A question answered

Last May, when I first met B, I wrote, “Will I ever be comfortable? Can I be? The question runs on a loop in my brain.” I know the answer to that question now.

Yes. Yes, it’s possible for me to be physically comfortable, and yes I am. Of course the disability remains, and of course it affects all our interaction. But I do hug B with both arms. I can put my arms around him and kiss him. Sometimes I need to steady myself first. Sometimes my hugs are more of a “let me hold myself up while a gain my footing” action than a hug. Sometimes they begin one-armed while I hold onto furniture or the wall until I’m ready. But I do hug B with both arms. I don’t know when it happened that I became comfortable coming up to him and putting my arms around him, just standing in the middle of my kitchen, my head against his chest if only for a moment. I so love that I’m able to do that.

And what about my introverted self? Gone are the weekends that I ensconce myself and watch half a dozen movies or read a few books in comfortable solitude. Do I miss that? Yes. I admit that I do. I find that I live a contradiction now. On Sunday evenings when our weekend is coming to a close, I’m equal parts looking forward to my own space and missing him already. And I think that’s just the way it’s going to be. I love solitude and I love B. And that whole companionable silence idea? The one I was skeptical I’d ever experience? On a recent Sunday morning, I noticed that B’s book on the nightstand had a bookmark in it very near the end. I knew that if I were that close to the end of a book, I’d want to finish it, so I handed it over and picked up a book of my own. And we lay side by side and read our books. I felt comfortable. I found to my surprise that I could lose myself in my book, even with someone not just in the room, but right next to me in my bed. It felt lovely.

We stay in and have cooking experiments. We go out and walk around town. We see shows and watch documentaries and comedies. We’re making our way through UC Berkeley’s Edible.Education lecture series on You.Tube. We enjoy each other.

Sex in the Real World, part two

Three weeks ago, I wrote that everything is going well and that B and I are still working on our physical relationship. I wrote that there’s less recovery time, and maybe soon there won’t be any at all. I think I’m still at that place, with everything being good, but still not great.

I feel like summing up everything here and asking for feedback from you. Real people, not fictional characters from books or movies.

I’ve gotten more comfortable stimulating myself manually as part of sex with B. It’s the only way so far that I feel really aroused and ready. Sometimes I have to tell B, “Not yet, give me another minute, keep kissing me.” All of which breaks the mood a bit. Then there’s the positioning issue. We’ve only found one position that works for me so far, with my knees bent on either side of him. And I have to guide him in with my hand, which seldom goes smoothly, all of which, again, interrupts my tenuous arousal. One time, it just wasn’t working, and I said, maybe we need more lube. B leaned forward to get some, and in he went! It surprised us both so much that we started laughing. So clearly, things can work, even without manual guidance–but we couldn’t figure out how to recreate it the next time.

We’ve tried oil-based lube, water-based, and a mix. I like oil-based because it doesn’t get tacky or dry up. That means I can put it on at the beginning instead of right before actual penetration. B likes water-based because the oil is too slick and he doesn’t last as long (though long enough for me). We’ve tried lube on me only, and on both of us. All of these situations feel about the same, no one is clearly better than another, sensation-wise. We’ve tried several positions, we’ve tried pillows and the wedge. Nothing so far has made me think–yes, this is just right.

The general sequence of events is as follows: I try to become and stay aroused. B is ready and waiting. There’s lube applying, positioning, and insertion. This is a little uncomfortable and I tell him to hold still while I breathe and relax and adjust. Then everything’s fine and there’s no pain. Sometimes there’s even something akin to pleasure. Toward the end there’s a building of the feeling that I need to pee. This, by the way, is not at all what I feel when I’m doing things on my own, so I don’t associate that sensation with orgasm at all. Even if I empty my bladder right before, I always really do have to pee after. This is actually good for women, as it reduces the chances of a urinary tract infection. But still, feeling like I’m trying not to pee, and then needing to get up to use the bathroom rather than snuggling is not something I enjoy. (Ironically, kegels are supposed to make sex better…) When it’s over, a mild chafey feeling just around the inside settles in and slowly ebbs. This is an improvement, because I used to feel it during sex, and now it’s just after. But will it eventually disappear for good? Lastly, the outer, bottom part of my opening feels tender if pressed, even the following day. Again, this is the area that is stretched and pushed/pulled the most, so a bit of tenderness is not surprising. Even if I feel ready, and/or the sex is short, tenderness still happens. Will it ever disappear for good?

I love being body to body, skin to skin. I love lying on our sides facing each other, while he’s moving and I’m holding him tight. I love all of that intimacy. But actual intercourse? Doesn’t feel all that awesome. I do try to continue manually stimulating myself as it’s happening. But here’s the thing. I can’t really feel it anymore. The other sensations are too distracting, too much. Even though they’re not wildly pleasurable, they’re there, and I can’t concentrate on me and my sensations and what I need to feel good, so I give up and hold him tight some more. I can be feeling really good right before insertion, and I can’t get it back after. I’ve explained this to B–I’m not holding anything in or pretending. We just need to keep trying and experimenting. We’re both inexperienced in the finer points, so it isn’t easy to figure them out together.

Here’s something really great: We recently had sex three days in a row. And my body didn’t need any more recovery time than if it had just been once. The tenderness didn’t get  worse or make the next time painful. So I know things are improving, ever so slowly. Now that we’ve almost reached absence of pain, we just have to figure out increasing the pleasure. And I want to be clear, I’m not after an orgasm, per se. Something stated over and over in The Guide is that most women don’t have orgasms through intercourse alone. I just want to figure out what we can do to make it more pleasurable than it currently is.

So, I have a lot of questions. Is it like this for a lot of women, and everyone just pretends sex is awesome because it’s supposed to be awesome? I assume that most of you reading this have a disability, and/or are a later-in-life virgin. Would those of you who have had sex tell me about your experiences? How was your learning curve? Was there a time when everything clicked? Something you discovered that worked for you? Are you a woman who enjoys intercourse only for the intimacy and giving your partner pleasure, but who gets her own pleasure in other ways? What makes sex good for you?