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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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 []
01.02

2011

In 2011

someecards.com - Sorry that, statistically speaking, you probably won't fulfill your resolution

This and my In the Year… posts are becoming regular turn of the year features. I wrote In 2009 and In 2010 at the very beginning of the last two years and here is my list this year.

These are not resolutions. Like the ecard that I have featured above I do not believe in resolutions because there are too many connotations surrounding them. They’re usually just wishful thinking or short-term ideas that we tell ourselves due to the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. While resolutions can be genuine things we want to accomplish they often are just the same things we tell ourselves all the time that we want to do but never actually put the energy into doing them. That’s why I don’t make resolutions.

However, there is something to be said about taking the time once a year to reflect on the year that has passed and to look forward to the coming year. The change of the year is as good of a time as any to do this, and so I am.

These are goals, either things I’m currently working on or ones I would like to do and am dedicated to putting some energy toward. By putting them on here part of the idea is that I am now going to be held accountable for them and I will be able to look back a year from now and see if I have accomplished them.

  • Write More – Yes, I said this last year, but it needs repeating. This might just always be a goal of mine every year, but it’s definitely something I want to do. I really want to write more erotica and sexy stuff of that nature. I want to hone my writing skills by making writing a priority again. I have been lost and distracted for the past couple of years and I finally feel like I’m coming back into my own. If possible I want to publish something.
  • Focus My Projects & Get Organized – I need to figure out which of my projects are going to be focuses and which will not. Right now I have quite a few things that I am working on and that I make money through but I need to set a schedule and figure out what I can get rid of. I feel like I have far too many things to do sometimes and that I don’t end up getting them all done because of it. I need to figure out what I’m focusing on, set goals, and get things done. I need to organize my life and my time. It’s so easy for me to get distracted from writing or whatever it is I’m wanting to get accomplished and especially now that I’m working for myself I need to figure that out. I need to learn to prioritize.
  • Figure Out My Sex Work – So far I’ve been really enjoying camming and my sex work persona Scarlet Sophia. I have other ambitions as well and am trying to figure out all my boundaries there. I very much would like to be involved in some ethical queer porn this year and I’m playing with the idea of doing some ProDominant.
  • Spend Dedicated Intimate Time with Onyx – While we see a lot of each other on a regular basis most of our time is spent with us at our respective computers or watching something and I want to change that. Perhaps setting up regular “date” nights where we go out on the town or ones where we specifically stay in. I especially hope to have more dedicated kinky play time as even though our power dynamic is more prominent than ever we mostly engage in casual rough kinky sex rather than anything more elaborate, and sometimes that elaborate stuff is nice.
  • Attend More Classes/Workshops/Conferences – There are so many opportunities to do this here in Seattle and I haven’t taken advantage of them. My internet learnings aren’t enough I need to go out and take classes, meet people, all of that. My further goal is to actually present somewhere but I’m not sure on what topic yet.
  • Network and Put Myself Out There – While I’m getting known somewhat in the occult community here I also really want to get involved in the kink one here as well. I’ve been such a recluse for the last few years and I feel like I need to break out of that. I’m tired of being awkward in social situations and the only way I’m going to learn how to not be is to go out there and do it. Of course, this requires time, so that getting organized idea above might have to happen first.
  • Respond to Emails Faster – I’m seriously horrible at responding to emails. I’m not sure why, but I am. I want to change this, though. I have been slowly teaching myself in the last year or so to respond to emails as soon as possible, to not put it off, to make a draft to reply at very least so I can go back later without forgetting. I will become better at this through 2011 as well.

Lights, Camera…

Not too long ago near the beginning of this month I answered a post in the Seattle Area Personal Ads group on FetLife (login required) for a project titled Process of Pain for Raise Your Fist Productions. It explores masochism, giving a taste of what pain is, what masochists and sadists love about pain, how we play, and other various things. I was very interested in doing this and Onyx agreed to be part of it as well, as a part of being in the documentary was agreeing to do a scene on camera.

