I prefer the company of men

Ever since I hit my teens, I’ve found that I’ve gotten along better with guys than girls. I’m not talking sexually here (although I’ve had more experience with there them too) but purely on a friendship basis. I hung out with the boys a lot in school. I was a bit of a tomboy and a smart arse so I enjoyed the banter that existed in the groups of boys on the playground. My best friend in high school was a guy. As an adult, one of my oldest and best friends is a guy (he was also maid of honour at my wedding) and I generally get along better with and enjoy the (platonic) company of men more than women.

Jared often says I should have more female friends or develop closer female relationships but I’m not sure I agree. I do have close friendships with women – I have a few women that I would consider very close to me and I have other female friendships that are maybe not so close but that also exist on a one-on-one basis (as someone that considers themselves an introvert, one on one friendships are the most valuable to me). But overall, I click more easily with guys. It’s the easy going, constantly-giving-one-another-shit nature, the lack of drama, the ‘got your back-ness’ of the mateship you see between men that appeals to me.

Or perhaps this says more about the types of friendships I’ve had with women. Lord knows I’ve known a lot of unstable women yet I’m sure there are just as many men cutting around who are shit friends. The thing is I know there are rock solid female friendships out there, I even have a few of my own but they exist as anomalies for me. I feel that the women that are close to me are that close because they’re not your typical women (or not what I consider typical for a female friendship). That’s why we get along so well. I’m not a girly girl and I find I have very little in common with the types of girls that are.

But it’s not even so much the friendship, it’s the company. If I’m in a room and there’s a group of girls and a group of guys, I’m going to gravitate to the guys, even if it gets me dirty looks from the women’s side of the room. A girls’ night out would have to be one of my worst nightmares. I think a lot of people are deeply suspicious of this kind of transgression of the perceived ‘friendship gender divide’. I’m sure many people have suspected me of being more than friends with many of my guy friends because, deep down, we think women should be friends with women and men with men. Why are they so damn close if they’re not fucking or working up to it (or at least one of them is)? We don’t think men and women can be friends without sex entering the picture at some point. Full disclosure, I did sleep with my high school best friend but frankly I just went along with it because to turn him down would’ve been too much trouble and doing it didn’t bother me that much.

For me, I take friendship as it comes. If I click with someone, I click with them and it doesn’t matter what gender they are. I’m fully aware that I’m a prickly enough person, a “tough nut” as a few of my bridal party mentioned in their speeches at our wedding, to not hit it off with all that many people so, when I do, I take notice. To be able to say I have super close friendships, to my mind, is the most important thing and it doesn’t matter to me whether they’re guys or girls. It matters that they’re real friends; the type of friends I can rely on to make me feel better after a shit day or have deep and pointless conversations with about everything and nothing. And if it’s a guy that’s on the other end of that text message instead of a girl, well so be it. I’m more than ok with it.

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Sometimes I miss stripping

I’ve been quite nostalgic about stripping of late. It’s been eight or nine years since I stopped but somehow my sister’s convinced me to take a pole dancing class with her once a week. The classes make me feel terribly unfit and uncoordinated, mostly because I’m not half as strong, flexible or graceful as I used to be. Usually I wear gym gear but yesterday I felt inspired to get into costume. I dug out a pair of mesh, frilly panties, a sheer black top and my old pair of 7″ silver glitter stripper heels. Gosh, they must be at least 12 years old now. It’s a wonder they didn’t crumble into dust!

Clothed a bit more appropriately for the task at hand, I almost felt the part as I strutted my way into class. I wasn’t able to get totally back into character (Jay and Mia were my stripping alter egos, depending on which club I was at) but I definitely felt like I belonged on that pole a little bit more than when I was wearing a singlet, gym shorts and bare feet. The stripper shoes make all the difference, I’m telling you.

