor here, but third floor for those in the US) so I get to walk up a couple decent flights of stairs (the ceilings in this building are quite tall) to get to my room. Good exercise! I have wired and wireless internet in my room, but my phone isn’t available as a regular phone (I haven’t decided if I’m setting it up for that or not, so it’s staying in airplane mode for the time being).

The temperature is really nice (imo) and similar to Seattle. The opening ceremonies for the program are tomorrow, so I’ll have much more information about it tomorrow. I know it in broad strokes, but that’s about it. We were sent the reading packet a few days ago via email, which is over 800 pages, so I’m sure most of my time will be spent with that over the next few weeks! Today my plans are a birthday lunch for one of my fellow students, and then possibly heading to a volunteer-run queer nightclub where Casey (who checked me in) volunteers and is organizing tonight’s event. I’m sure there will be more wandering and probably at least one trip to the store for supplies, and I might figure out how to rent a bike.

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Inside my room.

What Is Sexological Bodywork?

Ever since I decided to take the Sexological Bodywork Training and once I started talking about it I have been asked these questions over and over again: what is Sexological Bodywork? Who is it for? What does a Sexological Bodywork session look like? Here are my answers to those questions.

What is Sexological Bodywork?
Sexological Bodywork is somatic sex education that utilizes a variety of bodywork techniques in order to encourage the client’s whole erotic self to come forth. Sexological Bodyworkers are trained in breathwork, genital anatomy, masturbation coaching, sensual and erotic massage, and scar tissue remediation. We are educators rather than healers. Our goal as educators is to create a safe container within each session so that healing may occur when the client is ready.

Sexological Bodywork has been a certified profession recognized by the state of California since 2003. It was founded by Joseph Kramer and grew out of his work with The Body Electric School (which he also founded back in 1984). Since it’s inception it has spread beyond the California training to have Certified Sexological Bodyworker (CSB) Trainings in Austrailia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.

There is an Association of Certified Sexological Bodyworkers as well as a professional code of conduct and ethics required by CSBs to follow.

Who is Sexological Bodywork for?
Anyone and everyone interested in having a deeper experience of their own erotic nature. Sexological Bodyworkers work with individuals, people in various relationship configurations, and groups in private sessions or within public workshops.

I believe everyone can benefit from a session or series of sessions with a CSB, as very few (if any) of us are fully embodied and having the type of sex and relationships we are desiring to have. Part of human nature is that we change. Our desires fluctuate and our bodily sensations change as our bodies change, as we change. We often get stuck in ruts with our own sexuality. We have a drive to continue to strive for improvement, but often our inner self is scared of change and grabs on to patterns that no longer serve us. Sexological Bodywork works at the basic level of humanity, with the body, in order to assist people to understand their own body and live more fully embodied lives. It is possible to have the sex life of your dreams.

It goes beyond sexuality and sexual functioning, though, as well. Joseph Kramer likes to say “if you want to change your life, change the way you masturbate,” though that also goes for the way you approach sex and sexuality in general. When we are receiving the kind of touch, love, and attention that we need deep down at our core both from ourselves and others we can truly blossom into all that we are meant to be and do our work in the world. That is what we as Sexological Bodyworkers help to facilitate in our clients.

What does a Sexological Bodywork session look like?
There is a wide range of possibilities for what a session looks like. It can be over the phone, on video chat, or in person. It can include discussion and coaching suggestions without touch, witnessing the client self-touch, erotic massage, and/or genital touch.

There is no one right way to do Sexological Bodywork, as long as it fits within the professional code of conduct and ethics. This includes the practitioner remaining fully clothed throughout the session; unidirectional touch, meaning the practitioner is touching the client and not the other way around; and the use of medical-grade gloves whenever genital touch is involved. All Sexological Bodyworkers bring their own personal background, experiences, and specializations to the table creating a slightly different experience from practitioner to practitioner, therefore a generalization outside of the professional guidelines is difficult to make.

Personally, while I have had some talk-only sessions, including the first session I have with any client, most of my sessions have included some form of touch with a focus on embodiment. This has not always included genital touch, but it is one of many options available. I begin and end most of my sessions with a practice from my spiritual tradition as a way to create a container of sacred safer space between us as well as to transition in and out of the session. After discussing the client’s experiences since our last session and goals for this session, we determine what we want to work with within the session to work toward their goals.

reclaimingsexbod

What’s Going On

Because I apparently can’t be bothered to write a proper blog post, even though I work on dozens of drafts in my spare moments (though those aren’t many at this time in the quarter, which is almost over), I’m going to list a few of the exciting things that have developed in my life since I’ve last written.

