Authenticity is a Privilege

I think a lot about authenticity, especially lately as I learn more about myself during this pandemic. As a chronic over-sharer for years being authentic is a huge part of my identity and, I guess if we’re also looking through a capitalistic lens, also my personal *brand*.

But what does living life *authentically* mean? Is it about sharing a lot? Is it about sharing a little? Does it have anything to do with the quantity or is it more on quality? I think it’s the latter.

I’ve been compelled to share my life with … SOMEthing ever since I was an angsty teen with crushes on some “not great” choices and a journal to write in. I needed a place to confess, to ask myself the tough questions; I needed a place to be completely myself and analyze what the heck was going on.

At the advent of social media, my sharing took off and became much more public facing. It was nowhere close to being as honest as it is today, but where I am now was always the goal. When I first started the Not Your Mother’s Playground non-monogamy blog in 2008, it was with the intent of sharing 100% Me going through some BIG STUFF. Sadly being authentic didn’t stop me from being an asshole a few too many times, but I hope I’ve learned from those experiences and those I may have hurt have been able to heal.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to get messages from many people who’ve said I helped them in their own lives, in a variety of ways, just by vocally modelling what (not) to do in polyam relationships, sharing my struggles with illness & pain, or being myself openly at any given moment. 

I still work as a chameleon, adapting my level of “Samantha” to hopefully match my audiences comfort level, but I’m always still myself, just when required a more reserved version.

But I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had plenty of chances to be authentic in various media and haven’t had to worry too much if the norms judged me, because I got to not care without much consequence. I’ve only lost two friends (that I know of) and one job for being open about my life choices. And yes, I consider those minimal losses me being lucky.

My ability to live a loud & authentic life relies heavily on my privilege as a white cis woman living & working in Canada, in the most diverse city there is. And although I came out years before polyam became “the thing”, when only a very small few were open about it publicly, I made it thru relatively unscathed. And I still do so today.

Have I had partners & friends who didn’t understand my desire for connection via mirrored experiences? Of course. I’m still judged & misunderstood for non monogamy AND the way I share my illnesses. Because it’s not common in society to be so open, my vulnerability & enthusiasm can be confused for something bigger than just “who I am as a person with most everyone I like”, and sometimes (often) with strangers too. 

Because I’ve never understood playing games, I tend to show up as mostly my whole self in situations where others might be used to more cagey interactions where people hold their cards close to their chest for fear of their vulnerability being used against them as a weapon.

Vocalizing my enthusiasm for things or people I enjoy is hardwired into me. I love the camaraderie that comes from sharing. Too often in this world people waste time and potentially wonderful experiences because they didn’t feel safe & encouraged enough to be their authentic selves. I don’t want to live like that, even tho my way can be really scary. And I’m extremely lucky that, in many cases, being the most open, straightforward, & direct version of myself isn’t just who I am, it’s who I’m allowed & even encouraged to be by so many.

But there are countless others who can’t share their true selves, experiences, & emotions as I do. And not just because they’re private people. Queer phobia, judgment, cultural & religious expectations, the threat of being kicked out, fired, and even death, cause lots of people around the world to hide who they are. It’s not lost on me that I can get away with talking about things that feel normal (often boring!) to me but could be life-threatening to others.

I know I’ve put some people off over the years, but I’ve gained more than I’ve lost being this way and I don’t take that privilege lightly. 

I get to be myself here, & slowly everywhere else too – especially lately in my work. My authenticity has helped me deepen friendships, stay above water, & find my humanity.

I’m so grateful to everyone who participates in my life. Whether you’re just lurking, here as a friend or family, or maybe just think I’m a car wreck, at the end of the day I still get to be Me.

I appreciate that I can live love laugh and lose on full display & feel safe doing so. Living out loud helps me understand my constant evolution and how I work. I will forever continue to use my privilege to create change & show you the good, the bad, & the ugly because I want to help create a world where people both feel and *are* safe to not hide their authentic selves.

So if you’ve read this far, thanks for helping me use my privilege for good. I hope my oversharing helps some of you feel safer to step into your own truths, however messy they may be.

If you have thoughts about your own journey with authenticity, or maybe mine, I’d love to hear them. Together we are so much stronger and I hope this little Internet space enriches and encourages you to be truer to yourself, even just a little.

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If You Say So

Hey Friends, this post is a bit, well, sexual. If we are family or business colleagues or you just don’t want to know those types of things about me, please don’t read this! I am not interested in having awkward conversations about it. Also, for everyone, please note that this post contains discussion of rough sex, consensual non-consent, and graphic sex. Everything is written based on my experiences, and my experiences alone. Please protect yourself if this is something that might be hard for you. Thanks!

As I’ve been coming back to myself and my sexuality lately, I’ve been thinking a lot (a lot) about kink. Specifically, asking myself how I feel connected to it, now that some time away from dating has passed. Over the years beginning in 2007 onwards, I tried a variety of kinky modes to see if any would stick. Some examples include:

  • Bondage which caused, well panic. I absolutely cannot handle being held in place by rope. It’s such a hard limit for me;
  • Psychological bondage, though? Not being able to move simply because someone has told me not to? Now we’re talking;
  • Degradation I found to be annoying. Someone trying to humiliate me by being mean to me? Definitely not my jam and did not make me have any interest in pleasing them. I just wanted to leave every time;
  • Rough sex, as in very rough. Extremely heavy slaps, choking to the point of (almost) passing out, face fucking, and being thrown around like a rag doll. Fun, yes, but you can do all of those things with less … force, and they’re just as good. Honestly, control over chaos wins every time, plus having chronic pain now means I have to be a bit more gentle with myself;
  • DD/lg; Jory and I had a Daddy / baby girl relationship for a while and it was lovely. I was definitely starting to deal with my illnesses at the time, and needed the escape of cuteness in our sex lives to soften the blow of my increasingly depressing reality and he’s so lovely at it. When chronic pain made me feel like a burden, being taken care of in this super sweet way helped me feel less bad about my needs. Jory still gets the title of Daddy over anyone else, and I love when we play like this a bit, though I’m less about the cutesies as a distraction from life method nowadays.

Out of all of these different modes one thread consistently keeps appearing everywhere, and that’s (consensual) obedience.

On the surface, I am not an obedient person. I have been challenging why we have to do stuff the way we do stuff for as long as I can remember. Not so much initially in an “authority is bad” way, though I certainly believe that to be true today. I just always questioned everything. Less “why is the sky blue?” and more “but that way doesn’t work as well, so I’m going to do it my own way now”. At 7 years old in English private school, my Form Mistress wrote this comment in my Autumn term report card, which I think sums up my entire life to this point:

Samantha must listen carefully and take the advice she is given. Her few weaknesses come mainly from wanting to do her “own thing”, which in some circumstances is not always the best for her.

Now Miss Bogan was right about this; if I haven’t been happy with how a thing is being done, chances are I’ve developed my own way of dealing with it. For the longest time, I simply assumed that the way I moved through the world was the same way everyone else did. I didn’t realize that my behaviour wasn’t the norm. When a rule or suggested guideline didn’t resonate with me, I didn’t follow it, always believing that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. I say this in the past tense, but really the same is as true for me today as a 41 year old woman as it was for me as a 15 year old kid. I have always questioned authority when it’s come to rules and guidelines. At the very least, rules are meant to be tested, but often I’d much rather break them if they don’t appear to be well thought out. Rules for the sake of rules? What’s the point!

And this next point is key. I’ve never wanted to break rules because I’m a bad person who wants to “stick it to the man”. I haven’t been trying to rebel; I’ve simply wanted to figure why we do the things we do in life. I’m not about doing things differently just for the sake of it, but I’ve also never been about doing things the same way as everyone else, just because, either. The exceptions, of course, are when it comes to societal moral and ethical expectations of us as citizens. In those circumstances, I will always go along with doing what’s right. Being a good and kind human, and sometimes going above and beyond, does rule above all else for me.