Then last night, I went down a rabbit hole watching the amazing pole goddess in the video below. There was another video on FB that was EPIC – find her, her name’s Daria Chebotova – but I couldn’t figure out how to get the link and it’s not on YouTube, as far as I can see. It was posted on Tuesday or Wednesday and features two girls in gold and black costumes. Holy fuck. Ah-mazing. Still this one is pretty awesome too and the song is perfect. Makes me miss being on stage and feeling at one with the music and sexy as fuck. Not that I was quite as spectacular as this woman but still… I’m a good dancer, if I’m allowed to say that. 🙂

Then the other week, I saw a photo from the theatre production of Closer and that took me back as well. In the photo, it’s the strip club scene where Alice/Jane is standing over Clive’s character (can’t remember his name). She’s facing away from the camera and all you see are the backs of her legs and him sprawled on the couch below her. The positioning of the actors and placement of the camera make Alice/Jane seem totally in control. You might be more familiar with the movie version with Natalie Portman and Clive Owen. I’ve included a still from the movie, couldn’t find one from the play.

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I think many people think of stripping as something male driven. And in many ways it is. If men didn’t want to spend money watching naked women, the industry wouldn’t exist. If they didn’t want to spend it on you specifically, you wouldn’t make any money. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that it’s often the women that are the aggressors. They approach the man while on stage or while on the floor. They talk him into spending money he may not otherwise have spent. Yes, men will often approach you for a dance but a lot of the time it’s because of the connection you made him feel while you were dancing on stage.

Once you get in the private room, yes he’s paid for your time but it’s only the very rude men who try to tell you what to do. Most just watch in silence or chat with you but rarely will they make a specific request and, if they do, it’s usually done very politely. If he misbehaves, you can call security at any minute and have him unceremoniously ejected from the premises, never to return. Men know this. And they also know they’re not getting a refund. This has been my experience anyway.

There are many things I don’t miss about stripping: the late nights and unhealthy lifestyle, the financial instability, the incessant small talk with people I had nothing in common with. But there are other things I do miss: being on stage, essentially dancing and entertaining for a living, the costumes and outfits, the socialness of working (and playing) with all the girls and most of the customers, the money.

You might think I’m contradicting myself by mentioning the money and financial instability but I’m not. I made heaps of money, very easy money, but you were never guaranteed anything (some clubs gave you a retainer on certain nights but it wasn’t much). You had to work for every penny and, if you had an off night or it was quiet, you made nothing. That’s what I mean by money being a pro and a con. I always made enough but I was never sure I was going to – not like when you have a ‘real’ job that pays a set wage every week.

Also, the confidence. You feel like a fucking goddess while you strip and sadly life outside the club isn’t quite like that or, at least, not every day. 😉 I feel like a get a tiny whiff of that feeling during pole class sometimes when they’ll show us a move I already know or we’re doing floor work (I’m still kind of ok at that). But maybe it says more about me that that kind of confidence boost comes from having people watch me and desire me in such an blatantly sexual manner.

Maybe I’m ruined for real life, which is a problem because I’m going to a whole bunch of burlesque shows this month, including seeing Dita Von Teese which I AM SO FUCKING EXCITED ABOUT!!! However, this sexual entertainment overload means my nostalgia will be pretty much constant. Someone asked me if I wanted to topless waitress at their bar for some event they’re having and I actually considered it (am considering it). Maybe I’m just missing excitement in my life and, by ‘excitement’, I mean that feeling of being sexy and desired that stripping runs hand in hand with.

Well now, this isn’t quite where I thought this post would end up. Although, I kind of like it when this happens. It’s like writing/typing through my thoughts.

Image credit: Giphy

My life on drugs

So… I have not been all that successful in my quest to be drug free. My life is not suffering overly but I know it would be – I would be – a lot better if I could exert some willpower every now and again. It’s not even so much the drugs as it is the side/after-effects – the black outs, the mood swings, the lack of motivation and depression. These are the things I hate and wish I could avoid but sadly doing drugs just doesn’t work that way for me.

I had my second session with my therapist today. She seems to think I’m not at that critical point where I want to change. I’m not ruining my life. My job isn’t suffering (much). At this moment, the only person I’m hurting is me (and maybe Jared when he worries about me) but I seem to feel that the high is worth the hurt. So far. Why can’t I find a way to do drugs without all these terrible side effects? I’m sure every person who has ever done drugs/drunk alcohol and suffered a comedown/hangover has asked the same thing? Why can’t I do it in moderation? Again, drugs don’t work like that. At least, not for me.

