At fifty-nine, orgasm for me had become difficult. I wrote in my journal:
Once in a while, I long for orgasm. I don’t feel the urge very often. I practice sex as a way to stay intimate with my husband, and we often accomplish an orgasm for me, but it has become difficult. When I really want it, it’s easier. But that impulse is waning. Instead, I want to want it. I feel sad, yearning for something that used to feel like flying, and now is becoming mechanical.
Part of the problem was physical, from illness and menopause and age; part psychological. I was disgusted at the fantasies I was using to achieve orgasm: fantasies of rape — being raped, raping others, watching rapes. I hated it. It made me come.
I’ve never been raped, I have no desire to be raped. I don’t enjoy pain, I hate being humiliated or pushed around. I just don’t know how to come without the feeling of being overpowered. As far as I could remember, it was the only thing that had ever made me come.
To approach sixty still carrying this burden, woke me up. Finally I was sick of it. Where was the wisdom I was supposed to have harvested from all these years? I needed to change, and I didn’t know how.
I decided to write Persephone’s Choice, both as my exploration of what’s going on — and as an act of healing my sexuality. I wanted to protest the culture that had programmed me, to bear witness to the damage it does, to raise consciousness in others. But also to discover what ideas emerged, to watch what words appeared on my computer screen, to see where the Muse took me. Writing is a meditation for me; I’ve been using it to find the truth for as long as I can remember. I wanted to name the demon, and thus take back its power. To ask the Goddess for inspiration, for ideas how to heal.
I knew there were bits of writing on this subject in various files on my computer. When I went to look at them, I was shocked to find that my current memories, about how I achieve orgasm, had somehow lost track of another way I’d experienced it, in the past: through being turned on by romantic attraction.
There’s no mystery why I suppressed those memories: the relationships in which I felt the magic of romatic attraction, didn’t work out; in fact I became very skeptical about romantic love. I was never romantically attracted to my husband.
The Muse required me to reexamine myself. I still wanted to write about my pursuit of orgasm; I still thought it would be healing — but the subject of the book grew. I’d thought it would be mainly about masochism. Now it had to examine all the cultural programming I’d absorbed, about sexuality. How did I come to be this way? What do I do about it? What is sex to me? What does it mean, to be sexual?
More than a Book
After I’d been working on the book a couple of years, I realized it had become more than a book. It was getting too big. I kept discovering more aspects of it, more books I wanted to read, more changes I decided to make in my life…. I thought I should draw a line, say “No more research; this is all that goes into the book.” But the project wouldn’t let go of me. “Well okay,” I thought, “there can be another book after this one.”
Then I realized that this project had become a way of life, a spiritual path for me. Choosing a creative engagement with my fears, using my sexuality as a door into that engagement … this was not simply a project I could finish.
Publishing the book (or books) is important to me: I know I’m not the only one who struggles with these issues, and I hope witnessing my experience will support others. But book publishers want authors to do publicity tours, readings, book signings…. and my health makes all that impossible.
This site is my way to get the word out, about the book; to interest you in buying it. It also helps me when I get stuck in part of the writing that’s hard: somehow having a different platform gets me thinking in a different way, gets me past blocks. But most important, this site is to get information out now, before the book is published. Because I hope my story will be useful to you, and I don’t want to wait ’til it’s all wrapped up, to offer it.