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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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?

Spiral Out Not Down

Sometimes pleasure is really difficult to access. The more stress and overwhelmed I am the more I get away from those things that make me feel good, and, ironically, from those things that resource me. My unparalleled attention to detail combined with my overactive imagination and my tendency to over think gets me in trouble more than it helps.

In the last year I’ve been gutted, split from clavicle to navel and opened up so I could see what was inside. I’m still figuring out what I found there. I’m still figuring out how to integrate that knowledge, what to keep and what to discard. I always strive for change within myself and know I can be better, stronger, faster, but I am never satisfied no matter how far I’ve come.

Of the many relationships in my life (romantic and not, sexual and not) there are very few in which I feel truly seen, truly appreciated. There are some in which I feel suffocated by the projections bring placed on me by the other. There are some in which I am able to catch glimpses of recognition. Mostly, though, I don’t allow myself to be seen. I rarely feel safe enough to allow myself to be seen, but my idea of what safety looks like is a pretty narrow band.

I’ve been greatly inspired by the work of Brene Brown lately. I’m trying to allow myself to be more vulnerable, to open up more, but it feels so… open, exposed, and like the weaker position. I know it’s not weaker, but it is a less strategic position. It feels like a less powerful position, because if I just lay myself out there than the other person can poke at all my vulnerable exposed flesh and organs. They can do as they please, without reciprocating unless they feel like it.

I try too hard. I try to be what I think the other person wants more than I try to be myself sometimes. I’m not being inauthentic, but I am not authentically showing all of myself when I do this. My own fears and insecurities bubble up and I think I have to hide some part of myself or another in order to be liked, in order to be okay. Part of me knows I don’t need to do this, but part of me worries that if I show all of me to someone they will run away screaming.

Like anyone getting a Masters in Psychology I can trace this back down to childhood. I can point to the wherefore, but I can’t always identify it in the moment.

I keep reminding myself to expand when I get in this state, rather than contract. While there is a time and a place for contracting it doesn’t seem useful. I need to push past my level of comfort and allow myself to be open, be exposed, be real. I need to stop overthinking and just be. I need to confront the parts of me that tell me to contract, to shut down, that tell me I’m not not interesting enough or not worthy of the attention. I need to recognize that I am interesting, that what I have to say is important, that it isn’t selfish to talk about myself, that other people want to see me. I’ll get there eventually.

Grad School

I’ve mentioned this a few times in previous posts, but I am currently going to Graduate School. I am in the Integrative Studies in Psychology program at Antioch University Seattle studying the Psychology of Sacred Sexuality, or some combination of Pychology, Spirituality, and Sexuality (and probably gender too since I can’t do anything without gender). I don’t know exactly what my thesis will be on at the moment, I have about a year before I *really* have to know what that will be, but it will deal with those three or four topics in some way.

I am really loving this school. I’m near the end of my second quarter and aside from a lot of the shifts it has made to my own lifestyle and the workload being intense1 I am still happy with it and excited about it. I have recently finished a prospective timeline which will have me out of school in March of 2014, so I’ll take two and a half years to go through the program, which is about what is expected2. I’m planning on going for a Ph.D. afterwards, which will probably be in the Fall of 2014 to give myself a little break, but not much of one.

This program is very self-designed. I can do independent study classes and just about anything I would like to around Psychology, Sexuality, and Spirituality. I’m building off the existing Psychology & Spirituality degree (which is awesome), but adding my own twist to it bringing sexuality and gender into the mix. I’m probably going to be focusing on Depth and Transpersonal/Integral Psychology and looking at Sacred Sexuality from a variety of viewpoints.

I’ve already learned so much. That is cliche to say, perhaps, but very true so I don’t care. I love the amount of self-analysis I’m required to do in my classes (I know, shocking, I’m usually not one for self-analysis, right?) and although I’m not always doing as well as I would like to as far as keeping up with everything I’m still getting a lot out of it.

So, obviously my posting has been erratic in the last year or so. I have shifted a lot of my goals and aspirations for life in some ways and not in others and I have been processing events and feelings much more verbally these days than through writing as I used to. I think it’s a testament to how awesome my relationship with Onyx is at this point, we talk about anything and everything and rarely are able to hold on to something for very long if it is bugging us. I don’t feel the need to explain things on here before bringing issues to him, and there are far less issues than we used to have back in the day (though now the biggest issue for us is time, of course).