Last Monday Amanda came over and we shot a breast play scene. Onyx pulled and twisted my nipples, slapped my breasts, pulled my hair, slapped my face, and made me come on camera. He also used crops, a cane, and nipple clamps on me. It wasn’t a super heavy scene, though there was a good amount of pain, and we didn’t fuck on camera but I did come multiple times. Amanda said she got some very nice shots. She’s filming other couples for this as well and I’m sure I will post about it again when it is done. I’m very excited to see the finished result.

It’s brought up a lot of interesting things for me, as I’ve always loved porn and for a long time I’ve had a fantasy about doing it, though I’ve not always had the body-confidence that I have gained over the last few years. I’ve been seriously considering exploring phone sex work again in the last couple months, I made a couple NiteFlirt accounts but have not yet utilized them to their full potential, and now after this experience I’m seriously considering getting into ethical queer pornography as well.

I say ethical queer pornography because that’s the only type I would be willing to do. This documentary was a great first step, I think, it proved to me that it was something I could do on camera, and I enjoyed doing so. I have a lot of theatre background and have been on stage and in front of the camera many times so I always kind of new I would be able to do it, but there was always some doubt. Now that doubt is gone.

I’ve also recently been reconnecting with my Goddess Babalon after a slight deviation from her path and I believe that getting in to sex work and pornography would be a great act of devotion to her. She was part of the reason I started exploring phone sex work two years ago as well.

Since filming I came across this quote while reading Demons of the Flesh: The Complete Guide to Left-Hand Path Sex Magic for the Sacred Sexuality Book Club Onyx and I are hosting at our place which first met today.

“The moral pornographer would be an artist who uses pornographic material as a part of the acceptance of the logic of a world of absolute sexual license for all the genders, and projects a model of the way such a world might work. His business would be the total demystification of the flesh and the subsequent revelation, through the infinite modulations of the sexual act… the pornographer has it in his power to become a terrorist of the imagination, a sexual guerilla whose purpose is to overturn our most basic notions of these relations, to reinstate sexuality as a primary mode of being rather than a specialized area of vacation from being and to show that the everyday meetings in the marriage bed are parodies of their own pretensions. -Angela Carter

Ebb and Flow

Just like everything else the needs of poly people can change quite often. Since Onyx and I got back together and I returned to Seattle we have had quite a few casual play experiences but neither of us have really been interested in another new relationship. I think at least partially this is because we were both so burned by the last one, but mostly because of the change in our dynamic and activities.

We’ve both gotten considerably more involved in the local occult community than we ever really have been before while we’ve been together. Our D/s-slash-O/p relationship is also far more solid and working. Also we both are working a lot and I’ve been taking a certification class recently. Add all this up together and it means we have just about enough time for each other, let alone someone else.

This is one of the drawbacks of being poly: even with a desire for another relationship there is a point when it comes down to how much time you feasibly have for a new relationship. Now, all of this isn’t to say that either of us would be against a new relationship should something develop organically (the only way we would want it to anyway), but neither of us is actively looking for another partner.

That being said I do still feel the pang of desire for being with a woman. I need a woman in my life with which to have an intimate relationship, that is just a fundamental truth at this point. I’m confident, however, that I will find someone when the time is right. There are just too many things that I am working on and that Onyx and I are working on together so there isn’t much room for anything else. I am very much still poly, as is Onyx, but that doesn’t mean we’re out there actively looking for new relationships.

This isn’t abnormal for poly people, in fact while in the midst of writing this post I came upon the term polysaturated1 which describes what I’m feeling quite perfectly, except I only currently have one partner but many many activities.

This all said, not looking for a relationship also does not exclude the possibility of casual and play partners, in my opinion. Something with friendship and emotions but without being “serious” would be ideal for me at this point in time. I would love the opportunity for purposefully casual play with friends as we’ve already explored a little.

This desire has definitely encouraged me to get looking around more at the local kink community, which I am already making plans to get more into. Not just to find causal play partners but to friend friends first and foremost. While there is definitely bleed over between the occult and the kinky scenes here in Seattle it’s also not a ready topic to be broached with a new acquaintance at occult social events.

Anyone who is already friends with me on FetLife may have noticed that I’ve been on there more lately and I’ve especially been looking at events in my area and tirelessly ticking “going to” or “might be going to” when I find one that interests me. Onyx has been doing much the same. We already signed up for a Delving Into Power workshop with Lee Harrington in February which we’re both very much looking toward. Plus the weekend intensive class I’m taking is over next weekend so we will have more opportunity to go to events than we have in the last two months.