I’ve always been around drugs. My mother has smoked weed for as long as I’ve known her. Many people think of weed as a harmless drug and, in moderation, I’d agree. But she didn’t smoke in moderation and, right around the time I hit my teens, she had what I like to think of as a schizophrenic break (because I’m a trained psychologist ;)). During this time, which lasted a few years, she varied between being my regular, awesome mum and a crazed religious fanatic who spouted Bible verses at everyone. Also, she barely ate and withered away into a skeleton because, when you smoke weed heavily for an extended period of time, it suppresses your appetite (so long, munchies). That’s what this story is about. For the record, she’s fine now (although she still smokes occasionally).

Still, I chose to do drugs. I smoked weed with my mum. I came to Australia and did speed and pills and coke. I ate my first line of speed because I was too scared to snort it (ahh, innocence). I was so high on MDMA that I don’t remember my first line of coke (given to me to ‘straighten’ me up). In the depths of my drug addiction, I partied three to four nights a week and was scared to fall asleep because of the terrible nightmares I had. When I was awake, I could barely eat because my stomach was so shrunken from my steady powder and pill diet. I lost my job as an escort because I did too many drugs and lost too much weight (I dropped down to 35 or 36kgs). I was nearly evicted from my first apartment because I chose to party before paying my rent. I woke up to realise that the people I thought were my friends were not my friends and I was alone and about to be homeless. I was 19 at the time and that was my wake up call to get my fucking shit together. And I did.

But what does ‘having your shit together’ really mean? I have never been totally drug free (as in for more than say a month at a time) and I’ve rarely been able to do them in moderation. Why is it becoming such an issue now? Is it that my brain is finally unable to produce enough chemicals to keep the highs and lows relatively in check? Is it an age thing? A long-term-recreational-user thing (scary thought). I’m older and supposedly wiser but still I do this ultimately because it’s still fun. I’m 33 now. When will it stop being fun? What will be my wake up call this time?

Failed

Well, as much as I was enjoying my nice little run of being ‘(mostly) drug-free and loving it’, I fell off the horse in spectacular fashion on Thursday night and have been beating myself up over it ever since.

Backstory: I went to dinner and a concert with a girlfriend. I had a cocktail and glass of wine over dinner while drinking plenty of sparkling water. I had a can of cider and a bottle of water during the concert. Then my girlfriend went home and I met up with another friend for his birthday. While walking over to meet the birthday crew, I promised myself that I would drink lots of water and go home once the bar they were at closed at 1am. Cue cocktails, drinks and me not wanting to go home. Also, cocaine. Then me getting home sometime after 5am. Goddammit.

The one upside is that I didn’t have to work on Friday but the downside is that I fucking broke my promise to myself and bailed on all the social activities I had planned for the weekend (including a friend’s bday party). Add to this the fact that Friday was spent unable to move from the couch due to extreme nausea (and one turbo-spew containing buffalo mozzarella and raspberries, sorry TMI). I haven’t felt that (physically) bad after a big night in years.

Once upon a time, I used to spend the whole next day vomiting into my friend the big, blue bucket, even if I had no more than one tiny bump of cocaine. Somehow my brain decided that the high of the drug was worth the extreme low of the comedown (go figure). I had a whole bunch of tests to try and figure out what it was when the solution was probably as simple as maybe just stop doing cocaine, as one doctor flat out said to me. Ha. And then, one day, the vomiting-post-coke magically disappeared and I took that as a green light from my body to do as I pleased. Until now.

Maybe this will wake me the fuck up. I HATE feeling nauseous and throwing up. It’s the WORST feeling. I could barely move without feeling sick. I couldn’t eat. I had to beg Jared to bring me some pho so I could sip the broth until my stomach got used to it and I felt brave enough to try solid food. And then of course there’s the crushing depression and disappointment with oneself, which is actually worse. I let people down. I let myself down. I wasted two perfectly good weekend days. Days when I could have been writing or working on my assignments. In fact, I wanted to write but just couldn’t motivate myself to do anything aside from feeling sorry for myself.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Maybe this extreme reaction is a good thing and now, when I think of doing coke, I’ll remember how shit I felt. But then of course there’s MDMA and I’m sure my brain will convince me that throwing up that time was just a one off. Hmmmm… No, I’m going to give myself the benefit of the doubt. I remember how good I felt all week when I wasn’t hungover or coming down and I remember this weekend and how that was exactly the opposite of what I want to feel. I’ll give myself a chance at redemption. Come on, Nat. You can do this.

