Life in Less Limbo

Y’all, it has been a week.

I’ve updated here and there as things have progressed, but it’s nice to put it all together so I can link instead of re-telling the story. As I said in my Surviving Life in Limbo… post, I’ve had a lot of concerning health issues pop up suddenly. Upside, they are rearing their ugly heads just as I finally have comprehensive health insurance. Bless my glorious marriage. Finally, I have progress and an update:

NO CANCER!!!

YAY!! CT Scan showed that my bladder is really unhappy but no signs of cancer. That and other tests have ruled cancer out. Que thrilled excitement.

 

Got this glorious news, made a bad-fucking-ass pot roast, and finally relaxed for a few hours. Watched MSNBC to hear my fantasy girlfriend Rachel Maddow talk about how Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire, and at commercial break, made the mistake of trying to pee.

Que mindbending pain. Acute, astonishing, stabbing, horrific pain shooting through my pelvis. On the only pain scale I consider to be legitimate, I was in “I am actively being mauled by a bear” that was living in my bladder.

This is the only pain chart that I consider to be legit. Thank you Hyperbole and a Half

This is the only pain chart that I consider to be legit. Thank you Hyperbole and a Half

Laid face down on our bed, one eye watching The Donald give a victory speech, which was not helping my pain levels at all, for most of the rest of the evening while fearing emptying my bladder ever again. Rachel Maddow kept making me laugh, which would also cause a pain spike. My emergency painkiller wasn’t doing anything and by morning I was looking for childcare so we could get me to the ER. I was biting and yelling into a towel, fearing any liquid. Okay, great, no cancer, but I feel like I’m dying. Thankfully, my Doctor found space to see me, because I loathe the ER. Would rather remove body parts in my bathroom than go through that bullshit.

I do not cry in public. It’s a thing. Have trouble letting my guard down enough to cry most of the time. I cried the whole way through the visit. No infection, nothing glaring on my CT scan, the best educated guess is Interstitial cystitis. That needs to be verified by a urologist, who I’ll be seeing asap. Interestingly, one of the treatments for interstitial cystitis is amitriptyline. The cause of my anorgasmia, #OrgasmQuest and a medication I stopped talking six weeks ago in favor of other medications that were previously beyond my financial means.

So, I’m back on amitriptyline. Last year when Quest started, this was the wonder drug for my depression, but as The Madness overtook our life and I hit one of the worst depressive episodes of my life, it stopped helping. Wellbutrin has been a better match for my depressive symptoms, with the added bonus of the return of my sex drive. When I get out of the acute pain, it will be interesting to see how both of those medications affect my sexuality. #OrgasmQuest is certainly not over.

First, I have to get out of this acute pain. I’m on mostly bed rest with pain management medication for the next few days. Friends and family are helping out and V has been amazing. I’ve spent most of the last two weeks curled around him in either pain or worry. They’ve been perfection in soothing my fears and taking care of my needs. I’m more comfortable in the caretaker role, much less as the patient, but they are keeping me from doing too much.

Meh

Really sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Progress though. At least it isn’t cancer, “just” probably another chronic pain condition that has no cure or great treatment plan. Yaaaayyyyy. *eye roll* So, that’s where I am. My body says I need to lie back down and pay more attention to the Democratic debate.

Thank you for all the love and good wishes. They mean the world to me. <3

#OrgasmQuest Turns One

#OrgasmQuest turns one & I’m not what to say.

Baby Crista!!

Selfie from right after I posted the first #OrgasmQuest post

A year ago right now I was wiggling in bed celebrating that I’d made due on a promised blog post…

I’d come up with an idea, found sponsors, and followed through with “Crista and her #OrgasmQuest“. Wriggling happily because I’d been disconnected from my community for a while but this was the start of “dipping my toes” back in. Finally I had a “little project” to contribute with again.

Ha. Ha. Ha!

A year later it’s all a blur of my jaw hanging on the floor. Waking up every morning for weeks going “Okay, where I am covered today?” or “What did I do now?”

As time passed hands began to cover my eyes during that first peek at twitter.

It was a wild, wonderful, scary, intense, and above all else – surreal – experience.