In my 20s when I was a wedding planner for a period of time, I set out with the intention of only doing non-traditional events. I worked with couples who all said they wanted to do their special day differently, but the further we went along in the process, the more traditions, they had originally said no to, kept creeping back in. It was both frustrating and enlightening, trying to understand why they felt they had to do some things that they didn’t have any real personal attachment to. I’m all about traditions – of course in the “make my own” kind of way – but it drove me batty that so many of them adopted wedding day staples they didn’t even care about. I quickly knew it wasn’t the job for me, though I definitely had a lot of fun doing it.

In my own life now I love traditions because they are ones that I’ve chosen myself with purpose and intent. If a particular aspect of a holiday doesn’t resonate with us, we don’t do it just because everyone else does. We make it our own.

My relationship with obedience has been a journey, but it’s what I keep coming back to when thinking of kinky sexual relationships I want to have. We’ve clearly established that I’m not a Yes Man. I don’t blindly follow the herd. Instead, I would rather be a kind and compassionate weirdo, navigating her own way through, vs a person who never questions why they do things, or takes time to determine if what they’re doing is right or wrong. My will is extremely strong. I am 100% my own woman and rarely care what strangers think of me for it. So, why is it that when a dominant partner – or even one who’s only casually dominant – tells me what to do, that I both almost immediately fall in line and find myself often extremely turned on by it?

Part of the answer lies in the simple audacity of them attempting such control over me. We’ve established that I don’t present as a person who’s going to do what she’s told, but I’m also not a brat. I mean, I’ll tell a dominant partner that they’re being annoying for their sometimes outlandish requests, but I’ll more than likely still do them, (as long as I am comfortably, am not physically hurting myself, and aren’t going past a hard limit just to please someone). As I said above, I don’t do my own thing to be a rebel, I simply want there to be justifiable motivation behind the choices that I, and those around me, make. So when a partner tells me, for example, that I have to stay perfectly still or that I’m not allowed to talk or that I must bend over and lift up my skirt to them because they said so, I’ll do it. Partially because of the fact that they have the guts to try telling me what to do. Like, don’t they know who they’re dealing with? They think that I’m going to just put that dick in my face and treat it like the most important task I’ve ever had in front of me? Seriously? Wait, oh, that’s actually what I’m doing? Oh, ok. Fair. Why though? Oh, because they’re telling me to and they seem to be very serious about it? I mean, ok. Sorry, I mean, of course. I mean, yes, Sir!

Obedience turns me on so much because it’s often taking something so silly and turning it into something so serious. Like, ok sure, pal. I’ll just interrupt my important day to go and touch myself because you told me to, uh huh. And then, oh hey look, I’ve found myself doing exactly that. Because of the audacity, you see! Don’t discount the fact that these things are fun, as well.

At the end of the day, I really love when my partner insists I do something because they want me to. They see this strong woman in front of them and realize that, with compelling enough motivation, she will bend to their will, because they had the guts to demand it of her. Who am I, a woman on her own path, to tell this man that he’s not allowed to walk his own and insist that I follow him along. Are you really going to let him get away with taking charge like that? Oh, yes, definitely, feminist me. I’m going to likely do whatever this man tells me to, because I don’t actually have a good reason not to, but he sure seems like he’s got a good reason for me doing it. And that’s the heart of it, right there. It’s about forward motion. It’s about them deciding that this is how it is now, that they’re in charge and I’m going to do as they say. It’s about them knowing that I cannot argue with our mutual pleasure as a motivation. It’s about the fact that they’re making a choice and not just telling me what to do because they think they’re supposed to.

And also, do you know what an absolute fucking delight it is for me to take a break and not question the why of everything I’m doing? To realize that, in that moment in time, whether I’m in his bed in my house, at their feet, underneath her, or behind a screen across town, I don’t have to decide what happens next. The thinking is being done for me and I am free to be, well, free.

Let’s get back to the audacity component (because obviously I love it). I find confidence to be incredibly attractive, both in and out of the bedroom. When a lover knows what they want and goes for it, who am I to stand in the way of their dreams! And if their dreams happen to (consensually) challenge my relationship with my boundaries, isn’t that part of the fun for me? I want people to feel good, both physically and mentally. And my gosh it feels good to know that a submissive partner trusts that you have everyone’s best interests at heart. To know that you will instruct this person and they will do what you ask because they want to.

Having been on both sides of this one, I can say with certainty that there is a beautiful escape to be found on either side. Truth be completely told, y’all know that I also love attention and am forever simply wanting to be seen. To be validated. To matter. When a lover takes control, I couldn’t possibly be more seen than in that moment. For suddenly, everything I do is under the microscope. Am I positioning my body to be used somehow? Am I choosing my words very carefully, trying but likely happily failing to avoid the perfect slap on the face? Whatever it is, I am the centre of attention, even if I’m just being used as an ottoman. My every breath matters in that instruction, whether it’s as innocent as being flipped into a new position on the bed or as intense as not being allowed to talk for even 15 minutes. 

I am taking a break from my brain. I am being seen. I am being of service. I am making them proud. And damn, if my body isn’t responding in waves.

It’s completely invigorating to be with a lover who knows that you’re a strong, independent person, in control of your own life. Yet here you are, feeling so pulled by the possibility of not having to be in control for once that you’ll let them take over. I love being my own person but gosh I sure do like getting to take a break from myself every now and then. To immerse myself in my lover’s world. To be what they want me to be and to do what want me to do. To be used as they see fit. We know I won’t rebel, but I will be a) clear about my hard limits and b) a little sassy at times when they know they’re pushing me close to the edge of my flexible ones. For the most part though, I’ll do as I’m told. Always choosing kind, stern control over chaos and uncertainty.

Obedience brings me purpose, even if it’s temporary. It can both scare me and bring me immense joy. I can offer it to a dominant or accept it from a submissive. It keeps me both on edge and content. I get to experience the world through another person’s expectations, forgetting that mine exist.

I thought now I might share some of my favourite obedience moments from my life, some long ago and others more recent. I’ve left names out of it. For most of these, I’m the one who’s relinquished control, though every now and then I’ll treat you to a switch. I realize that I haven’t said it yet but I don’t believe that kinky compliance has to be a full Yes, Sir, no, Sir scenario. Even the smallest of actions with intent can hit the right note.

I love(d) obedience when:

