Some thoughts on sexual frustration

“That sh*t is real! But it isn’t something you’ll see defined in a medical textbook.”

–Gabrielle Kassel

Oftentimes we complain about being sexually frustrated as though it’s someone else’s job to address our feelings—it’s not,”

–Shamyra Howard

“The only way out is through”

Alanis Morissette

One can get so overwhelmingly horny (like sex itself, though not as pleasurable [though there is a certain pleasure here, the feeling of being alive, out of one’s head and not thinking about other concerns in life] the intensity of feeling can make a person moan, yell, want to kick something, out of frustration)  and sometimes a partner is unavailable, and masturbation throws you a mix of slight boredom (monotony; a rut) and a bit of depression because the very experience of being solo can accentuate one’s awareness of the fact of one’s solitude such that one gets to thinking, “God, I’m really fucking lonely and sexually frustrated!”

(How much worse in the context of Covid and social distancing, unless you are of the more reckless sort risking getting the virus and/or giving it to others)  

 At least for me, this gives rise (no innuendo intended [I like saying that!]) to a paradox: you can’t ignore your thoughts and feelings. Even with tremendous self-confidence, when your mojo seems to have hit a “dry spell,” I imagine it is only natural to ask yourself, “well, what the hell is so wrong with me that I can’t seem to attract anybody? What must I do to generate that charming spark within such that the one who I want will want me back?…” HOWEVER…if you DO have a sufficient amount of self-esteem and self-love/compassion, and if you are poised/ capable of self-control and regulating emotion, you can counter this!

Dispute…on the basis of physics

From an ironically comforting deterministic/fatalistic point of view/perspective/philosophy, et cetera, you can “dispute” (to borrow wording from psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman on turning one’s thoughts and feelings more optimistic), the self-doubt on the basis of physics!

You are simply not in a context, currently, where you’re close enough to that and those which you have the strongest inevitable connections to/with. It’s like…for whatever reason, I’m in New Jersey, USA but in fact the people who I just so happen to connect most strongly with just so happen to live in Western Europe, or say Sweden, to be more specific. I’m not in Sweden and have no obvious connection to anything Swedish; a connection that is still too far away to FEEL!

I consider this a paradox because logically speaking, you’ve got to 1) think and feel the unpleasant thoughts and feelings, 2) be a little self-critical and ask yourself, “how do I need to change?” 3) be nice to yourself about it and step back from these thoughts and feelings as to gain more reasoned perspective. That is to say: it’s like you need to feel what you feel and yet not.

Maybe then, perhaps, to move from specific to general here, the more fundamental paradox is the thought and feeling paradox—to acknowledge and be conscious of, to seek an understanding of, and yet not be seized by the experience. But perhaps you are familiar with meditation, mindfulness, practices from which one can note a thought or feeling a “thought” or “feeling,” briefly characterize it, and then shift your focus, to your breath, for example. That’s what the experts teach on the Headspace app, the Calm app, and the like. There’s a process here to be cognizant of.

Thoughts, feelings, and stress

This is much “easier said than done” as psychologist Emily Nagoski puts it, in her book, Come As You Are. While I’m discussing the experience of being overwhelmed by feeling, she talks about “the stress response: fight, flight, and freeze” (page 111). But the connection is clear since feeling overwhelmed is a form of experiencing STRESS.

The particularly interesting part of her take on the stress response is her focus on the “freezing” stage of the stress response (if/when that happens). She explains how the “flight” sort of resolves the stress. As she puts it, (though I’m paraphrasing a bit) if you see a lion coming at you, your fight and flight would compel you to run! After you ran and escaped, you feel “safe.”

“you complete the stress response cycle by engaging in a behavior that eliminates the stressor and the stress…

“But suppose the stressor is one that your brain determines you can’t survive by escaping and you can’t survive by conquering—you feel the teeth of the lion bite into you from behind. This is when you get the brakes stress response—the parasympathetic nervous system, the ‘STOP!’ activated by the most extreme distress. Your body shuts down; you may even experience ‘tonic immobility,’ where you can’t move, or can move only sluggishly.”

(page 113)

But, to return to the conflict I raised here, what if you can’t figure out how to eliminate the stress of overwhelming frustration and loneliness? What if it is “getting to you” and causing you to engage in “maladaptive behavior to manage negative affect…trying to cope with uncomfortable emotions (stress, depression, anxiety, loneliness, rage) [via] using alcohol or other drugs [et cetera]”–? (p.116; to quote Nagoski again, since she words it so well).

She says the best things to do include exercise, sleep, meditation, crying, art, and grooming. (She admits that there’s no research she’s “familiar with” to prove that grooming in particular can eliminate stress, but she says that a lot of people have said they find it do so, for them) (page 119).  

I find that one of the most helpful ways to go about this is the artistic route– writing about the thoughts and feelings that…stress me out, so to speak. (Not that the stress of thought is always an awful stress).

Writing as a practical act as opposed to writing to try and be good at writing

Indeed, the way I think about writing as such, and in general, has significantly transformed!

And there’s an irony to it and/or another paradox: on the one hand, I have come to see writing as less of an egotistical act and more of a practical one. Yet on the other hand, the necessary level of introspection actually requires special attention to one’s “self,” one’s thoughts and feelings, et cetera.

 To illustrate this a bit more concretely: a few days ago I was very preoccupied with thinking about my writing in terms of wanting to believe I possess potential “talent” and how I could make my art appealing and attractive to others, such that they would, you know, pay to read!

And then an interesting thing happened: I felt so sexually frustrated that I couldn’t “write”—i.e., I couldn’t focus on my methodical, formulaic writing process routine (focus on a key concept/subject, explore memories associated with it, et cetera [yes, I do love to say et cetera!]). I just wanted to think and read about sex and think through the psychological experience of sexual frustration.

A significant part of the frustration was simply that I had so many thoughts and feelings about sex that I couldn’t express because I did not want to present myself as sex obsessed, which I feared I was. At that point, all I could really do was jot the thoughts and feelings down so I could work with them with greater focus, attention, concentration, and detail. And suddenly I’m writing and I keep writing.

It’s the kind of “inspired writing” that more or less ‘just comes out of you.’ It seems almost like an extension of one’s breath, like your interiority/consciousness floats mystically from that mystical place “within the soul” onto some sort of surface that concretizes it, verbalizes it, illustrates it, et cetera. I’m imagining, as an analogy, old fashioned dark room photography, as the photographer dips the photograph paper into the various trays of chemicals as to flesh out what the camera and film captured.

My point is that I find myself writing not so much just because I’m a writer and want to be a great one, but because the act of writing genuinely helped me massage my mind, so to speak, helped me relieve a sense of anxiety simply through clarity, statement of fact (by fact I mean stating exactly what I think and feel to the best of my ability to articulate it; i.e., the fact that I think and feel such and such, the facts related to/about what I think about this and that). It helped me feel (and is continuing to help me feel) like I am in control of my mind…again, simply by exercising my mind’s capacity to clarify! More knowledge. More stability! Suddenly, I’m feeling more GROUNDED! More CONFIDENT!

Do I feel less sexually frustrated? Actually, I do, slightly. I feel as though the act of writing out my thoughts is like rowing a boat, flying a Starship (I love my Star Trek) DIRECTING ME closer to my connections…not just in terms of hot and deeply spiritual, meaningful sex, but in general!   

But why hadn’t I thought of this before? Then again, I sort of did, over the summer, when I was writing online diary entries, except I didn’t understand quite why. The difference between feeling inexplicable, mystical sexual attraction and consciously wanting someone for a series of good reasons!  

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