A year later I’m surprised and thankful that so many people have stuck with me through the ups and mostly downs.

#Orgasmquest shirt on for the first time!

The first time I put on my @SheVibe #OrgasmQuest superhero shirt

Honestly, at the moment this sex writer is not all that sexy. Newlywed or not. Masturbation moments are few and far between, pain levels are so in the way that intimacy is mostly cuddling and words of affirmation. (As that’s my main love language, this works wonderfully.) Shortly my medications are going to change as I get back to this glorious world of comprehensive health coverage. Mostly I’m biding my time until that happens, see what challenges or lack of challenges there will be once it begins. As #OrgasmQuest turns one, I may be right back to where I was at the start. Thankfully, if I am, it is with the glorious wisdom about my body that gained.

My energy has been focused on enjoying feeling joyful again, reconnecting with the world, and creating positive routines that I can stick with as I keep climbing out of that depressive hole. Nothing that warrants world-wide media coverage, which is a nice change.

There will be reposting of my favorite #OrgasmQuest articles over the next few days on twitter. My life is about to be packed with all the joys and stresses that come with the holidays in a very blended family. (Juggling the schedules of four households is…let’s go with interesting.)

I’m really looking forward to where #OrgasmQuest will take me in year two.

I do it for the joy it brings, for I am a Joyful Girl.

Since we got married, it’s like a spell has been lifted.
I feel Joy again.

That sounds corny as I type it, but it is so true. We’re laughing in joy again. There is more color in V’s face. We both feel like the world has been lifted from our shoulders. There are little life things that Monday morning would have caused panic that now are…nothing.

“Okay, let’s deal with this.” Verses “No. Just no. I can’t. Go away.”

We’re more animated. I haven’t seen either of us this happy alone or together in about a year. #OrgasmQuest went from a blog post to…world wide media coverage of my masturbation habits, which seriously – no one is ready for that. While that was happening there was the horrific train wreck of all our worst fears coming true through the custody battle, then the darkness that blanketed our world after things didn’t go our way.

Something important. Something Vital finally went our way. For you wonderful new folks who aren’t familiar with our story, my Partner and I were in the same goth/weirdo/manic pixie dream girl social circle as teenagers but never technically met. He did once spot me at the local goth club (because of course) and the first thing he thought upon seeing was “I’m going to marry that girl someday.

The second was “That’s ridiculous, you probably don’t even have the balls to talk to her.” As he finished that thought I walked over to my group of friends and one douche canoe I couldn’t stand. V didn’t talk to me that night because he assumed that if I talked to douche canoe, I wouldn’t like him.

After missing meeting each other two more times by the tiniest of margins, I found him on OkCupid a decade later. At first sight, I knew I needed to know him. He was like me, whatever it is that I am.

It’s never been easy for us. We’ve moved heaven and earth, gone through hell and back many times, simply because we need to be together. This is my Partner. Now, legally. That means more to me than I expected to. It may never be easy for us, but it’s all worth it. Everything has been worth it to be here.

Grinning up at V in joy, seconds before we were wed.

Grinning up at V in joy, seconds before we were wed.

With the spell broken, I’m coming back to life..

Starting to want to interact again. I feel myself coming back to life. With experience, with how open I’ve been over the last year with my struggles, with everything – I’m much more aware of this rebirth than I have of the others. Aware of how much I need to nurture it, aware that I’ll stumble and that darkness will hit again but that I’ll make it back up again.

I’ve had PTSD since I was a child, this cycle has been ever present. I know it will continue to be present.

Val just put in the paperwork. Jan 1 I have full health insurance. I can see a therapist. I can get meds. Get my fucking eyes checked and new glasses. We’re working on name change, I feel like a real person again.

That’s the key. I’m a person again. I feel real. There is a bit of security again. Taking things slowly, we’re about to be punched again, but I’m real. We’re real. I’m not the “second wife”, the mistress, the pitiful stray, without a voice or agency.

I’m fucking real.

Now, what do I want my reality look like?

I want my reality to continue to be joyful. “because the world owes us nothing, and we owe each other the world.” Continue doing what brings me joy. Writing here, seriously and not so, brings me joy. Working on projects with my peers, podcasting with those Swingset fuckers, presenting and facilitating conversations around sexuality and depression. Sexuality and motherhood. Busting stigmas brings me joy.

