I’VE BEEN IN THERAPY FOR ONE YEAR AND I’M HAVING AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS

Going to therapy every week can be alarming. I’m still talking about this? It’s been a week! Going once every other week can be even worse. But… but it’s been two weeks! I haven’t solved this yet?

Imagine my surprise when I told my therapist how sick I was of complaining about the same shit every month when she told me i’ve been seeing her for a year.

year.

I’ve had relationships with people I was sexually and/or romantically attracted to that ended quicker than that.

Well, anyways, apparently I’ve made some progress. She said that when I started seeing her I said “I don’t really see myself as a career person” and now I have a well articulated five point plan for being incredibly successful. That’s what I like about my therapist. She’s like the best friend / computer algorithm you always wish you had. “You’re not ugly! Look at this photo I’ve saved from my database from last week! It has seventy likes!” 

She has good recall is what I’m saying. And in this particular moment I saw that I had made progress.

I realized that I judge progress in giant milestone chunks like “graduate college” “get job” “move in together” “get married” “have kids” “buy house”

Life, however, has tiny little flags along the way that ought to be celebrated. They also signify change and growth.

  1. Stopped feeling obligated to reply to business emails after hours
  2. Started giving fewer shits about peoples opinions of me when I don’t even like those people
  3. Realized it’s okay to not like people
  4. Decided that one day I wanted to get married
  5. Came to peace with the fact that I don’t always fold my clothes before putting them in my dresser.

You know, things like that. The baby steps. And I think the problem is that I think I’m a little holier than thou. Oh yes, I graduated from college. Puff puff. It was quite the endeavor. Pinky raise. Harrowing really.

Flash to me, EIGHT YEARS OF FEAR, CRYING, ANGUISH.

Everything that happened along the way, those were little milestones, little successes. They were progress. I just didn’t mark it as such until I literally had my diploma in my hand.

So, looking forward, this is how I judge my progress. Not based on how much money I have or what kind of job I have or what my relationships look like, but if I’m moving forward. At all. Even a little bit. If I’m growing better and stronger. If I’m making less of the same mistakes. If I’m making better, newer mistakes.

Do you have a question about sex, love, life? Submit now and I’ll answer it on my blog!

 

 

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How Do Adults Learn New Things?

When I graduated from college I immediately felt a deep sense of learning-related dispair. The university had provided me with constant, patience access to new, fresh, and important knowledge.

It was a privileged experience. To have someone walk me through difficult to understand concepts. To have the ability to get loans to attend this school in a liberal city where classes like “social justice and activism” and “introduction to transgender studies” were on the menu.

And then, suddenly, it was over. And as I logged on to twitter each week I became progressively less-and-less in the loop. I realized that when you’re not in a focused, structured learning environment, you have to try twice as hard.

How do adults learn new things?

Task: Keeping up on women’s studies & sexualities

A few months after I graduated I realized that with a library card I could access scholarly articles online. I immediately began printing JSTOR articles to highlight and process – one per day if I could swing it (now more like 3 per month.) It’s been an incredible resource to keep my mind sharp when it comes to new, interesting, or complex ideas relating to subjects that interest me.

I’m also a big fan of reading personal narratives (peoples blogs, for instance). Tying that together with the scholarly articles makes me feel like I’m getting a good mix of stories and ideas. It also prevents me from feeling like I’m only reading the same recycled concepts over, and over, and over again.

Task: become fluent in french

If you’ve ever traveled to Europe you may have also experienced this deep sense of shame. Three languages, fluent, tons of confidence? Bien sûr. But me? I may as well carry around an English dictionary to better understand my own language. While I’ve taken French in middle school, high school, and college, and been to France three times, I can still hardly hold a conversation.

I’ve recently picked up Duolingo again and have been increasing my practice daily (they say I’m 50% fluent, which is a sham). I’ve also picked up a copy of Harry Potter in French which I’m hoping to team up with my French dictionary to gain a more practical understanding of how the language actually sounds.

Task: Learn more career related tasks

A few weeks ago I signed up for the free trial of Lynda.com. I wanted to strengthen my understanding of SEO and Adwords, and I’d heard great things about these online courses. Lynda is typically about $20 a month, but a friend of mine led me on to the fact that library cards often let you in for free. (Again, how rad are libraries?) Now I have a free membership and am working my way through different courses that will help me perform better at work and strengthen my resume.