The drifting away I’ve done from this blog isn’t only because of what I wrote above. I start so many drafts it’s not even funny, but I have a difficult time finishing them and getting them actually posted. This is mostly because I keep telling myself that I can’t blog until I do this, that, or the other thing for school, and yet I then turn around and don’t get all my school work done. Sigh. I have plans, though, and I hope to achieve them some day.

  1. though no more than any other grad school, no doubt []
  2. you could technically do it in two if you really wanted to rush it–I don’t []

Expectations and Rituals

Note: I’m posting this in October of 2013, but I’ve backdated it to over a year and a half ago because that is when I wrote it and when the experience happened. I just found this in my drafts folder and didn’t want to just delete it.

Onyx and I had kind of lackluster sex the other night. A great part of that was my fault, I think, or maybe it all was my fault. We went to see A Dangerous Method earlier in the evening, which I thought was excellent. Anyone with an interest in psychology, especially Jung, and who doesn’t mind (or really enjoys) watching some hot sex scenes and spanking1 should see it. I found it quite arousing and have been really craving some rough treatment for quite some time so I was hoping that would be sparked by the movie at least a little bit.

Really all of my problems could have been avoided with some simple direct communication, which is clear in hindsight but sometimes in the moment it just feels like the last thing I could possibly do. Doesn’t make it right, though.

When we got home I removed his coat and shoes as usual, as soon as that was done we both were in need of food, he grabbed an apple and promptly sat down at his desk and became absorbed in his computer. I think what irritated me at that point was just that we had both talked about the movie and how stimulating it was on our walk home, but when we got home there was little interaction between us and I was hoping for more. I set up expectations but did not really do anything to help them happen.

As a slight aside, I’ve become a little irritated with our preparation ritual–my putting on or taking off his boots and coat before/after he leaves the house. It was originally implemented as a way for us to connect and it has become just that thing that we do, no longer a ritual but a habit. Not even that, despite how often we have been doing it with some regularity it is also sometimes forgotten. I believe some of this would be helped quite a bit if I were to simply up my enthusiasm for the act, and I have tried to do so today with some success. Perhaps we could add something to it to make it fresh and new again.

I grumbled and bratted, for some reason unable to voice what was going on with me or to make it clear what I wanted, and so we both remained unfulfilled. We were able to talk about what happened and our individual frustrations about it, but we were not yet able to get to the place of either of us getting what we wanted. Why is that? What is stopping us? Why can’t we just get what we want?

  1. though not enough of them, imo []

Disappointed

This is a word that carries a lot of weight with me. Just how much weight I wasn’t completely aware of (consciously) until last night. As I have mentioned before Onyx and I have begun to create lists of tasks for me each night that I am to get done while he is at work. These are all sorts of things such as housework, spiritual work, making a living work, relationship work, or whatever else. They are to keep me on track and so I have a tangible thing to look at when I’m feeling like I haven’t gotten anything done that night and say “no, see, you have finished things!”

I’m not entirely sure why but the last few days I’ve been slacking a bit. I have not completed things by the time I have to go to bed and last night I forgot to send him my nightly text at 3am until nearly 3:45. This was not good, of course, and I knew that but sleep was necessary. The night before we had been talking on gtalk and he mentioned he was disappointed about me having to go to bed before everything was done but that it was acceptable because of circumstances that had happened. Following closely, last night he said he was disappointed in me for missing my nightly text.

I started bawling. Him saying that felt like punishment enough for what I had done because I felt so poorly about it. I knew it was a disproportionate reaction and I could actually examine my emotional reaction as it was happening, which was nice and is something I’ve been working on. Neither of us would have guessed I would have reacted so strongly to such a small thing, but I did. I was somewhat shocked, actually, and thus commenced my analyzation of why that term has such power over me.

When I was growing up I was rarely punished for bad behavior. My mother is big on developmental and child psychology and my father would just get withdrawn and upset but rarely directly punish me. I can only think of one instance where I was even sent to my room, so mostly my “punishment” was guilt or being told they were disappointed in my behavior. Naturally this created a trigger in me. I strove to never disappoint them (or never let them know about what they would be disappointed about). Disappointment was the worst thing I could do to someone.

That’s not to say I don’t and haven’t disappointed people. There are plenty of things I have done that I feel bad about, but for the most part those are small things, there is nothing in my life that I regret.

I attribute the weight of his words last night to be partially because of the new power dynamic that we have been building between us and partially because of hearing it two days in a row. I was already feeling down from the day before and I was already beating myself up about not doing what I was supposed to and he said that. For the record, I keep saying “he said that” but I’m not placing blame on him for my reaction or anything, neither of us could have predicted that is what would happen. Vaguely I remember recognizing disappointment from others as a source of pain for me, but it hadn’t come up in so long I just had no idea I would react so strongly.

