Tuesday, June 28, 2011

PMS and Other Things That Suck

Hormonal mood swings are one of the lovelier aspects of womanhood. Not only are they lovely for us, but they’re lovely for everyone around us who has to deal with us when we’re experiencing them. Moments of anger, sadness, or total outright bitchiness for no apparent reason… it’s not anyone’s idea of fun.

You know, this is one of those subjects thats been written about by a lot of people and not once have I ever read anything on the subject that didn’t bug me or make me roll my eyes and say “Seriously? They wasted ink on that?” Most articles aren’t helpful at all, and I don’t really find anything written with biting, bitchy humor to be either entertaining or identifiable. I also don’t think I have ever seen anything written on the subject that would give men any kind of idea what it’s like or any kind of accurate description of what we go through. So… what the hell, I might as well take it on, since, at the moment, I happen to be engulfed in it.

I can’t speak for anyone else, only myself and my own experiences with this, and I’ll be honest, this isn’t like… a FUN subject for me to tackle. Honestly, I’m writing about it because writing is how I cope with things in life that suck. For me, there are months when PMS takes the form of “raging bitch” and months when it takes the form of “sobbing mess.” As you probably just guessed, this month has been “sobbing mess.” Actually, it’s been a little of both; I had a couple days of raging bitch and a couple days of sobbing mess. Today has been a roller coaster of both but mostly sobbing mess.

Unfortunately, though there are over the counter pills out there that are supposed to help with symptoms, they really don’t. There are reports stating that women honest to God do benefit from chocolate at this time in their cycle (personally I am a chocoholic anyway, not just when I’m going through this) and that’s a lovely concept… and it’s why women joke about chocolate all the time. Wine, too. You hear us talk about both of them with the kind of enthusiasm most men wish women had for blow jobs or football like they’re magic elixir or something.

I recall being a teenager and talking about this with a friend of mine. We both knew that when we flew into a hormonal rage and acted like lunatics that it was PMS causing it, but we had no control over it whatsoever, and later would feel terrible for things we did or said. We felt like it was awful to have to apologize later, rather than just simply not behave that way in the first place, especially considering that we knew what we were doing in the moment. I can’t speak for her, but for me, at that time, it was literally impossible to control myself. My theory is that as a teenager, the hormonal imbalance must have been much greater.

In my early 20’s I was dating a guy who, one month, after I had been a total bitch and later apologized, said to me “You know, that ranks right up there with ‘I was drunk’; it’s no excuse to treat people like shit for a week and then say ‘oh, I had PMS’ like it’s a get out of jail free card on your Monopoly board.”  Initially, I was really angry with him. After all, it was hormonal and I couldn’t control it. But, the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with him. I knew what I was doing when I was doing it; now I needed to find a way to stop myself from being a bitch.

I happened to be lucky in that my cycle was always something you could set your watch by. Not only did I know what day Mother Nature would show up but for many years, it happened at exactly 6:30 am, give or take 15 minutes. I’m not kidding, I know that’s nuts, but its true. It made it extremely easy to map out when I’d start to experience mood swings. Once I was able to determine when it was going to happen, I started making a huge effort to figure out how to control my words and actions when it hit. I’ve definitely mastered not taking my raging hormones out on the people around me, though I do still get into those uncontrollable bitchy moods. There are days when *I* don’t even want to be around me.

As for the crying part of this lovely condition… well… that’s another story. It’s not really as if crying or being a mess in that respect causes a fight with anyone. Sure, it might annoy the hell out of them, but it certainly doesn’t offend them. I’ve never really battled all that hard against the crying jags, I mean, as a chick, I find the hysterical bawling my eyes out every so often to be cleansing and sometimes I can even laugh about it later. Like when I find myself overcome with emotion because of the coffee commercial where the son comes home from the military and makes coffee to wake up his mom. Forget it, I’m toast on that one.

And that brings us to the really FUN part of PMS. Its like feeling your emotions in some kind of crazy fun house mirror. Weird stuff gets magnified and looks way out of proportion, but seeing is believing in a mirror, and feeling is believing in life. When you have PMS, things that normally bother you a little become these giant insurmountable problems and you believe your crazy hormonal imbalance when it tells you that your life sucks. Before you know it, you’re so depressed that you’re bawling your eyes out and you have no valid reason for it… but you THINK you do.

Today, for example, I got deep into the sobbing mess mentality. I was feeling every single negative thing in my life on a scale so gargantuan that I really don’t know how I got through the work day. Everything in my life that sucks came right to the surface and took over the front and center of my whole existence and ran my thought processes all day. I was talking to a friend and telling her how I was feeling, and as I was listening to myself, I knew that in a day or two, I would not feel nearly as strongly as I did at that moment.

I don’t have all that tough of a life. I mean, I live in the USA, which, to begin with puts a person right up there just in terms of infrastructure and opportunity. I have a good job, I have a lovely teeny little house, a decent car, food on my table, and for the most part… good health. I have a great family of origin, and wonderful friends. I know all of that and I’m thankful for all of it every single day of my life. But, on days like today, things that suck, like having little health problems, being broke, and having a still fairly broken heart over my last relationship all seem like the end of the world. They become so enormous and heavy on my shoulders and unbearable that I just want to crawl under the covers and never come out.

