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  • Writer's pictureSarah Foley

TSS - 022 ~ newness + love from afar

content warning: discussion of eating disorders, mention of sexual trauma

I'm writing to you from a place of both distance and closeness to my breakup. It's been nearly four months now, and I still love him deeply, effortlessly. I feel so much victorious relief that I have made it to this point though, a place where the griefs are scattered between larger periods of acceptance and surrender. It feels like forever since I've been with him, experiences now fading into memories, but I also feel connected to him. A fine thread of love holds me tightly, my unconscious inability to let it fade away symptomatic of the love that was never ruptured, betrayed, broken. I carry the care I have for him through my every day, gently wishing him love and kindness in our distance.

In the last month, I have seemingly found a way to hold that love a little more from afar, while I softly open myself up to a newness away from him. After months of sorrow, I wanted to fall heavily back into my body and let it guide me through some joyful experiences. I needed to know that I was still an agent in creating aliveness in my life. I wanted the reminder of my desirability, the tangibility of my presence, and wanted to see sex as something other than complexity. After diving into working on my sexual trauma a couple of years ago (if you missed it, there are a mere five blog posts about it lol), I shuffled between a dichotomous overthinking of sex, a sexless relaxation that culminated largely in body disconnect, my mind wandering as soon as the expectation of pleasure arrived, and sometimes, genuine sensation. I worked hard with my sexologist to regain sensuality in myself, away from the sensuality I effortlessly observed in the people around me. Where it has always felt like I can perform sexuality, the easefulness of my body to switch off and dissipate into the air around me prevented me from experiencing a truthful sexuality. I could feel the mechanics of sex with ease: the brushing of soft and un-soft textures, the curling of hands around flesh, thick curls of hair a magnet to my mouth and sticky cheeks, the wetness of saliva and sweat, and sometimes a fluttering tick inside the base of my stomach. But, I could not feel the pleasure of sex for more than a moment at a time. When I have felt the highest ascent, I have become overtaken with heat and a rising ache that echoes through my stomach and thighs. But once noticed, the ache flees and descends into a lulled sensitivity. Coming back to sex with strangers, felt like a chance to alter my script and offer easeful desire, the excitement of newness bolstering the potential for a deeply emotional response to said newness.

Downloading a dating app was far from effortless. It felt like the downloading itself symbolised so much, and was completely mismatched with where I was actually at. I was repulsed at the idea of messaging someone new, and the idea of anything eventuating into actually seeing someone filled me with fear and unease. But, I knew, I had to offer myself newness and hopefulness; I couldn't keep waiting around for something that wasn't coming. Knowing I was going overseas soon, I also felt logically that the safest time to experience the likely emotional downpour of new sex was at home, friends at the ready, therapy accessible, objectively safe. I didn't have it in me to share anything vulnerable about myself, so offered nothing but a scattering of photos that felt both accurate and like a stranger. My apprehension was also in knowing that I would very likely see the person I loved while swiping, and that that alone would raise my core stress enough to turn me off being on there. I didn't want to know what he was doing, and also didn't want to hurt him by making him think about what I was doing. But there was no way around those two things unless I continued to abstain, which was no longer the best option. Of course, I did see him within the first five minutes of being on the app, but was oddly able to see him lovingly and offer silent kindness to him and me, so aware of his vulnerability and mine in being there.

As per my experiences of dating apps four years earlier, I felt like I was only even remotely attracted to one in a thousand men. Where the app experience is totally unrealistic and devastatingly superficial, when faced with first impressions alone, I didn't like many. I knew I was also coming in with a barely open mind and a precarious sense of self that compounded in a sense that I would not be attracted to anyone who was attracted to me. The swirling insecurity around my desirability that I allowed to build in the ending of my relationship, meant that I felt clouded by a hateful voice whispering that what I want, won't ever want me. I am working to combat this narrative with love and softness, but the vulnerability of dating feeds in me an inevitable breeding ground of the worst feelings of self and an abandonment of the best.

When faced with actually messaging people that I did match with, I had absolutely no clue where to begin nor was I really interested. Where I used to love this part, I hadn't yet opened space for intimacy beyond physicality. I just wanted sex, lots and lots of sex. I was conscious of the space I was in as deeply selfish and with the potential to be incredibly disrespectful if not managed, as well as my tendency towards addictive overwhelm when I do have sex.