Task: Watercolors & lettering

I have a small collection of Dr Ph Martin water color paints on my desk. They work great for lettering and watercolor painting. But my skills are rudementary and I often feel like I’m not really utilizing the tools like I ought to be. Youtube has been awesome for running me through basic skills that I never had the opportunity to learn before. Really, you can learn anything on Youtube (I’m also learning how to style my hair and apply makeup.)

If you find a channel you like – follow it. It can be a lot of fun if you find someone who has a style similar to you. Their advice, guidance, and recommendations can become an essential part of your week!

How do you continue to learn as you shift into adulthood? What tasks have you wanted to learn, what hobbies have you wanted to take up? Drop your thoughts in the comments!


Have a question about sex, love, life? Submit now and I’ll answer it anonymously on my blog! 

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Should You Take My Advice?

What is advice?

Advice is a recommendation about what someone should do based on a set amount of information.

When I give advice I combine (1) my knowledge about a situation with (2) filtered through my own bias and (2) the information given to me about that situation.

It’s really difficult to give advice without imparting your own bias! That’s because your bias impacts how you see the entire world. My goal for every post is to try and think about the situation outside of what I would do, and think about what that person could do or what would be healthiest to do.

How does advice work?
  1. Give the advice-giver as much information as you can about your situation and what you’re looking to receive from the advice. Include as much information as you’re comfortable with and any information you think might be relevant.
  2. When you read the advice, remember that it’s going to be biased, and based only on the information you’ve given the advice-giver.
  3. Take that advice into consideration. Ask someone else for advice. Remember that it’s just one person’s advice.

When asking for advice, the advice-asker usually has some idea of what they want to do.

SHOULD YOU TAKE MY ADVICE?

I don’t believe you should take advice. Advice isn’t a guidebook, advice is a set of suggestions. When someone gives advice they aren’t fully aware of the entire situation.

Advice may create a visceral reaction. There may be an instinctive pull towards one answer or the other.

The advice-asker might think this advice is wrong or this advice was helpful. Either way, the advice has done the job by assisting in strengthening your intuition or guiding you towards a more appropriate response.

The benefit of asking for advice often

If you’ve ever been on an advice message board, you might have noticed that a lot of people asking for advice have let their situation advance quite a bit.  For example, if they are in a relationship that is unhappy, they’ve likely been unhappy for a long time before asking for advice. A lot of the time people only ask for advice after they’ve already made up their mind about a a particular situation.

They know what they should do or they know what feels right or wrong, but they want someone to give them permission to say out loud how they feel.

It can be scary asking for advice before you need it because it forces you to confront and work through issues you’re having in your life. 

Asking for advice frequently can be useful if you remember that advice is not a set of guidelines. Use advice (or therapy, or counseling) to help guide you towards making better decisions that are all. yours. Confronting issues like this often and with heart can make you stronger, wiser, and happier.

Do you need advice about sex or love? Submit now at [Ask Suggestive] and I’ll answer on my blog. 

 

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How To Keep Track of Your Favorite Blogs

There’s nothing more fun than finding a favorite blogger or two and following along with their story. I was talking to a friend the other day about blogging and he made a really interesting point that I’ve been ruminating over ever since. With the pure amount of content we’re being barraged with, it feels like it’s less about what someone is writing about and more about who is writing it.

Do you like their style? Do you like their voice?

I just thought that was so true. I read such a wide variety of blogs – everything from sex blogs to lifestyle, cooking, or even religious blogs. What makes me feel excited about a blog is the blogger. Do I care about this person? Do I want to know what they have to say, specifically?

Despite having a few favorites, I still follow what may be considered an excessive number of blogs.

How can you keep it all straight while still prioritizing the content that is most important?

Subscribe to their blog

I only subscribe to blogs where I genuinely want to read every post that someone writes. Some people use their email inbox as a sorting and filing system but I’m a massive fan of inbox zero. That means I hate when something is just sitting in my inbox! If I really want to read a blog I subscribe to it and then read it as soon as it pops in my inbox. Generally these are the blogs I comment on and engage with the most.

Follow them on Twitter and Instagram

Bloggers are utilizing Twitter and Instagram more and more to notify followers of new content. What’s so fun about these formats is that they tend to be much more visual. I can decide whether or not I want to read a blog by a photo or a quick blurb. Both Twitter and Instagram offer push notifications for specific users which can help you stay on top of new content as it happens! Ding! @Suggestive has a new tweet!

