Purveyor of Pleasure

Pleasure is my business, my life, my joy, my purpose.

Tag: embodiment

Eight Hours

Sitting and watching the minutes tick away until it is 8 hours to my surgery (or at least, the start time they’ve given me), when I’m no longer allowed to eat. I am wondering how much I’ll be able to sleep tonight, given my level of anxious anticipation of the event.

A brief aside, though, I installed a fancy new bidet toilet seat today, which will be of great help to me while I am unable to use my arms. It will also be of great help to me in life, because bidets are rad and I have wanted one for a long time. This is as good of an excuse as any! Those of you who are coming over to help, visit, or drop off a meal will be welcome to try it, or at least marvel at it, or ignore it, idk, you do what you want!

I’m certainly scared. The level of certainty around this that came after the pre-op appointment has melted a little bit in the last few hours and all those questions I posted about previously are back in my head. I kind of anticipated this, and also was hoping to avoid it.

As the time creeps slowly onward and I get closer and closer to surgery time, my thoughts are thinking of aesthetics. At the Community Queerituality meeting I attended this evening we discussed a lot of things, including queer aesthetics. Some of the things cited by the facilitator as queer aesthetics were brightly colored hair, piercings, and an undercut, all of which I sport on the daily. My response to this had me contemplating aloud the ways those aspects of my appearance had been constants over the last sixteen plus years and came from other countercultures I have been part of, not initially markings (to me) of my queerness, but certainly of some kind of alternative social affiliation. I also shared about my strong desire for many years to be seen as queer while I was trying really hard to be cis. Definitely these aspects of my appearance are markers of difference, but not inherently (to me) of queerness.

In typical post-sharing-in-a-group anxiety, my brain is going over the things I said in that context and the responses I got. Another participant, not long after I spoke, mentioned disliking the idea that queerness had any particular aesthetic, and I’m not sure if it’s my anxiety that is telling me they were addressing what I had said directly, meaning I hadn’t quite explained what I was trying to say adequately, or if they were riffing off of the topic itself. I agree with them, ultimately, but this is part of the basis for what is coming up in me tonight. The hook that the transphobia is able to get in through, maybe.

The questions swimming around my brain are about aesthetics. This is a procedure that is designed to change my aesthetics, designed to change my outward physical appearance. It is different than a purely aesthetic surgery, however, because it is a trans surgery, because it is about gender confirmation, and yet it is still about aesthetics in the sense it is about what we can perceive and about beauty and reality. It is about what other people will see when they look at me, and what I will see and feel when I am with myself. It is about sensation and senses and perception and we may talk about these things as being superficial, but they really aren’t, they’re about how we experience the world and manifest reality.

Writing this out has been useful for those thoughts so freely floating around. I have never disliked having a large chest, exactly, though it hasn’t felt like mine or part of me in a while. Certainly it has been both inconvenient and wonderful at times. When I was younger and striving/trying/pretending to be cis, I placed a lot of emphasis on my chest and the way it looked in clothing. I was proud of my fat hourglass figure. I hung a lot of my own self-worth and self-esteem on being sexually desirable, and my chest was always a part of that. It was rarely for me, but as a symbol or indicator of something. It took me a long time to unpack that for myself, part of those two plus years of talking and thinking and feeling into this surgery as an option for me was really investigating where my desires were coming from. I’ve said for a long time that my ideal form is as a shapeshifter, being able to play with my form however I like. I’m sure most of us would choose that, if given the option, but not all of us would play with the same aspects of our form.

There is a declaration in this action as well. I am claiming ownership of my body and my ability to declare who I am. I have had other body mods that have functioned as me claiming my body as my own, both in the form of piercings and tattoos, and in some ways this is the same, but in other ways it is completely different. I don’t entirely understand gender, honestly. I don’t think anyone does. My experience of it is something innate, something sacred, something that can also be fluid and changeable. I have been worried that my desire for this has more to do with expectations of what being trans looks like in an AFAB body, or because of the trans narrative that says this is what I should want. I am afraid of a lot of things, but that is a big one.

The more I think about it, write about it right now, and really feel into my body, the more I know my body is done with having this large chest. That’s kind of as much as I can know right now. I am supposed to have this experience, for whatever reason, maybe including because it is part of the dominant trans narrative. But this is not for superficial reasons. This is not for fitting in reasons. I think this is the important part, what was bugging me about the exchange earlier. My appearance has never been intended to fit into any particular sub- or counter-culture, even if it does or has. I am always, before anything else, wearing what I want to wear and looking how I want to look. This is, of course, influenced by cultures of various kinds, but it has to do with what aesthetics please me the most. I am forever trying to figure out how I can be comfortable with the person staring back at me in the mirror. That is the most important factor in all of this for me. The change that surgery marks is both big and not big in this sense. It will change everything and nothing all at once.

Mindful Erotic Embodiment: This Sunday in Seattle!

MEE PosterI’ll be co-facilitating a Mindful Erotic Embodiment workshop this Sunday at the CSPC (the Center for Sex-Positive Culture in Seattle)!

