The (Attempted) Clothes-free Weekend

October 12th. That Friday was the first really cool day of fall. I was excited because the weekend was finally here–our clothes-free weekend. The weekend in which we were going to spend lots of fun time in the bedroom, sans penetration. There was just one small hitch in my plans. My period was dragging on, just a drop or two for the last several days. Sigh. I knew with the Nex.planon that this was a possibility. I was determined to be naked anyway, and put the extra sheet over the bed in case of drips (or massage oil spills: sweet orange and vanilla. Yum.).

That week I’d been doing manual stretching of the vaginal opening with my fingers whenever I took a shower. It’s something I knew I should have been working on for a while, but I’d put it off. After all, it’s not very sexy or fun–it’s physical therapy and a chore when you get down to it. I had found a helpful article online and was following its steps. Including kegels. If any of you have read about kegels, there’s seemingly no end to their benefit. But there again, it’s a (small) chore, and isolating muscle groups like that has never been easy for me. When B came over, I actually had him read the article, and another one (that was clearly written for patients from cultures where it’s common to come to marriage as a virgin) that was a bit amusing but also had helpful advice that reinforced everything else I’d been reading. I wanted B to see how much thought I’d put into finding reputable assistance, and the number of (gradual) steps I had to go through. It’s also just good stuff for the partner to know! I also marked a few passages in The Guide that emphasized that sex and intimacy isn’t just about penetration. I let him know that my uterus was driving me crazy and still dripping and that I planned on getting naked anyway. (During previous conversations, I’d gathered that the possibility of a drop or two of menstrual blood didn’t seem to gross him out.) Finally, I informed him that I was going to give him a live, well-lit anatomy lesson. The Guide really emphasizes openness and reality–as in, the guy’s going to need to get to know your body and see what he’s doing and have you talk him through it. It’s not all rose petals and candles and magic orgasms. All of which I knew already–it’s just nice that there’s a guide out there that says it so plainly.

We undressed and got into bed with the light on. I asked him if he was ready and warned him that it was going to be very clinical. Yeah, I was a bit nervous and it was awkward getting into a position where we could both see. I opened The Guide to the page with the vulva that looked the closest to mine. And I showed him my parts and named them as I went. And then I did it again. I pointed to the clearly visible clitoris in the book and reiterated how frustrating it was for me to get to know mine, as it’s not visible at all. And that was it really. He went exploring a bit and tried stimulating me. There were moments that were nice. He really wants me to give him direction, and I have trouble with that. Eventually I moved his hand away, letting him know I was becoming desensitized. Good steps, though, to have made.

October 13th. Saturday we went shopping for work clothes for B. =) It was the first time I’d ever been shopping with a guy, and neither one of us knew what we were doing. At the end of that adventure, we went back to B’s place. He’d bought new sheets “for us,” in a lovely dark purple. So sweet. I just didn’t feel comfortable being naked on new sheets with my cycle still lingering, and I told B so. He said okay, and kept his underwear on too, but I could tell he didn’t understand why I was naked at my place but not at his. So much for the naked weekend.

October 14th. Sunday was really nice. We stayed in bed late and ate yummy food. Clothing was put on and taken off. We read some of The Guide together–there’s a short chapter on massage. I started giving him a facial massage with his head in my lap (I was fully clothed; his shirt came off). This is a lovely experience–everyone should be on the receiving end of this at least once a week! Then I made my way over his chest and arms and gave him upside down kisses. Then it was my turn. I lay on my stomach shirtless and he tried out our new massage oil. He really took his time and it was delicious. Somewhere in the lovely sleepiness, he leaned down and whispered, “I love you.” It was the first time he said it first. I also gave my first daylight intimate massage (better term than handjob, no?) trying out our new oil-based lube. It worked well–no need to reapply!

That evening we packed up dinner food and went back to my place. I took a shower, and when I was done, B poked his head into the bedroom with the biggest grin, knowing he’d find me naked. He made half-joking comments about how I’m only naked at my place, and I explained about the back up sheet as we climbed into bed.