The aftermath

Last night I went to bed very stressed. On top of being upset that we hadn’t stuck to our decision to have a quiet weekend, I was also worried about Jared being out without me. You see, every time we get high or drunk, we make bad decisions. Mine is usually to have shots and then black out at which point I’m on autopilot and have no idea what I’m doing and no recollection of it the next day (and, as per a few weeks ago, get so drunk I couldn’t find my way home). His is to make out/sleep with other women (the sleeping part has only happened with two girls over the course of one night – it was a very debaucherous night, many drugs were consumed).

We’re poly so, in theory, this is OK. I’ve actually offered for him to be able to see women without me there, an offer which he declined because he says he wants us to do things together. Which I believe but I think maybe he’s also not as comfortable with the flipside of me being able to see people without him there. Regardless, doing things together is the path we’re on at the moment and I’m happy with it. Still, over the course of the last few months, we’ve had a few intensive teaching moments where we’ve come to realise how important it is to discuss every tiny detail of what you are and aren’t ok with if you’re not there. Because if someone has to make an assumption about what they think you’re ok with, there’s a 50/50 chance they’re going to make the wrong decision. Which has definitely happened.

Last night, my wonderful mind was screening HD porn of Jared with known and miscellaneous women. The really fucked up part is that I’m actually super turned on by him being with other women so half of me cracked the popcorn out and the other half was in tears. You see, the problem isn’t him being with other women. The problem is we agreed we would do things together and my brain didn’t believe Jared on drugs would make the right decision, if the opportunity presented itself.

When Jared got home at 2am, we sat up and talked. I told him how scared I was for us that we couldn’t go one weekend without getting drunk or high. I said I was just as guilty because I’d still had a line even though I went home. If I’d had the option, I would’ve stayed out with him. I told him how I worried I was that he would sleep with someone. He assured me he hadn’t and apologised for giving me any reason to think he would do that. We both agreed our drug and alcohol intake needs to be curbed and we made a pact to do something about it.

You see, I honestly believe our problems are drug and alcohol related. Your inhibitions are down. Your judgement is clouded. This is not a problem we ever have when we’re clear headed and sober. Every issue that’s arisen for us, that’s affected the trust we have for one another, has come about because one of us was too drunk or too high to prevent a bad decision. And so, we’re going back to a plan we had mid-last year, which involved waters after every drink, a cap on the number of drinks per hour, no drugs and a reasonable curfew. Basically, the goal is to drink responsibly, stay hydrated and generally avoid drunkenness because, as soon as we’re drunk, we want drugs. And then once we have drugs, we’re not going home until we’ve done them all. Never fails.

And, sure, maybe that plan didn’t work out last time but things also weren’t as bad then as they are now. It scares me that I can’t remember the last weekend where we weren’t drunk or high. There was our weekend away for my birthday in March but that was literally because we didn’t have any drugs. I’m sure if we’d had access to drugs, we would’ve taken them. We still drank a lot. I’m also seeing my therapist again as of the first week of May so I’m hoping that will help.

I know this plan still means we can drink but I’m not willing to totally stop drinking. Life without any alcohol at all seems very fucking bleak. I should be able to be one of those people that can have a few drinks and not spiral into all-night-bender mode (which I can do quite regularly, just not of a weekend it seems). Responsible people like this exist and I should at least give myself the chance to try and be one. And if I really can’t do it, if I can’t find the will power, then, sure, I’ll consider a more drastic route. I actually looked up NA meetings last night and there are plenty around but I’m hoping that’s not a path I have to walk down.

The first time I slept naked

I was at my grandparents’ house the first time I consciously remember choosing to sleep naked. I’m not sure how old I was. I think it was just before I moved back to Jamaica after living in Australia with my aunt and uncle and two cousins for a year. So I was maybe twelve or thirteen.