  • I’m sucking his cock and he stops me to turn me around because he absolutely needs to fuck me;
  • He needs me to be quiet and, as shushing makes me moan more, he tells me to shut up while he’s fucking me. He covers my mouth, growls it into my ear. I’m in such awe of how this beautiful, kind, and funny man is using me for his pleasure in that moment that I gladly make no further sounds;
  • The way I made her look me in the eyes while she came, and again. How she collapsed into me when I told her how wonderful and pretty she was for sharing that with me;
  • The way he told me to go to the restaurant bathroom to take a photo of my pussy to send to him once I got back to the table;
  • The way I seized the moment and kissed them against my car on our first date, and they almost fell over in delight;
  • How I told her to show us both what a very good girl she was;
  • Watching his happy and proud face while I went down on her;
  • Being told not to talk and having to communicate my desires with just my face and moans;
  • When I laid underneath her, telling her how pretty she was and so good for being fucked by him on top of me;
  • When out for drinks, I spend the entire evening in anticipation, waiting for the conversation to turn dirty, waiting to feel completely naked at the table, whilst (pre-pandemic) close to so many strangers;
  • As we fuck, he grabs my hands to hold me down in place underneath his weight and motion;
  • I’m at their place and I find myself unsure of what to do. I sit on the couch. I sip my drink. I wait while they watch me squirm, knowing that I’m ready whenever they say the word;
  • He kisses me on the forehead and, just for a brief moment, I don’t need to worry or think;
  • On the drive back he says “From now on, you can only say Yes, Daddy or No, Daddy. Do you understand?”;
  • Hearing “We’re going to go to my place now and I expect you to be on your best behaviour when we get there”;
  • I stand in the middle of the room and slowly undress myself. They lift my arms up and push my legs apart. I am, inspected;
  • He scares me with the threat of a (consensual) face slap if I deviate at all from his instructions;
  • Feeling the scary, yet beautiful subspace weight of his disappointment in me if I get it wrong (and the glorious security in aftercare that makes it all ok);
  • I go into the bedroom and see that he’s already laid out our plans for the evening. I just have to show up and do as I’m told;
  • I’m grabbed by my lips, my cheeks. My face is squeezed in ways where I must look silly, but I let them grab at me however they want as their plaything;
  • He takes my coat and then tells me to twirl in my dress for him so he can really see me;
  • When he pulls me by the hair and says to me, “You’re mine”;
  • I grab his hand as he leads me to the bedroom. He pushes me down, ass up facing him, so he can appreciate and explore;
  • I wasn’t allowed to cum for days until they told me that I could;
  • He told me to fuck my partner that evening, and I got to feel like I was fucking both when it happened;
  • He’s made me crawl over to him, slowly, not dropping eye contact, staying upright, waiting to hear what’s next;
  • When I’m crying from a painful spanking session and they grab me to snuggle me close and tend to my bruises;
  • The look in his eyes when he rests his fingers on my mouth and I hold his gaze while sucking on them deeply;
  • How it never matters if I worry that I’ll look bad in a photo he tells me to take because he doesn’t think I do;
  • How only a few words can make me confess anything, simply because he’s curious and I love the attention;
  • When I know what it feels like to be her and how much I want to give her the world in that moment. To see her, to help her feel safe, to take care of what’s next.

Thanks for reading, as always. <3

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Queen No Fun

I have a very particular insecurity that being chronically ill has helped me become much more consciously aware of recently. Years of turning down invitations to get togethers, going out but leaving early, or asking for the tv to be less loud, less bright, in fact just turn everything off! … it has all convinced me that I am the Queen of No Fun. Zero fun, in fact. When everything I do is forged through the added barrier of pain and discomfort, it often feels as if I have no energy left to spare for much needed levity. Because of this frequent depletion of energy, my insecurity has told me I am boring and not fun to be around, whatsoever.

To be honest, I don’t know if I was ever that much fun to begin with. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up to a place, where friends or family have already gathered, with a scowl on my face, even though I was excited to be there and to see everyone. Let me take a few minutes to be a fly on the wall, get the lay of the land, and get settled in and then Happy Me will maybe appear. If I don’t get that time it’s a lot harder to relax, enjoy myself, and not make everyone else around me cranky too. It’s only now that I’m actually putting words to this annoying no-fun emotion that’s been getting in my way for years! Hopefully I can work around it now that I’ve really identified it because it’s a negative experience that’s caused me to really be no fun.

Also, being in a larger body for years meant that I often subconsciously avoided being more boisterous in public so that no one would notice me. I was “fun” as a younger drunken slut, sure, but that was always tied up in how much I sought male attention during the first few years of non-monogamy (haha, ok now too, fine). I’ve convinced others, but worse myself, that I’ve not been interested in all sorts of probably fun activities over the years, simply because I didn’t want to be noticed doing them. If you said that society brought me up to think of my always fat body as a thing ne’er to be seen, I’d definitely agree. Never to be noticed. Not to demand attention of others. So I leaned heavily into being more invisible in certain situations. This insecurity – and admittedly Steph rarely wanting to try new things – has caused me to not participate in lots of stuff over the years. It’s why I completely failed at getting any when we hosted a sexy party for my birthday a few years ok. In some circumstances, I am absolutely terrible at being the center of attention and, well, ruin the fun.

Most of my time on the planet can be divided into my two main modes of existence. The first is where I want all of the attention at any given time; I love this mode! It’s not that I want all of the attention in that mode always, but instead that I am ready for all of it should the mood strike the person or people I’m with. It’s usually a one-person at a time thing though, which might be why I don’t seek it out with groups of people I know.

The second, and much more frequent mode is when I don’t even want to be perceived. This is actually crucial to my “no fun” persona and I wish I didn’t feel it. I can be doing something so completely innocuous; maybe I’m writing a post like this one, grabbing a snack, or searching for a book to read. Someone, usually Steph or Jory as they’re the people I see the most, will simply notice me. Maybe they’ll start talking or casually asking me what I’m up to. In those moments, I feel myself recoiling and I really don’t know why. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them or that I’m embarrassed to be doing whatever I’m doing; I simply want to be in that moment without being noticed. I want to be invisible and just float around, doing my thing. That’s where I’ve trained myself to find the most comfort and safety.

So, instead of answering the questions or being a kind and responsive human being when noticed, I get snarky and unkind in my responses, almost angry, as if it’s so unbelievably offensive that a loved one would want to engage with me while I’m obviously not even there. I rarely catch myself before it happens and the end result is always the same. I’ve been an asshole and feel confusingly resentful that my invisibility cloak somehow stopped working while the other person is reminded that I am a no fun snake, poised to bite at any opportunity. In reality it has little to do with them. It’s all about me wishing to hide. Yes, this is something I definitely need to work on! Perhaps too I also need to explain it to my people, to help them understand what is happening in my weirdo brain in those moments. That I’m not actually a no-fun little weasel, who hisses at anyone who dares interact with her as she just wants to sneak past and not bother anyone. You see, she’s just so used to bothering people thanks to pain and all of the requirements she needs to exist comfortably and feels bad about it. “Can you turn the volume down? Can the lights be off? Can you get me a pill?”

Chronic pain has for sure made moments of fun harder for me to find or recognize. Additionally, and as you’re well aware of, the pandemic has done all it can to suck joy out of everything, though I’m still working at seeing the joy in as many places as possible to counter this. It’s unbelievably hard though, for all of us. My body’s stress response to the pandemic has been raising my starting pain point to a much higher level. It’s meant I’ve often had a headache and/ or body flare-up for weeks or months on end while having to deal with all of the expectations of the world on top of that. Capitalism demands productivity. Relationships demand nurturing and care. Pain demands the most of me, and the first thing to fall victim to it is often my happiness. Fun. Laughter. Joy.

This all sounds disastrous, I know, but there is a new light shining on me lately (not a blue light, thankfully; that would give me a headache). The past few months that I’ve spent working on disconnecting my identify from my illnesses has been a great help for me in terms of recognizing how little fun I was allowing myself. I use that word “allowing” on purpose. It might feel like it’s been out of my control and, to some degree, it has, but I’ve been really working hard to intentionally seek out fun on all levels big and small, since my revelation back in September that I am not my illness. Realizing that my illnesses are “a thing I suffer from” vs. “who I am” has reminded me that I am just as entitled to having and being fun as the next person. When you hurt all the time, it’s easy for your reality to become distorted. It’s easy to take it personally, like it must be my fault that I deal with this all the time. It used to be really easy to convince me that I don’t deserve fun. That I’m broken. Weighing everyone down. I should be suffering to make up for how annoying I am to take care of.

A few things have been helping me shed that very heavy cloak of self-loathing and insecurity and I’ll share them with you now. The first thing is the revelation I just mentioned. Since disconnecting my illness from my identity, I’ve felt an awareness of the vastness of … possibility! While the pandemic has kept many things on hold and especially uncertain in the recent weeks of Omicron, I am still feeling excited about all the good times that are to come in 2022 and beyond. I truly believe now, even when things are so dark, that there are years more of those good times to have with my husbands, my friends, and my lovers, old and new.

I suffer from a bunch of annoying illnesses, but they are not my entire being. They take a lot of my energy, yes, but they don’t have as much of a stronghold on my joy as I’ve let myself believe. I can both have and be fun. I am allowed. I am worthy.