I’ve been slowly pulling our focus toward kink as well as everything else that we’re doing, as I’m sure you may have noticed if you’ve been reading this blog at all the last couple months. Whether or not this happened because of starting the 30 Days of Kink or I started the 30 Days of Kink because my focus was already shifting to kink-related areas is a definite chicken and egg scenario. Regardless, it’s happening.

I’m really looking forward to getting into the community here, and I’m sure I will share as that journey moves along. Perhaps the ebb and flow of poly needs and desires will change once again through this exploration.

  1. via Gabe on FetLife []
08.27

2010

What Brings (Me) Pleasure: Hammocks


Number 410 from Adipositivity

This is going to be a new feature here on Purveyor of Pleasure, and I thought I would start it off! Normally the title would be “What Brings You Pleasure” (now a link in the navigation bar as well) but since I’m writing it this first one is What Brings Me Pleasure.

This post and this idea, really, is brought to you by the image above from Adipositivity, possibly my favorite photography site ever. I’ve posted many times about and many pictures from Adipositivity and I’m sure I will post many more. I was inspired by the photo to write about my love for hammocks, and that brought me to the idea of this new feature!

If you would like to submit a post for this new feature check out the info page.

I’m not really sure what it is about hammocks that I love so much. I’ve always loved gently rocking back and forth while being suspended in the air.

I remember when I was little my Aunt and Uncle had a little storage shed across from their house that my Uncle had built. On the poarch of the shed a gorgeous rainbow hammock was suspended in the spring and summer. Every time we went over there, if there was time, I would ask if I could play in the hammock. I would climb into it and just lie there, rocking back and forth, for what felt like an eternity. I was as at peace as a hyper child could be.

One of my favorite places on earth is at my family’s cabin on Lake Sutherland. It was passed down from my father’s father to his four children and all of their children have been visiting it since we were little. My family and I would take a trip from Juneau, Alaska to Port Angeles, Washington almost every summer while I was growing up, usually we would drive down through Canada and then Seattle. Back when gas prices were much more reasonable. A lot of the time when we arrived in Port Angeles we would stay at the lake cabin (as we call it), or at very least we would go out there all the time. One little moment of joy in my life was when my Aunt gave me a key to the lake cabin when I moved to Seattle.

Between the cabin and the lake there is a small area of grass and in that area there is a white stand-alone hammock permanently taking up space there. The last time I was there I took a picture of me in the hammock with it’s gorgeous view of the lake and other side. It’s one of the things I look forward to most about going to the lake cabin, that and jumping off the end of the dock into the water and swimming until my arms are tired.

Hammocks bring me pleasure to my core. I don’t know if I could ever be upset in a hammock; they calm me and fill me with utter joy. There is something just so peaceful about laying happily in a hammock, rocking back and forth, suspending all the problems and potential stresses of day to day life by just taking the time to breathe and rock.

Any time we see a hammock or someone references one I mention to Onyx that we need a hammock. When looking at cat towers for our four cats to play on I am always drawn to those with hammocks. Life is just better with a hammock to rest in and let troubles melt away. Someday I will have one. Until then hammocks will remain a once-in-a-while luxury.

What brings you pleasure?

Learning How to Follow

The other night Onyx and I went out swing dancing with Sinclair and Kristin at the most awesome Century Ballroom here in Seattle. Sinclair and Kristin have done lots of swing dancing, I’ve done a small amount many many years ago but have done a fair amount of dancing in general, and Onyx had never done any before1. There was a short lesson before the band got started to teach us some very basic steps and we were divided up into “leaders” and “followers” (which was nicely gender-neutral terminology and not surprising for Capitol Hill).

I was suddenly struck and unsure of which side to go on. Every time I had done swing or any partner dancing in the past I’ve always been a leader, but since Onyx was coming (he wasn’t there yet, he had to work late) I decided I would learn it from the follower’s perspective so he could be the leader.I’m sure he would have had no issue with the opposite generally if it were just the two of us, in fact I’ve lead him in partner dancing when we’ve gone out before and neither of us feels strange about it, but since it’s a social event I thought it would be a nice for me to get experience in the follower side of things. After all, I could always switch later, not to mention I would get experience with both sides either way.