I also have a tendency to subconsciously punish myself. I was feeling extremely down after that happened and although I got myself to feeling a little better through the hours before Onyx came home when he came home I closed myself off and didn’t allow myself to find the comfort in him that I might have been able to if I wasn’t, essentially, punishing myself. There was no time when I thought “I’m going to do this” but that is what happened. I was sad and closed off and I had done the same thing the night before as well, though to a smaller extent.

Onyx and I had a talk about this earlier today so he knows about what the word triggers in me and we discussed possible options for punishment that he could inflict that would not be as damaging or affect me for so long. Of course, if I do something or don’t do something that carries a lot of weight with it he also knows that he can use that word to hit home the true weight of the situation to me. Ultimately, this is another tool for him to use in our dynamic.

KASB: Thoughts on Fetishes

I’ve never really considered myself a fetishist, despite the long list I keep on FetLife. Although there are non-sexual objects that I find attractive and even sexy I have never been to the point of needing them in order to get off. I did understand that my magical tools were technically fetish objects but I wouldn’t call them such and I didn’t know how to stretch that definition into bdsm.

When I saw the title of a recent Kink Academy video: Making Unusual Fetishes Work For You – Part 1 I was intrigued and, being a psychology geek and aspiring sex educator I decided to watch it even though I wasn’t sure I would get anything personally relevant out of it. In it Wintersong just gives a teaser for the rest of the video series, just giving an outline of what he will cover in future clips. In addition to getting me excited to see the rest of the series it also got me thinking about my own fetishes.

Wanting to explore the subject further I found Lee Harrington‘s video Fetishism and devoured it eagerly. He talks about three different kinds of fetishism–desires, needs, and empowered objects–and points out ways to present a fetish to a current or potential lover in a positive way. I had heard the basic definitions that he uses before both through my own explorations and in obtaining my psychology degree but he re-framed them for me in a kink context. The re-framing actually made me start to identify with two of the three: desires and empowered objects. [...]

Read the rest on the Kink Academy Student Blog!

Read all of my Student Blog Posts here

Self-Consciousness

I used to think I was an exhibitionist. I still do think that to a point, but lately I’ve been so reserved and worried about the way others perceive me I can hardly call myself an exhibitionist. I’m more self-conscious now than I have ever been before in my life. I’m less outrageous, trying to blend more, and just generally unsure of myself. Recently I had two separate conversations on different topics that lead to this point, I’m letting my ego get in the way, my anxiety take over.

Even though it seems like this is the opposite of the ego’s job, it’s still part of the same mold. The same part of you builds yourself up that will knock yourself down. The ego is responsible for the worry and anxiety and stopping you from being you just as it can be responsible for the arrogance and puffed-out chest of confidence. Either extreme isn’t desired, but, as with all things in life, I seek to find a balance, a happy equilibrium within myself.

This might sound crazy coming from someone who blogs about her life, who routinely informs others about her sex, thoughts, and feelings, but especially lately I seem to have a difficult time believing that other people are actually interested in hearing what I have to say. I’m not talking about on here, but in person, when I meet new people or interact with known ones. This was especially true the first few weeks after I got back to Seattle.

When I was in Juneau I was much more comfortable. My motto for Juneau is basically “it’s Juneau, nobody cares,” and I would say it whenever there was a question of etiquette, appropriate dress for an event, or pretty much anything. This isn’t really true, though. Juneau is a small town and there is tons of gossip. Despite thinking it was super liberal when I grew up (and it is compared to the rest of Alaska) there are still lots of non-liberal ideas and people who live there, and it isn’t comfortable to express everything there.

I do think that, for the most part, people in Juneau don’t give a shit about you unless they know you, however, and that’s where my motto came from. I never really got invested in Juneau people. Growing up there I did tons of activism in the high school, I was in many theatre productions, people knew who I was but very few people actually knew me, and I liked it that way. Going back was very similar, only I knew even less people. I knew people could recognize me, and people did quite often, but if they had any preconceived notions of me it didn’t matter, or maybe it mattered less.

Some of this goes back to what I was talking about in Relational Assumptions. I’m worried about what people here will assume about me, I haven’t been able to adopt the same nonchalant attitude because I actually want to be invested here, I want to gain friends and not be a loner like I have been previously. I want to be more outgoing and social, but I need to stop caring so much about what other people think, because I want people to like me for me and not for anything else.