The second thing that’s been helping, and feel free to laugh at me for this, is weed. Wait, sorry, my bad, I hear we’re calling it cannabis now.? I’ve hated weed forever and still do in most forms, and it’s not made any better by the millions of people who say to me, immediately upon hearing I get migraines, “Have you tried weed?” Yes, Brenda, I have. I wish I liked it; would’ve made me a lot cooler in school, according to Matthew McConaughey. To my chagrin, the smell of it makes me feel sick and nauseated. I absolutely hate smoke, and any of the edibles I’ve consumed in the past have given me such bad auditory hallucinations that I’ve ended up extremely uncomfortable, convinced it would always be a bad experience that wasn’t for me.

Plus, the taste of edibles is gross to me and I can always taste it, I promise. (Super senses and all that). Any time I’d try one of Jory’s weed gummies, I would never actually chew them. Instead I’d cut off the amount that I wanted to have and would swallow it whole. Since then, thanks to the Ontario Cannabis Store (which is honestly a sentence that I’m certain NO one has ever written), I’ve been experimenting with weed “capsules”. And, well, I’ve been high almost every single night since September. Should I be worried or concerned about that? Ehh, no? It’s a pandemic?

Besides, I have years to make up for, right?

The little indulgence of these wonderful pills has brought me so much laughter over the past few very hard months. They’ve helped me be sillier and also appreciate silliness in others, where in the past I’d have been so focused on being invisible that I couldn’t enjoy people being fun/ny. That guard that often goes up when I don’t wish to be perceived; it takes a break when I’m high. I enjoy entertainment more. I have great conversations with some wonderful friends. I laugh until I cry and have on multiple occasions since starting these pills in the fall. I couldn’t tell you the last time that happened before them. These moments of stoned fun also bleed over and help me when I’m sober too. I’m reminded that I can laugh and be goofy and find joy all the time, not only in those evening moments of relaxation. I finally get it, y’all. I just had to find “my thing”.

The third, and final, contributor helping me return to fun, well this one’s easy: sex! I’m having so more sex in the last few months than I had in all of 2021. I find myself initiating it so much more with both Steph and Jory, despite the times when I might feel physically miserable. Before I was always convinced of the fact that I had to say no to their advances because there was no way I could actually a) be a good lover anymore and b) enjoy myself, thanks to whatever head or body pain I was afflicted with. It would be too disappointing for them as they would sense how hard it was for me. For too long, sex at home felt like an obligation. There hasn’t been any pressure from the husbands, no this has been a self-induced pressure. It had nothing to do with how I felt romantically or sexually about them – which has always been great; it was all me. The longer my pain went on, the worse it got over the years, the more hopeless I felt, and the more it became my identity. I was far too often convinced before – and also very ashamed – that having sex with the pain I was suffering from would be too disappointing for them as my days of being a fun lover were obviously in my past. Oh how wrong I was!

The idea of having to be sexy when I constantly felt like a broken “annoying potato of burden” was almost impossible for me to wrap my brain around. It’s easy to blame a drop in sex drive on the pandemic, but that’s only been 2 out of many more potato years.

Thankfully, with a return to outside dating my submissive side is being reborn causing me to remember all of the different ways that sex, and more importantly Me having sex, is great. (Look, I didn’t write my Yelp reviews but I trust them). I didn’t think I would ever reconnect with that side of me; it felt lost forever. Now that I’ve discovered it’s still there, I get to finally enjoy my sexuality at home with my two wonderful anchors a lot more than I let myself before. I am a very sexual being and also very in love with and attracted to them both and am reminded of the individual sexy bonds I have with each of them. It’s so wonderful to not feel this overwhelming sense of dread about an activity I once loved because I felt like I would ruin it. We can choose fun together and experiencing that again is glorious!

Partially responsible for the reconnection with my sexuality and kink is the new (younger) men in my life. Whether in person or by text, they seem to be convinced that I’m awesome, telling me as we collapse in a heap, or when I give them a very suggestive smile, or as I slip slide into their DMs. According to them, I am not a boring baked potato. I am a vivacious, attractive, powerful woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. According to them, and I trust them as I have excellent taste in humans, I am, for lack of a less obvious word, fun! I know Steph and Jory think this too, but there really is something unique about hearing it from someone who doesn’t know you that well. To think that “fun” could be the version of myself that I’m finally putting out there, it’s remarkable.

I’ve had a lot of great sex in my life but I’m really feeling so much more confident in the bedroom now. It’s more than simply a return to self; it feels like a journey to finally meet my true self. I’m having great sex everywhere now and, I have to believe, that at least 50% of the reasoning behind that is because of me! I remember now how amazing sex and kink can be; how fun it is to get absolutely railed and to flirt. I remember how much I like shaking my butt, saying “Let’s do it!” in the absolute cutest voice I can do and how good it feels to reconnect with my husband loves or to discover new lovers.

I’m remembering how to be the fun person I thought was lost forever, a little older and a lot wiser.
I’m learning how to go after joyful experiences that I want for myself and others.
I’m finally seeing the fun offered to me by everything and everyone without layers of pain distorting the view.

It’s pretty great, y’all.
Thanks, as always, for reading. <3

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Finding & Creating Joy

Today I just need to write. It might not be very well thought out or edited, but hopefully writing this will get it out of my head so I can focus on the next crisis:

I don’t think it would be too far reaching to say that joy is hard to come by nowadays. We’re almost 2 full years into a global pandemic and Omicron is swiftly ruining holidays with extreme speed. It is not at all easy to be happy right now, never mind “festive”, and yet we’re still out here trying because what else is there? Christmas is coming up and advertisements make it seem like business as usual; but is it really?

In 2020 I was so excited for this year’s holiday season, expecting that we’d be back with friends and family in person again. With talks of a vaccine on the horizon, it didn’t seem at all plausible that we’d be spending yet another December held captive by Covid’s spell. And then, almost a full year after Delta inserted itself where it certainly wasn’t welcomed Omicron arrives. I’ve been in denial ever since, even when I recently ended up having to cancel my trip home to England thanks to new isolation rules coming into effect the day I would have landed.

I find it just about impossible to believe that this variant is taking over the planet at such rapid speeds. It’s all changed so quickly. We know when the pandemic started but we have zero idea when it will end. Only a month ago there was talk about things getting better. Everyone had more hope. It was easy enough during the first lockdown to stop dining out, stop shopping, stop seeing people. When we were completely unable to do things, at least we knew the score. It sucked a lot, but it had a definitive start date. Every beginning has an end, right? Not so much when it comes to Covid-19. How soon is too soon to drop certain safety protocols? Can we plan that social gathering? Can we afford the rising cost of everything? Should I really hug that friend or go to that new restaurant or go the game? What’s the right thing to do? What’s the wrong thing? We’re back to doubting ourselves and our own risk tolerance.

Just like before vaccines, we’re back to living in extreme uncertainty. That Mexico vacation I was ready to book in February? Likely going without that again, though my constantly pained body requires intense sunshine to take pause and recover. That casual Christmas drop-in event I bought too much food for this weekend? Likely cancelled. Seeing family around the end of the month? Likely nope. Everything is constantly up in the air and yet we’re still expected to perform. To create. To put on a happy face. To do all of the things that were already too much for our nervous systems before the pandemmy even existed.

I think we’re all a bit (a lot) shell shocked right now due to this new variant blindsiding us when hope was returning. In non vaccine-starved countries we were supposed to be getting excited for boosters, booking winter holidays, and reuniting with long missed friends and family, eating just enough mini sausage rolls and rum with egg nog to temporarily forget about this whole mess for at least a few hours. Viruses don’t care how much you missed your family though. They don’t care about your mental health. They don’t care that the weight of everything is burning you out, making everything 10x as hard as it should be, with no end in sight. In fact, they don’t care about you at all.

On top of Covid, the world is burning and flooding and twisting and blowing. The visible effects of climate change are honestly terrifying right now and the refusal by those in power to take action is equal parts maddening and heartbreaking. We have the answers to fix so many problems in the world and our societies and governments barely ever make change. It’s one step forward, three steps back more often than not lately. To try to live and function in this world as a compassionate person, surrounded by people who don’t care about anyone but themselves; it’s a constant mountain of a molehill to climb. The exhaustion is just never-ending right now. If you’re feeling that, my gosh know that you’re in the norm.