Work Stuff:

  • My Sexological Bodywork Training Program is almost over. The end of module three of that will be this Thursday, and I am planning on being finished with all the work for it that day. Thus soon I will be a Certified Sexological Bodyworker. There will be a post more directly about Sexological Bodywork before Thursday, also.
  • I’ve begun seeing clients, primarily as part of the aforementioned module three. Currently I have three clients I’m seeing weekly, though that will shift a bit for the next couple of weeks for the end of the quarter rush-to-write period I always end up in. I’ve put up Embracing Pleasure, my professional site, but it is still under construction. I plan on seeing clients in a part-time way until I’m out of school.

School Stuff:

  • I’ve changed the name of what I’m studying since I first wrote about it. I’m now calling my degree Sacred Erotic Somatic Psychology. Technically it will simply be a Masters in Psychology, but my final project will reflect what I have been studying. I have a Paint-made venn-diagram of my degree program here (one of my degree committee members loves venn diagrams):
    psych-spirit-sex-venndiagram2
  • The current (Spring) quarter will be over June 21st, and then I’ll have a few weeks off before summer quarter starts. I’ll be taking only one class this summer at Antioch: an independent study focused on the work of Dan Siegel and Brene Brown. This is part of why I love my school. Still ironing out the details for it, even though the independent study contracts were due already (oops).
  • Also this Summer I will be attending the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture and Society at the University of Amsterdam! I have plane tickets already and will be heading over there on July 11th and returning to Seattle on August 12th. I’m so amazingly excited about this! It will be a fantastic experience, it feeds right into my degree (the credits should1 just transfer over), I get a neat certificate at the end of it, and I get to study in Amsterdam for four weeks! So much awesome.

Blogging Stuff:

  • I changed my online names from ScarletLotus to TaiKulystin2 in social media places (such as Twitter and Fetlife). Kind of working on a rebranding thing, I guess. It isn’t my “real” name, but it’s the name on my business cards and the name most people in the world know me by. Even at school I go by “Tai,” but not Tai Quyn Kulystin. Kulystin is the last name Onyx and I chose for ourselves quite a while ago, though we are not married and are not planning on getting married, but we go by the same last pseudonym online. This isn’t really that new of news, but I haven’t talked about it on here.
  • There’s a newish layout on this blog that I haven’t mentioned in a post. There is also a new layout on my sex toy review blog, which is now called Shameless Pleasure (used to be Wanton Lotus Reviews). I haven’t posted on there in ages, but I do have a number of toys to review. That will happen eventually.
  • There’s a new banner/navigation ribbon thing up at the top of my pages that link to each other. If you’re looking at the site, rather than reading through email or a reader, there should be a red ribbon up at the very top of the page linking to my professional site, my sex toy review site, pleasurists, and this site. I unashamedly stole the idea from Erika Moen‘s sites.

Other Stuff:

  • There have been some changes and shifts in my relationship with Onyx again (as per usual at this juncture). I’m still seeing three other people, some more frequently than others. He’s started seeing someone regularly. Life is going on as it goes. There will eventually be a blog post about all this. Probably multiple.
  • My birthday is coming up at the end of the month3. Two of my closest friends who both live in Oregon are going to be coming up here for it, which I’m quite excited about. I’m planning on a bit of a birthday bash out and about around Seattle, which will include dinner, table top games, and then dancing at the local private goth club. This may be the most excited about a birthday that I’ve been in years.

The finer details of all of these things will be shared as they happen… probably. I’ve got so much to write about and so little time! Hopefully you enjoyed this little update of my life.

  1. crossing fingers as I will have to have them evaluated once they’re awarded to me, but there probably will not be any problem with it. []
  2. though I’ve been contemplating using TaiQuyn or TaiQuynKulystin instead for the sake of continuity as I can’t have TaiKulystin on Facebook… Hmm []
  3. I would not say no to some items from my amazon wishlist if you are so inclined []
06.27

2011

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