The Sex Talk (Part One)
My therapist is insisting that I stay, in a word - a big scary word that I never, ever thought I'd use with regard to myself - celibate. According to her, I have too much to do. Too much else to focus on, what with training to climb mountains and traveling thither and yonder and writing articles and ripping myself open and revealing all the broken bits inside on this blog. Moonlighting at Penn State, too. And trying to take care of my parents, which I haven't done the best, bang-up job of lately. It is a lot.
She wants me to stay away from not only carnal knowledge but also casual dating and, from the sound of it, any unchaperoned visits with anyone between roughly the ages of 16 and 104. She says that if I want a different life, I need to do things differently. Which would be not jumping into bed, a relationship or anything in between with anyone. For I don't know how long.
It's already been too long. The last time I made love was early June. I refuse to look up the exact date because if I do I'll start thinking of that last time and it will begin anew, the sorrow and regret, the guilt and pain. And I'm just starting to be able to take a deep breath without feeling as though my chest is lined with shattered concrete. But, it was Paris. Paris was the last time. It's like a song, isn't it? A scene from a film, or a book. It was damp and chill and dim in our tiny garret, with it's view of Montmatre and, when the fog finally cleared on our last day, the Eiffel Tower. The bed was cold. I don't think we warmed it much. Perhaps I suspected what was coming. Perhaps T knew. Did he know it was our last time? How did he bear it?
I can't write about us right now, not like that. We were extraordinary. All my fire, all his cool. It was the first time I'd ever been entirely monogamous with anyone. It was the first time I wanted to be. I've had so many lovers. I've lost track, lost count, forgotten along the way their names and faces. In the first couple years before T and I committed wholly to each other they were everywhere, such exquisite men. Perfect distractions. Because even though I fought it like hell, all I really wanted was him. And he could never admit all he really wanted was me. Not until I was lost to him, swallowed by Ireland. In the grasp of another lover, a brawling, Black Irish madman who rescued orphaned kittens and old men who had fallen into rivers.
Before then, back when T and I were trying so hard to believe we didn't want to be together, there were the others. The cowboy in Wyoming, 6.5" and massively built, who guided me on horseback through the foothills of the Tetons, pulling me off the animal when the rain came hard and fast, tucking us beneath the branches of an evergreen. He took me across swollen rivers, asking me not to tell anyone - it was dangerous, he said, fording these waters, but he could see by the way my eyes shone even in the grey light that I wanted it. Later, as we lay in bed, the valley spread out below my cabin window, the mountains rising eternal beyond, he showed me scars from his years in rodeo, told me stories about sleeping in the outback, where he was awoken once by the sound of a grizzly snuffling though his camp. I felt tiny under him, enveloped.
There was the half-Sicilian high-fashion photographer in Milano, gorgeous, sleepy-eyed Fabrizio. I met him in a tiny club in the Navigli, saw his eyes follow me as I danced and drank, moist with sweat in the steamy Italian night. We went back to my hotel, playing songs for each other on my laptop - Jeff Buckley, I remember. Hallelujah. He was enormous. That night, fueled by champagne we pulled out of the minibar and coke we bought on the street, seemed endless. I was to attend a matinee at Teatro alla Scala that day. I never made it to the opera, instead laying spent in creased sheets half the day.
And the 19-year-old Swedish-Croatian boy I met in a village I can no longer recall the name of along the Adriatic Sea. There was a carnival that night, a live band playing American rock-n-roll songs in the square. We danced, drunk and giddy and kissing in an open-air club, and I took off my shoes as we walked back to my hotel. We fucked on the lobby bathroom's marble floor, cool against my sun-reddened back. He was sweet. Adorable. He wore braces. We're still friends on Facebook, though I stopped trading messages with him when I moved in with T.
I loved them all, these men, in my fashion. Freely, for a few nights, or a few hours, unbound from worries of past, future or anything at all but desire. I sampled them like the cuisine of the exotic lands through which I rambled. eyes closed in satisfaction, lips wet and gleaming. But in those first months that I lived with T I found myself mourning that we hadn't met earlier in life. Sooner, so we could have more time together. I would have traded them all, all my other lovers for T. And now he's gone. He's branded my heart, seared it black, and left me alone.
And what do I do now? How does a once-wild heart, cruelly tamed and tossed aside, continue on?
Have some advice for me? I'd very much love to hear it. Feel free to comment below or use the email icon above.
8/16/2016 04:10:18 am
I am in awe of you. I really haven't words that I haven't already said about how incredibly amazing you are. I root for a lot of people, but darlin', I'd put my money on you any day. You got this. Holy fuck, you got this.