The interesting thing was that being completely naked together wasn’t crazy-thrilling. It was just normal and nice. Which I liked. But I also wanted to be reassured that I can feel that wild frenzy of passion. Is that only in fiction? I have to admit here that the thought crossed my mind that B could be right: Maybe he isn’t “arousal material” for me. Maybe I loved him in a deep, true way, but not a sexual chemistry way. Maybe we were Seth and Anna, not Seth and Summer. It made me scared and sad to even think that because I didn’t want it to be true. I couldn’t even think about hurting him that way. It’s so not fair that one person could feel it and the other person just doesn’t.

So I had these thoughts. I admit that. But I honestly do feel the little thrills that make everything squeeze down below. I just feel them when we’re apart and I’m thinking about him. This leads me to believe that I just need to keep working on relaxing and being sexy together and my body will learn that it’s okay to respond when another person is around.

In bed we moved close together. He wanted me to stimulate myself with him there so he knows how I do it, and how I look and sound when I’m turned on. But I just wasn’t ready to do that. And we had the “You’re not telling me anything”/”I don’t know how” exchange again. He asked what I was thinking about, and I said, “You. On top of me.” He chuckled and obliged. I really like this–it’s intimate and pleasurable without worrying about penetration. But, it’s not easy for him to stay against me and sustain a rhythm, and when I asked as I had Friday night if he wanted to try it with some lube, he said no, just as he had then. I asked why not. He moved off of me. I asked if it wasn’t fair to him to be so close to doing the deed and having to keep things external. He said no. I was confused and feeling a little rejected, or at least unaccommodated. I asked him if he was feeling frustrated (meaning with me, but that was unsaid), and I think he said yes and asked me the same. Once he said, “You don’t want to do anything!” with a smile and exasperation, not anger. (He was referring to touching myself in front of him and telling him what he was supposed to do when he tried it.) I answered, “Yes I do. We just don’t want to do the same things.” His answer? Turning away on the pillow and saying he was tired. I just did not understand this turn of events. He had been so joyful when he’d come through the door with that grin on his face. I pressed my face into his back and took deep, sad, shaky breaths. I thought that we shouldn’t fall asleep with whatever-this-was happening, but that I couldn’t say anymore and that maybe we just needed time in our own heads.

Sometime in the night, he turned to me and kissed me, and I felt such relief. We made out and he touched me, and I managed a “that feels good,” but still need to work on specific direction. Finally, finally, I reached down with one hand, and with the other, held his hand over mine so he could feel what I was doing. After he felt it a while, he moved on to caressing and kissing my thighs. And it was nice, but not like thunderbolts or anything. I didn’t go all the way there–I don’t think I could have with him there yet. “That wasn’t twenty minutes,” he teased. I’d drilled into him that all the resources say it often takes that long. It was so nice, to have that middle-of-the-night reconnection, and to have taken another step.

October 15th. In the morning, I asked what had changed between him moving away from me and waking me with a kiss. He said his body hadn’t been cooperating when I’d wanted to make out, and that he’d been frustrated because he hadn’t been able to give me what I wanted. I said, “I thought you were frustrated with me. You could have told me. I understand your body not doing something you want it to, in more ways than one.” So we talked it through, and it all made so much more sense and I felt so much better. I ended with, “Communicating about sex isn’t easy.” B agreed.

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Slow down, back up, try again later

I left off on Saturday, September 29th (Practice Run #2). The following week was quite busy. B finally got a job! Full-time! With benefits! He was so happy and relieved, and so was I. He was to start on October 28th, which seemed far away on October 5th.

October 5th. B came over Friday evening. I’d finally cleaned my whole place that day, while blasting music (Ragtime and Miss Saigon), and it had sorely needed to be done. I made dinner and cookie dough balls dipped in chocolate, and I felt relieved and accomplished that I’d pulled myself together and done some housework and cooking. It also felt good to anticipate B’s arrival the whole day. After dinner, he asked me how I was doing, sex-wise. I believe he said, “So, how’s the sex?” =) And I said, “We need to talk about the sex. Have a sex talk.” I’d been thinking about it all week, researching, and I knew what I wanted to say. I also knew it wouldn’t be easy–to say or to hear. I still find it scary to bring up something so personal. I get nervous and can’t say the first words. I told him we’d talk about it later.

