A tough morning… on going back to therapy

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Welp, I’ve done it. I wrote to my therapist this morning and asked to come back to see her. It’s been about a year since I “graduated”, where we agreed I’m pretty much free of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder and that I could see how I cope on my own without therapy.

Most of it’s been alright but as I alluded to in my last post, things have been getting on top of me lately and I’ve been feeling more vulnerable than usual. I thought I’d be able to muddle on through and get through this rough patch, but this morning after my second wobbly in 10 days (crying and feeling rubbish for hours after what would normally be a very minor trigger) I decided I really need someone to talk to to help turn this boat around before it sets sail to crazyland.

This weekend I got an hour and a half long massage / healing session with a wonderful lady in our area – I’m not a great believer in woo however she read some angel cards prior to the massage session and they were SPOT ON. I think these things speak to our unconscious and in my eyes, it’s all poetry anyways, so it’s not necessary to say whether it is true or isn’t true, if it speaks to you and resonates on an emotional level then go for it – we’re humans with feelings, not machines after all. The masssage was lovely and helped me realise how unbalanced my posture is from so many hours of having a heavy guitar strap hanging around my neck, from playing violin with my head tilted to one side, and from carrying bags around town. So, physically, I’m feeling much better, though sadly still quite emotionally vulnerable.

This morning hubby was in a bit of a grouchy mood. He is essentially the complete opposite of me – whilst I’m emotional, mercurial, extremely sensitive and empathetic, change my mind all the time and involved in 10,000 things, he is stable, likes routine, bluntly honest, factual, and recovers quickly from setbacks. He’ll flare up very rarely and his mood is fine 2 minutes later. My bad moods however keep reverberating for hours at increasing intensities like a choir that keeps adding more voices and dominates my entire consciousness.

So this morning, when he was grouchy and grumbling about certain small, fixable things, I was left feeling extremely triggered. I hate parting ways in a bad mood and yet when he left to catch his train, we were still on the subject with no time to resolve things. So here I am, feeling vulnerable, alone, unappreciated (I’m not – it’s my brain telling me that I know), misunderstood (probably true – as my husband has symptoms of aspergers / high functioning autism we do tend to misunderstand each other a lot), and with an achey loneliness in my chest.

So back to my DBT skills….

  • Self soothing – do something nice for myself (I’m getting a facial tomorrow – not so good for the bank balance but hey ho!)
  • Distract – change the mood by doing something opposite. Well, unfortunately I’ve got to knuckle under with my final uni assignment today but at least that will be a distraction
  • Radically accept what we can’t change – for example, I can’t change my husbands personality, I can only change myself. Therefore, given that I love him and want to stay in a relationship with him, I need to radically accept that he is blunt, that he will say stuff that comes out wrong, and most importantly, balance this with wise mind – knowing that he does love me, and he doesn’t mean to hurt me.

I’m still waiting to hear back from my therapist to find out when we can have a session, but in the meantime I’ll be doing lots of meditation, self care, trying to ease back on stressful obligations, and hopefully getting myself into more of a chill zone (whilst completing this blasted uni essay – argh!). Well, nearly there…. uni is done in May so the home stretch is in sight, I just need to hold it together for a few more weeks…..

 

 

 

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The importance of self care

It’s been a stressful time over in Jane Lane land lately.

My life has been up and down like the stripes in a rocky road ice cream. Recently, I’ve had two really good years after I changed jobs to one that lets me work from home and where my coworkers are not arrogant dickheads. However these last few months I’ve had a bit of a blip – feeling depressed, teary and losing control of my emotions again. It’s disappointing to feel like I’m backsliding after so long in recovery, not to mention the massive investment and successful graduation from therapy.

Objectively, Nothing with a capital N is wrong in my life at the moment (don’t you think it’s even more frustrating sometimes when that is the case and you still feel down??!). I’ve got a good job, relationship is good, living situation is good, cats are fine, friends and social life is busy, hobbies keeping me occupied…. why am I losing my grip?

And then I realised it’s because even with all the good stuff going on, sometimes it’s just TOO MUCH. Too much socialising, too much ‘fun’ stuff to do, to much work (even if it’s successful). Too many obligations. Literally zero time to relax and think about nothing and feel like I’m ok to just exist rather than work my way through a massive to-do list.

I also realised I’ve been slipping massively on my self-care.