I want more joy in my personal life. To fully experience this joyous life, I’m letting go. Slowly I’ve password protected posts about abuse and pain. They aren’t deleted, I’m not doing this because I regret my path or speaking my truth. Forever I will stand by my right to share my truth as a survivor. It’s because I don’t want to give that time space in my joy.

A therapist friend who has given me guidance over the years asked me recently about forgiveness. Could I forgive? The answer is that I can when given an apology, shown a modicum of responsibility for their actions. Without that, I cannot as of yet.

What I can do is let go. Look at why abusers abuse, understand that they won’t change, and let go of their power. They have no power over me. I no longer fear them into the depths of my soul. Bless, reject and send back their anger, hatred and ill will.

My life is strange and beautiful. We have to fight daily to keep it, but I am exactly where I need to be.

I am Mighty

I am a Joyful Girl.

#IStandWithPP, #PinkOut Day & My Family

IstandwPP

I #StandwithPP

Slowly I am snapping out of my hiatus to return to the world. A big step in that process was spending a decent amount of today tweeting about how absolutely vital Planned Parenthood is for myself & my family. Hyperbole free, I don’t know if I would still be here without the health care I’ve received there. The magical antidepressant that finally worked after decades of failures came from the brilliance of my GP, who operates out of our local PP clinic. Without that, there would have been no #OrgasmQuest. Without the actual relief of my worst depressive symptoms, it’s impossible to tell if I would have made it back out from that horrifically dark place I was in.

Planned Parenthood treats my fibro, my GP uses me to teach students about the condition and how to perform the pressure point test. Cured my monthly Cramps of Doom that were knocking me completely out of comission for a week at a time. Does not bat an eye at my career, my relationship dynamic (We’re poly), number of partners I’ve had. She treats me like a person with complex medical problems, never dismissing me as drug seeking, faking, or anything else I’ve become so accustomed to.

Yes, two years ago my local Planned Parenthood also performed my second abortion. I’m not here to argue the morality of abortion or tell that story right now. The fact is abortion is health care and they were there when I needed that form of health care.

As much as Planned Parenthood has done for me, they’ve done even more for Val. We went through hell and back to find someone – anyone – to listen to his symptoms, how rapidly he was losing mobility and how astonishingly high his pain levels were. Years of constantly being labelled as showing “drug seeking behavior”. NOPE. It’s not my place to share his medical details, but one look at his latest MRI will bring you to tears. Through the Doctor we see, he’s better than I really ever fathomed he’d be again.

Planned Parenthood has saved my family. This is important. Please, Donate if you can.

Thoughts on today’s adventure regarding Buzzfeed, #OrgasmQuest, & xoJane

I’m off the trending list on Buzzfeed, so I now can relax.

Introverted Crista is Introverted

I wave hello to you all.

Remember when I said that I was swearing off media for the week because I was burned out and needed to focus on parenting? Apparently my pants are on fire. When my buddy Andy at Good Vibes mentioned the possibility of doing an interview with Carol Fucking Queen, that went right out the fucking window, because Carol Queen. No disrespect to any of the amazing journalists that I have talked to or will in the future, but nothing can top being interviewed by your foremost idol. If you haven’t read that interview yet, please do, because it’s a physical realization of my Ultimate Dream come true.

Around this time I was contacted by  from Buzzfeed UK. She said she’d been following #OrgasmQuest, related to my story and wanted to cover it. We bounced emails back and forth, I felt really comfortable with her, and the no interviews this week rule flew out the window. When I do read buzzfeed, I tend to look over there because I find their stories less sensational and snarky. The interview was fantastic, Maggy is an excellent interviewer, and the final piece is something that I really enjoy. If it wasn’t about me, I’d have been sharing it everywhere.

I woke up this morning with the article already approaching 100k views, top of the trending list, and with more new twitter followers than I knew what to do with. You don’t even want to know what my email and IM’s looked like. At the same time I had to prepare a small child for a trip to the dentist, so it’s safe to say that chaos reigned.