So we’re likely losing our holiday get togethers. Some will also literally lose people they might have seen at theirs. Suicides are up. Drug overdoses are up. Relationship tensions are up. Burn out is up. It’s more than ok to not feel festive right now; really it’s ok to admit that it’s hard enough to feel anything positive at all. Me? I’m feeling helpless and claustrophobic. Constantly aware of the growing lack of clarity. The lack of certainty. Getting mentally stuck on the fact that the world has changed significantly more than I think any of us can actually realize. Fighting with my brain when it tries to remember the world before Covid and starts to fritz out because it feels like another lifetime.

Outside of mental health, the levels of pain from my illnesses have been at an all time high lately. I’m afraid to use my body like I used to and feeling incredibly trapped by that lack of confidence. I want to be strong but every single movement now hurts thanks to the constant stress my nervous system is fighting. How can I voluntarily lift the weights I so used to enjoy when, even just the empty motion can cause a pain flare-up that lasts for days? My energy is long gone, making happiness often feel like an impossible target. That energy loss is a million times larger for healthcare and other essential workers. For parents, for teachers, for students. For anyone carrying additional loads thanks to this pandemic. How are any of us supposed to to exist in this constant state of purgatory? 

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. We keep going because we must, I suppose. I have no vision of the present that doesn’t involve suffering somehow. Life will always have a lot of heartache in it; that’s just how everything has always worked. The weight of that heartache at the moment though; none of us should be carrying even a tiny portion of it. It’s so very heavy that finding joy nowadays can feel like a hard to reach goal. It used to show up randomly, in pure moments of freedom, but now it has to be mined for, like a tiny gemstone at the bottom of the deepest cavern. Or the smallest piece of gold in them there hills that you have to swim down and down and down to retrieve.

And what is joy, truly? Is it an emotion that everyone experiences the same way? Is it an umbrella term for so many different versions of happiness? Of love? Is it natural? Can we manufacture it? Is it expensive? Can it be free? Why do some people feel more of it than others? And how can we harness it to fight the melancholy that is existing in the world during this horrific moment in time?

I don’t know what joy looks like for everyone else but I can tell you how and where I find it and sometimes where I have to forge it on demand. I hope that maybe my non-exhaustive random list of things I try and find joy in right now will help you notice more instances of it in your own lives, big and small.

We have to do absolutely everything that we can to not only feel joy nowadays, but also to create it and to care for it as a community. The world is trying so hard to take it from all of us, and we must persevere together to create joy in as many ways as we can. It doesn’t have to be big; to be extravagant. It can be a sound, a smell, a feeling, a texture, a taste. It can be a single instance in time or something you do repetivitely.

The struggle we face right now makes it harder to see the forest for the trees. It’s there though. I promise you.

If you’ve made it this far, here’s a sample list of where I find joy when I’m able:

  • The almost impossibly soft spot of fur behind every cat’s ears;
  • Sunshine through a winter’s window;
  • Validation from someone I lust for and / or care about;
  • How we always prep each other’s toothbrushes before bed;
  • Ice cream;
  • Photos of my favourite people. My favourite places;
  • A client securing their next home with my help;
  • Dogs. Do you ever just look at dogs?
  • My 12 foot skeleton dressed up as Father Christmas and the smiles they brings people;
  • When I’m an absolute trollop on my close friends list and a select group of people respond with continued enthusiasm and encouragement;
  • Specific male friendships;
  • Horror movies;
  • My new love of THC pills, after decades of hating weed;
  • Watching Steph sit happily in the sun on his lunch break when it’s 0 degrees out;
  • Listening to Jory do anything at work where he’s extremely engaged;
  • Train to Mexico by Toby Sebastian;
  • Weekly Corrections on Seth Meyer’s show;
  • The moment my percocet kicks in and I can feel less pain for at least a little while;
  • Being able to secure those drugs that literally help me stay alive;
  • My obsession with leopard print, the sexiest neutral;
  • My new tattoos and the mistakes from my past ones;
  • When my limits are pushed and I complain though we both know I want it;
  • Being able to help people in need now that I finally have the means to do so;
  • Lemmie and The Bird’s Papaya. IYKYK;
  • Photos of my Mum in her brightly coloured clothing, smiling wildly, even when her body hurts;
  • Jory and Steph working together, doing stuff, being supportive;
  • The thrill of new lovers;
  • Realizing that I’m the best at sex that I’ve ever been;
  • Corgis and their corgi butts;
  • Glitter nail polish always;
  • All of the colourful things in my house that are so pleasing to look at;
  • Brightly hued eyeshadow and long liquid wings;
  • Visits and gossip with my osteopath;
  • Despacito forever;
  • Any and all of my sexy playlists;
  • The relationships I’ve deepened during the pandemic;
  • The feeling of being truly satisfied and also challenged in my career for the first time ever in my life;
  • Baseball. And Teoscar Hernandez;
  • Wait, I forgot George Springer;
  • Hang on, I mean the entire Blue Jays team, let’s be real;
  • The way Sherry (cat) asks us for her bird TV show or to be played with or for food;
  • When Ruby (cat) comes to sit next to me on the couch, waiting for me to rub foreheads with her and scratch behind her ears;
  • Having the time and energy to help people with housing questions;
  • Feeling desired;
  • Intimacy in its many forms;
  • Anything and everything that raccoons do;
  • Coming home when crossing the tracks and not getting stuck behind a train;
  • The simplicity of Weetabix and blueberries;
  • Some big (secret currently) family news. No I’m not pregnant;
  • Watching my framily as parents;
  • Driving all over the city. Learning so many new favourite spots;
  • The attention of kind but stern attractive men;
  • Thoughts of femme lips, femme eyes, femme touch;
  • When Steph and I got high last week (related, he never ever does), and how long we laughed at him asking if one of the ingredients in Ryvita Snackbread was … bread;
  • Seeing more people than ever finally start to live their truths; one silver lining to the panini;
  • Underwear and a inflatable T-rex head;
  • Discovering the non-monogamous relationships and feelings I wished I’d had the first time around;
  • Singing Meatloaf songs at the top of my lungs;
  • Booking our booster shots;
  • Beginning the process of hopefully getting my ADHD diagnosis;
  • Recognizing my mistakes and focusing on what I can learn from them;
  • Super fresh McDonald’s fries;
  • Grapes. Do they know how perfect they are;
  • Remembering my accomplishments. I wrote a book! I created a conference! I built a community;
  • Accepting how much I love astrology;
  • Cinnamon and smiles and compliments;
  • Kink;
  • When people in the fast lane actually move out of my way before someone impatient goes around them;
  • Mini candy canes, but especially the ones that have been aging for a few years to the perfect level of softness;
  • Extremely vulnerable conversations with people I treasure;
  • Letting go of people that I don’t;
  • Working with Jory to help understand his autism and how we can be better together;
  • Noticing how I’ve changed;
  • Crusty bread, butter, english cheddar, and Branston pickle;
  • Lingerie and the requests that go along with it;
  • Multi-coloured pens;
  • Heated seats in the car;
  • 90s hip-hop and R&B;
  • Compliments from fellow Realtors about my professionalism;
  • Multi-layered folded chips;
  • Being more intentional about my music choices;
  • Wellington Paranormal;
  • And, finally …

You, if you’ve made it this far. You deserve all the joy you can find.

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Making Peace With My Meatsack

Content warning: This post contains multiple references to weight loss, working out, diet culture, suicidal ideation, chronic illness and pain, and self-image. Please keep these in mind if choosing to read.

I don’t want to write this, but I need to. It’s always been so much easier for me to talk about my love life than it has been my body. I owe myself this post though. I owe myself the release in putting it out there. Perhaps by sharing these feelings they will hold less power over me. Hopefully there will also be some of you who might end up feeling less alone after reading this. Phew. Here goes.