We all got in a large circle of pairs and learned the very basic six count rock-step and step-step as well as a couple turns and there was great emphasis in leaders learning how to lead and followers learning how to follow. Since basically all of my experience has been as a leader I had some issues giving up control.

Surprise surprise.

Yes, I actually am talking about swing dancing, but of course this is an excellent analogy for all the problems I’ve had as a submissive. You know, just in case you didn’t already figure that out (though you probably did, I’m not discounting your intelligence I just have a tendency to over-explain. Anyway.)

I really enjoyed myself, and because the instructors had the followers switch partners every few steps while we were all going through the brief lesson I was able to dance with a number of different people, three of which asked me to dance later on in the night. I only ended up dancing with one of them because first I was catching Onyx up on the dancing technique as he had missed the instruction and then I was nursing the ankle I rolled while dancing (ouch), and by the time I was dancing again the two who I declined at the time were busy with others or had left.

I learned, however, something that I’ve been learning a lot in the last few months, especially since I got back from Juneau, and that is that I can follow and I can do a damn good job at it too when I allow myself to. When I trust that the other person is able to lead me I am able to allow them to do so, though it does take a lot of practice especially since I’m also quite a strong leader myself.

Onyx did exceptionally well as I taught him how to lead, especially for someone who claims to have no rhythm, it took a little while but he got the basic steps down. He’s agreed to take classes with me, which I am extremely thrilled about and plan to hold him to.

I was amused at how much like in the beginnings of our power relationship I was again teaching him how to lead me so that I could adequately follow, though not doing a great job at it myself. I’m sure with enough practice as well as much help from others he will become an excellent leader to my follower just as he has off of the dance floor.

I’ll still be leading with others, though, whenever I can.

  1. Onyx thinks he is completely without rhythm and body coordination despite having learned both while he was in the Norwegian army and being able to dance at the local goth club when we go out–granted goth dancing isn’t about rhythm, but anyway… []

The Big Question

Found here, it’s actually a shirt (and I bought one)

That is, What Am I Doing With My Life?

Oh, yes, that question.

My last protected post (leave a comment here to get the password) was all about my unsuredness regarding going back to school in the fall for theatre at Cornish here in Seattle. I discovered that because I already have an undergrad education I would not be eligible for financial aid at Cornish and since a year there is ridiculously expensive1 there was no way I could go there. They do not have graduate degrees.

So, I’ve been wandering around somewhat aimless for the last month and a half, applying for jobs, looking into places to volunteer, but ultimately without a greater goal in mind like I had with going to Cornish or, before that, getting my Body Piercing License. I need a goal to work toward. I need a five-year plan. This is how it’s always been and, I think, why the last two years since I graduated (it’s really been two years hasn’t it? Damn.) have been so weird and aimless.

I tried to fill that void with a new relationship, threw myself in to that with abandon and although it didn’t work out I learned a lot in the process. I have been applying for jobs like crazy but am in that fun limbo of overqualified to jobs I have experience in because of my degrees and inexperienced in jobs my degrees may qualify me for. It, in a word, sucks.

Being in this strange limbo and without knowing people here in Seattle who would be able to help find me a job I have been defaulting to making money however I can. I should mention, while I was in Juneau I was working part time and offered a full time position as well. While I don’t regret leaving as being with Onyx trumps everything else I do wish I had the same opportunities here that I did there.

I would still love to get my BP License or do theatre, I have strong interests in both, but they’re less of an option right at this moment as I don’t know a reputible piercer here in Seattle and a relationship like that takes time to develop and the grad theatre programs around here are already full-up this Fall. I like these careers in theory more than in practice, though, I think, because I can still do both of them on an amature level (I love play piercing, and I’m hoping to volunteer with GreenStage here in the summer). So, this brings us back around to the original question.

Oh yes, that question.