It is be the first in a series of six we have scheduled monthly from now until September. I’ll be facilitating two of them, but hope to make it to five of the six (I’ll be out of the country for one of them, otherwise it would be all). The first one kicks off during National Masturbation Month! What timing!

This is amazing way to help get in touch with your body and your erotic self and to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your sexuality.

Mindful Erotic Embodiment (MEE) is a practice of conscious engagement with your own body’s desires in the moment to give yourself the gift of your own awareness, presence, and attention and engage with pleasure.

It is a simple, yet profound embodiment praxis that recognizes the vastness of erotic experience that includes (and goes beyond) sex and sexuality. This will be within a communal environment, but is self-focused rather than interactive, introspective rather than performative. It is a time to really BE (with) yourself.

Click here for more information and to buy tickets in advance ($5 off the door price)!

Reflection and Confirmation

As I write this, I am heading back to Seattle after yet another weekend in Portland. It was a quick trip this time revolving around presenting Saturday at the Death:OK Conference on creating Soul-based Ceremonies for Honoring Death. I was able to squeeze in a few visits with people, but there are plenty more that I missed connecting with because of time constraints.

The weekend was a very reflective one for me, and quite an opportunity to gain perspective on my work in the world and my approach to life going forward. I was deeply inspired by everyone I met at the conference, such deep rich humanity showed up, and such beautiful life.

This is not so much a change as a confirmation. It is ever more clear to me that trauma and grief are just as central to my work as love and pleasure and desire, because they have to be. They are not separate. At the center of it all is the beauty of the embodiment of humanity.

When I talk about wholeness, which I often do, i am really taking about working ever more toward experiencing and expressing all aspects of our own divine humanity–all its vulnerable, often messy, and ultimately beautiful forums.

It is about turning toward the depth of our own selves. Turning toward the parts of ourselves that we disavow and embracing them. Turning toward the emotions we try to ignore or stuff down and bringing them up so they can serve their purpose and we can understand what they have to teach us. And so much more.

Embodied Movements/Moments

While walking today I was
enjoying the swing of the fabric
against me as I moved.

Hips swaying and dress bouncing along with them,
exposing slightly more of my thighs
than if I were stationary.

Each movement called me into my body
and into my wholeness
in a way unique to those moments.
Not only in the way that every moment is unique.

There was something deliciously erotic about this.
A re-collecting and discovery at once.
I gained more of my Self through this.

This is embodiment.
Every moment, every movement can be a breakthrough.

Heart Opening

I have so much aching in the heart of me
So old
So removed

The armor holding it in has been pierced
Slowly, access has been given
Tender smooth muscle exposed to the elements now
So frozen
So cold
So just daring to hope for more
Just barely daring

Just enough to be proven to that love can penetrate it
Love can penetrate me
Love can penetrate everything
Anything
That’s why it’s so important
That’s why I do this work

I look forward to be shown what love can do
Let myself open in ways I have helped others open
Blossoming into fullness
The completely bearable fullness of being
Being alive inside
Trusting to be held

A Second Shot

If you’re reading this and you haven’t read the previous two protected posts, I highly encourage you to go back and read them, it’s the same password.

Experienced my second shot of T last night. This time I did it myself (while supervised) in our temple rather than my doctor’s office and with Onyx and a couple friends around. It was a similar and also very different experience than the first shot (though I’m sure each shot will be its own unique thing).

Even though I’ve thought about this for so long and have felt confident that upping my testosterone is a good thing and what I want, I am still surprised at how good it actually feels to be taking this medicine. It feels like medicine for my body, soul, and spirit in ways I don’t even know how to articulate. It’s still really strange for me, though.

I know it’s really only been a week–and I want to give myself room for changing my mind about this in the future–but it feels so right. Surprisingly right. Way more right than I ever even let myself hope it would feel. I’m pretty much blown away by it.

I had a dream on Saturday night before my first shot that seems really obvious symbolism-wise and also blew me away. I was a little boy and I was playing in the yard outside of my house. I looked over and realized I had the shriveled-up, leathery carcass of a little girl next to me that I had been dragging around with me. She had been invisible to me, but I had been carrying her around for as long as I could remember. I realized I needed to bury her. I dug a hole in what I think was the neighbor’s garden plot, put her in, and covered her up. I knew she would be great fertilizer and beautiful flowers would grow on top of her.

I went inside, went to the bathroom, and then started running water for a bath. I looked at the floor and realized there were traces of her everywhere. There were very obvious marks on the wood floors where I had been dragging her around. I knew I needed to take the time to clean the marks up, to get rid of her. At that moment I heard the front door open and realized my dad was home (not my actual real-life dad, but my dream dad, who was not the same as my real life dad–this seems important to note). I felt a little embarrassed that he would see the marks the girl had left all over as I had been carrying her around with me, but then realized he probably could see her before, and that she was gone now.

I woke up a little confused and surprised that my subconscious was apparently ready for that. Maybe it was just trying to tell me that I am actually going in the right direction. Maybe it’s not as obvious as I seem to think it is.

