Sunday, February 17, 2013

Starvation Economy: My Little Zero-Sum World

Getting over past fears of starvation can be one of the biggest challenges of ethical sluthood. It requires an enormous leap of faith: you have to let go of some of what feels like yours, trusting that it will be replaced in abundance by a general world…Especially in the beginning, letting go of starvation economies can feel a lot like flying on a trapeze: you have to let go of the security you already have, trusting that at the end of the leap there will always be something else to catch you.” The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy
When Ellen first raised the idea of her having sex with others, my libido was low, I didn’t feel interested in sex, but we were living under one roof in Africa and together most of the time, albeit along with children, dog, cat, and various household staff (the housekeeper, the gardener, the security guards that expats typically have in Africa). I agreed to Ellen playing with others because I knew I wasn’t meeting her needs, but also because I felt safe and secure within our home and our relationship, even if that relationship was less than optimal. Sure, we had issues, but we also had the security and confidence to know that we remained committed to each other in a solid marriage.
Then we were apart, for months at a time, after Ellen and our sons and pets moved home to the US. That was all part of our plan—after more than 6 years living abroad we were going home for a bit, but I wasn’t finished with my job. It was during this long physical separation that Ellen began rediscovering herself, out of my shadow and away from my influence and the inhibitions I unwittingly bring out in her. She felt strong enough to ask once again whether I was serious about an open relationship, and again, I enthusiastically said yes—after all, the idea had been titillating us for years.
Over the course of the last five months, ever since Ellen went to her first sex club and met Ron and Nora, I have spiraled down from enthusiastic support and encouragement into uncertainty, insecurity, fear, bouts of insomnia and jealousy, and moments of outright panic. I have been impotent, unable sometimes to get erect even to masturbate, unable at times to respond to Ellen’s patient oral ministrations during those weeks we’ve been together. Unable to do much during my first outing to the club alone.
On New Year’s Eve at the club, my short fuck with Ellen ended with me semi-soft and Ellen unsatisfied and worried. Later that night, having been invited by Mark’s beautiful sexy partner to join in my first ever Gang Bang, when I was on the sidelines uncertain whether to try and join, she looked up from the dog pile of naked writhing bodies and pointed at me, making it clear she wanted me. So gamely I dove in and soon was I lapping and fingering her delicious cunt to her evident enjoyment, but when she tried to get me hard with a lovely warm blow job I stayed as droopy and soft as a limp banana peel. After a while she gave up and moved on to someone else for a good fucking. I was chagrined and shaken. Again.
My entire world has been rocked. Although my interest in sex has increased enormously, along with my desire for Ellen and interest in playing with others, my self-confidence and self-image has taken a huge beating. Even as Ellen has become more outgoing, happier, and sexier, I have drawn inward, struggling to contain thoughts and fears that have at times overwhelmed me. I have questioned the very fundamentals of our commitment to each other, of my own assumptions about who I am and what I believe, and I have found myself falling far short of who I thought I could be. I have both envied and resented the time Ellen has spent going solo, starved for connection with her, especially on those occasions when I was home and she went on her own to a club. Starved. As if any pleasure she took with others was stolen from us, from me. As if her pleasure came at the expense of my own. The more she fucked, the more impotent I became. My little zero-sum world.
This at a time when I should be reveling in Ellen’s discoveries, her enormous multi-orgasmic smorgasbord of pleasure. When I first started this blog, I confidently titled it Compersive Times, in the na├»ve and arrogant belief that I was perfectly prepared to relish Ellen’s fun from a distance. While I was still in Africa after having been home for a visit over Halloween, I shared the fact of our open relationship with a friend over beers—his wife was hot, and I knew Ellen liked them both—hoping that maybe they would be open to a threesome. Unfortunately it became clear that they were monogamous, or at least he was (Ellen had seen his wife in very compromising circumstances with another man). But he was intrigued about the lifestyle and asked me how we dealt with jealousy. I smiled, and confidently said, “I think I burned out my jealousy circuits a long time ago.” Oh what self-deluding fools we can be!
I hit my low point the night after Ellen returned from her solo trip in January (which she has described with wonderfully hot details in her recent Blissfully Open blog). Somehow I had known that she had fucked the morning after, and when she finally got home that evening and told me a little bit of the evening and hinted that it was also a fun morning, the green-eyed beast began to gnaw at me. I need to know, and I want to know the details of her play, because only then can I fill the blank spaces with reality instead of dark and fantastical fictions that populate my sleepless nights. But the truth and the details are also hard, because they force me to confront my envy, my sense of exclusion and missing out, in my little zero-sum world.
I think I’m getting better. I’m working hard at it. I am taking supplements that are good for the prostate, that increase blood flow to the penis, and that are just good for health. I am exercising my PC muscles and I am masturbating as often as I can, though still unable to carve out the time and emotional space for my once-a-day goal.
Buying a strap-on dildo for a Valentine’s Day gift to us both was a big step for me. It was both an acknowledgement that I had a problem, and a declaration that, one way or another, I still wanted to fuck Ellen. When I bought it, the sales woman was a tall tattooed beauty with whom I was perfectly comfortable discussing the merits of one type of harness over another and which dildo would be appropriate. That was fun. I would love to fuck her!
I do like this lifestyle. I do want to play with other women. I do want Ellen to enjoy her body and the bodies of others. I do want to revel in compersive joy at her carefree fucking.
This weekend, Ellen is out for two nights and two days of fun. I’m back in Africa, this time another country, on a three-week trip. We have written long and very honest emails to each other. In some of my words to Ellen, I have shaken her without intending to, but I have also learned how important it is for me to be able to ask for what I need and to say what I feel, with as much kindness and compassion as possible, trusting that I won’t be misunderstood. And she has done the same, helping me understand just how much she is needing the relationships and support of her new friends with benefits.
Yesterday, I began rereading her blog postings over and over again, seeking the new normal that I crave, seeking to rekindle the compersive and to confront the worst fears and dark emotions. I am reading books that help me understand that what I am going through is not unique, is not a personal failing, but indeed is extremely common in these lifestyles. I am learning that I am not alone, that many other people have traveled this same dark passage and emerged stronger, happier, healthier, and able to love bigger and better than ever. Intellectually I know this is not a zero-sum life.
Every time my demons started to whisper this weekend I have refused to shrink away but instead face them full on and stare them down. I think of the joy and pleasure Ellen is having right now, the way her body shakes and her hips thrust and her moans escalate in ecstacy. And I look past my demons and their whispered lies, tell them to fuck off, take a deep breath, and gaze into my mind's eye and see her rapture. And I feel happy for her and hopeful of myself and renewed confidence in us. It isn’t as easy as I'd like, but today it isn't as difficult as it's been.
And so it goes.

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