Create and maintain an RSS Reader

I’m a longtime supporter of the Reeder App for Mac and iOS. Create an account and load in links for the sites you want to follow. I have everything from blogs to more website-y websites like Gizmodo! This saves all the content you read in one convenient, easy to read app, with the ability to quickly scan and remove content that isn’t interesting. [Reeder App]

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Weekly Updates

Girl alone at Bar

There is something about going to bars alone that satisfies me on a cellular level. This bar is empty. I walk in and ask the bartender what I should get because I don’t know any of the beers on the list. I pick a table in front of the TV. The Mariners game is on which just feels fated because I’ve decided that I’m going to try and keep up with baseball this season. He gives me an order of fries and I start jotting down blog ideas. My friend arrives an hour later. We go see 1984 at a little theatre down the street.

There’s something that should bother 45 about being compared to Hitler or 1984. Sometimes the only thing that gives me any peace of mind is knowing how shit will go down. I make sure to write about it in my journal just in case.

We joke about getting a cabin in the middle of nowhere in case this all goes south, except it’s not a joke.

I’m reading again, it’s happening!

Are you into books & movies & television? Follow me @sloughavenue on Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress! Recent favorites include the graphic novel The Sculptor, which I read in one sitting, and The End of Everything which I also read in one sitting. Equally enjoyable was The Wonder and The Grownup. I’m all about the dark and twisty so if you’re looking for something that makes you feel good about humanity, you’ve got the wrong girl. (Which reminds me, I still need to see 13 Reasons Why. 

New posts are being masticated

Om nom nom. On the schedule(!!) our three year anniversary of cohabiting and our four year anniversary of dating! Each will get their own special little post. Have a question about living together (and/or) dating that you’d like us to answer? Let me know!

Don’t miss the latest posts on the blog!

How do I feel about “once a cheater always a cheater”?
Masturbation is healthy! Five reasons why!
No sex for FOUR WEEKS! On week three. Details inside.
My Summer TO-DO! Quite the to-do.
What does being unfaithful mean? What does it feel like? Readers chime in!
My LEEP Experience! Little cervix bits floating in jars, etc etc.

What I’ve been up to

Eating delicious things::

Loving on plants::

Hanging out in the sunshine::

Yeah, that’s my thumb. I’m embracing the imperfections.

xx st

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Once a Cheater Always a Cheater?

This is a continuation of my series on infidelity. Read previous posts here!

If someone cheats once, are they more likely to do it again? At least one bit of research says, yes, if you cheat you’re more likely to cheat again. However, that same piece of research also says that people who have been cheated on once are also more likely to be cheated on again.

So what does it mean?

 

If you’ve read my previous posts about infidelity you might already know how I feel about this cliché. I don’t think that cheating once has any indication on whether or not you’re going to cheat again. I think it’s a statement used to shut down discussion of infidelity and shame the person who was unfaithful. Not super productive to understanding why the infidelity happened or how to prevent it.

In fact, the person who belittles the infidelity by saying “they did it once so they will do it again” is missing out on an opportunity to ask questions about why it happened so it doesn’t happen again. It falls into the narrative that people who cheat are inherently bad people.

It’s easy to blame infidelity on the person who did it rather than the situation that led to the infidelity. It prevents both partners from examining how to have better relationships in the future. If each partner is equally likely to experience infidelity again, discussing together (or with a therapist, or with friends) why they think that the infidelity occured is especially important.

To be able to do this we need to destigmatize infidelity, at least enough to be able to have some kind of conversation about it.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Need advice? Have a post suggestion? Submit now!

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Five Ways Masturbation is Healthy

When you’re in middle school, and boys start masturbating, they tell you. They tell you all the time. They tell you mid-laugh like “guess what I did this morning?” or “I know what I’m doing when I get home” or they tell you by comparing every even-kinda-white substance to semen. Lol mayonaise! Lol aioli! Lol sunblock!

Everything is about dicks and I’m not entirely thrown by this because being a pubescent boy must be a lot like having an xbox in your pants your entire life and one day it just turns on in the middle of the night. The sheets aglow, jingling a little tune, diddly-diddly-diddly.

Girls don’t learn about masturbation through any kind of middle-of-the-night hologram experience. Okay, usually. It tends to happen more by accident. In fact, I vaguely recall thinking that masturbation was gendered and it was just something men did. Enough time on the internet will cure any such misconception. Ah yes, women come standard with an xbox in their pants too. Except the controller has more buttons and built in special moves. Suck it.

Montage your way forward almost two decades later. (Finally) we’re prioritizing women’s pleasure and girls are able to read about masturbation in popular magazines like it’s n.b.d. 

Whoopie!

So, why is masturbating healthy?

