I have a bad habit of destroying my sexiness (yes, for the first time in my 34 year life, I grant myself the possession of sex appeal and permission to acknowledge it; on what basis? On what grounds? On the basis and grounds of wanting to feel and be HEALTHY! Proceeding from the premise that refusing to experience one’s self as sexy is unhealthy and destructive!) through self-criticism, and mostly, at least these days, in terms of my financial status and my face (especially my smile). After a year in therapy, two things have grown quite clear to me: I’m insecure as hell about money and about sex!
(Though my style, if you haven’t noticed, is proudly and happily digressive, I will try to address these points in a somewhat organized fashion.)
Fuck the evil little spell “I suck!” ; ha-ha/lol
It’s deeply programmed in my unconscious to obsessively ruminate over my struggle to “make it” as a writer. Very little has led me to seek refuge in alcohol more than my unhappiness with my economic status. Very little has driven me more to self-digust.
The pattern of thoughts seems to go more or less like this:
“Not many people read my blog post today. Not many people liked my Instagram posts. Publishers rejected my submissions. I get good grades in school, but it doesn’t seem to ‘get me anywhere’ other than into a brief feeling of a little competence in that small and non-expansive context. And I don’t feel any strong connections with my classmates. They must dislike me. They must think I am so pretentious and arrogant and vain and narcissistic and condescending. I got an A-, not an A in my fiction writing class. I’ve officially lost my 4.0 gpa. So, I’m not even as competent as I thought I could be. There must be something wrong with me. I don’t really ‘SUCCEED’ at anything other than ruminating on my poor self-image. I can’t find a ‘back-up job’ that I both like and seem qualified for. I am a burden to my wife who works ‘her tail off’ and contributes substantially more to keeping us financially well and ‘afloat.’ She can do so much better than me and we both know it…”
…and to quote Emily Nagoski, when describing the thought processes of us deeply self-critical people: “I suck!” (see the book Come As You Are; page 157).
It is no wonder I so often feel so damn unsexy!
“I can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful
So unloved for someone so fine
I can feel so boring for someone so interesting
So ignorant for someone of sound mind..
…Oh, these little projections, how they keep springing from me
I jump my ship as I take it personally and
Oh, these little rejections, how they disappear quickly
The moment I decide not to abandon me.”ALANIS MORISSETTE; “SO UNSEXY”
But how do I practice “self-kindness” and “decide not to abandon me”—?
Dr. Nagoski’s suggestion:
Alright, what “seed of something positive” can I “plant?” Well…I genuinely am passionately determined to think and act more rationally and healthily! I’m determined to feel sexy!
Yes. Seriously. Gangbanging!
Feeling hot and sexy, simple and perhaps unexceptional as it may seem, is one of my most intense, erotically charged, recurring sexual fantasies. Sometimes it manifests in ironic hypotheticals. For example, I have a fantasy of being utterly used like nothing more than an amazing penis for a woman who feels she needs it, that she must have it!
And yet…often I can’t even get an erection, if I don’t feel a deep and intimate personal connection. Perhaps then, the fantasy plays out as a mix, first with establishing the deep and intimate personal connection, making one another feel safe, and then being completely used!
I held a bias that the fantasy/thrill some women have in connection to being gang banged was disgusting and degrading. But now I see it in a different light, now that I introspect more explicitly and honestly, I can somewhat relate.
I still don’t find gangbanging arousing (by the way, speaking of gangbanging, I came across a website the other day that…gave me pause, so to speak. One of the two pornographers/erotic filmmakers [which ever you want to call it] who I follow and admire is Paulita Pappel, and along with Lustery and Ersties, she has another site with gangbang videos called Hardwerk. Here’s how the website describes its content:
“TAILORED SEX SESSIONS: We plan the sex sessions with care based on the preferences of the performers. Each scenario is individually conceived out of the performers’ desires, so as to make their voices most influential in how a scene plays out. ETHICAL KINK: We base our work on consent, care, communication and caution. Our professionalism is guided by respect, honesty and integrity. And we love kink! CINEMATIC SCENARIOS: We design and produce unique scripts and looks inspired by classical film and pop culture references.”
So much thoughtfulness and passion devoted to the art of gangbanging and artistically capturing the practice on video. Clearly, some people love it, find it thrilling, and not degrading. Also, clearly, I possessed a bit of a sex-negative and close-minded mentality. [Again, no wonder I can feel so unsexy!])
…I still don’t consider gangbangs personally enticing, but would I enjoy a group of women having sex with me at the same time? All of them touching me, kissing me, licking me, sucking me, scratching me, biting me, in different places on my body, one of them straddling me, having intercourse with me, and another one with her vulva in my face, while I’m performing cunnilingus … I imagine that I would.
“Ewww! Gross! Disgusting! So inappropriate! You’re a pervert!…”
I feel the anxiety in my body as I describe this hypothetical scenario…a part of me that still says some of my sexual fantasies are “wrong” or “inappropriate,” et cetera. A part of me that visualizes someone reading this and thinking less of me, that there’s something wrong with me, that I’m “gross” and far too “dirty.”
And so I return to Dr. Emily Nagoski again! Because she talks about this in Come As You Are, as well.
“[M]any of us were raised in cultures that say our own sexual bodies are disgusting and degrading, and so are the fluids, sounds, and smells those bodies make, as are a wide array of the things we might do with our own bodies and our partner’s. ‘Avoid sex! Sex is gross, as well as dangerous!’ If a sexual behavior or a part of your body is considered ‘low,’ do you suppose that activates the accelerator? Nope. Disgust hits the brakes.” (page 164)
Indeed, I can feel the breaks working in my body even as I write this. I can feel my stiffness (not where I’d rather feel stiff), my uptightness, my reservation, hesitance. And so…I take a nice deep breath and tell myself that I am now loosening up, and I’m now beginning to turn on my sex appeal!