I did finally force myself to go on a date, and went home with them. While the person was absolutely lovely, I knew throughout the date that I didn't want to have sex with them. And did it anyway. I felt trapped in the expectation of sex that I had given myself, while he was completely kind and consensual. I felt that the option of saying no and potentially hurting someone's feelings, was a more important consideration than my own clear body signals which said that I did not want to do this. I never felt unsafe or at risk, from anyone but myself. As it happened, I cried softly into the pillow, masking my sounds with that of tiredness, or maybe pleasure. I tried to breathe deeply despite the muffling of my breath, and rolled over only when all trace of the tears had been wiped away. I cried because I had let myself down, and because the first sex I had had was not what I wanted. I felt into a ridiculous unreality that I would never want sex with anyone else again, and a frustration that I had belittled the sexological and psychological work I had been doing, fearful that the disregard of myself would result in a regression of any of the pleasure/boundary work I had been doing. My wondrous therapist and friends tactfully offered other perspectives to my sex: I had weighed up my options and wanted to offer myself the possibility that I could be wanted and desired (this is true). Or, I knew I was safe and would find the first time emotional regardless, so decided to do this when my risk of getting invested was not large (true). Or, that sometimes we just do things that we don't really want to do and that that is okay, I haven't completely betrayed myself, the bigger work stands regardless (hopefully true). As is possibly nearly always true with the first sex, I was shaken by the reality that sex with someone you deeply love, is nearly incomparable to anything else. I missed him, I missed us, but knew I had to focus on affirming my life with the reminder that newness can be both wonderful and horrifying, necessary and healing.

After reflecting, mourning, laughing, I was surprisingly unencumbered and felt freer with knowledge that the hardest time was over. I opened a little more possibility, and by having sex, reopened an unignorable insatiability that had been masked/distant for a while. And so the next time I went on a date, a completely opposing vulnerability presented itself, shocking and actual attraction. While I felt genuinely excited at being on a date with someone I was getting whole body yes signals for, that in turn ignited the insecure voices that assured me there was no way he could be attracted to me. While talking to him, my brain was bolting between over-analysing, fear, predicted rejection, and a small potential for actually amazing sex. While my whole body responded with need, his attraction to me felt shocking and fragile, contingent on something I didn't know but had to maintain. I still wish I had communicated more about what I wanted for my body, but in reality, I don't really know what I want for my body, I am learning so much right now. Afterwards, I could feel the rising scarcity panic in me, more, more, more seeping into my body, booming alerts that I needed more sex now and would need it constantly from here on out. There was no way I could ever get enough, I couldn't actually ask for the amount of sex I wanted because that was completely impossible and would give away that I am completely un-chill (No shock to you).

I have always been one extreme or the other with sex: completely unstoppable, driven only by the need for more, drowning in lust, or, detached from desire, disconnected from the goodness of sex, rejected and rejecting. But, the insatiability was usually for connection and touch, gratification related to self-esteem. This time around, I have a consciousness with sex and my sense of self that I haven't had before. I have an ability to hold uncomfortable space and sit with it, and a deeper sense of my worth away from sex. Where in the moments, hours, days after sex I am completely distracted by need for more, I can now sit with that and not pursue it unhealthily. That moment of total whole body craving is so akin to the desire I used to have to binge/purge, my relationship with sex and food always corresponding with the need for control or hedonism increasing, decreasing. I have often had intensity in my body, but have never been able to manage it until recently. My therapist used to suggest when I absolutely needed to purge, that I wait 30 seconds longer than was comfortable to begin to test the waters of holding discomfort in my body without absolving it. But I could never do it. Waiting even a moment would bring a ferocious itch that would ignite the insides of my skin, guilt and panic rising in my body with unparalleled intensity, a catastrophic heaviness and awareness of my physical body that was totally unsustainable. The only relief was purging, a clean slate, emptiness, bringing with it the return of sanity. Where my body is no longer driven by bulimic/restrictive urges, it is still sporadically jolted alive by the need to be touched, held, fucked. As soon as I was able to swap food with sex, I did it. I'd go back and forth between vices as one unsatisfied me, hoping for the catharsis of the other. As I got older and food lost the extent of its hold on me, and I delved into my sexual trauma earnestly, I lost my vices, and opened a power vacuum within. I fed it with romantic love and connection, externalising what had been a relationship with self (even negative) to a relationship with myself that relied on another. But again, in this period of solitude, the power vacuum has reopened and this time I'm letting it be filled with all that it desires, knowing that my worth is unaffected on the other side. How divine. What I want now, is to know my body truthfully, a curious engagement that is non judgemental and inherently loving.

Returning to sex is emotional, terrifying, amazing, self-indulgent, energising, addictive, sorrowful, and heavenly. I am re-navigating a safe relationship with pleasure and life, and it's really fucking hard. But I'm feeling excited for newness again in a way that feels like the first sunshine on your skin after a long, dark winter.

<3 <3 <3

The piccies in this post are (in order as they appear) from the amazing @fromjordyn, my bedroom, and Pinterest.

1 comment

1 Comment

Fun Time
Fun Time
Jun 25, 2023

Hi , my name is Vicky, if any female with any age require friendship, relationship, gathering, sex please contact with me, right now I am in Lahore, 03208481727

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