How am I supposed to answer this? I read an article about the 20something (white middle-class) youth of today viewing career as not just something you do for a paycheck, viewing it as a core part of self-expression, and I instantly related. I see my time as valuable and think if I’m not doing something I love than I shouldn’t be doing it. This is definitely a position of privilidge, and that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t jump at the chance to work at a coffee shop tomorrow for minimum wage so I was making some money although I know that is unlikely to happen (though, luckily, I do feel like I’m contributing something to our income since I’ve started selling ads on my websites).

What I have a passion for, though, is sex education. More broadly I have a passion for teaching. I don’t want to teach in a school, though, too much politics and I’m not all that big on kids. I love the idea of sharing knowledge and helping others learn and grow. I said a few years ago that my ideal work situation would be to do workshops and classes, travel all over to do so, go to conferences, etc. Presenting in front of an audience is kind of like doing theatre work. I feel mildly awkward with this desire as my sister is currently doing the same thing in similar/the same field.

At Sex 2.0 this weekend, though, there was a lot of talk about sex educators and the need for them as well as some specific advice I needed to hear2. The weekend previously Onyx and I went to an astrology workshop which had already sparked some ideas into my head. Those two experiences combined with various other ideas has made me come to the conclusion that I need to stop talking about it and start doing it. If I want to teach workshops and classes I need to write up an outline for a class, find somewhere to do it, and do it! What have I been waiting for?

I guess I’ve been waiting for something to inspire me, something to point me in the right direction, even though I had the initial direction down all along I just didn’t know how to do it, or the timing wasn’t right, or something. I also have a deep interest in astrology and have taken many classes on the subject. I also have the great opportunity to go to the Northwest Astrology Conference (NORWAC) this weekend here in Seattle, so I’m hoping to gain lots of information there.

I have some ideas on how to go forward with this. I am also interested in learning hypnosis, there are a number of interesting schools to get certified in that. There are also a number of astrological certification programs, not many that are accredited anymore (RIP Kepler College), but lots of options there as well. All of these things seem to go right along with my degrees as well, funny how that happens.

On the other side of things, I started working on a professional portfolio-type site, I’m writing up ideas for classes and workshops I would be interested in and able to teach3 and once the ideas are done I will start working on outlines. I want to start presenting in the next few months, maybe start doing some free introductory audio classes and then some paid ones, maybe start doing teleconferencing lectures which could then be archived and downloaded (an idea from Sex 2.0). I could also doing personal sexuality coaching, one-on-one emailing/chatting/phone conversations answering sexuality related questions for a small fee.

I have lots of different ideas and interests brewing inside me, including a class/lecture on Sex-Positive Astrology or maybe just Sexy Astrology, combining both sides of these money-making ideas into one.

I want to be an educator, to teach topics that are interesting, to help expand people’s minds and knowledge base on a wide variety of topics. I feel like I have knowledge enough to do this on a basic level plus I am open to learning more each and every day.

Honestly, it is scary for me to express this desire, to admit to these plans I have in my head. The other ideas I had were comfortable, becoming a body piercer or going back to school for theatre, there wasn’t much personal risk involved. Just the idea of announcing this publicly on my blog scares the shit out of me4, and that’s one of the many reasons I know it’s right.

[EDIT: I just wanted to add, I know it won't be easy and I know it will be a lot of work, and I don't expect it to happen immediately either. This is my five-year (or longer) plan. This is just the start of the process, the beginning spark of deciding What I Want To Do, marking it out, going for it, and starting to think about how I can make this happen. I'm ready.]

  1. read: $27,000 []
  2. “How do you get into sex education? You just teach a workshop!” []
  3. and apparently I think that every class/workshop should have a title with a subtitle. It has to be something like “Oh My G: Getting to know the G-spot & Female Ejaculation” gotta have that colon in there! []
  4. I was going to have this password protected, but it’s more of a risk to do this publically, maybe you will hold me accountable to my own hopes and dreams if nothing else []
05.23

2010

Sex 2.0 Update

Sex 2.0 is an unconference about the intersection of social media, feminism, and sexuality. This is my second year attending. Much like last year’s Sex 2.0 update I’m updating in the middle of the conference, though unlike last year the middle of the conference is Saturday evening (it was only one day last year). There are a few sessions tomorrow, including quite a few I’m interested in and excited about.