Anyone who has gone through Dialectical Behavioural Therapy will be familiar with the PLEASE MASTER skills for reducing vulnerability to negative emotions. They are:

  • Treat PhysicaL illness
  • Balance Eating
  • Avoid mood-Altering drugs
  • Balance Sleep
  • Get Exercise
  • Build MASTERY

So far, out of that list I’m only doing the last one – I’m pleased that I do generally master and accomplish a number of different things, be they work related, creative or academic projects. However everything else has gone out the window – I’m constantly physically ill from stress and lack of sleep, my eating is erratic because I forget or feel too much of a knot in my stomach from stress to eat normal meals, I’m back on the booze after a happy and successful year of giving it up, not to mention smoking up a storm, and I’ve gone from being an everyday gym bunny to cancelling my membership in January and doing ZERO exercise (because I’m too stressed). So this unvirtuous circle of self-non-care feeds into itself and leads to me feeling more shit, less able to cope, less able to eat / sleep / exercise well, etc.

So what to do about it?

Well yesterday I went back to the buddhist centre for meditation class. I’ve gone on and off of it because at times I’ve found that when I meditate too much, I lose my drive and ambition to do anything (probably because I’m not good at doing anything in moderation – even meditation!). However a bit of balance would be welcome now, hence embracing the zen zone and the do-nothingness of meditation. I felt much better after that, and I’m going to try and get in the habit of practicing on my own on a daily basis, even if only for 10 min.

I’m trying to be responsible with food and stop enforcing my funny food preferences, instead listening to what my body tells me it wants to eat. Today it was a ham and cheese sandwich with lots of mustard and gherkins, plus some salt and vinegar crisps. Normally the nutritionist voice in my head would go ‘noooo, you can’t eat crisps! bread is too fattening!’ but that voice is having to just stuff it – my body knows better and I’m trying to get back in touch with that instead of letting my mind overrule that. I’m trying to stop taking klonazepam every night to help me sleep – I was getting so used to it that it wasn’t working anyway despite increasing doses, and I was waking up at 4AM every morning – annoying! At least now, if I’m tired, it’ll be natural tiredness rather than a weird drugged out yet sleepless grogginess.

I’ve yet to tackle the exercise portion of my self-care plan but that’s truly because there are not enough hours in the day, plus having heart palpitations from stress is hardly conducive to wanting to go out for a run. My plans are to start doing yoga or something similarly calming once I finish my uni final assignment at the end of this month. In the meantime, I’ve booked myself in for a holistic full body massage with a masseuse who sounds super understanding and knowledgeable – hopefully this will help me recover from all the stress and pressure I’m carrying around in my body.

I haven’t given up the booze yet either but I’m thinking about it – however I have stopped the smoking as of 5 days ago, so hurrah for that. Already it’s helping me sleep better without having the stimulant nicotine coursing through my system all night long.

That’s all from me peeps – I’ll report back to share how it’s going. After all writing is also part of my self-care plan, so long as it’s no pressure, it helps to put stuff out there and get thoughts out of my head and into the air, plus a bit of encouragement as I try to make positive changes….

Wishing you all lots of strength and peace,

Jane Lane x

 

 

Sex worker interview for #notyourrescueproject

Iris quote

Hey.

I’m back again for one of my very sporadic postings. I’ve missed you guys – have you missed me?

A long while ago, I contributed to an article called #notyourrescueproject by Melbourne journalist Nu Tran. I thought you guys might be interested in the full transcript of my interview, excerpts of which were published in Archer Magazine, Australia’s journal of sexual diversity.

It was hard going writing it but reading it back it’s just as real as the day I went through all of these things. I hope it helps others who can relate. Give me a holla back if so, it always means the world to hear what you think.

Here goes…..

What were your experiences as a sex worker and why were they damaging?

I went into stripping when I was 18. It was a fully nude lap dancing club. When I started I thought I was doing something very positive – I’d been reading a lot of Carole King, Annie Sprinkle, etc. I was in recovery from severe anorexia nervosa (hospitalised 5 times) and felt this was a way of connecting with an honouring my body rather than destroying it. I had also been raped when I was 16, and had left home as soon as I turned 18 with almost no money apart from my little sister’s savings ($600 – thank you!) to escape what had been a very unhappy living situation. In short, I was a disaster waiting to happen. I was grasping at whatever straws I could to try and put together a healthy self, and sex work was one of those things that I did to try and better my circumstances.

At first it seemed great – it was a quick hit of self esteem – WOW these people want me. Being worshipped is a wonderful feeling. I was validated, I was worth something, I was wanted. I felt like a goddess. It can be very addictive.