Once I was able to engage with social media, I had the amazing experience of positive interactions with most of my heroes, idols, and revolutionaries. Going through my twitter mentions, it now seems that almost every really fucking awesome person there is now follows me. (Yes, I know, I only have 2200ish followers. My criteria for really fucking awesome is quite high.) Most of today was really, really fun.

Then it hit me that out of everyone I idolize, the only two people that I haven’t had a conversation with that involved mutual respect are Rachel Maddow and Ani Difranco. Heck, maybe I’ll change that tomorrow. Who knows!

I have not looked at the comments section on buzzfeed nor the FB page. I choose to only engage with the people who found me on twitter. Maybe I’ll do that later, Val tells me that it’s mostly positive with flashes of absurdity. I do need to go back to the comment section of my xoJane article, because it’s part of the agreement I signed as a freelancer. Hopefully that isn’t horrible.

Regarding xoJane, I’ve been in contact with their head of social media. Again – everyone within the xoJane staff has been a pleasure to collaborate with. It’s their comment section that are just horrific. I’ve expressed this to them so I’ll repeat it here. Warning their writers about how vitriolic or at best snarky the commenting community is before they publish would go a long way. When I wrote a Sex Diary for NYMag, one of the first things I was told was that people loved to rip the diaries to shreds. With that knowledge going in? I prepared myself for the worst, turned out to be fine.

I’m not “whining” about people being mean to me. Nor am I going to produce the threats to “prove” they existed. I’m not playing that game. Why? Cause there is no winning. So either believe me or not. Really don’t have any fucks to give there. I do loathe our internet culture of snark first, be reasonable later. That’s not an xoJane problem, it’s pervasive. It’s also far more intense when you are a femme presenting person. Still, not gonna shut me up. I’ve been writing for as long as some of these people have possibly been alive.

A lot of comments across all articles have been “oh look, a new person trying to be internet famous for nothing”. Nothing I say will change those people’s minds, but I can tell you that I do feel relief at not being trending anymore. I’m an introvert. Sure, I like attention, but I also like down time. Now that I’m not trending, I feel like there is down time. If you look at my archives for this site, you’ll notice a six month gap in posting. That is because pre-#OrgasmQuest, this site was entirely me writing for me.

This site is going to stay me writing for me.

I’ve invited a few other people to write as well, XVO/Val – My partner has posted and will post more in the future. He is my Partner-in-Everything, so I want his voice to be expressed here as well. Some people have asked to share their #OrgasmQuest stories, I’m thrilled to add them. #OrgasmQuest isn’t going to end when the media attention ends, it will continue for as long as it needs to. It may evolve. I’m open to whatever comes next.

So, now I am off to respond to comments at xoJane and then? Then I reward myself. Remember that big box of love from Tantus? Life has been so intense that I haven’t opened it fully yet. So that’s my reward after this long day, I’m going to gleefully discover what is inside and then spam twitter with my glee.

That’s my self care, and it will be delightful.

#OrgasmSideQuest

XVO

So someone (whom I just made up) once asked me, “How does it feel to be behind the scenes of the #OrgasmQuest, as the partner, as a parent, and as a person?” And if that person weren’t imaginary, I’d answer them thusly:

It feels great. My partner CristaAnne is getting recognition for some of her life’s work. She’s sparking conversations in more than just the (somewhat choirpreaching) activist and educator spheres. She’s taken the conversation about self-love, self-care, sex-positivity, and body-positivity to the main thoroughfares of the internet – places like BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, Jezebel, Bustle, xoJane, Refinery29, DailyDot, and AMessageWithABottle – and we’re finally starting to have a dialogue as a culture about what seems to be a relatively ubiquitous problem – anorgasmia due to antidepressants – but (perhaps more importantly) prior to having that conversation, we’re forced to accept (or at least entertain) ideas about a woman having ownership of herself and her orgasms, about a woman being a mother but still a sexual being, and about a woman being open about such things in public, despite, I guess, being both a woman and a mother.

