Confession: I haven’t been having much sex lately.
I know that many people experience ebbs and flows of libido. Mine has been in a prolonged period of ebb…long enough that I know there’s some underlying cause. What is it? I’ve been thinking about it. A lot. The Man of Mans and I have talked about it at length. I began writing about it a few times, then back out. Truth is…I was embaraased. I was afraid to admit that despite all of my professional experience, when it comes to my own sexual issues, I don’t have the answers.
I don’t know anything. I don’t know for certain why I’m less inclined to sex these days. But I’ve cobbled together a working theory that it’s related to some changes go beyond what happens in my bedroom.
Two summers ago, I was hit by the sudden onset of depression. I didn’t understand it. My life with brimming with great things. My marriage and my child. I was playwriting, blogging and working a dream job in sex ed. I was training for a half-marathon, keeping a full social calendar and enjoying the company of dear friends. There was so much awesome, I barely had time for more than four hours of sleep a night! It was tiring, but it was worth it! I was doing it all and I pulling off…until, I wasn’t. Suddenly, I was breaking down. Neither my body, nor my mind could keep up with the pace I’d set for myself. I became strangely sad and withdrawn. I was overcome by fatigue. I didn’t understand what was wrong, but I knew I needed help.
Fast forward to the present. I’m lucky. I’ve been able to access great support through doctors, a therapists and loving community of friends and family. I’ve done a bunch of self-exploration and made few subtle but profound discoveries. I realized the jammed-packed life I was leading was the manifestation of a life-long habit of multitasking and flitting from one activity to another. I’ve always felt the need to keep my mind super-busy. Not in the lofty sense of being an avid learner or great thinker, but as protection. I don’t cope well with quiet or stillness. As I kid, I was always buried in books, pretend-play, projects and anything else that would keep my mind occupied. I never wanted to stop, because when I did, feelings would come. Feelings I didn’t understand, didn’t like and didn’t know how to deal with. So I learned to avoid them by creating endless distractions.
I still have the same struggle today. When I’m not immersed in an activity, I’m forced to stop, to think and to feel things I don’t like. Stillness is pretty intimidating prospect for me.
When I look at my sexual history, I see those same behaviour patterns at play. Sex was always best for me when there was a lot going on. Constantly stimulation. Deep, involved fantasy. A lot of noise. Anything too slow, too quiet or too tender created a prime opportunity for those uncomfortable emotions to break through. Getting into the deep feels during naked time always left me feeling way too vulnerable to do anything other than cry. And crying was definitely not on my list sexy things.
But thing thing is those uncomfortable emotions are there. Like every one else on earth, I’ve been hurt and battle-scarred from life. For a long time, distraction was easier than dealing with the pain. It’s still easier. But I’m beginning to realize that just because it’s easy and familiar, that doesn’t mean it’s good for me. I’m older . My frenetic habits are taking a bigger toll both physically and psychologically. This all started when I was a child. Back then I didn’t know what else to do. Now I’m a grown woman and I can deal with my shit. I can take care of myself.
I’m trying. I try to quiet down and let the pain do its thing. I’m not very good at it. My busy-making impulses are part of who I am. More often than not, I fill my head and my life with stuff that block out the pain. But I do manage the occasional moment of stillness, where I sit and breathe and let those deep-down feelings float up through all my mental floatsam to the surface. It’s unpleasant. I get anxious. Sometimes I cry. Still, I find I don’t hate it as much as I once did. These past couple of months, I’ve started wanting that quiet confrontation with my pain. It’s yucky but when it’s over, there a peaceful moments and I feel a little happier.
I think these experiences might be affecting my sex drive. I suspect my desires around sex are changing. These days I’m less inclined towards the busy, somewhat frantic glut of sensation I used to want. I’m interested something that’s a little calmer, less rooted in fantasy and more connected to the present reality. But at the same time I’m intimidated by that prospect. It’s new, beyond my present comfort zone and my body is holding back a bit. I suspect this is one of those situations, where I need to tread slowly into new sexual territory. “Be gentle” with myself, as my shrink likes to say. I’m trying, but it’s hard not feel like there’s something wrong with me or that I’m failing on some level.
I definitely don’t feel like a sex expert in my own life. This stuff is HARD, yo!
Yesterday evening, I took some time to meditate. It was a rough-shot attempt, but it did sometthing. Feelings were triggered. Tears were shed. When the crying stopped, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that I was wanting sex with both my partner and myself. My libido hasn’t left me. It’s just changing. It’s a shit ton of stuff to figure out. But it’s my job to take care of myself, so I’m willing to patient and give myself the time I need to figure it all out.