October 6th. On Saturday, we went to a neighboring town for the day. I’ve found that sometimes talking in the car is easier, maybe because you don’t have to look at each other. The car ride was too short though, and I chickened out! Back at home at the end of the day, we found another package on my doorstep. Inside were the Guide to Getting It On (7th ed.) and I (heart) Female Orgasm. There are a lot of sex books out there, and I did a lot of research and reading of reviews. I think B was a bit amused that I was buying sex-related things (the wedge and now two books) because I don’t shop much and when I do, it’s usually at a thrift store or second-hand book/music store. He might have also been a bit overwhelmed, like I’m arming myself with all these things, and we are going to follow these books and use this wedge and it shall be good, dammit. So I tried to keep it light. We flipped through The Guide. It’s over 1,000 pages, and it has a lot of detailed illustrations that took me by surprise. Even though I knew I was holding a guide to sex in my hands, I was surprised to see sexually explicit drawings when I flipped a page! (I’m used to the book now though, and it’s definitely educational, accessible, tasteful, and not without faults.) B and I looked at various illustrations of vulvas and he asked about mine (as in, which one of these pictures represents yours?). Of course, mine doesn’t look like any of the pictures. While the author writes that asymmetrical inner labia is very common, none of the pictures quite captures mine! Flipping through the book helped me embark upon The Sex Talk.

I was disappointed/discouraged that our two practice runs both included pain and several days’ recovery time. I knew that sex should not be like that, especially with lube and a gentle partner. So I took a deep breath and I told B that we are dealing with two things: CP and a virgin vagina. Now of course, I don’t know if my CP affects the actual vaginal muscles (has anyone ever studied that?), but my hips/pelvis are definitely affected, so I assume it’s a possibility. And I told him about the slight tearing (at least, that’s what I think happened). And I said we need to back off penetration for a while. As for when we could try again, I used the word “eventually” instead of “soon” and gave no time frame. I needed to work on stretching things out on my own. B wondered why, if I knew tight vaginal muscles would be a problem, I hadn’t been addressing the issue/prepping earlier. But I hadn’t realized the extent of the issue.

Everything I’d read emphasizes how important it is for the woman to be fully aroused for penetration to be comfortable. The hardest part was admitting that I hadn’t been aroused with him–ever. He was surprised, I know. Though there had been stirrings, there’d been nothing sustained long enough for my body to progress toward full-on, physiological arousal. I talked more about my hooded clitoris. [Wherein the hood does not retract to expose the glans. This is something I discovered long ago when I was frustrated that I couldn’t properly locate and stimulate my clitoris. After plenty of trial and error, I discovered that, yes, it’s there and it works, it’s just permanently under the skin.] I explained that I just don’t feel much if he’s touching me over clothing, and that we needed lots of naked time together. He countered that he’d encouraged me to be naked plenty of times. (“I know, but I wasn’t ready.”) I said we’d just skipped some steps. We needed lots of time with foreplay. “It’s not a bad thing–it will be fun and enjoyable for both of us.” I wanted to spend time on all the good, fun, sexy stuff, without penetration, to find out what I needed to be aroused with a partner. But I knew it’s difficult for any man to hear “no penetration” and not take it as rejection. We looked at The Guide a bit more, and at some point B said, “Can we stop talking about this now?” So I put the book away and we lay down on the couch. I felt anxious and sad because I knew he was feeling bad about it. I asked him what he thought, and he hummed out “I don’t know.” I ventured quietly, “I just don’t want you to feel bad or disappointed.” My throat started to hurt as if I might cry. B made a sound. “Are you saying you do feel those things?” I asked. “Mmm-hmm.”

