Indigo Plays Favorites with Companies!

Happy Holiday Season, Party People! This is the ninth post in my 12 days celebration! What better way to celebrate Capitalism than posting reviews where you can purchase these fine items with my affiliate links?

10 out of 10
Pairs nicely with some hot tea. It makes you feel warm and cozy inside, and it can be a stimulating past time.
So a little bit ago, I confessed to playing favorites with companies and I worried that it might be unprofessional or give me a bias. A few people jumped in to say that this isn’t true, or if it is true, then it’s not an issue. So I spent some time thinking about what I do as a reviewer. In the sex toy industry, we are all alone. There is no standard way to do things, and there are often no laws or restrictions. Returns are not possible (or should not be if they are, because how do you deal with a returned toy that has been on/in someone’s bits). Who is advocating for the customers?
Well that is my job. I believe that calling out problematic companies is important for this reason. Often, people buying sex toys are doing so discreetly and they don’t have time or opportunity for research. If they don’t know their bodies very well, then they might not know which toy they will like. As a reviewer, it’s part of my job to be the researcher. It’s my job to know bodies and what they will like. So when I play favorites with companies, I am just doing my job, and that’s not only okay. It’s perfect.
So without further ado, I want to talk about three different companies that I have absolutely fallen in love with this year, and tell you why! I will try not to make this post too long, but I do want to emphasize how these companies have helped me grow as an educator and blogger, and how their business has helped customers in some way.
First up is Lust Arts. I go on a lot of Twitter rants about this company. I met them this year because they approached me about sponsorship for Woodhull, as well as some consulting things. This was the first company I’ve ever consulted with, and the first event sponsor to approach me. I was so flattered to receive that email. After having my consultations with them over video, I decided that I was in love with this company.
Their boxes are always a delight to receive. I have gotten stickers and chocolates and all kinds of other treats, which is frankly delightful. This aspect of their boxes was even something we discussed in our consulting call, and it was amazing how much information was shared between me and Lust Arts. I have since heard that they have treated others just as well, including paying others for time and information, which I find to be truly delightful to hear about a company. The personal touches are great as a reviewer.
The sponsorship deal included sending me one toy to review, but I was having a hard time choosing, and so they sent me both of the toys I was debating between. When I had received them, and loved them, I was sent a replacement for one. Not because I had any issues, but because they felt they could have done a better job with the pour. Their products are amazing, and you can read my reviews of them to understand how I really feel about the toys I own from them.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting one of the owners when I visited Colorado this year, and she was amazing and kind. We spent the better part of a day in downtown Denver and connected on so many things. I will always be grateful to have found a good friend there, and I hope I can see her again this year!
Next up is Betty’s Toybox! This company made it’s way onto my favorites list when they agreed to send me one of my first review toys. I was delighted to have their trust as a baby blogger. Later that year, I pitched them a sponsored post, and they accepted! It was that moment that I knew how this company was helping the industry. They have historically been the most open to new bloggers and have boosted so many others up. To this day, I have running email chains with them. When I finish reviewing one product, they pop right in with another they want to send me. On top of that, they never push me to finish within a time frame. I will always be happy to write thorough reviews for this company, and I’m glad they let me do my job this way.
Recently, they redid their website to make it more gender inclusive. This renovation was spurred by a call-out for their site having labels like “For Him” and “For Her.” That’s right, everyone. This company messed up and they are still on my favorites list. That’s because they acknowledged the infraction and then they fixed it. I was truly amazed when I saw this happen. It gives me hope that this company will continue to grow and help the community in the same way it has these past two years.
And last, but certainly not least is Creamed and Sugared. I have written two reviews for this company so far. There’s a lot about them that I like on paper, and that is really why they made this list. I’ve only know about this company for about five months now, so I’ve been trying to play it chill. It’s not really working though. I was introduced to the company at Woodhull this year, and I immediately liked them because they were small and local. In addition to that, they were involved in a number of small and local events. This involvement in the community was the main thing that really sparked my adoration for this company.
Their website is very easy to read, and they include their own fun personality in every description. When you read their about page, you find funny quips and open personalities, but when you read the page about caring for their products, the focus shifts into the professional demeanor that is necessary. The balance of this is accomplished well, and I will always enjoy reading it.
Which brings us finally to the products. I have two products that I received for reviews from Creamed and Sugared. But on top of that, I have handled many more. In fact, I’m pretty sure their table person is tired of chatting with me. But I just really enjoy good craftsmanship! Their products by and large have at least two functions, both of which they will accomplish well. The care for them is easy. They also offer refinishing services for a small fee, which adds security to a purchase. You know that your toy will be taken care of and that is truly a comfort.
To wrap this up, I love companies who are professional, but with a personal touch. When the quality of work is good, and their websites are inclusive, I’m going to like them. I have a strong fondness for small or indie businesses. But I also appreciate a retailer that knows what this industry needs. I want companies to support our smaller bloggers and help lifts others. And above all, I want there to fantastic quality to the products. These three companies have so much of my love, and I think they should have yours too. I’ve been a surrogate customer, so you know that your investment isn’t wasted.
Today, I’ll pat myself on the back for a job well done.

