Surrender (part 1)

A rather remarkable weekend it’s been. Saturday I spent mostly with my dear friend Neal, the only non-AA I really spend time with these days. We’ve been friends for years and I think it’s safe to say he knows me better than anyone. On Saturday afternoon we took in the sunshine on Hampstead Heath, my favourite part of London, whilst talking about the usual thing: men. It seems Neal has been luckier in love than I recently. I’m very happy for him. Early evening I had to go to Notting Hill to take the meeting, where my time as secretary will soon be coming to an end, unbelievably. I’ve enjoyed my year in charge and I’m sure I’ll want to take on another service commitment there as soon as this one has finished. After the meeting I met up with Neal again, having agreed to accompany to him to one of London’s many gay sex clubs for the first time. Neal, who is thirteen years older than me, knows these places better than me; I’ve always wanted to see what they’re like but have been too scared to. On Saturday I kind of gave in to the realisation that there’s nothing dirty or immoral about going to a club for sex. Sure, it carries some risk, but so does a lot in life.  The only thing stopping me from exploring these potentially exciting forms of sex has been fear, and I decided early in sobriety that I didn’t want fear to stop me from living any more.

 So we arrived at the club in Euston at around 10pm. Straight away I was pretty nervous, but determined to have a good time. For a long time I didn’t seem to receive any attention; I had to do a lot of walking around and looking before anything interesting happened. I guess a lot of the people there needed the time to get drunk enough to start making moves. Without that option I simply had to wait and see what would happen. In the last hour or so I began to have the fun I had been waiting for, so much so that I was fairly overwhelmed by it all. At 1 in the morning I went home relieved and excited to have finally broken one of my lifelong taboos. A year ago I would never have thought it possible to enjoy myself in that kind of place. This year has been all about learning to use my body and enjoy sex. I think I’ve taken another real step on that journey this weekend.

 Yesterday I started the day by meeting Neal again for a walk along the Regents Canal in more unseasonal sunshine. We walked roughly all the way from Camden to Little Venice, about three miles. I’d done the walk myself many years ago with my mother – yesterday brought back some nice memories for me. At Little Venice there was some kind of boat festival going on, with tea and cakes, market stalls and maypole dancing. It was all very British, and I loved it. In the evening I’d arranged to meet someone special:,my American AA friend who I was talking about last week. He had been in Paris all week and was back for a couple more days. I was very excited about seeing him again. It turns out that he hates being referred to as ‘the American’, so I will have to give him a fake name for the purposes of this blog: let’s make him Cole. I met Cole in nearby Bayswater and we had a wholesome, meaty dinner at a very loud steakhouse before heading to his hotel for a night of the same kind of fun that we were having last week. Having let myself go to such an extent on Saturday that I was able to enjoy it with several men I’d never met before, I should have been able to enjoy last night without too much effort. Unfortunately I seemed to be coming down with swine flu, with a very dry cough and a noticeable fever, which just made me want to go to sleep.

 Cole didn’t seem to mind this so after some spiritual conversation we fell asleep in each other’s arms. All night I felt very hot and trapped inside my own skin, but I managed to sleep a bit, which is encouraging as I’ve always found it nearly impossible to sleep in strange beds. Today when we woke up there was a lot more spiritual chatter – we got to know each other much better along the way. We found ourselves disagreeing a lot over various things in the conversation. We’ve had similar experiences and problems in life but we seem to come at it all from very different angles. It almost got to the point where he would say something was black and I would call it white. I found it irritating, mostly because I felt guilty for being so disagreeable. I’ve honestly never disagreed with someone so much in my life. From irritating I eventually went to finding it quite hilarious, and I didn’t want to leave him all day. I realised that the constant debate was probably quite healthy for the relationship – if we agreed on everything then it would probably be pretty boring.

 After some lunch in Queensway we went back to the hotel and tried to have sex again. We clearly like each a lot and although he is not the physical type I’ve always felt drawn to, the spiritual and emotional connection is something I find very exciting. But no matter how exciting it gets, I can never reach orgasm. I admitted to Cole that I’ve actually never reached orgasm with another man in the room; he seemed to find this disturbing. I used to find it disturbing but I guess I’ve got used to it over the years. It could be down to shame, embarrassment, fear of vulnerability, I don’t really know. It turned into something else that we could vehemently disagree about, as he tried to persuade me that I will never be fulfilled until I can experience that physical peak of love with another man next to me. For some time I’ve happily told myself that I don’t need to make all the effort required to reach orgasm, because there are many other ways of enjoying oneself. Today Cole began to make my belief in that idea crumble. I’ve never reached orgasm in sex and I’ve never been able to have a loving, fulfilling relationship: the two must be linked somehow. Cole actually went as far as to say that this is the biggest and most important problem that I need to deal with right now, that all the other problems in my life really follow on from it (such as the anxiety and depression). It took me hours to finally see that he might be right, after we’d argued and argued about it and I nearly walked away several times.