Two years and four days ago, on November 15th, 2019, I had a gastric sleeve “weight-loss” surgery. I had never considered a sleeve before until the year following my pacemaker (PM) surgery on November 19th, 2018. The PM was supposed to improve my quality of life. For almost two years I’d been dealing with getting short of breath when exerting myself. At first it was just occasional, climbing a few stairs, doing some squats, and it would go away. Eventually it became more constant, making it hard for me to breathe while going for a 600m walk around the block. The PM was implanted to fix that and yet I still felt like absolute trash for almost all of 2019.

A full year passed before my pacemaker clinic admitted their error; they had a setting wrong. A quick little bleep bloop hack on the computer and I no longer got short of breath from walking a few feet. In an instant everything was better, but I’d spent a year of my life feeling so embarrassed. I believed them when they said it was my fault the PM didn’t fix everything because I was out of shape. I was out of shape, even with going to the gym frequently and I was fat, so it must have been true. Their gaslighting really messed me up and increased my disdain for this body. Maybe if they’d realized their error (apparently a common error, according to the “Young Pacemaker Patients” Facebook group I’m a part of), I wouldn’t have felt like having weight-loss surgery was a last resort to help me at least get physically smaller so I could breathe again. Instead, I had the sleeve surgery one week before the PM appointment where they basically said “oops!”

From the very beginning, I’ve insisted that I didn’t have the sleeve surgery to “get thin”. It wasn’t about becoming a calorie-counting diet-culture obsessor. I was ok with still being fat, still being curvy, still having a belly. My motivation was weight-loss but I believed that my main focus was dealing with the logistics of being fat in a non-fat friendly society and the fact that I could barely move, even with an electric heart that was supposed to fix me.

When I decided to have the surgery I didn’t hate my body but I did hate how it affected my interactions with the world. I hated sitting on the TTC and trying to slide my extra large hips up the wall, hoping that an incredibly small person would sit next to me so I didn’t have to feel guilty about overflowing into their space. I hated flying solo without one of my smaller partners next to me so I didn’t have to worry about taking up some of their seat too. I only ever asked for a seatbelt extender the one time, stole it, and then never put myself through the embarrassment of asking for one ever again. I hated that Steph would hit my hips while driving when I was in the passenger seat and he was changing gears. I hated that I used to start dating messages with “Just want to be sure that you’ve seen my full body pics” so that no one would tell me how fat I was to my face upon first meeting. 

Society hates fat people. I do not hate fat people, but was I sick and tired of being one? You bet your ass. It’s exhausting living in that world, especially when a literal computer setting had me panting like I’d climbed the CN tower when I actually just crossed the street. I was frustrated, embarrassed, and felt like I had no other options. 

Most of all though, I resented my body. I resented that pain took away from confidence and kept me trapped in my skin. I resented the fact that I was born with shitty metabolism. I resented the fact that I had to be excited about ugly floral options at the few main clothing stores that cater to larger bodies. I resented the fact that other people’s genetics didn’t affect them this way. I resented that so many “normal” people got to move through the world without ever considering how physically (and mentally) challenging it was to do so as a fat person. That’s not to say that smaller people don’t suffer with their own body dysmorphia; people of all shapes and sizes do. That’s a well established fact. But imagine taking a happy picture of yourself, sharing it online and being told that you’re promoting obesity, simply for daring to exist.

I envied the fat woman who feels comfortable (and looks stunning) in her crop top as I grew up long before that was socially “acceptable.” I envied the fat person who felt comfortable eating in public because, even though I fight against it, I still have the instinct to hide when feeding myself. I envied the fat people who showed their entire bodies on the internet without filters, without twisting into a more “acceptable” shape so as to not offend others. 

Occasionally when I look at other fat bodies, I see sad eyes that feel so familiar; someone else who feels trapped by an unwelcoming world that wasn’t built for their build. But, more often than not nowadays, I see peace that I long for myself. I also see beauty. I don’t see my years of disordered eating or apologizing for my body when I look at someone else. I don’t look at other fat bodies and see the struggles they’ve had in a change room, trying on something that should fit but doesn’t because sizing is a nightmare. Instead I see people reclaiming the word fat from being an insult to simply being a descriptor. I see more and more fat liberation activists, fighting for less discrimination against us. I see fashion changing and expanding. I see more, though not enough, fat people in media. It’s only baby steps so far, but I see a world that’s slowly changing and giving me a little hope.

I probably over explained myself there. Truth is, I know that there’s a lot of stigma around weight loss surgeries. The haters will say that it’s the easy way out. (It’s not). My fellow activists might say that me having surgery means I hate fat bodies. (I don’t). However, after that year post PM implantation of blaming myself it felt like the only option for me at the time to be able to move and breathe freely, albeit an expensive one. It was my first year in real estate, I had just sold my first house, so within just a few months I shelled out $17k of my own money and got it done, because waiting the maybe 2 years to get it free through OHIP felt impossible.

I lost approximately 90 lbs in the first 9 ish months and then I hit a plateau. I could talk about all of the BIG emotions that I went through that first 9 months, but it’s the time since the plateau that I’m focused on today. We all know that 2020 was a shit show, and said shit show continues into 2021 and will likely keep going into 2022. If you live in a non chronically ill body though, you might not realize just how much the effect that all of that stress can have on a body with the most sensitive nervous system out there.

The pandemic for me has been one gigantic fibromyalgia and migraine flare-up. A few small breaks here and there. Some months that are “ok”, but more months than not that are really, really hard. August to December of 2020, or hurricane season” was my almost breaking point. I felt trapped by my pained body, claustrophobic just existing. I had no plans to kill myself but I honestly resented that I could never go through with it because getting through each day felt absolutely impossible. The timing of this very large and very persistent flare-up aligned with the time when I started having more and more trouble feeding myself. And when I have trouble feeding myself, I tend to eat nothing for a while and then carbs and sugar when I realize I’m hungry. There were multiple days when I self-soothed with ice cream. Heck, I could eat some ice cream this very minute.

Now, I will never be someone who believes in restrictive dieting. I will never say that I’m going to cut out ice cream. Can you even imagine? Me? With ….. no ice cream? Trust me, that would be a topsy turvy time in history. I can’t lie though; growing up with media that told me that you must eat like a rabbit to be worthy, it fucked me up. On the flip side, there’s also the body-positive movement telling me that I can eat whatever I want and don’t have to participate in diet culture.

Can we be real and say that it is honestly very hard to live in between those two ideologies? On one side you have to be small to be inherently seen as good but on the other side you deserve whatever you want to have. So I’d self-soothe myself with sugar in the evening because I believed that I deserved it, but in the morning I’d have regrets. Bigger than regrets though, is the resentment. I began to realize that I was attempting to distract myself from pain in any way I could. When you’re hurting so much that you’ve lost the will to live, it’s very easy to get lost in the dopamine rush that comes from some mint chocolate chip. When you’re so exhausted from the pain and the stress that you can only manage crackers and cheese for lunch, it’s very easy to convince yourself that you’re listening to your body’s needs and making the right choices. “At least it’s food, right!?”

Trust me. I don’t believe that crackers and cheese are a wrong choice all the time. I do believe in indulgence, in hedonism, in taking pleasure from what we eat. I believe that all people deserve to not only enjoy their food but truly experience it. Could I make better choices for myself? Absolutely. And I haven’t been. Plus after having the three of us all working from home since March of 2020, I am so tired of food and wish that it was a pill we could take every day so I could just stop thinking about it. Because, and here’s the big truth that I’ve realized, now a full year and a couple of months into this apparent “plateau”, I am terrible at managing my eating and it’s only gotten worse. Having a tiny tummy means I often don’t need full meals. I can fill up relatively quickly, and speed is key when you’re having a hard day mentally and know you need to put something, anything in your face hole. 

