On my other site this morning, I posted about feeling depleted, needing replenishment. One might imagine that finding some time to get my hands on myself would be one way to do that. Yet, at moments of deep exhaustion, I find it’s harder for me to find my way to orgasm — it’s almost as if my psychic immune system is down at these times, and all the old voices and triggers and fears have more room to rise up inside, wraith-like, as soon as I put my body under the water or snug under the blankets with the vibrator.
Up until a few months ago, the vibrator itself could be a trigger for those old memories — because of the way that it smelled.
When I need a vibrator, I go for the gifts I’ve won at raffles or fundraisers, or I buy the lovely and inexpensive models at my closest Good Vibes. What difference does it make, right? Aren’t they all the same? What I’ve found with those plastic vibes, though, is that they always have that sex-toy smell. Do you know what I’m talking about? Almost every vibrator I’ve ever had smelled like the Doc Johnson model that my stepfather bought and stuck into my Christmas stocking when I was sixteen years old (yes, really, and that’s a story for another time) — and I hated that smell.
Here’s what’s true — that smell is not going to bother everybody. Some of you reading this might not even know what I’m talking about. However, for twenty-some years I’ve been trying to avoid the associations that would rise up for me whenever I got out my vibrator; but how ideal is it, even if it were possible, to disconnect from your olfactory senses during any sort of sex? Isn’t that the exact moment when you want to be open to all your sensory experiences?
A couple of months ago, I went with to the Good Vibes in Berkeley to find a new vibrator. When I was looking at the models, the first thing I did was check the smell. Wait, there were vibrators that didn’t have that sharp plasticky cheap-sex-toy smell? These were the silicone ones. So I checked the price — wait, you want me to pay what for this? I started laughing out loud in shock and embarrassment; this thing was gonna cost about four times what I’d paid for the most expensive vibrator I’d purchased up to that point in my life.
My sweetheart reminded me, this is something you’re going to use several times a week. This is an important part of your sex. Why would you choose to have sex with something that triggered you?
This question hit home hard for me. Oh, right.
What would it mean for me to invest in a toy that didn’t, in its very construction, evoke trauma memory for me? What would it mean to find yet another way to say yes to my sex, to the possibilities of presence?
So I bought the expensive vibrator, the purple one with all these different pulse settings, the one that doesn’t smell like my high school bedroom. So, there’d be some dinners I won’t go out for — do I have to tell you that the trade off is worth it?
I’m still learning to trust that I’m not going to get a noseful of history and trauma every time I pull the toy out from my dresser. Triggers are deeply-groved into our neuronal pathways, and this one is still at the beginning of being retrained. But every time I use this toy to bring pleasure and release and joy and laughter to my body, every time I check and it doesn’t smell like history and shame, that groove gets a little shallower, and my body and desire become that little bit more my own.
Thank you for your presence today. Thank you for your generosity to yourself and your desire. Come again soon, as you so choose.