thesessions   3

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John Hawkes is amazing, and William H Mary is hilarious; what a wonderfully enlightening story
TheSessions  GetGlue  from twitter
march 2013 by thepha
on seeing a sex surrogate - mark o'brien
The surrogates did not look like my stereotypes of hookers: no heavy make-up, no spray-on jeans. The female surrogate was a registered nurse with a master’s in social work. The male surrogate, looking comfortable in his business suit, worked with gay and bisexual men. The surrogates emphasized that they deal mostly with a client’s poor self-image and lack of self-esteem, not just the act of sex itself. Surrogates are trained in the psychology and physiology of sex so they can help people resolve serious sexual difficulties. They aren’t hired directly, but through a client’s therapist. Well aware of the likelihood that a client could fall in love with them, they set a limit of six to eight sessions. They maintain a professional relationship by addressing a specific sexual dysfunction; they aren’t interested in just providing pleasure, but in bringing about needed changes. As I learned more about surrogates, I began to think that perhaps a surrogate could help someone even as screwed-up and disabled as me.

[...]

Doing that now seemed less scary. Because of our talk, I had started to believe that my sexual desires were legitimate, that I could take charge of my sexuality and cease thinking of it as something alien.

When Sondra returned from vacation, she told me that she had a message from Susan on her answering machine. She asked why I had seen another therapist without informing her. Sondra seemed curious, not angry as I feared she might be — actually, as I feared my parents would have. I said that I wasn’t sure why I went to see Susan, but that I had felt odd discussing surrogates with Sondra, because she seemed to me to be so much like’my idealized mother-figure.

Meanwhile, I searched for advice from nearly everyone I knew. One friend told me in a letter to go ahead and “get laid.” Father Mike — a young, bearded priest from the neighborhood Catholic church — told me Jesus was never big on rules, that he often broke the rules out of compassion. No one advised me against seeing a surrogate, but everyone told me I would have to make my own decision.

Frustrated by my inability to get The Answer, a blinding flash that would resolve all my doubts and melt my indecision, I brooded. Why do rehabilitation hospitals teach disabled people how to sew wallets and cook from a wheelchair but not deal with a person’s damaged self-image? Why don’t these hospitals teach disabled people how to love and be loved through sex, or how to love our unusual bodies? I fantasized running a hospital that allowed patients the chance to see a surrogate, and that offered hope for a future richer than daytime TV, chess, and wheelchair basketball. But that was my dream of what I would do for others. What would I do for me?

What if I ever did meet someone who wanted to make love with me? Wouldn’t I feel more secure if I had already had some sexual experience? I knew I could change my perception of myself as a bumbling, indecisive clod, not just by having sex with someone, but by taking charge of my life and trusting myself enough to make decisions. One day, I finally said to Sondra I was ready to see a surrogate.

[...]

After that, we talked a while. I told her about a woven Guatemalan bracelet a friend had given me for this occasion. She asked me whether I had any cologne; I said I did, but that I never wore it. That we could be talking about such mundane matters right after an intense sexual experience seemed strange at first. Another lesson learned: sex is a part of ordinary living, not an activity reserved for gods, goddesses, and rock stars. I realized that it could become a part of my life if I fought against my self-hatred and pessimism.

[...]

I wonder whether seeing Cheryl was worth it, not in terms of the money but in hopes raised and never fulfilled. I blame neither Cheryl nor myself for this feeling of letdown. Our culture values youth, health, and good looks, along with instant solutions. If I had received intensive psychotherapy from the time I got polio to the present, would I have needed to see a sex surrogate? Would I have resisted accepting the cultural standards of beauty and physical perfection? Would I have fallen into the more familiar pattern of flirting, dating, and making out which seems so common among people who have been disabled during or after adolescence?

One thing I did learn was that intercourse is not an expression of male aggression, but a gentle, mutually playful experience. But has that knowledge come too late?

Where do I go from here? People have suggested several steps I could take. I could hire prostitutes, advertise in the personals, or sign up for a dating service. None of these appeal to me. Hiring a prostitute implies that I cannot be loved, body and soul, just body or soul. I would be treated as a body in need of some impersonal, professional service — which is what I’ve always gotten, though in a different form, from nurses and attendants. Sex for the sake of sex alone has little appeal to me because it seems like a ceremony whose meaning has been forgotten.

[...]

Which brings up the question – what do I seek? I don’t know. Someone who likes me and loves me and who will promise to protect me from all the self-hating parts of myself? An all-purpose lover-mommy-attendant to care for all my physical and emotional needs? What one friend calls a “shapely savior” — a being so perfect that she can rescue me from the horror that has been imposed upon me and the horror I’vee imposed upon myself? Why bother? I ask myself. I don’t. Not anymore.

Which leaves me where I was before I saw Cheryl. I’ve met a few women nearly as wonderful as Tracy, but they haven’t expressed any romantic interest in me. I feel no enthusiasm for the seemingly doomed project of pursuing women. My desire to love and be loved sexually is equalled by my isolation and my fear of breaking out of it. The fear is two-fold. I fear getting nothing but rejections. But I also fear being accepted and loved. For this latter happens, I will curse myself for all the time and life that I have wasted.
sex  sexuality  disability  positivity  writing  inspiration  selfimage  thesessions  film  mikeobrien 
january 2013 by sharedjeans

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