I like being a multifaceted individual, but sometimes it’s exhausting because I’m too worried about other people to express myself fully. A friend, in one of the conversations I mentioned above, mentioned she had learned to instate a complete honesty policy in order to encourage compatible friendships and discourage ones that could turn sour down the road. I think I do this too… to an extent, anyway. I will answer questions honestly but don’t always offer up information unasked, but I want to change this.

I’m trying to shed the trappings of my ego, acknowledge them and move past them, to stop being so self-conscious. Care less what people I don’t know think about me and more about feeling comfortable within myself and expressing myself however that happens. I want to start volunteering information about myself, start realizing that people care what I have to say and actually have an interest in hearing it. Part of the beginning of this change in me came in dying my hair from the reddish brown it has been the last few months back to a bright purple, the rest of it will come soon.

What I Don’t Need

At some point before I’ve talked about relationship needs, that is the needs of the relationship, but in the last few months something that has been extremely important for me to realize has been a different sort of relationship need, that is, a lack of need.

When I was younger a relationship or, more accurately, the absence of and desire for a relationship was always the focal point of my life, with other things often working to fill the void I felt without a partner. I think part of the reason why I left theatre life is because I was so focused on the need to be in a relationship, the need for a partner, and I thought theatre would distract from that. The reason I have recently been able to come back to it is because of this new lack of a need.

The word “need” is thrown about so much even though so often it is impossible to accurately separate needs from wants when in the moment, one must step outside and analyze and discern in order to figure out what is really necessary and what is a passing fancy, and even that is difficult without hindseight. Luckily life is much like the philosopher Jagger sang1, and often these things work out on their own. Needs aren’t bad things by any means, so long as we can distinguish between need and want.

So often are we told that in order to be a complete and true person we must be in a couple, we are only part of a whole, and when we are told something over and over again it becomes like a need. We do not need others to fulfill or complete ourselves, though we often feel like we do because we are told that we do for various reasons. We are told we are incomplete without the perfect partner, not to mention marketing strategies which tell us we are not complete without some product or another, but that is a whole other post. The point is we need to be able to be happy and complete without external influences.

This isn’t to say that we don’t need relationships. After all, humans are social creatures, as the cliché tells us, and I’ve studied enough psychology and sociology to know that is basically true2. While love is part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs relationships in general aren’t the same as the idealized spend-all-of-your-time-together can’t-think-of-anyone-but-each-other completely emotionally dependent romantic relationships perpetuated by society. We grow up thinking that is what we need, to find someone to fill the void within ourselves, before realizing that no one can really fill that but ourselves.

Need indicates more than a desire. Saying that I need something is the same as saying that there is some fundamental part of me that requires something in order to survive, be complete, or be happy. I do need friends and relationships, but that doesn’t mean I need any one specific person. If that was true than no one would ever maintain friendships outside of romantic relationships.

Distinguishing the difference between the idealized relationship and a healthy independent relationship is something the triad taught me. While I knew in my head that it was best to have lives and friends and interests outside of the relationship I always had a difficult time engaging in anything like that aside from school. Once I graduated I lost my outside focus and my relationship with Onyx was strained ever since. He was also supporting me financially, he was basically providing me with the first three levels of my hierarchy of needs and neither of us was completely comfortable with that.

Spending time away from him really has done wonders for our relationship, for both of us. I’ve gotten to the point of embracing my autonomy and independence, enjoying time alone in a new way, which was truly necessary after the triad, which truly was a spend-all-of-your-time-together dependent romantic relationship. In addition to everything else I actually think rediscovering this independence has actually been a major catalyst for the rediscovery of my desire to be submissive for long periods of time rather than for short bursts during play. Now that I am not dependent on him my choice to be submissive is that much stronger. But I digress, that also is another post.

“I need you” now leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t want to be needed or to need anyone else, it puts too much pressure on the relationship. I would rather everyone involved was coming to the relationship from a place of want and desire, a place where the relationship is fun, voluntary, and exciting rather than necessary or required. Thus I am officially striking the phrase “I need you” or any derivative thereof from my romantic repertoire. I choose instead to employ phrases such as “I want you” or “I crave you” which are equally as powerful but are less dependent.

edit

Brought to my attention by the wonderful Kristi, Amanda Palmer’s cover of “I Want You, But I Don’t Need You” is fabulously in the exact same vein as my post above, and therefore needed to be embedded and shared. Not to mention it’s Amanda Palmer which automatically makes it that much more awesome.

  1. Referencing both the pilot episode of House and The Rolling Stones, of course. []
  2. I do have a degree in Psychology, which basically just allows me to go “hmm” when presented with any personal information about a person. []