This month, I am once again participating in the Feb-YOU-ary challenge with the wonderful Loyobo community. The activity for Day 10 was to show yourself love through physical intimacy with your own body. Such an activity is especially meaningful to me due my personal background and life experiences. I share them here in the hopes of inspiring others to more open conversation around such topics.
I was a late bloomer when it came to exploring my sexuality; though I heard all through high school that “99% of boys masturbate and the rest are liars”, I was certainly NOT doing so. Part of this was practical (I shared a room with my younger brother, the practice in our house was to sleep with doors open, etc.), and part of this was shame and fear based (ie. I will lose total control of myself if I indulge in my sexuality; my body is untrustworthy; I am more than my body, my mind is superior and can overrule my body with enough force of will). So it was that I only started exploring masturbation/self-stimulation when I was in university.
As someone on the autism spectrum, developmental milestones have oft-been delayed–or arrived at in different order than society dictates as the norm. As such, I am a 31 year old virgin, whose never even kissed someone, and only gone on a handful of dates–but even in my high school years, with my four closest friends (who at the time all identified as female), we had a weird sense of boundaries. We went naked hot-tubbing, skinny dipping in the lake, and played strip poker; they tried to give me life lessons like how to unclasp bras, and dragged me protesting into La Senza with them; and I sat through (and participated, as much as I was able) through conversations of relationships and sexuality–we read Cosmopolitan articles, talked openly about menstruation, erections, and the differing experiences we had as male and female teens growing up rurally in the early ‘aughts. So in some ways I’ve had experiences many men can only dream of; in other ways, I’m woefully behind pretty much everyone my age.
My Present Practice:
These days, I have embraced masturbation/self-stimulation/solo sex as an excellent self-care tool. In my early research on the subject (because of course I researched before actually acting on it!), I learned that the UK actually had a health campaign slogan for several years back: “An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away”. While I certainly don’t aim for every day, and recognize the problems of an orgasm as the sole acceptable end result of self-stimulation, I did take to heart the basic message: that sexuality and solo sex were both desirable and healthy.
I maintain a regular practice for a few main reasons:
-ensuring a regular practice of solo sex/self-stimulation really helps reduce my anxiety/depression, at least temporarily
-given some of the medications (ie. antidepressants) I’m on and my high blood sugar levels, solo sex/self-stimulation is useful as an early warning system. If problems with my circulatory system were to arise for example, then this would be a way to catch it early and take corrective action before such issues became chronic.
-as someone who deeply desires a romantic relationship with a life partner and 1-3 kids in my future, and as someone who despite that being a long-standing desire has yet to have a chance at such a thing, solo sex/self-stimulation is both a tool and an investment. A tool to assist with my current loneliness and an investment so that I know and am comfortable with my own body.
On Non-Sexual Self-Touch
This past year I started a regular qigong practice, and I have to confess I did not expect some of the difficulties I would have to confront. Qigong requires an unexpected degree of non-sexual self-touch designed to smooth and open the channels and to increase and ease the flow of chi through the body. This was somewhat uncomfortable for me at first, but in confronting that discomfort, I found that it was actually quite a powerful experience–there remains a discomfort at times, so I know I need to explore this further. I thought it worth mentioning however, as self-touch is a powerful practice that we certainly don’t integrate enough into our daily lives.