8/16/2016 08:18:47 am
My friend, Crescent Dragonwagon, wrote these lines following her mother's passing at 98. (I may have even shared them with you following Gunnar's transition.) "Yes, death is part of the deal --- the price tag for love. I don't know if one ever heals or gets over the death of someone really loved, especially when it was sudden... I think more one composts it slowly over time, and eventually their absence and presence blend and merge and become part of the soil from which you grow the person you become..."
8/19/2016 07:39:31 pm
8/16/2016 08:23:00 am
Just when I think I can't love you more, I do. You continue to inspire me. We should all be as brave and vulnerable. I think the world is screaming for honesty. Raw, uncensored honesty. You're lighting the path, Jilly, but my god, I know it's hard. I also know you can do hard things. Keep going...4 feet at a time!
Karen L. Kuhn
8/16/2016 09:47:03 am
Bravo!!! Your honesty and willingness to open yourself up to the whole world proves how truly brave you are!!
8/16/2016 11:04:41 am
I have never met you, all I know is you are Gunnar's sister not sure if your personality is like his or not, but it is in your writing..you have an amazing talent. I hate to read. But you entranced me in your words...wanting more! Keep writing you are brilliant!
8/16/2016 11:23:22 am
Years ago, I went through a break up that crushed my heart and soul. I had been so very tentative to allow myself be vulnerable to someone else, so very terrified by not being in control. There was a certain exquisite beauty in the abandon of letting go (not for) but inspired by him. And then he didn't want me. After everything. And I lay rolled in a ball in bed for what seemed weeks. I remember distinctly my mom coming to check on me, and finally pulling me out of bed like a limp rag doll. She dragged me outside (no small feat for my mom, whom I describe as petite and dainty whereas I am not), locked the door behind me and said out of the bed for 1 hour. Sit in the sunshine for 1 hour. I want nothing more from you but to see you not in the bed for one hour. At the end of that hour, she petted my hair and told me "you survived". Years later, I now know that the crushing pain...and the slogging to recover bit by bit, sometimes minute by minute, I was re-assembling my internal bits into a stronger version, a better version, and a version capable of loving more deeply than I had understood was possible. It also showed me that I had the capacity to love in spite of hurt, in spite of being wronged somehow. And I found there is incredible well of power tucked into that love. Had I not suffered bone crushing hurt, I would not have found that part of me. I like to be in control, I relish feeling powerful. There is a depth and intensity within me that I know is there because the hurt broke everything else wide open. Now, almost 2 decades later, I am still standing. Still loving fiercely, and still trying to put the pieces of me together into the very best result. I guess what I am trying to say is I believe in you, for what it's worth. I can see you shining through all the muck. It's Your willingness to keep moving without clarity on how these pieces will fit back together as the next version of you that is a beautiful thing to witness unfold. Just remember to shine that light of love on yourself too and allow others to remind you, when you forget to tell yourself, that this grit this raw honesty this willingness to be, these have already made you into the beautiful powerful woman-warrior-goddess that you are. You are just working on decrust off old bits, broken and no longer useful, like a snake skin sloughing off, that no longer serve you. Your new day is already here.
8/16/2016 12:18:41 pm
Jill - I am always laid flat with admiration and gratitude, at the depth of honesty, rawness and self that you're willing to expose. Thank you for that.
8/16/2016 03:15:31 pm
Your therapist has a point but I say have some one night stands when you like. It feels good. You need to feel good. I like your sexy sex stories, sister! My favourite subject!
8/16/2016 10:42:58 pm
What your therapist is saying comes down to this: If you want a New Life, you need to focus on YOU. Relationships and sex are a great diversion but they are just that, Diversions. Things that distract you from dealing with YOU.
8/17/2016 09:24:55 pm
Man, oh man. I don't know you. My friend led me to your blog and all I can say is that I'm stunned by your insecurities because of your stunningly, beautiful words. I can't imagine, someone as talented as you, with such glorious tales, could ever doubt herself. And yet I know my favorite artists were all the same. It's a tragic irony. I think you're great. Fabulous even. You come across as warm, adventurous (for sure!) and so made of good stuff. Whenever you doubt yourself or start to fear, remember that. Remember how amazing you are. How you've reached out to others like me who are shy violets....shit, who are hole dwellers. You bring the light and the warmth woman. Thank you.
9/13/2016 09:31:09 am
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3/16/2018 12:23:45 pm
Six weeks after my second son was born in 2009 I embarked on a "Six Month Sex Challenge". At least once a week, we experienced how having scheduled and planned out sex worked through exhaustion, teething, flu season and all the other things that got in the way of great sex with two small children. Here are the twenty things I've learned about having sex after baby.
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Jill Gleeson is a journalist based in the hills of western Pennsylvania. She is a current contributor to The Pioneer Woman, Country Living, Group Travel Leader, Select Traveler, Going on Faith, Wander With Wonder, Enchanted Living and State College Magazine, where her column, Rebooted, is featured monthly. Other clients have included