Admittedly, I am not functioning very well in all aspects of my life. Some are going very well. I’m getting my work done and doing a great job, yes. I’m managing multiple (hopefully) successful relationships, yes. I’m making time and space for friendships and being more honest than ever before, yes. This mental shift away from chronic pain being my identity and simply something I deal with, which has strangely led me back to dating, it’s going really well! How is my actual self-care though? One look at the piles around the house that used to last a few weeks and now sit there for months at a time will tell you that I’m not taking very good care of myself mentally at all. I’m indulging in dopamine rushes however I can get them and that has completely messed up my relationship with food.

For the first year or so after the sleeve surgery, I didn’t have to try too hard. When they remove 85% of your stomach you really can’t eat very much and the weight starts to fall off you. I also could barely handle sugar for the first 10 months, until, well, suddenly I could at the very same time that pain became unbearable in 2020. I’ve tried to cut myself some slack, said that it’s only temporary as I deal with the stress of the pandemic, but it’s been over a year now. I have been functioning poorly because my ADHD masks have failed me and I need help to figure out how to move on from here.

I’m in the early stages of hopefully getting an ADHD diagnosis, but I’m 100% sure that I have it. What does this have to do with my surgery and hitting a plateau? Predictability. A Dorito is always reliable whereas a celery stick isn’t and I even legit love celery. A plate of crackers and peanut butter is exactly the same every single time, but sometimes my protein shakes make me feel ill so I might stay away. The pandemic has made everything harder and that includes navigating taking care of myself physically while dealing with these symptoms becoming more prevalent in my day-to-day. The more I learn, the more I realize just how intrusive ADHD can be when it comes to food. 

Familiar textures are attractive to me when it comes to food, thanks ADHD. I also hyper focus on work and forget to eat when I’m actually hungry, leading to eating too much of not great choices later. I can’t meal prep to save my life, unless it’s for maybe 3 days at a time, once every 5 months. But the biggest challenge is that I sometimes use food to distract myself from pain. On one hand if I can make myself feel sick with some snacks, maybe I can just feel that sensation instead of the migraine. (Spoiler alert: I literally always feel both and yet I still do it constantly). On the other hand the dopamine rush of something reliably tasty wins out with me every single time. I have zero impulse control.

I have a lot of shame about how I spent all of that money and only lost so much weight. I know that I told myself that it was fine if I didn’t get super skinny, that I was ok with always being curvy, but I would be a liar if I said I hadn’t hoped I would be smaller. I’ve existed in a fat body my entire life; even if I didn’t say it out loud for fear of hurting someone else’s feelings, I was secretly excited to potentially exist in a small one. I was excited to become a gym rat again after a few years of not being able to move much at all. I wanted to be the hot girl with the pretty face AND the hot body. I certainly didn’t anticipate a pandemic rolling in and making everything so much harder.

When I see other people having the same surgery and losing weight just fine during the pandemic, I forget that I’m chronically ill and hurt a lot. I forget about ADHD and that I’m always exhausted. Heck, I forget that I had some hard months where I wasn’t sure I would survive – and literally only did because my doctor trusts me with opioids. Instead I see other people succeeding and tell myself that I’ve failed again. That this should be so easy; I’m obviously just not strong enough to “go all the way”, whatever the fuck that means.

For months and months I told myself that I was doing whatever I could to survive 2020 and then 2021. I certainly believe that we should all extend ourselves this grace. We all self-soothed during covid; I mean how could we NOT? Lots of people gained weight during this time and, while I didn’t, I stopped losing which is kind of the same thing after this surgery? I’ve tried telling myself that it’s ok because I never planned on being super small anyway; I just wanted to be strong again. Truth is though, I’m failing at that too because I’ve become too afraid of exercises that I’ve always loved hurting me now. My body reacts so intensely to absolutely everything that I’m afraid to be starting from the bottom one more time. I’m afraid of having a slightly good day and overdoing it, because my body doesn’t do consistent process. One day a 15 lb weight might feel fine. The next time I might only be able do lift 5 lbs. 

This inconsistency has kept me from a lot of movements that I used to love. I feel like all of the energy I used to have for working out is gone. I can barely keep things tidy anymore; how can I expect to have any energy for weights at home, never mind at the gym? When I combine this fear of movement with my current lack of ability to truly nourish my body, I feel defeated. I am embarrassed that I stopped losing weight, (even though I also am very proud of what I did accomplish). I don’t allow myself any grace for being chronically ill … during a pandemic … with all of my ADHD masking falling to the wayside. I do wish I was smaller and that I didn’t just stop at one number. I’m mad at myself for what I’ve seen as failing. For spending seventeen thousand dollars and still having this belly and this ass and for not working out on the daily which would literally be impossible for me right now and yet I’m still mad about it.

I said it wouldn’t matter if I was still a big girl after surgery, but the truth is that it does somewhat and I hate that it does. Even though I know what I’ve been up against, I’m extremely disappointed in myself. I’m embarrassed to still have a belly; I hate feeling it hanging there when I’m lying in bed. I hate how it influences what clothing or lingerie I feel comfortable in. I hate that I have loose skin on my thighs instead of strong muscles that I should have been building all this time. I hate that my bum looks like cottage cheese. I hate that I was so convinced I was going to become something else and that this global pandemic has turned me into not that person. I hate that the joy I felt at being smaller when I was finally able to get rid of so many clothes and buy new ones from multiple stores has been replaced by feeling big again at the same size for a year. I hate that I have anger that doesn’t have anywhere else to go so it comes back to me. I hate that I have any of these anti-fat feelings in the first place!

Let me be clear though. I don’t actually hate my body nor do I hate myself. All of this anger also comes with a side of empathy for what I’ve dealt with, especially since I’ve realized the extent that ADHD has had over my ability to take care of myself. I may end up staying in this particular version of my body forever and I am ok with it, even if I often feel angry about it too. My confidence levels are still high and I’m honestly ok with having insecurities about my body parts still. I’ve found a lot of power in being able to name them, especially when with new people intimately. If I tell you that I’m a bit embarrassed about my belly it means that you’ll understand if I have a slightly odd reaction to it being touched. We tell each other when something affects our physical health; why not talk about our mental health this way too. Insecurities don’t have to be our rulers. I wish I didn’t have them, but I can co-exist with them at the same time.

So now that I’ve written it all out, I’m sitting here wondering what my point is. I’m honestly not sure but it did feel necessary to share. This anger and resentment and frustration isn’t doing me any good as it resides secretly inside of me. I can pretend it’s not there all I want, that I’m all for “fat liberation” and “body positivity” and “health at every size” for not just others but me too, but only by truly acknowledging it can I help myself find freedom from these feelings. I don’t think this is it for me. I might always be a bigger woman but I also believe that strength building movement will return again. That I will one day be able to get those muscles back that I’ve missed for so long. Now that I’ve realized how much ADHD has been affecting my eating severely for the past year, I can take steps to nourish my body, working within that framework. This is simply where I’m at right now, but it’s not the end, it’s yet another beginning. 

Now that I’ve named the battle I’m fighting, I do believe I can make peace with this meatsack of mine.

I didn’t start a global pandemic.
I didn’t ask for chronic illness.
I didn’t cause my shitty metabolism.
It’s not my fault that things are harder.
It’s ok to wish things were different.
I can and will forgive myself.
I am worthy as I am and however else I will become.

You are too. Thanks for reading.

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On even the softest pillows, existence still aches
Relief remaining a forbidden far-off fantasy
Aloof. Distant. Just so slightly out of reach.

This body, these bones, this supposed thick skin
Rarely, if ever, understand or believe in peace
In charge, a world war of hurt, the spotlight stolen by pain.

The head, sliced open, nerves laid bare to the world
By the sharpest of tools, or gentlest clouds in the sky
So bright, so loud, so often, so … much.

A rare commodity these days, it seems
Comfort begins sneaking into private moments
With hair in hands, on throat, the equator trembles.