Though, one of the strangest things about this Quest, to me, is how little anyone seems to care about my place in it. Now, this isn’t me being narcissistic – I just assumed that, our world being so patriarchal, someone would eventually mention me, as a partner, or especially as a co-parent – the now infamous “So, do you ever think about your children?!” line awkwardly blurted out by Leeann Tweeden, being a prime example – I’m their parent too, you snarky fucking hypocrite! You think they’re just going feral while Mommy gets her rocks off? No! They’re playing video games with Daddy, or they’re asleep for the night after juice, brusha-brush, and bedtime stories. Are they going to be horribly scarred to learn that Mommy uses her bits for something other than peeing, or making and delivering babies? They haven’t yet, but since this is a sex-positive household, that information is going to be about as shocking as when they learn that they can make fart sounds with their armpits. Probably less so, for the boys.

People are being open with each other about psych meds, about side effects, about self-love, and these are all wonderful things. People (legends, perhaps?) whom Crista has idolized for as long as I’ve known her, have sent her loving letters of encouragement, and even interviewed her! (The one with Carol Queen over at the Good Vibes Blog is particularly good.)

I’m not threatened by my partner’s sexuality, or by her fame, and I will laugh in the face of anyone who tries to shame her for #OrgasmQuest – this one conversation is bringing sooooo much about our culture’s unexamined self to the surface, and I for one hope the ball keeps rolling.

#OrgasmQuest: Anorgasmic Partnered Sex

For a variety of reasons (time, pain levels, stress, kids, I’ve been attached to my laptop for days…) Val and I had gone a bit longer than usual without having sex. At one point yesterday afternoon I plopped myself down on his bed, excitedly rambled about the latest #OrgasmQuest coverage, paused, and then informed him that we were having sex that night. Overall, I have the higher libido in the relationship so we’ve worked out that he just needs to make the smallest of passes at me when he’s in the mood and I am on him before you can blink. This works out well, I don’t feel rejected and he doesn’t feel pressured.

The sex we had last night was amazing. Often we have rushed “parent sex”, which is where we’re mostly clothed, skimp on foreplay, get our needs met as quickly as possible to avoid the mood killer that is a small child at the door either knocking or going “Moooommmyyyyy”. Our youngest seems to have the ability to unlock doors with his mind or sheer force of his will, so having the door secured doesn’t always mean privacy.

Last night was amazing. Ah-may-zing. Extended mutual foreplay, very intimate and connected sex. I felt like a Sex Goddess the entire time. Everything, absolutely everything felt incredible. After we finished, I laid there in a blissful bubble of interconnection for what felt like a very long time before I realized that I had not actually had an orgasm.

From start to finish, I was at “Oh, that feels so good”, never getting “higher” or “lower” than that point. Since the anorgasmia began, I had been able to have orgasms during partnered sex that felt like gentle waves. My personal feeling on those were that I was riding my partner(s) orgasms more than having my own. (Forgive me if that’s a little too “woo-ish” for you) This time that didn’t happen, but I didn’t notice.

What I did notice as I ran the encounter back through my brain was that anorgasmic sex was an entirely different experience, but one that was just as fantastic. One of my most popular tweets recently is one where I said “My oral sex skills are 95% enthusiasm.” Which is true for my sexual prowess period. Having sex without the orgasms meant that I stayed in this glorious highly pleasure charged place without losing concentration on what I was doing because I was suddenly creating universes with the power of my orgasm. I actually had more fun exploring ways to build the pleasure for both of us.

A critique of #OrgasmQuest is that it promotes goal oriented sex. That’s a valid one as I didn’t make my motives as clear as I could have at the start. (I also had no idea that the Quest would take off like it has) #OrgasmQuest is about getting my masturbatory orgasms back. As last night showed clearly, my partnered sex life without orgasms is different from it was before, but just as amazing.

NSFW: Birthday Suit Selfie for Val’s Birthday

Time has lost meaning to me.

Sometime this morning I was feeling adorable through the fog of illness. It’s Val‘s birthday, we celebrate adult birthdays with “birthday suit” selfies. Most of our friends/loves take part, it’s a wonderful celebration of selves and vulnerability. (Or really effing hot nudes. Often both.) He’s bedridden with the illness, so this is our only celebration today.

Below the read more is my contribution to the fun… Continue reading