I have wanted to be able to believe that I’m “fucking hot” for about as long as I’ve been aware of my heterosexuality, or the phrase “fucking hot.”
The desire is so…embedded in my soul.
I have a lusty, sultry, slutty desire to be told I’m “fucking hot,” wanted, lusted, craved, needed, ached for, arousing, that I am thought of while she’s masturbating, to, et cetera.
But it’s not a narcistic feeling. By that I mean, I don’t feel any self-importance attached to it. I don’t have this desire for the purpose of making me feel…elevated in status. Especially special. Better than someone. (What might happen is that I think about how much less money I make compared to other people, and in that context, I feel status insecurity and appearance insecurity—like it’s written upon my face that I’m poor and stuck in poverty, or something of the sort) I just find attraction, passion, desire, as it escalates in intensity, to be….hot….fucking cool, fascinating, spiritual, exciting, feels good…Naturally, this is why nothing hits me harder with sexual thrills and utter ecstasy than the female orgasm…the vocalized, freely expressed female orgasm. I admit, there may be a layer of egotism involved, but I want to argue it might be a healthy kind.
The beautiful symbolic power of the female orgasm…and being the cause of it
The idea of being ABLE to make a woman cum…multiple times…it feels like…well, to repeat myself a little…it feels healthy! It makes me feel fit and healthy and it makes me feel my lover’s fitness and health…a shared connection that is THRIVING!
I suspect this is even why I am so in love with sex. I associate the degree of pleasurable sexual functioning as a measure of one’s sense of well-being. Both in the sense that it makes me feel ALIVE…and in the sense that it makes me aware of my mind-body connection.
But I think some of this sentiment has been more robustly active in my unconscious since one of the areas in my life that I want to improve upon is awareness of my body in general! And now, it’s flowing into my consciousness! Like the crashing of the ocean waves…the actual crashing and the way the water and foam lingers on up the shoreline, yes, flowing!
As a result of this association, I feel interestingly motivated to DEVELOP my awareness of my mind-body connection and optimize this connection…at least, as much as possible. Just the thought of it feels good. And not in an exclusively sexual way, though it does also feel good sexually. But, it’s as if this act of focusing on sexuality…this is going to sound corny but “whatevs” as the expression goes…it rather warms my soul. Like snow. Like pizza. Like binging an amazing tv show on Netflix. And…it makes me feel sexier. Like my KARMA is sexier. My vibe. My energy.
“I’m bringing sexy back!” one smile at a time…
I found an interesting article on Insider: 11 scientific ways to make yourself look and feel more attractive. What I like most about it is that it is written for a universal audience, as opposed to gender specific.
(When I googled “How to feel sexy” almost every single article was written specifically for women. I wonder, do men tend not to use the word “sexy” when contemplating their sex appeal or lack there-of?)
So, does the article give good advice?
Some of it is what I expected. For example: exercise.
Sadly, I did let myself go for almost half a year without sufficient exercise. About two weeks ago I started getting back into it. My preferred forms of exercise include long brisk walks—especially along hilly roads (or hiking—but I haven’t hiked in like a year, alas…) or all over Manhattan, when I get the opportunity to go.
Another bit of advice: “Put a smile on.”
Yes, well… here’s an embarrassing and unfortunate fact: I genuinely struggle to bear the site of my smile. Perhaps this is rooted memories of my father taking pictures of me in his photography studio and telling me “don’t smile.”
I was just about to say that this was perhaps not a conscious experience—haunted by the memory, for example, and reliving the pain of it—but…NOW that I think about it, it’s kind of depressing that my father had no interest, artistically, in what my smile could offer. Still, I actually only connect my aversion to my smile with my father’s insistence that I don’t smile in the photographs he took of me in a sort intellectual and theoretical way. That is to say, it would make sense that such a memory would exist in my consciousness like a scar that remains very sore. However, in general, when I see my smile and cringe, it’s not my father or his photography that I think about.
What do I think about when confronted with my smile? I think the insecurity lay in how overzealous it can appear to me.
Too “in your face,” so to speak.
And also like it’s too stiff, uptight.
Mmmm. Making love… “to the camera”
That was not very nice of me!
To accept the notion that my face, particularly my smile is cringe worthy and jarring. How dehumanizing and quite stress inducing. I mean, no fucking wonder I have so much anxiety. All other stressors and life pressures aside…to have lived since adolescence (so roughly 20 something years) in utter hate with my face and smile…it’s like self squashing! Mind squashing and body squashing. I wouldn’t even be surprised if this was somehow connected to my trichotillomania! The compulsion to pull hairs perhaps is rooted in a frantic conviction that every little hair is one more piece of my ugliness, my not-okay-ness that YES, I succeeded in removing from my body.
Well…this evening I countered my inadvertently masochistic thinking! I took pictures of myself smiling and looked at them and said to myself that I should be nice to myself. Why can’t my smile be viewed as handsome, beautiful, sexy? It’s also interesting to me that all my “critiques” of my face are actually articulated in the form of attacking personality traits!
What if my face and smile are so strongly associated with bad feelings that the bad feelings actually distort my perception of my face? Admittedly, that’s hard for me to believe, as I take such pride in trying to be as objective as possible in life…but then again…objectively speaking, it’s self-destructive to hate your face, so I’m not as superbly objective as I like to imagine I am…