  1. Body Image – Sometimes you literally need to love yourself. Like my body can do that? Repeat until the love begins to boil and turn down heat to let simmer.
  2. Understanding of your body/anatomy – Look at your genitals with a mirror, touch them and get a feel for what they feel like, look around for moles, make note of size and shape, touch and inspect and grow comfortable with yourself. Not feeling squeamish about my body came in handy when it came to using a menstrual cup for the first time.
  3. Relief of stress, anxiety, or depression – I’ll say it again. Sometimes you literally need to love yourself.
  4. Relief of pain and cramping – Reduces pain and cramping for free! Repeat until desired effect takes place. Or until you fall asleep.
  5. Understanding what feels good to you – The better you know your body, the better you can explain what feels good to your partner/s. That means an easier go for them, and a more enjoyable experience for you! Learn what you can on your own, and discover the rest as a team!

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit now and I’ll answer it on the blog!

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The Identity Politics of No Sex for Four Weeks

Sexual  identity is more than just your sexual orientation. Your sexual identity can also include things like what kind of sex you like, kinks or fetishes, or how frequently you have sex.

So what happens to your sense of self when certain parts of that identity aren’t being utilized? 

After my LEEP procedure my doctor said that I couldn’t have penetrative sex for four weeks. When the whole waiting period is said and done, that will be the longest time I’ve ever stayed abstinent.

A couple disclaimers: This isn’t a big woe is me because I don’t actually think four weeks is a very long time. It would be fine if someone did think four weeks was a long time, but I don’t. Four weeks goes quick. Also, my doctor didn’t say no sex for four weeks. She just said no penetrative sex for four weeks. There’s a distinction. But for me, sex almost always means penetration. So her saying no penetration was effectively saying no sex. There are a lot of other things to do, but it’s just different for me, and that’s okay. (Also with the amount of bleeding, pinching, and cramping, I’m not feeling all that sexy anyways.)

All of this got me wondering about identity

At a different point in my life, if I weren’t able to have sex for a long stretch of time (due to stress, anxiety, medical issues, etc) I would feel less than myself. I viewed myself as sexual and thought that to fulfill that identity I had to act out what a sexual person does. If I wasn’t doing sexual things all the time, I was, in some way, failing myself and the guidelines I’d set for myself and who I am.

At times, I would even go out of my way to try things that I wasn’t interested in doing or push myself outside of my comfort zone because I thought “huh, if my identity is this, I should say yes, because I’ll probably like it, right?” Big heavy yuck.

Be aware of false prophets. If anyone ever says “but I thought you were cool” tell them that cool is whatever the fuck you say it is. 

But people do this all the time right?  Women wonder if they’re actually bisexual if they’ve never kissed another woman. A guy looks at another guy he finds attractive and spends the rest of the day re-asserting his heterosexuality to balance it out. We have scripts for what a person of  identity does, and what being X looks like, and when we don’t live up to those arbitrary guidelines, we can start to feel off or less than ourselves.

Learning that my identity can be stable has been important as my life has become more fluid.

The reality is that we may not always be able to do the things that we define ourselves by. That’s hard. Especially if these things are deeply wrapped into our identity and who we are.

Sometimes we have no choice. We may develop a disability that in some way prevents us from doing the things that we used to define ourselves by. We may become sick. Our health may impede us. A writer may be unable to write for weeks at a time. A surfer may lose the ability to use his legs. This is getting grim, I know, but I’ve had the privilege in my young life to really not have many things impede me from doing what I want to do. I know that as I get older, that’s likely to change.

I don’t exactly have the answers here but I think it’s important to think about. When I let go of the arbitrary guidelines I’d set for myself, I found myself becoming a lot more chill. A lot happier. Some nights I might want to choose reading over sex and I don’t have an identity crisis about it. I might go weeks without wanting to write on my blog and I don’t second guess my ability as writer. And, one day, if I have to completely let something go, I know it won’t change who I am and who I was and what makes me, me. My life might just start to look different. And that might make me feel sad. But it doesn’t make me (less than) I used to be. It just makes me different.

How do you deal with feelings like this? Have you ever had to cope with a big identity shift, or even a short-term identity shift because you couldn’t do something or had to change the way you did something?


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My Summer To-Do List

I read the other day that people bullet journal as a form of treatment for their anxiety and I was going to respond but my fingers were all covered in ink and I was having a serious moment with my copic pen. I guess what I’m saying is I can relate. When I buy a new journal I feel as though I’ve attended church in my Sunday best. Writing whatever you want to write on actual paper can feel a little startling in a world that is rapidily breaking down into upvotes and downvotes and likes and dislikes.