So far it’s a very different conference than the one I attended last year, but partially also because it’s where I currently live as opposed to being far away, not to mention this time it isn’t overshadowed by meeting a long-distance partner (though Onyx just left for Norway today–not for a fun reason, though, to go to a funeral). I’ve been very flattered a number of times so far this weekend, people knowing who I was when I didn’t think they would, or being actually excited by my presence. It’s been a great experience so far.

I’ll for sure be writing a longer more detailed post about the conference. You can check out my twitter feed to read what I have tweeted thus far about it (which has been a lot, I’ve basically been tweeting my conference notes rather than taking them any other way) and to follow what I will be tweeting tomorrow.

The sessions I attended today:

  1. Standing Up to the Neighborhood Bullies of the Internet by @JulianArancia
  2. Media Whoring – Tips from the Pros a panel with @ReidAboutSex, @veronicamonet, @maymaym, @cunningminx, the PR manager for @castlemegastore, and @fiercekitty
  3. Out: the Challenges and Rewards of Being Sex Positive to Your Family, Friends, Job, and Culture by @ropecast/@graydancer
  4. Online Sex Coaching and Education by @inaradeluna
  5. The Need for “Peermanship” In Meat-Time: Flying Your Freak Flag At Conferences, Why It’s Important to Hit On Your Peers, and How To Handle Your Conference Crushes…” by @ReidAboutSex

I figure you can click-through their twitter pages to their websites more easily than I can link all their websites and twitter names and make it look good.

Just like last year I will have a more detailed post up after the (un)conference is over!

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.

Making Open Relationships Work

On Sunday after the rest of our weekend fun Onyx and I walked to Babeland here in Seattle for a workshop by Tristan Taormino. She called it Poly 201, basically the next level of information after her book Opening Up.

She talked about what does and does not make poly/non-monogamy work and started with a T-chart listing only what doesn’t make poly work on one side which included: New Relationship Energy, Time Management, Miscommunication, Agreement Violation, Jealousy, and Change. She then proceeded to address each factor individually and give the tools and skills to use to combat each of the potential issues. The following is her information both from my notes and as I remember it.

What doesn’t make poly work and the tools we can use to combat each of those issues:

  • New Relationship Energy: patience, compassion, communication
  • Time Management: organization, (google) calendars, negotiation skills
  • Miscommunication: honesty, full disclosure, self-awareness, communication
  • Agreement Violation: checklists, commitment
  • Jealousy: reality check, self-awareness, self-esteem, confidence, security, non-attachment, support/therapy

She stopped there to unpack jealousy a bit for us. Jealousy can be broken down into envy, competitiveness, possessiveness, excluded feelings, insecurity (fear of abandonment, not good enough, not valued, etc.), obsessiveness. Essentially “all roads lead to fear.” Jealousy isn’t about reason or using our intellect it’s about our reptilian brain overtaking us and it takes a fuckofalot to get us out of it. There is a lot of debate as to whether jealousy is innate or learned, but most likely it is some combination.

The following two situations can be both good or bad depending on the situation.

  • Change: the tools needed to cope depends on what kind of change is occuring
  • Love: compersion

Change can be welcome, or it can be difficult and unexpected. New love (and old love) can be a source of great happiness or something that catches us off guard. As Tristan said, there’s a reason why it is called “falling in love,” because most of the time you “fall on your face.” Or perhaps something came into your path that made you stumble and fall, not always in a good way.

When new love comes along specifically it can often trigger “old monogamous programming,” or the socialization that we all get in this culture to believe in monogamy. The best way to combat this is compersion. Compersion is finding joy and happiness in the happiness of your partner with another. It is the opposite of jealousy and a goal in most non-monogamous relationships.

Tristan offered “the selfish person’s guide to compersion” which essentially is for you (the selfish person) to remember that eventually the energy and excitement of the other relationship will come back and help to fuel your relationship. When a relationship is going well for someone they will feel good and that feeling good will bleed over into every relationship that person is in.

That’s the bare bones of what was covered. There was also a Q&A session at the end and after that we said hello to Tristan and got our copy of Opening Up signed. It was a wonderful workshop and was absolutely wonderful to see and meet Tristan Taormino. I highly encourage you to go to a workshop of hers if you ever have the chance!