I woke up this morning coming. It keeps repeating in my head, that phrase, those words, over and over. (Maybe I won’t post this, but I still need to write it. I want to learn to use the computer like I use my notebook, writing without editing, writing just as fast, writing like my heart and life depended on it, writing honest and alongside fear.)
I woke up this morning coming. I’d been awake not long before that, I think. It was 4:29, realized I could get up if I wanted to, could get up and have even more dark good time here at my writing desk. But I closed my eyes, also realizing I could sleep more. And what happened then was I woke up with a strange sensation in my body, like something letting lose, something clamping down, something weird. I didn’t know what it was at first.
I would like to tell you my history with orgasms but it’s an unpleasant one. What I will say is that they’ve grown out of incest, they come up through that soil, even now. Maybe now that earth (and by that I mean my body) is not quite so toxic, orgasms are some levels layers generations removed from the ones I had at 20, those awful tight frantic releases still living inside incest’s –what– its constraints and formations—not like the ones I have now, although still nearly every time I have sex (has there been a time when this hasn’t happened? Do I really get to use that nearly so casually?), I have to wash through some memory, some bodily sense, some understanding of my self, my sexual self, as having been shaped by that time. Maybe I’m reminded by some fantasy that I embedded 20 years ago or more, to save myself. Maybe reminded by an actual memory of him, his physical presence, his face up in my face. Maybe just reminded by my very own smell, the fact of my own body, being, for me, an artifact of incest. (our bodies being the sites of our trauma, being the crime scenes)
But it’s not like I haven’t had many many (many) consensual orgasms—it’s just that they’re nearly all brought about by my own hand, my agency, my intervention.
So this morning there was the contracting, the restricting, the thing just centralized deep down, no radiating emotion or nerves. That localization is what fooled me: what’s going on? I hadn’t been dreaming about sex. In fact, I’d been having pretty intricate dreams about a couple different groups of friends involved in some sort of criminal activity for which we were now going to be hounded by police—righteous criminal activity, I’m sure—in the last one, at first, I’d thought I’d have to walk home, hundreds of miles, maybe more, then I realized I could take a plane.
I want to say more about the dreams, but they’ve faded, fragmented, shredded enough in my consciousness that I can’t grab them—clouds, you know, like clouds, gone rent in the wind, that high up wind you can’t feel, you can just see its aftereffects
And so this strange early morning orgasm – I realized, maybe partway through (and let’s recognize that it went on, what, some 30 seconds?) what was happening: oh. Oh! And I felt glad, surprised but not shocked, and could sort of just experience it. Thinking back on it now (though I wasn’t aware of this while it was going on), I was somewhat detached: there was the part of me experiencing these contractions, and the part of me trying to figure out what was going on, and I have a real sense of disconnect about them now, a split. Once I figured out what was going on, I kept on observing for a moment, but then sort of reconnected, came back together, felt my own self. Felt my whole self. And then I think I slept some more.
The thing is, I don’t come un-manually very often (this is maybe too personal to share – but it feels important to me). I didn’t come with lovers at all for a long time, while my stepfather was still abusing me and after – orgasms were things that I had to do with him. They were a space of deep dissociation, deep split for me. A place of just awful disconnect, where I had to both be absolutely be in my body (in order to do this thing, in order to come) and where I worked to be as out of my body as possible (through fantasy, being as fully in some imaginary other people’s experience) at the same time. Coming wasn’t something I wanted to do with my lovers, because I wanted to stay in the room with them. So I didn’t fake it exactly – I just didn’t do what I had to do to come. It took a lot of years of reorienting myself, and I don’t want to get into all that here, but what I do want to say is that I did have some self-hate for awhile that the only person I ‘came’ with was the man who was raping me – and so I wanted that to change.
I get it that coming is a physiological process: I get it that it’s kind of mechanical, in terms of this bundle of nerves, stimulated enough, sets off this series of contractions. I also get it that it’s psychological; our minds are heavily involved. I get it that I have the capacity to come under someone’s ministrations, without having to use my own hands, without doing it myself. I’ve had that experience maybe five times in my life. It always surprises and sort of unnerves me when it happens, whether it’s in/via a dream or during partner sex. And when it’s with a lover that I experience this non-manual orgasm, this orgasm that I didn’t minister to with my own fingers, that I didn’t have to tend and knead to life (along with help, let’s say, from my lover), I feel proud, out of control, ashamed and dirty, and a great deal of pressure to do it again. If I could just stop at those first two on the list, maybe it’d be easier to have it happen more often – but the out of control thing is a tough one. It’s just not something I’m all that happy about in sex. Being out of control in sex scares the hell out of me, to be honest with you.
So, here’s the sort of erotic writing I’m doing these days – some of the writing I needed to read when I was first coming out as an incest survivor, as someone who wanted to have sex still, have a lot of sex, someone who adored sex-positive folks and who also felt altogether crazy in those communities because those folks just seemed to be having such a good goddamn time all the time and never had any issues with sex, didn’t get triggered or scared or upset—or didn’t talk about how they dealt with those triggers, if they did experience them. And here I was, both sex positive and triggered every single time I had sex. I find community through books, find shared experience, find a decreased solitude through reading others’ experiences – I wanted to read about other survivors, other people who’d had awful things happen to them via sex, folks who’d found a way through, who’d navigated this stunning(ly) awful road of sex, who’d found ways to survive in their erotic bodies, these crimes scenes that trap us inside and are at the same time the sites of the most extraordinary release, this container of consciousness and joy.
The little orgasm didn’t last that long this morning, a handful of contractions, a sense of awareness and awe that my body had this capacity when there was nothing sexual happening to me: no sex dreams, no nothing (at least that I’m conscious of now). I felt grateful toward my strange body, toward this cunt that really only knows its work, doesn’t know about ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ orgasms, just knows about stimulation and response, physiological chains of events. It was a little orgasm, as my orgasms go, and was, too, quite percussive, rippling in its impact. I’m still feeling its aftereffects, still a bit electrified, still grateful and here.