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Life, Love, and Losing My Sex Drive

How grief has affected my relationship with sex.

Photo: Claudia Soraya via Unsplash

Death does not bring out my sex diva.

A few weeks ago I lost my 17-year-old chihuahua, whom we called The Mama. I stayed up for 10 days straight hoping she could live on sugar water, because she had stopped eating. Lying with my dying dog on my chest while listening to the knocking headboard of my upstairs neighbor bedding yet another chick really brought my life into question.

Grief is the worst kind of heartbreak. It tricks you. My mom always says that grief is like an ocean of pain, with high tides and low, but it stays with you, and one clear day you get caught unexpectedly in the undertow.

I had so many memories with my dog, but the grief was more than that. I felt sad about the time that was gone, the time that I would not have, and it also made me recall parts of my past that I’d forgotten. Suddenly I saw my life through her eyes, a silent observer: all the relationships, the fights, the sex, the studying, the moves, the sad times, and the times I laughed so hard that my stomach cramped and I lost my breath.

Saddled with sadness, I lost all interest in sex — a very bad thing when you make your living off selling it. Not only did I not want to have sex, but I didn’t want to think about it, look at it, write about it, or even tweet about it. I wanted to immerse myself in something to help me forget, momentarily, who I am. Luckily I’m not an alcoholic; I just watched a lot of reality TV.

But almost every night I’d hear the squeaking of the mattress upstairs, and I’d stare blankly at my computer, devoid of inspiration, and think, “How much of my business is me, and how much of it is just the sex itself?” In other words, having lost my mojo, could I even do what I do anymore?

I started to think more deeply about myself. I don’t feel sexy all the time. I have a lot of insecurities. I read too many of the negative comments on the Internet, and I feel badly about myself. I got stuck in a spin cycle of humming self-criticism, and like an overloaded washing-machine spindle, I just stopped.

I’ve written so much about sex that happened in my 20s, when I was single or in relationships that were unbalanced. But I think I’m changing; I’ve been changing for a while now, and I’m not even sure what I like anymore. I used to have a recurring dream that I was trying to drive a car from the backseat, and I spun around like a bumper car, driving backwards and feeling completely out of control. Now I dream that I’m in the front seat, but I’m lost somewhere on an American highway, with no idea how I got where I am, and no idea of where I’m going. I feel settled and unsettled at the same time.

Two years into marriage, I feel closer and more in love with my wife than ever. We’re a team. We help each other and take turns being “the rock.” I’m proud of our relationship and of how far I have come in my life. But grief made me doubt myself. I thought, “Maybe I’m not a superstar. Maybe I’m not a sex goddess. Maybe I don’t have fantasies anymore. Maybe I’m nothing without sex.”

Last week, in the midst of a fit of raging self-hatred, a voice of reason broke through. I wrote down all the experiences in my life that caused me to turn on myself. I recorded every trauma, every hurt, and the reasons that I blamed myself for causing them. And then something really extraordinary happened: I felt a deep sense of compassion for the person who had been through all that bad shit. Like a sweet big sister, I thought, “Hey now, don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re going through a difficult time. Anyone would struggle if they had lived through what you have lived through. Take it step by step, kid.”

I’m adjusting to a lot of things in my life right now, and change is uncomfortable and often really, really sad. But, I’m reaching into my glove box, pulling out the map, and reconfirming my destination. One thing’s for certain: I do love sex.

Originally published by the Huffington Post on Oct 5, 2012

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