I did feel like crying then. I knew he wasn’t disappointed in me, and I knew no one was to blame, and that nothing was wrong or bad. We just needed to slow down and go back. When B spoke again, it was to voice his concern that maybe he’s not “arousal material.” That if I was with someone else, this might not be a problem. I said I didn’t think that was true. That all my life, the only times I’ve been aroused I’ve been alone, and that now my body and subconscious need to learn something new. We talked some more and he used the phrase again, not being arousal material. He apologized for being insecure about it. I said we both have insecurities. He said we’re insecure about different things. That’s true.

Earlier in the day, we had been watching literal versions of music videos on You.Tube. (There are pretty hilarious ones, like “Take on Me.”) As we lay there on the couch, B glanced at my movies shelf and said there should be a literal version of West Side Story. And he started singing about snapping your fingers. I said, “See? This is what you need to understand. I don’t want to do these things with anyone else because I love you. There are so many things I love about you. Including your naked body in my bed.” Yeah, I said that. And it’s true. The last time I’d given him “manual stimulation” he’d lain next to me naked afterward, and I’d said, “If there had been more female painters, there would be many more nudey portraits of guys, because this,”–running my hand over his hip–“is lovely.”

I was finally on my period, so we didn’t have any “naked foreplay time” that weekend, but B did stay Sunday and left Monday as I left for work, as had become our custom.

October 10th. On Wednesday, B emailed, asking if he could bring dinner over that night. Of course I said yes. I asked him what he thought of The Sex Talk, now that he’d had time to process it. It wasn’t easy for him to jump into talking about it. I said, “Would it help if I didn’t look at you?” and put my head on his shoulder. That’s how we’d ended up saying the difficult stuff on Saturday, holding each other close, but not holding each other’s gaze. What he had to say was, “Did I rush you? With all the questions about ‘soon’?” I said no. And I hadn’t felt rushed. I told him I’d wanted to and didn’t regret it. “But saying ‘no more penetration’ and that we need to back up sounds like regret. It sounds like we shouldn’t have done the second practice run,” he said. I told him that I’d wanted to try again, and we did, and now it’s time to try things a different way. We talked more about my needing time to completely relax before the physical process of arousal could begin. I’d come up with an idea: the difference between excitement and the physiological arousal response. The first, I feel when I think about B, the second just hasn’t happened yet. Also, men’s and women’s response times are different, and everything I’ve been reading says that often 15-20 minutes of foreplay is needed before a woman is fully aroused. And B can get an erection just thinking about me. It’s not at all fair. We talked about all of this a lot. I think B is starting to understand, and he’s glad to know I feel excitement for him, even if I can’t seem to let my body go down the arousal road yet.

Practice Run #2

September 26th. On the Wednesday following our first practice run, B came over and brought some dinner.

I had been doing a ton of research on lubes–what a previously unknown world! And I’d ordered a wedge from Bedroom Adventure Gear. That’s quite a world as well, let me tell you. I figured a wedge designed for the purpose would help us better than a smushed up pillow. I was also determined get better at the art of manual stimulation. I’d realized the problem was that I was trying to mimic what B did himself instead of bringing something new. I found a blog with some really great techniques and read through them a couple times. Then I set the stage. I gathered up a variety of lotions and oils I had on hand, since I hadn’t settled on and ordered any lubes yet. I put an extra cover over the bed in case of any messes. I left my reading pillow thing on the bed, so I could be propped up and use both hands.

All through dinner and the rest of the evening, B did not ask about another practice run. I thought that was really great of him. I knew he was thinking about it and probably told himself not to ask. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it either, and would have been happy trying out my new techniques and just making out. We had a lovely bit of time on my living room floor. I was showing him a box of books, and he got down on the floor next to me. Then we were lying down, and he curled up around my head so that we were kissing upside down. (I was looking at his chin.) In my journal I have written, “It was totally weird and fun because the top of our tongues were touching and it was a completely new feeling that made us laugh.” If you have a (romantically) loved one whom you’ve never kissed upside down, I heartily recommend it.