 It’s very difficult to concede that one is wrong in this area because it is an area of deep vulnerability for me. To admit that I might never be content in life until I’ve worked out how to break this psychological block on orgasm is all at once exasperating and heartbreaking. I know that my inability to let go of my inhibitions doesn’t just apply to my sex life: in social situations, at work, in my creativity, even in AA, I am always holding back a bit, because it’s the way I’ve learnt to protect myself. Even when I seem to be really turned on in bed and it feels like I’m going to get over that barrier, it never happens. I watched a film recently called ‘Shortbus’ where one of the female characters went on a very entertaining  journey in trying to achieve orgasm for the first time in her life – of course I empathised with her greatly. The embarrassing thing is that this is a much more common problem for women. I’ve read that in men, it is virtually unheard of. Why am I so strongly feminine when it comes to sex and love in general?

 Cole and I didn’t really have the problem resolved by the end of today. I realised as time went on that I was only staying there to avoid going home. It being a bank holiday, my mother would have been at home all day, and I felt compelled to avoid her for as long as possible. By dinner time my attempt not to make a decision about leaving was getting ridiculous. When Cole announced that he had an evening social arrangement with some glamorous friends, I was given the opportunity to finally leave. An old bit of me felt bitterly hurt by the fact that he did not invite me out with him; another stronger bit of me felt hollow and empty about the fact that a spiritually nourishing weekend was finally over. Who am I to expect him to invite me to everything? The truth of the matter is that we still hardly know each other, and we’d already had enough time together. I just didn’t want to go home, that’s why I’m always hurt when people don’t invite me to things. It just means I have to be at home living my life while they’re out there living their lives.

 We’ll definitely keep in touch, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we spend the night together. He officially lives in New York, so perhaps he won’t ever be the regular boyfriend that I thought I was looking for. I don’t think that matters. All the time that we’ve spent together has been an opportunity for me to learn about myself. The pain I felt at saying goodbye tonight was highly informative: pain is a great teacher, after all. On the way home I felt a strong urge to cry, which I tried to stifle by stuffing my face with junk in McDonalds. Other people can use alcohol for the same effect, I don’t have that option any more. I shouldn’t have done it – I’ve gotten pretty good at healthy eating recently, and McDonalds was one of those lines that I was trying not to cross. I didn’t enjoy the meal much at all, in fact I could hardly eat any of it. Back outside I looked at the sun setting in the sky, it was absolutely beautiful and the need to cry became even stronger. I realised that during the weekend I had come very close to God. Cole said to me that the connection one gets with another person during orgasm is a spiritual experience tantamount to finding God, and for the first time I really believed him.

 I felt God with me tonight, carrying me through my pain, and after that it wasn’t so bad. If God wasn’t in my life then I wouldn’t have had that wonderful time with Neal on the canal yesterday; I wouldn’t have met Cole and learnt all these things about myself. I haven’t quite met with God fully because I haven’t been able to let go of myself fully yet, but I think I am on my way there. In ‘The Power of Now’ Tolle says that to achieve true spiritual enlightenment one has to learn to die before I die. Letting go, surrendering to love, giving in, dying – it’s all the same thing. I can see that now. I need to start surrendering more. It’s simple, but it isn’t going to be easy. At least God is there with my best interests at heart, always.

 Here’s a beautiful song that seems to sum up my feelings at the moment:

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2 thoughts on “Surrender (part 1)

  1. I think you might slightly misunderstand me if you think I’m saying that all your problems “follow on from” your difficulty with orgasm. What I’m actually suggesting is that the problems you describe, orgasm included, have a common genesis. My suggestion that you come to grips with the orgasm issue is not based on some hippie notion that one good orgasm will somehow cause all your other problems to dissolve or float away on the breeze, but rather on the belief that it’s a fairly clearcut issue that can be tackled in a fairly clearcut way, whereas things like anxiety or depression are far more nebulous and open-ended conditions, that, while than can certainly be ameliorated, never completely vanish from any of our lives.

    Also, the reason I didn’t invite you to visit my “glamorous” friends was not because you were insufficiently glamorous yourself, but because a) they were paying for us to have dinner at a fairly upmarket restaurant and it would have been presumptuous of me to turn up with an additional guest; and b) “glamorous” or not, to me they were simply old friends that I hadn’t seen in a rather long time, and with whom I was looking forward to spending time catching up on times, people and places that they and I had in common and that would have made little or no sense to you. In retrospect, however, you probably would have fit in quite well. Next time I’ll bring you along.

    It’s rather interesting reading about myself and my love life in this kind of context. A guy could almost get a little self-conscious about it, but I’ll endeavour not to. You’re a lovely person, Josh, and I consider it a privilege and honour to know you.

  2. I know what you are saying, and funnily enough I don’t think we are in any disagreement about this. The ‘common genesis’ that you talk about is my fear of letting go – fear of dying, in Tolle’s words. When I can conquer that fear it seems many of my problems will begin to be solved, though I am aware from past experience that even when solutions are found the problem can continue to exist (i.e. my continuing sporadic desire to drink years after I realised that it was bad for me)

    As for meeting your friends on Monday night, I know that my not being invited had nothing to do with me – for me to presume that I had a right to be invited is to assume that the world revolves around me, and much experience in sobriety has shown that not to be true. I hope you had a lovely time, you will have to tell me all about it when we next meet up.

    Well, this is the first time that anyone I’ve written about has actually responded directly to the blog, so it’s very interesting for me to. Again I hope I’ve said nothing insulting or shocking – I’ve simply tried to be honest to the best of my ability.

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