I also thought I was taking control – still deeply scarred by the experience of rape, I thought if I could control my sexuality, control what men could and couldn’t take, that that equalled recovery.

I felt powerful in a way, though looking back, feeling powerful while dependent on the other person’s mercy, and tips, for rent, seems an oxymoron.

I am really glad for people who have had positive experiences – truly. I think I was too vulnerable, and that even for a healthy person, it can be easy to get sucked into the addictiveness of the high of being wanted and the easy money.

I can’t put my finger on when it all started to go bad – I would say rather that my personality morphed over time. When I met my husband at the time I was still stripping, and he would say that I would come out of there completely blank looking, like a zombie. I felt wiped, and worn out, and I didn’t realise the extent of it at the time. I was dissociating during work – where things would happen to me, and it was like I was watching them from above, like when you hear people describe near death experiences – that. I became truly disconnected from my body. I was splitting off.

Some of the girls there said that sex like their boyfriends started to feel like work – and that’s not surprising, after spending 8 hours with your legs up in the air exposing your naked self in various positions simulating sex, then when you come to do the real thing, it feels like yet again another performance. I almost got the opposite effect – I became hypersexual – losing the boundary people have between fantasy and reality. I found it increasingly hard to operate in the ‘real’ world where I wasn’t supposed to grind on anyone’s lap and rub my bare tits in their face as soon as they showed an interest. Straddling 2 very different worlds.

To summarise I think it was most harmful in 2 ways:

1)     I started to see myself as valuable to the extent I was sexual. I came to see myself more and more like just a walking pussy, that my sole worth was as a sexual being. One of the men that I knew from the club said he had to stop going because it was changing the way he saw women – like they were only for his pleasure. Inevitably, the customers’ views like that rubbed off on me and were internalised. In a way it was like Stockholm syndrome, in that I loved being sexual, loved being wanted, loved the power hit, and even in a way felt more enlightened or opened than other people. Looking back, I was deeply cut off from the rest of my self.

2)     The non-consensual stuff that occurred in the club also served to further damage my views of men and my feelings of lacking autonomy. I am a small girl – easy for someone to pick up, pin down, move about as they please. Much as I tried to be in control, every day was like a series of mini-assaults – being fingered against my will, trying to pry off hands, mouths, and then eventually over a period of weeks, months, losing the will to fight and just relenting to some of the things that happened. The boundary of what was acceptable kept moving, the line being erased with each episode of micro- aggression against my bodily integrity. Being treated like my wishes don’t matter, my will is irrelevant… this was harmful to the core of my being. I had had my power stripped away from me before and here it was happening again, every day – putting my head in the mouth of the tiger. Not all people were bad – and if it had just been the good clients, who operate within the set boundaries of the relationship, then truly I feel it would have been a positive thing. Some people were respectful and lovely, this is not about them. Some people took liberties with me, just because I was there – as if because I had chosen this lifestyle, I had lost my right to say no.

How you got out of it? 

I got out of it quickly, and almost on a whim – I had a lucky escape. I met my husband. He had never ever been to a sex worker or a strip club. When he found out about my career, he cried for me. We fell in love with each other quickly, and deeply, and are still happily together 10 years later. Did he want to save me? Sure. And looking back, I’m glad he did.

I continued stripping while dating him, and that was certainly challenging – the type of work was not at all suitable to having a monogamous relationship. As soon as we got married, I went back to the club for one last time, walked in, pulled all my stripper clothes, clear plastic shoes with the flashing lights, etc out of the locker and walked straight out.

Did we struggle for money – sure!! We had fuck all money for ages. I remember when I was stripping, we used to go out for fancy dinners all the time. I used to say that I never wanted to be poor.

Afterwards, we had so little we would eat ramen noodles for weeks on end. The very thing I had dreaded, and said I would never do – and you know what, we were so so happy, and in love. Money doesn’t equal empowerment or love or happiness.

I’m very lucky now that I have been able to build up a career. We moved away. I started fresh. I was able to work my way up. I started my ‘clean’ life with very little money and a very basic office job. I worked my tits off (haha) and have been promoted several times, and now we are doing well for money. I’ve done well based on my intellectual contributions and hard work, not my sexuality. We are buying a house – something I never dreamed we would be able to do. I have discovered my worth outside of being someone to be fucked/wanked over/touched etc.

What actions are you taking to recover from the life you led?