When I write something on paper the only person who knows its there is me.

And my echo dot, if I recite it out loud. She told me she’s a feminist; I’m not concerned about any feminist overlords.

Similarly, list-making brings me to utter zen. Is this what people feel like when they get stoned? Like, really stoned? Because this Leuchtturm 1917 is going to make me come.

What I’m going to do this summer (also known as: “the 2017 resolutions that actually happen”)

  • Be a bridesmaid for the first time ever because of one my very best friends asked me and obviously yes.
  • Travel to Canada (because the wedding is in Vancouver and I love Vancouver, it’s like upside-down Portland)
  • Go camping so many times that I finally justify to myself that I no longer need to use the coleman sleeping bag that I was given as a child.
  • Buy one new plant and not kill it (there are only about three plants cats arent allergic to, so that will give me some exciting choices.)
  • Go to the nude beach so many times that when the summer is over I can say “when we went to the nude beach…” and my partner has to ask “wait which time?”
  • Go on at least one Sunday Park way ride (A Portland Special where they shut down neighborhoods to cyclists.) Sidebar: Naked Bike Ride.
  • Host more than one game night. At least one outdoors. With BBQ and beer.
  • Go on a slip and slide. I don’t know where or how. I’ve been in Portland since 2009 and I’m just now realizing that this is kind of a big city problem. Where do city kids slip and slide?
  • Dye my hair, I think. I’m really non-commital about this one. It was like getting my ears pierced, finally, in 2014. I knew I should probably try it eventually and I knew I’d probably like it but there was nothing wrong with my ears the way they were so it took a little convincing to try it out. Of course I love it.
  • Buy more watercolor paper. This should technically be on my shopping list. Sorry.
  • Go from June-September without missing a snail mail birthday card. If I missed your birthday, I’m sorry! I don’t love you any less. I mean, technically I guess I kind of do because some people did get cards and some didn’t. But it’s me, not you.
  • Find “How to Love” wherever it slipped and fell in our bedroom and start reading it every night before bed again. Hashtag relationship satisfaction hashtag cuddle vibes.
  • Volunteer. Maybe not an official volunteer position. Maybe just like volunteer to go get the beer when we run out.
  • Actually volunteer.
  • Wear sunscreen every day because skincare is important and I can still freckle even if I’m wearing 50spf.
  • Find a pair of flippity flops that I like (sidebar: get a killer pedicure.) Also my shopping list, sorry.
  • Go see Portugal, the man at our favorite outdoor venue, get drunk, eat fries, watch the stars from the grassy knoll and feel alive.
  • Go outside more, in general.
Whatcha doing this summer? j/c.

 

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#ISupportPP on #PinkOut Day

Today is #PinkOut day :: a day to show support and committment to Planned Parenthood.

I have never been to Planned Parenthood but many of my close friends have.

It is important to me that others have access to affordable healthcare services. Whether or not I directly benefit from them should not have any influence in whether or not I support them.

When you support PP: You’re saying that you want to live in a society that provides for those who may not be able to afford to provide for themselves. You’re saying that someone shouldn’t be forced to carry a baby to term that they don’t want. You’re saying that you live in a world where, no, people don’t just have sex to procreate. You’re saying that information about sexual health is important in making educated decisions about what you do with your body. You’re prioritizing pap smears or mammograms, preventative care that will help us live better lives. You’re destigmatizing sex, you’re destigmatizing STIs, you’re removing just an ounce of the fear in getting a check up.

The affordable care act has provided preventative services to millions of women. The president is attempting to deconstruct the aca as a matter of ego and pride.

One of the most immediate changes for women was the ACA’s birth control benefit, which ensured that more than 55 million women now have birth control without a copay, and helped women save an estimated $1.4 billion on the pill in the ACA’s first year alone. – Planned Parenthood & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

It is easy to take these services for granted. My generation knows a world that has healthcare accessibility, access to abortion, access to birth control.

We might always have access to condoms and birth control and mammograms and sexual health testing, but what does we mean, and what does access mean, if only the wealthy or privileged are able to receive these services?

Support Planned Parenthood today by using the hashtags #PinkOut and #ISupportPP to spread the message. Wear pink with pride. Donate what you can (minimum donation of only $5.00) to Planned Parenthood to help them continue their efforts. Finally, find some other way to help. Everyone can do something, and everyone should do something.

Do you have a question about sex, sexuality, gender, or health? Submit now and I’ll answer on my website. If I don’t have the answer, I will help you find resources to get you started.

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