So I have this question I like to ask people: “Who are you with when you like yourself the most?” It always gets a raised eyebrow and then people’s brows furrow and they pinch their chin and purse their lips. It takes them a few minutes to mention one or two people and they usually give lengthy reasons why. It seems like an odd question, so let me break it down: “At what times do you most like yourself?” When you’re in church and the singing is just right and your voice is soaring alongside the choir’s and you feel like you’re communing with God? When you’re at work and you finish your work ahead of schedule? When you’re giggling at a joke? “If you’re not alone at the times when you like yourself the most, who is the person you are usually with?” Is it your partner? Is it your pastor? Is it the guy who sells you weed?
Who I’m with when I like myself the most changes every few years. Right now, my answers would be my mother and my younger cousins N and K. Ten years ago they were my friend T and the guy I almost married. Why do I like myself most when I am with my mother? Because she brings out all parts of me and makes me feel like they are all okay. This wasn’t always the case. When I was younger she brought out all my insecurities and the person I was when I was with her was stubborn and seeking. Now I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that I will never be as beautiful as she is and as zen as she is and as naturally good as she is but I have come to accept that that is okay. And most importantly, I have come to know that it is okay with her. So when I’m with her I am my silliest, neediest self because I know that I am not a disappointment. There is nothing to censor, there is nothing I can’t be forgiven for, there is nothing I cannot explain, and that sense of safety brings out a freeness in me that I like.
I realize now that part of the reason why I used to have so much sex was that I liked the person I was when I was having sex with my ex. I didn’t like the person I was when I was with him at other times. He was terrible at communication so I was always trying to ferret out his thoughts, gauge his moods, figure out why the answer to “Are you mad about this thing that happened on Wednesday?” was “No” yesterday, and “Yes” today, and “I didn’t notice anything on Wednesday” the day after. With him I was always questioning, always parsing, always trying to understand whether what I had just understood was understandable. But when we were fucking he was wide open. Sex was his love language and everything he couldn’t say with words he could say with his hands. Clarity about what he was feeling would come to him after he had come. We could have the most honest, uncluttered conversations when he felt close to me and he felt closest to me when I was naked in his arms. So I liked the sex for the sex itself but I also liked the sex because when we were having sex I wasn’t that probing, uncertain person. I knew exactly where I stood, I knew exactly what he was feeling, I felt like we were in total synch.
The person I was when I was riding him was a person who felt confident that her love was reciprocated. The person I was when he was coming in my arms was a person who felt in control. When we weren’t fucking I didn’t like the person he brought out of me. When we were fucking I did. At least until last year when we reconnected after a year apart. The sex was horrible and I realized I no longer liked the person I was when I was fucking him.
This was a wake up call because overall I like the person I am when I am fucking. Anybody. At least so far. One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was a total lack of shame about sex, and when I’m fucking, the person I usually am, someone who is always outside herself watching herself and analyzing her place in the world, recedes. I have very few hang-ups. I don’t bring baggage into the room with me and I set or help set the tone of what kind of space me and the person are going to be in. So I guess there’s a feeling of authority or at least of agency. I like that. When I’m fucking, the uncertainty that permeates my regular life is gone.
I have a policy about never getting naked with anyone who I am not a hundred percent certain is attracted to me so I feel beautiful. I don’t always feel beautiful in regular life because I cannot predict people’s physical reactions to me. So the person I am when I’m fucking is more affirmed and more comfortable in her skin. I’m honest in bed because I think advocating for your pleasure is an affirmation of your own humanity, and so I’m frank in ways that I sometimes fail to be in life. I like the non-hedging, straight-shooting chick I turn into when I’m getting my back cracked.
I’m a generally compassionate person but I think nakedness is the height of vulnerability, and people get asked to be open during sex and then get shut down in ways that wound them, so I’m tuned in and validating and empathetic when I’m fucking. In normal life I can be impatient and so this caring, nurturing person who takes over me in the bedroom is someone I admire and approve of. The adventurous, funny, goofy, person is someone I would want to be friends with. It’s weird, cos on one hand it’s just fucking, but for me, once I start to think about it, cos I think about everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrythiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing, if you haven’t already noticed, lol, it’s a window into some deep truths about my personality.
So my aim next year is to try to take the version of myself that I am when I’m fucking, this kinder, more loving, freer me, and try to make her the default version of myself, the one I take into the world every day. And to try not to fuck any more people who bring out some other version of me.
Adventurers, who are you when you’re fucking someone? Are you someone you like or approve of? Are you someone that makes you sad or makes you cringe? Are you different people with different people? And if the person you are when you’re fucking is not someone that you are happy with, what are you going to do about it in 2019?