I still suffer from flashbacks of sexual assault. They affect me deeply physically and mentally – when I get sucked in, it feels like being trapped in a sauna with no air – like being in a hot cave that is filling up with water and I can’t breathe… It has harmed my view of men. I have no doubt that if I had stayed in that lifestyle I would have become a lesbian on principle – there was a general atmosphere of disdain for men in that club. I don’t think it was respectful to either gender.
I am still undergoing therapy – Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and Schema therapy to be precise. My therapist is brilliant. I am understanding how people who have been traumatised – such as those who have been raped, continue to replay the abuse scenario, even years afterwards. I wonder how much of my risk taking was my mind trying to heal from what had happened by replaying it and trying to correct it – like a criminal returning to the scene of the crime. Unfortunately each time, I opened my wounds more and deeper.

I am truly happy now. Still very damaged, still suffering from the after effects, but at last feeling more whole and healing.

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What happens to sex workers when they integrate with the real world?

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Whoa it’s been AGES since I’ve posted. Sorry, sorry, my adoring public. I’ve been going through some life changing things – things that are really positive but have actually turned out to be quite stressful – like buying my first house, getting a mega promotion, realising I am now middle class because I buy things like organic veg boxes and eat foods like chard…. All of this has led to me having some sort of weird identity crisis-quasi breakdown for the last 2+ months.

Fun fun fun.

It’s baffling, having a self-identity that constantly reminds you that you’re not like everyone else – you’re an ex-stripper, ex-meth addict, sectioned 5 times mental patient / anorexic high school dropout… working in a senior position in a large company run by middle aged private school educated, extremely clever, sometimes inspiringly so, sometimes patronisingly so, middle aged men.

I wonder if the reason I’ve been promoted 4 times is because I’ve got a good ass and I wear smokey bedtime eyeliner even at 8AM and I look innocent enough because I’m still so young, but there’s always that raw edge that keeps slipping out….. But I know it’s because I work longer hours than anyone in the office, I’m pretty smart for a high-school dropout and more than anything, even though I’m not THE smartest by a longshot, I am the most determined. That, and I’m pretty, and have a good ass. Hey. I believe in being resourceful, and if that means dressing in tight skirts, so be it.

Anyways I have like a proper job and shit now which means I have to present things to the CEO and these things are really quite fucking strange because I always have in the back of my mind, whenever someone asks “So, what did you do before this?”…. I have to get my self-censor controls into gear so I don’t blurt out I WAS A STRIPPER AND I DID METH OH AND I ALSO TRIED ANOREXIA FOR A FEW YEARS BUT THE FEEDING TUBES IN THE HOSPITAL GAVE ME A NOSEBLEED OH AND MY DAD CHEATED ON MY MUM AND HE RAN AWAY AND THE POLICE WENT LOOKING FOR HIM AND FOUND HIM AT THE AIRPORT AND ALL THESE YEARS LATER I DON’T KNOW WHAT STABILITY IS, HOW ARE YOU?……. because really what they want to talk about is pleasantries and holidays to Australia and ‘what did you study at uni’ and I find it baffling and infuriating trying to bond with their frankly, quite foreign, normal lives.

I feel like an alien stripper who dresses up every morning in office clothes like it’s some sort of burlesque. I don’t know if i will ever feel like I belong, or like I am good enough, or that I can trust I will be safe and that the house will still be there and the husband will still be there and all the good stuff doesn’t always disappear.

Life’s been pretty damn good to me lately, but it’s so unfamiliar, when all you know is crazy-ass bullshit, safety feels pretty fucking dangerous. Because when you’re a ravenous animal on the prowl, you’ll do whatever you can to survive, hypervigilant. Nothing can touch you because you will do anything to survive. But when well-fed, this same animal is thinking – don’t rest, don’t relax – danger is just around the corner… but being well-fed makes you feel so comfortable, so sleepy even, you might just relax and accidentally enjoy it for a bit without worrying…. until you startle awake at 4AM, panic again. The tiger is awake.

What Do Sex Workers Really Think Of Their Clients?

Here is a guest post I wrote for http://thoughtsofapunter.wordpress.com/

Check out Punter’s blog for thought provoking discussions from the perspective of a decent person who is a regular customer of sex workers – not mutually exclusive conditions!