It was winter time and I’ve always been a fiend for an electric blanket so I cranked the blanket up to three and shed my peejays before getting into bed. The flannel sheets felt like the softest thing I’d ever touched. And it felt so naughty, that anyone could walk in and talk to me and not know that, under the covers, I was totally naked. To this day, climbing into bed nude with freshly shaved legs is one of the greatest feelings on earth. I can only describe it as feeling like you’re not there – that you’re so smooth, naked and hairless that everything just gliiiiiiides over you, not really touching you. It’s delicious.

From then on, I was hooked. Wearing clothes to bed made me feel tangled and uncomfortable. Eventually I would grow to love being naked all the time but that wasn’t until much later, once I got past my teenage self consciousness and poor self esteem. I still sleep naked in summer but not so much in winter time.You see, I’m one of those people that’s always cold. If I stand in a shadow at the height of summer, I’ll feel cold. I’m not even exaggerating (much).

We used to have an electric blanket but one day we found it had burnt a small hole in the material and Jared banned it from the house. I was willing to be more forgiving, after all, it was a very tiny hole and we spotted it early and we didn’t die. I mean, what harm had it really done in the grand scheme of things? Having an electric blanket meant I could sleep naked all year round, which was a plus I was willing to make some sacrifices for. But Jared wouldn’t budge. He kept throwing around words like “safety” and “health hazard”. In the end, I gave up.

So, as you can see, sleeping nude in winter is not going to work for me (damn it, I miss my electric blanket!). But summer time, ohhh yeah. It’s on, baby. Nighties be damned, it’s nudie time.

Maybe monogamy has never been for me

I think I’ve always been non-monogamous.

Jared is my first boyfriend. Ever. We’ve been together ten years but, even so, our relationship has never been truly exclusive. I’ve always had the option to be with other women – maybe not in a relationship but definitely in a sexual manner. Which is a form of non-monogamy even if it’s not totally poly.

Prior to Jared, I had fuck buddies. Many of these lasted for years but always remained non-exclusive and casual. I never asked anyone to see only me and, quite frankly, never really wanted them to. I also never hid the fact that I saw other people, despite it resulting in many a jealous rage or thinly veiled ultimatum. They’d try and tell me I shouldn’t see anyone else but it never went down well. I wasn’t really interested in commitment – at least not with them.

I remember one conversation I had with a guy I’d been seeing for a while. I was getting ready to leave his house after a sleepover and we’d been talking about other girls he slept with (yes, even then – at 19 or 20 – I was turned on by hearing about people I was seeing’s sexcapades). I said something along the lines of hoping he had good sex with these other women and his parting words to me, as I left his house, were that he hoped I didn’t  have good sex with other guys… so I wouldn’t be tempted to stop sleeping with him. What the fuck? How selfish/self-centred/insecure is that?

I don’t know, I just never felt the urge to ‘settle down’ until I met Jared and things literally became so serious that I couldn’t fit anyone else in (he he he). I saw the guy before Jared for maybe a bit over two years. I could tell he was starting to get serious but he was too much of a nice guy to ever say anything. When I broke it off with him to try the boyfriend/girlfriend thing with Jared, he said he’d wanted to do that with me but didn’t want to say anything in case I ran for the hills. Clearly, he spotted my commitment issues but, then again, I never hid them.

I was always fiercely non-committal. I didn’t want anyone to own me. I didn’t want anyone to tame me. I respond very poorly to being told what to do – even when I know I’m probably in the wrong. I could never be with someone that was irrationally jealous or controlling because insecurity is a major turn off for me. I wanted to be free to do as I pleased with whom I pleased until I decided otherwise and, when Jared came along, I made that choice. Although girls quickly came back on the menu (yay!). Still, Jared never tried to stifle any of my wilder qualities. Who knows? After ten years together, perhaps he likes that about me.

And yes, ethical non-monogamy and polyamory aren’t about freedom to do whatever you want when you want it. There are still boundaries and rules – or at least there are in our situation. But to be totally monogamous, totally traditional? No, I can’t imagine that. Yes – there are freedoms I don’t have but I can live without those. The ones I need, I have.

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