When we went into my room that night, I think he was both impressed/overwhelmed with my set up. I explained what I had in mind. (The idea was that I sat facing him, with his legs on either side of my waist as he lay back.) He was uncomfortable with that, and I understood of course, though I was disappointed. We lay down and kissed and talked, and I admitted that I was glad that even though we’d had a practice run, we don’t always have to have a practice run. B said, “I thought you’d say that.” I assured him that “there will be great sex in our future” and that it will just take time. We kissed some more, and as we did, B scooted me up into my reading pillow and put his legs over mine. I was happy that he wanted to try my set up (“You didn’t think I’d really say no to this, did you?”) and that he just needed time to adjust and do it his way.) He removed his pants and we looked through all the choices on my nightstand and selected a lotion. He left his boxers on, and I didn’t say anything, although I wanted to say, “But what about your balls?” =) I told him to let me know if I did something that was uncomfortable. I tried a technique that I’d read and asked him what he thought of it. He said, “I don’t know. It’s completely new.” I felt pretty pleased with myself. I did have to reapply lotion a lot, but it was in a pump bottle, so it wasn’t too disruptive. He told me I could stop if I was getting tired. I wasn’t though, because it was completely different, sitting up and using both hands, and using a variety of movements and rhythms. It was nice–I was giving him a massage, essentially, that happened to be an intimate one. After he came, he kissed my foot, since that was the part of me that was closest. I was happy, and relieved that I’d figured out a successful hand job! Then he said, “Your turn.” And I said, “What?!” He was kidding though. I didn’t want him to feel like he had to figure out my needs right then, just because I’d finally done it for him.

He stayed over that night, and in the morning he drove me to work. We decided I’d go over to his place on Friday.

September 28th. I got to his place at about 5:30 on Friday, all stressed out because I had to run a staff meeting the next day. (I work with college students, and Saturday is the only day all our schedules are open!) I had even thought about calling him and admitting I needed some alone time and space, rather than going directly from his place to the meeting in the morning. But I wanted to see him.

He made dinner and we watched Charade. And he showed me his solar oven. Yep, he made a solar oven. Isn’t he lovely? (We’d researched them together.) We went to bed early because I was tired, even though I told him he didn’t have to go to bed too, if he wasn’t ready yet. He did ask me about our next practice run then. I give the guy credit for making it a week! I answered, “In the morning.”

September 29th. So when we woke up Saturday morning, he was all kissy on my ears/back/neck, and I really appreciated that he was trying to have it all unfold in a natural/romantic/foreplay way. But of course, I totally had to pee, and get the lube while I was up. My Nex.planon was in full effect by then, and we wouldn’t need condoms anymore. B asked if I wanted/was ready to try lying on our sides, “or would that be too complicated?” I think he was hoping that after our first run, everything would be smooth and romantic like the movies. I had no such delusions, however. We didn’t put a pillow under my hips this time, but we still put my ankles on his shoulders. I do think it went a little more smoothly, and there was a little less pain. We asked each other how we were doing, and I asked him how far in he was. Not very. We added more lube, and he told me when he’d made it all the way. And that was fine. It really was just the stretching of the opening that was painful. I said, “I just need to relax, but it’s not happening.” And B said, “Yeah, with your feet in the air…” Of course it wasn’t a very relaxing position! I took deep breaths though, and could feel things release ever so slightly. He told me, “You can tell me to stop,” and after a moment I said I needed a break. We put lotion between my thighs and he got his release that way. The evidence of his release totally dripped down my legs when I stood up to get in the shower, and I didn’t mind a bit. =)  I was sad to find a little blood when I used the bathroom. But I’d packed a cloth liner this time, and the pain had already lessened a lot by the time I was done with my shower. So I was encouraged overall.

When I got home from the staff meeting that afternoon, the first of several upcoming packages was on my doorstep. It was my new wedge–maybe my feet wouldn’t have to be in the air next time and we could actually kiss. =)