Coercion

I’m not sure where I am going with this post. The US is changing rapidly as women come forward to say that they’ve been molested. Some of these incidents have been recent and some have taken place in the past.

I have never been raped but I have been coerced into having sex, when I didn’t really want to, by both men and women. The corollary is also true: I have never raped anyone, however I have coerced women and men into having sex with me when they were hesitant.

Hitting my teen years in the 1960s, it was still common for teen girls and boys to play the Coaxing Game: Start by kissing, groping over clothes, sneaking hands under clothes, etc. Sometimes I felt pressured to go further than I wanted, but it was all part of the game and was very exciting and slightly naughty. I was lucky that I was never forced to go beyond my “this is too much” point.

And then the Summer of Love happened and everyone was screwing everyone. The Pill was in common use by then and STIs were practically unheard of. As the century progressed, it was pretty common where I lived to have lots of sex with lots of people, both male and female. Sex was good and healthy, gay rights were coming to the forefront and non-monogamy was venturing out of the closet.

If we were drunk or hungover and she didn’t want sex, I knew how to manipulate her. If he was hesitant because his wife might find out, I knew of places for quickies. Looking back now is unsettling, and doesn’t deserve a pardon, but it was still part of the Coaxing Game. I’ll venture to say that many of us either gave in to coercion or we coerced others.

This leaves us with some difficult questions today. Do we judge older events by new standards? Is forcing someone to give you a blowjob as bad as putting an arm around your waist without asking first, or as bad as commenting how great you look in those tight pants? Where should the lines be drawn?

To those I have harmed along the way, I am truly sorry. After being sexually active for 50 years, I am happy to bid goodbye to the Coaxing Game and instead welcome new patterns of authentic communication. And that’s what it’s all about: learning better ways to be human.

How’d I get to be a curmudgeon?

Inspired by a Twitter post, and riffing on this article:  http://thoughtcatalog.com/tim-hoch/2014/06/10-ways-youre-making-your-life-harder-than-it-has-to-be/

What happened around age 45-50:

  • My body gave out.
    • Lived with an alcoholic artist for a year or two. She was the love of my life, but ultimately being up all night and taking care of everything while she slept off her latest binge drove me crazy.
    • I was a single mom to two teenage girls. I had been working as a nurse – shift work. Two days, turnaround day, three nights, turnaround day. I diagnosed myself with fibromyalgia and 18 months later my doctor confirmed it.
  • Daughter #1 moved to the other side of the country.
  • Daughter #2 got pregnant. My daughters knew all about how NOT to get pregnant, since I had been a women’s health teacher for years, so this was at first a real slap in the face. Then I had to let it go as she and her partner figured things out on their own. I loved her but could not financially support her (having fibro and being on disability). I moved into town and got my own little place and helped to babysit when I could.
  • I threw myself into community work – AIDS and LGBT groups. I watched some grow and others fall apart. Group politics is really draining.
  • I taught myself new skills. I was online figuring out HTML in 1995. Joined a community group that was bringing the interwebs to our small town.

So what did I learn?

  1. My body knew when to say ENOUGH, even if my brain didn’t. I came home from whatever and crawled straight into bed many days.
  2. I learned what it’s like to live with and adapt to chronic pain.
  3. My daughters weren’t going to listen to me. They had their own lives.
  4. I walked away from relationships and only looked back for the little time I needed for my head to clear and realize how toxic they had been.
  5. Living close to the poverty line, I learned how to live on nothing. I spent time and money on important stuff – rent, an internet account, gas money, stocking up on black tea, cans of tuna and jars of peanut butter.
  6. I said NO a lot. I earned a reputation for being a curmudgeon and a bitch. (I now mostly do that on Reddit.) But I also said YES to important stuff like taking care of a toddler for a few months until her mom could get her shit together.
  7. I spent hours listening to classical music while HTML permeated my brain. I developed websites close to my heart: vintage graphics and family history.
  8. I developed a healthy relationship with my vibrator. I wrote erotica.
  9. I slipped quietly from agnosticism into atheism. My skepticism of everything I had been told my whole life deepened. I questioned everything.
  10. I stopped catastrophizing everything.  I sat back, had some vodka and came back to the present.
  11. I stopped giving a fuck about anything except what is right in front of me, right this minute. I pushed myself to be a badass. I’m determined to live to be 100 doing this.

Appreciating 2016

I know, right now, so many people are feeling overwhelmed and talking about how bad 2016 was.  I understand their unhappiness, but personally 2016 was another year to appreciate and live.

I got to travel with Doc on the motorcycle for many miles through Washington State, British Columbia, North Carolina, Virginia.

When we went to BC I got to spend some time (yeah, I know it wasn’t enough) with my daughters and granddaughters and old friends.

I spent time getting to know Doc’s son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter as we traveled through the spectacular scenery of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I listened for hours to Mozart, Gershwin, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff  and many others.

I learned to moderate my drinking.  I’ve always been a drinker. Sometime last winter it slipped into undesirable territory as I was drinking 3-4 drinks every evening, picking fights for no reason with Doc, and sometimes even having blackouts. I stopped drinking completely for 6 weeks, which seems to have reset my body. I now usually have one drink and say, okay that’s enough. (Well, except in Cancun…)

I changed my hair colour a few times.

I taught or coached many senior computer classes at a local senior center. I loved seeing the “lightbulb” go on when people my age started to understand how all of this internet stuff works.

I dug in the earth, and planted and pruned and watered our amazing garden. We grew flowers and veggies and vines and trees.

I led a discussion group about sex for seniors.  I’m leading it again this spring. I think there is the start of a core group.  I wonder where it will go?

I worked out at the gym, even though my body hated it at times.

I took care of this house. I vacuumed, laundered, swept and tidied and cooked. I love taking care of us.

I went to a great sex conference and connected with a wonderful tribe.

I drank hundreds of cups of tea, early in the morning, sitting at this computer.

My relationship with Doc has deepened in so many ways. We rode the bike through rain and wind, cold and hot weather. We celebrated five years of living together. We were angry. We were sad. We were happy. We watched the ups and downs of our life together.

We had hours of cuddling. We had sleepy morning sex. We played with toys and each other. We fucked and had intense orgasms. And we stared into each other’s eyes and loved.

We walked around free and naked at Desire. We connected with another part of our tribe.

I don’t know if I have one more day on this planet, or 30 more years. I know that continuing into 2017, I will be a badass sometimes, excited sometimes, tired sometimes, laughing sometimes, in pain sometimes, and very fragile sometimes.  It’s called life. Live it.