Without further ado, here is the blog I wrote for Punter, which was inspired by his question “what sex workers think of their clients?”. As a disclaimer, before you read on, please note that I do think it’s possible to be critical of sex work without going to extremes and wanting to ban, criminalise, shame, judge or otherwise discriminate against the participants on either side. It’s not all rosy but neither is life x

What do sex workers really think of our clients?

Me, Jane. Rewind a few years, I’m a stripper. Fully nude lap dancing club, sex shows at night. Raunchy stuff. None of your burlesque or pretence at beinga glamorous pursuit. It was sex work, we were girls who would take off all our clothes for you, rub on you, do shows to turn you on.

You, the men. Not any men, but customers. You were in a different category – I’d compartmentalise how I dealt with you, how I felt about you. Normal men in our lives, ‘civilians’, were different, not like you.

The girlfriend experience – some of you fell for my act, believed in it hard. Being a sex worker is really being an actress – pretending that I find you interesting, that I like you. Flirting, sitting on your lap, teasing you. Making up stories about my life so you feel like you know me – lies, lies, lies,all to help me keep the distance in my head and stop me from going crazy. Separate civilian life and sex work – splitting into two. They never knew me, though it’s amazing how some of them really fell for the facade to the point of delusion.

George, the foot fetishist, dumped his girlfriend for me. He turned up on the street where I lived in a different town to give me a gift of poems, music, sweets. Following me down the street, calling out my stripper name – expecting me to act the same, to be happy to see him.

Stephen, another customer, was convinced Lisa had a thing for him. She, would rub herself on him so furiously like her mission was to make him cum, teasing him with her silky long black hair. He confided in me that he really had a crush and wanted to ask her out, she seemed to enjoy it so much. Lisa was a lesbian. Lisa didn’t like men, and certainly didn’t like him, nor did many of the girls at the club. One time this young guy, not bad looking, starts asking me in the middle of a lap dance – do you ever get turned on? Me, rubbing on his hard penis, can feel his shape completely even through his trousers…. I responded, honestly and without even thinking – No, it’s a job, I never get turned on, this is work. How easily we pretend, and how easily you want to believe.

I see it as slightly dehumanising on both sides – we see you as walking £££ and I imagine you see us as something to get off to or with. And I didn’t want intimacy, that’s why I picked that line of work – I wanted clean lines between sex, money and love. Take it for what it is – a transaction. You give us money, and in return we give you our bodies. Don’t take more than is freely given. Don’t coerce, or push, or take without asking. Basically, don’t be a dick, be generous if you can but no matter how much you give, don’t feel entitled to break the rules and try not to delude yourself. Don’t be a dick, and we might be able to retain some hope in humanity.

via What Do Sex Workers Really Think Of Their Clients?.

What is prostitution? Thoughts / debate encouraged

The Oxford dictionary says prostitution is “The practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment.”

So I think we can all agree that engaging in sexual intercourse for money falls under that category.

Sexual activity is quite broad though… for example, one of my regular clients at the strip club had a foot fetish. He would pay for lap dances in the private booths, where he would enjoy taking off my boots, covering my feet in whipped cream, and licking it off. For him, that was undoubtedly sexual. Was it prostitution?

What if during the course of other lap dances, I would allow clients to touch me (breaking the sacred no touching rule) – was that prostitution?

What if I let them put their mouths on me? Go down on me?

What if I gave a lap dance to a couple, and I would kiss and touch the woman, but wouldn’t let the man kiss me – prostitution?

What if I gave a lap dance to a girl, and consensually, allowed HER to give me a lap dance and play with my nipples, tease them with lips and her teeth… even if I liked her, was that prostitution? She did pay, right?

What if I rub my naked self so furiously on a man’s crotch during a lap dance, and rub my tits in his face just right, to the point where he comes in his pants… is that…?

Where is the turning point – does the client have to come? What kind of sexual activity falls under the umbrella of prostitution?

Thoughts??

 

Who’s doing it to whom?

Japanese business man
Another typical day shift
Bored office worker on lunch break

I rub up and down against his cock
Straddling him, my bare pussy against his black suit

He’s incessant
I need more hands
I feel like an octopus trying to wriggle out from his grasp

Prying his hands off my tits where he is suckling
They latch back on, hungry
NO
STOP.

My hands pushing him away like a wall
Once more once more he pleads
Begging eyes looking up from mouth still licking my nipple
Me, exhasperated
… ok – ONCE more

And as this smartly suited man suckles on my tit
I stop pushing him away and I carry on grinding against him with my bare pussy

My body betrays me
I don’t want it but
I come.