One slow glance, a soft but stern tone
The mind empties, pain flows away like lavaCould this be the new way to feel softness? To feel safe?

Fingers trace tattoos like a map searching for treasure
Eyes lock me in place, cannot move, cannot speak
Firm tenderness replacing the infinite envelopment of misery.

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Today’s Confession

Samantha Fraser

Hey Friends, I’ve been doing some big thinking lately about … EVERYthing & I have a bit of a confession to make. Some of you know this already. Others will wonder why I’m sharing. Truth is, I feel compelled. Like I’m shedding my skin.

We were a little bit into Tell Me Something Good, the sexy storytelling event I run (ran?) with Claire & I started to notice it. The world I had advocated & fought so hard for – a world where people could explore open relationships without stigma – it was blooming.

I looked around at all of the amazing people carving their own space in sex ed, thinking I would feel proud but instead I felt insignificant next to their growing success. My entire life, jobs, relationships, etc were under a microscope for years for me to just become forgettable? Was it all in my head? Maybe. Who knows.
Things were going well in my life but still I was disconnected from myself. We would have parties that would often turn into sexy parties for some, and I got very prudish about it all, unlike past Me.

That was partially because I was sensitive to my more vanilla guests who didn’t necessarily consent to being at that type of party. But also? I felt like no one wanted to come see us; they just wanted to fuck in our basement & go home. Again, I felt forgettable.

I rained on parades. I avoided sexy opportunities as I didn’t believe they were real. I let this entire concoction of insecurities rule how I treated friends. I wanted so badly to be who I actually finally am but she was just out of reach.

In 2013 I had my heart broken badly because I’m a moron, and leading into 2014 I was stood up maybe 8 times which destroyed my confidence. But I also had lots of great times, partners, & experiences that should’ve balanced it out.

I almost died in February 2014. Not an exaggeration. Not 1, 2, or 5, but 17 pulmonary embolisms from a slip in the tub. The doctors said I was so close to death they were amazed I survived. Every single one of my illnesses now? They come from that single trauma. That trauma that I brushed off because, well I didn’t die, did I? No, so I should’ve gotten over it! Compartmentalism. Move on. Be strong. It’s “who I am”.

I thought I got over it, but the evidence is clear in my body’s response since then. That was trauma that I didn’t ever process. Instead I became ruled by feelings I didn’t even know were there. Essentially I gave into who I thought I had to be after that & illness (& the long search for a diagnosis) became my identity.

I don’t know how much almost dying really changed me, but the evidence suggests a lot. So for this, and more, I am sorry. I’m sorry to the friends that I couldn’t show up for truly because I turned that trauma into awkward and uncomfortable behaviour. But mostly I’m so SO sorry to myself. I let myself dull. I lost my sparkle. Others might have still seen it, but it was much darker than it had been, I promise you.

And now? I am back, but better than I was. I’m here to show up for you AND for me always. I’m here to listen and learn everything you want to share with me. And I’m here to share it all with you too. No holds barred. Confident vulnerability, my favourite. This is 100% me, with the walls down.

I am so excited to finally shed this weight of medical trauma, slowly but surely. There has been a lot of it since then, but it no longer rules my whole soul. My light is returning.

And if you need a little sparkle because maybe you’re feeling dull sometimes? You can have some of mine. Let’s do this. Together.

Thanks for reading. I hope it made sense.

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In Memorian: James Fraser

James Alec Fraser:

03/18/1950 – 10/31/2004

fIt’s been 17 years to the day since I started my morning off with a phone call saying he was gone. 17 years of growing into myself without a father to teach me things and guide me. 17 years of trying to reconcile happy memories with bad ones. 17 years of trying not to forget.

After a while though, it’s hard to remember a person, even someone who’s a part of you. I have so many memories, but they’re more of the moments, less of the man.

He died when I was 24, before I was even a fully formed person myself. I know things about him but I never really got to know him because at that age I barely knew myself. So much of that deeper knowledge comes with growing older together. Of course my knowledge of him has holes in it. Our relationship had holes in it. I moved halfway across the country at 13.

Lately I’m doing such a deep dive into my life and where I’ve come from and when I think about Daddy he almost feels to me like someone I imagined. I want him to be real, but if he was real then why is he not here? Why did I have to grow up without him? If he was real, why can’t I call him? Why can’t I get fatherly advice instead of having to just learn all of the things on my own?

Grief is not a linear healing journey. So today I will do the thing I did 17 years ago, paint my face and hand out candy to the kids, while hoping they have much more time in their lives to make memories than I did.

To learn more about ALS and to help find a cure, visit

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Welcome Back, Self

Samantha Fraser

I am extremely enthusiastic right now about, well … everything. To the point of being annoying, I’m sure, but I’ve never believed in subtlety. The “completely out of left field” life-changing mental shift that I am in the middle of has me wanting to be everywhere, to see everyone, and to tell everyone what they mean to me.

Life is too short to not go for it. To say the things. To do the stuff. And strangely, while patience has never been my area of strength, I’m also finding myself making space for it now. Many things are worth the wait. Because for Me, now, it’s no longer about rushing to do everything on a rare “good” pain day. What if that day doesn’t come for weeks? Life still gets in the way of life. Extreme pain and fatigue days are still going to be frequent. Busy work periods are still a thing.

Somehow though patience makes the moments even better now. Because I’ve realized that they can happen even when I’m hurting. I couldn’t see how to make space for that before but it’s no longer the boss of me. If I’m going to be hurting all the damn time anyway, I might as well have some fun.

For far too long, pain has been my entire existence, wiping away who I used to be before. I have felt like a shell of a person, accepting that “this is just my life now”. Years of multiple diagnoses, doctors gaslighting me, months of all day long excruciating pain, and barely enough energy to even exist, these things have felt permanent.

My illnesses have defined me. They have influenced how I interact with friends, with lovers, with family, and the world. Pain and suffering have so deeply become my identity that I have dulled myself, and taken away my sparkle.

Being seen recently, *truly* seen by someone important from the before times, it reminded me that there is more. That *I* am more. That life is more. And that connections are important. That following your heart, and sometimes your bits (yes I said it, have we met?), is worthwhile. That there is joy to be found in other places than *just* baseball, cats, movies, and all of the things one spends money on when faced with eternal doom and gloom.

I will still be grumpy and sad when hurting sometimes; this isn’t a post about happiness. This is about being able to accept it more. To doing things anyway, even when it’s extra hard. Because life is worth living.

In the past few days I have reconnected with people whilst being in tremendous pain. I have gone to places that physically hurt, and had to take extra measures to protect myself. But, as much as I felt the hurt – and feel it intensely now as I write this – it’s secondary. It doesn’t deserve centre stage.

Because it isn’t who I AM. It’s what I deal with.

I get it. If a fellow spoonie came to me and started preaching about “just doing the things even when it’s tough”, I’d want to punch them in the face. I won’t do that to you. I honestly don’t have any advice on how to make your own mental shift. Mine has been a complete surprise, SO complicated, and includes lots of overlapping feelings about identity, (open) relationships, kink, survival, and of course, pain.

There is no magic button to suddenly convince a depressed brain that it should feel better now. I’m riding some highs but I know there will still be lows. But deep within, things have definitely shifted.

There will be plenty of times when pain will continue to win. When my enthusiasm will be defeated by its invasive and hateful nature. I won’t always be able to do the things or see the people. And there will be other times when I will be able to, but it will be much harder to get through than I let on. No amount of enthusiasm can cause it to go away.

But it no longer gets to be captain of my ship. It’s no longer permitted to destroy my sparkle. I have a burning desire to reconnect with those I already know, to connect with those I don’t, and to be open to whatever experiences, – platonic / sexy / otherwise – come along with that.

I feel less awkward, more sure of myself, and for once, excited. I am not only the Me from before, but I am the Me who has lived through a million more traumas and refuses to keep letting them win.I’m still tired and suffering, but I finally also feel alive again.

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