On Writing a Thesis Focused on Embodiment and Emotions (thesis excerpt)

This is an excerpt from my Master’s thesis titled “Erotic Embodiment and Integration of Soul, Spirit, and Body: Toward a Sacred Erotic Psychology Healing Praxis,” it is a piece from the Introduction

To say it is difficult to write about embodiment is an understatement. Writing is a tool of the mind and splits us off from bodily experience. Language cannot fully capture the essence of being embodied, of being in a body, or of bodily sensations and emotions, but it can try. For the most part, language brings us out of our bodies and puts us apart from ourselves, especially language in an academic framework where one is compelled to be aware of sentence structure, word choice, proper citation methods, and so on. The question of how I can write an academic work on embodiment is one I have been grappling with since before I began writing it. The language that most closely aligns with the body is imaginal and poetic. With exception of the praxis chapter, my use of poetic imaginal language has been limited. I have not engaged with the imaginal and poetic nearly enough. Here is an attempt.

I really value each of the realms of spirit, soul, and body and the various ways they each manifest in the world, and I know that of these three realms the body is the most denigrated. This culture has a body problem. It has a problem in all three realms, really, but the way we approach the body is so much more backwards and twisted in my experience. We do everything we can to avoid focusing on our bodies, and that includes me. I have spent a lot of my own life hating my body, treating it as separate from my essential self, or ignoring its needs, feelings, and warnings.

My body has stiffened from the chore of sitting in front of a computer, writing (or attempting to write), while fighting against all the internal blocks I have against doing this work, my work. I can feel it in my shoulders and the back of my neck in the tension that creeps its way up and down from my head to my lower back. I get hit with it when I stretch, arching my back to hear the cacophony of crunchy popping sounds as my vertebrae realign themselves, and suddenly the release of tension sends a momentary throbbing spiraling up all the way to my temples. I can feel it in my knees and hips, the way I hold myself as I walk, where on my feet I place emphasis. I can tell when I am resisting the process and when I am not coming to my work with all of my strength by the way that I sit, passively and slouched or tall and engaged. I can feel it in how I am holding my teeth and tongue, the crack of my jaw when I yawn, the bend of my left knee when I take a step (am I fully bending it, or dragging that foot as I move?), or the pop of my right ankle when I get a twinge or stiffness in it that needs to be rotated out. My body tells me things, and I choose to listen to it or not, though the more I do this work the less I can ignore it. I notice the tension, I breathe, I move.

I do not claim to be perfect at my own methods, or to have mastered embracing the theories and praxis described in this thesis. In fact, what is driving me to do the work that I am dedicated to doing in the world, the work that this thesis is but a fraction of, is my own struggles with embodiment, connection, and belonging. I have been experiencing my own process as I have been writing about it, articulating only as far as I have been able to traverse my own self. Thus through this process I have had to feel my way through it just as much as I have had to work my way through it. I have had to nurture my own self, to build up the strength and self-love and self-compassion. To bring awareness to the things that I do, conscious and unconscious, and the patterns that I am enacting and reenacting within myself and with my lovers, friends, and family. I have gone through some major shifts and realizations within myself through this process, and also know that it is not over. This is just the beginning.

In going through this process of embracing my emotions and letting them flow, of excavating my own shadow and my own past, of working to understand the patterns laid inside of me back in the time of childhood and pre-verbal processing that still run me, of attempting to experience exquisite embodiment of the Self that is called Tai in this incarnation, I have had to confront most if not all of the parts of myself that keep me back. My self-sabotage. As with everyone, all of my issues are interlocking, threads in the tapestry of my life that interact and intersect, not just discrete problems that can be approached completely independently of each other. I have had to face head-on my own fear, grief, shame, anger, some nasty patterns of internalized oppression and repression. I have had to confront my fear of taking up my own space and what it looks like to put something so large as a personal sacred erotic manifesto into the world. This work details the entirety (so far) of my life’s purpose and my understanding of spirituality, sexuality, psychology, and their interactions with each other, and I am really taking up my own space by declaring my own mastery of it. I have also had to process and move through the grief I experienced surrounding the very sudden death of my father, and the emotional and psychological patterns instilled in me generationally and personally through him. I have recognized the shame I have held on to around being my true authentic self in a society that reviles people like me in multiple intersections of my identity. I have had moments of intense jealousy and shame around my relationship with my primary partner, and due to our interlocking patterns around intimacy and attraction we have, on occasion, fallen down the rabbit hole of destructive behavior.

Shame has been a large factor in my excavation process, and shame is necessary to face when doing this work. Emotions are necessary to face when doing this work of the body. To this end the work of Brene Brown and Karla McLaren have been indispensable to me. I have realized the amount of emotion processing that goes on in the face of change, and know that is a vital aspect of becoming. All emotions are particularly powerful, necessary, and important. They each have a reason for coming up when they do and a particular purpose or gift to share with us, if we are open to them. This entire thesis process has been an emotional one, and has impacted my body as such.

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