On some level, though, somewhere deep down, I know it’s only a temporary condition, and tomorrow I’ll be me again. And, as I said, I can only speak for me. Yeah, I have PMS and there’s a few other things I have that suck… lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, arthritis, a crooked spine, bad hips, chronic fatigue, and a budget that leaves me in the red every month… but happiness truly is a choice and if you know that your cycle is frigging up your world once a month then do something about it. Maybe your solution isn’t as simple as mine was. If you’re finding your life disrupted or if you have people in your life who you find yourself apologizing to even though you knew you were wrong in the first place, please talk to your doctor. We are women, and our hormones do flux, but there’s no reason on earth to be unhappy once a month.

Some of us truly do indulge in a glass of wine, some chocolate, a bowl of ice cream, and feel better. Some of us require putting a lot of thought into when to expect it, focus on signs and signals of it creeping in and taking over, and do our best to take control of ourselves. Some actually do need to seek medical help. For me, I know that exactly every 28 days I’m going to host Mother Nature and that 4 days prior I’ll begin to experience moods that “aren’t me.” As they arrive, I have to make a real effort to keep myself grounded and mindful of the world around me and how my words and actions will affect others. That’s not to say I put myself last, not by a long shot. I just try to balance my needs with the needs of those around me, and it’s far more of a thought process on those four days than it is at any other time in life.

Today was a tough day. Worse than I’ve had in a while… but I made it through. Ain’t nuthin' but a thang.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby! Part V: Sex… The Final Frontier!

Ever been bored with sex? Ever thought that you’ve seen it all, done it all, had it all, and that there were no more sexual mountains to climb? No more erotic lands to conquer? Call it what you will… whether you blame a seven year itch, or a stale relationship, or if you just think you’ve done everything you ever wanted to do…whatever the case may be, at some point you may have felt that nothing was really ringing your bell the way it was rung when you were young and sex was a grand adventure. 

There’s no question in my mind that the greatest aspects of sex are all in the human mind. The body may do all the work, and the physical aspects of the act; your senses of touch, taste, sight, sound and scent may be the prominent parts of actually “doing it,” but anyone who has ever had an orgasm in their sleep can’t deny that without ever having been touched or touching your partner, those orgasms can be the deepest, most intense, and best ones you ever have. To me, that’s proof positive that sex, above and beyond the act, is in the human brain.

When you’re young and sex is somewhat new, the excitement and adventure all centers around what you’ve heard, what you’ve imagined, what you’ve thought about, heard about and never experienced for yourself. The youth and beauty of the partners, the new places and positions you do it in, and the various “new” things you try. Well… new to YOU anyway. As you try each one; naughty new things… kinky new things… taboo new things… dangerous new things… sinful new things… with all that fresh, new, exciting, hot, crazy sex, arousal levels stay pretty high. But after years and years and years of sex, one day you find yourself thinking… “Where’s that blazing fire? Where’s that orgasm that blows my mind? Where’s that arousal that’s so intense I can’t even function?” Well… I know where it is. It’s all in your head, baby!!! It’s all in your head.

Chances are that you’ve had dreams that have seemed strange to you once you’ve woken up; dreams that left you wondering “Why the hell did that turn me on?” There’s a chance that there have been things people have said or done in your presence that have piqued your interest, and maybe you didn’t understand why, or even want to admit to yourself that they did. My advice to you is this: Don’t be afraid of what’s just under your sexual surface. Allow yourself to wander into those spaces in your mind and explore them. Allow yourself to think about whatever you find strangely intriguing, and let your imagination run wild. Only you are inside your head, and only you can unlock the doors that you’ve subconsciously closed. Open them, and see just how delicious those fantasies can be.

Personally, I’ve got a head full of incredible fantasies that I can dive into and get so hot I can barely stand it. Will I share them with you? No. But I will share them with my partner. That’s the whole point of them: to enhance and embellish the great thing we already have going on. Role playing, having play dates with each other, exploring and sharing with each other in ways that we find exciting. What we want, or what we do doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. It only has to please us. The ability to be open and share those deep fantasies is one that can lead to incredible sexual places, but there has to be a very solid foundation of trust in your relationship, as well. When you have that the sky is the limit.

Fantasy and imagination are truly the keys to really revving up your engine. The depth of your own fantasies is the only limit to how hot you can actually get, and how great sex can actually be. Now, having a partner who’s down with that would be a beautiful thing, so, obviously I’m going to tell you once again that communication with your partner is key. It doesn’t have to be weird. It doesn’t have to be ‘we-need-to-talk’ heavy and presented as a problem. What it does have to be is honest and there has to be totally open communication. You can’t approach your mate and say “Our sex life is stale” or “I’m bored in the bedroom” or anything that will make them feel like you’re dissatisfied with them, personally, or with the relationship itself. This is strictly about sex. If the relationship itself is healthy and you’re simply looking for that heat and intensity that you’re missing from your youth, there’s a chance your partner probably feels the same way, too.

Only you know your partner and your relationship well enough to know the best way, the best time, and the best angle to approach this from. Personally, my suggestion would be to bring it up when you’re already engaged in a meaningful conversation. Don’t bring it up when you’re trying to pay bills, or when you’re discussing anything stressful or problematic. Bring this up when you’re talking about the good things in life. Bring it up when you’re talking about the positive things, and the things that make you both happy. Make sure your partner knows that you’re still completely attracted to them. Make sure they know that they’re the one you want to share these things with. Make sure that when you tell them you’ve got the hots for some hot sex, that it’s THEM you want to experience it with. And then… get ready to have some of those earth shattering orgasms.