Indigo Explores: BDSM in a Therapy Context

So I recently saw another blogger discussing BDSM and how it helps them to process some of their previous trauma. This is something that I knew was possible because I have a similar experience. When I do a scene, I feel whole for a little while after. I feel more prepared for the world and I am excited for what’s next. In fact, I might say that I feel much the same as I do after a good therapy session. Imagine that!
Since engaging in BDSM regularly, and embracing that part of my personality, I have found that I know myself, and my interests that much better. In psychology terms, I have a stronger sense of self. This has spreading ramifications for my life, which is completely expected. A sense of self is usually tied to a sense of fulfillment, purpose and happiness. Sense of self is the static idea of personality and values, as well as self-esteem and a sense of person-hood. It’s basically our own self-image and concept of who we are.
Thanks to BDSM, I know how to negotiate what I want and how to get it. Additionally, because I have done this before, I’m less afraid to ask for what I want. Some things that I thought would never happen have come to be just because I could ask for them. Why did this happen? Well, with a stronger sense of self, I have a better idea of what I need to function. With a better idea of what I want, I know how to articulate it, which gives me the ability. Once I have that skill set, I’m only missing the strength and courage to ask.
However, BDSM also helps me gain strength and courage. Why does that happen? Well, I’ve tested myself through BDSM. Within scenes, I have allowed myself to become vulnerable. I take pain and sadness and I turn it into power and strength. I so regularly amaze myself that my courage has grown, which allows me to voice concerns, and ask for resources or help.
Now, these are all things that may seem to come already installed for some people. They don’t feel guilty every time they ask for their needs to be met and they don’t cry when talking to authority figures. However, I have a history of emotional and verbal abuse from my family, which has taken all those things and made them questionable and weakened. That trauma took away my voice and replaced it with guilt and the deafening shrill of self-abuse and self-hate. BDSM doesn’t completely remove that, and I would never claim that it could. But it does turn down the volume. When I complete a successful scene, I still harbor some self-hate and guilt and fear. But I can work through it and achieve amazing things. It doesn’t cure me, but it heals me in some ways.
Which brings me to something else I wanted to discuss. When Kirsten of Chronic Sex described this feeling around BDSM and mentioned therapy, someone else had Opinions on this. Now, I will not direct any links to this other person. But she is a blogger who talks extensively about men’s rights and being a pro domme in the past. Many of her posts are kink-negative. I have chosen to use that wording for a reason. Her posts usually start with a disclaimer that these are her experiences and she’s not judging anyone. She talks about being shamed for not participating in BDSM like it’s a systemic problem (the opposite is true). She discusses how BDSM is abusive in nature. Additionally, she did come into someone’s mentions saying that it was dangerous to call BDSM therapeutic or healing. After having read some tweets and posts, I am pretty convinced that this human would feel more comfortable if no one participated in kink ever again. So I’m here to present some counter arguments.
So let’s talk about some therapies right now. Because what am I? Oh that’s right! I’m a Psychology student and this is literally my field of study!
So let’s outline Exposure Therapy. This is a therapy that is usually applied to phobias of all types. It involves exposing someone to their phobia. If they experience their phobia and survive, they are likely to reroute the pathways in their brains and be less afraid. This can be done slowly such as asking a patient to think about a dog, and then visualize a dog. Then they may look out a window and see a dog. This would lead up to actually touching and being friends with a dog. In this way, their brain will slowly acclimate to dogs and be less afraid of them. Or it can happen fast, such as seeing a patient and then immediately jumping to the touching a dog stage.
So imagine that you’re a victim of childhood abuse. You experienced being yelled at or hit for much of the time. Now, with BDSM, you negotiate a scene that feels good. It involves impact play and insults. You experience these things at the hand of a caring dominant. You experience your childhood all over again and stop the scene. It immediately ends and the dominant checks on you. It takes a minute to come back into your body and the person who was hitting you is now respecting you and caring for you. All of this under your control and with your consent. The pathways in your brain start to feel safer when someone yells at you because you know you’re more in control. Even in work situations, you realize you’re an adult now and can take action, unlike when you were a child. Exposure therapy has worked directly with your trauma and has helped.
Let’s talk about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is a therapy that usually involved a therapist intervention directly. It is a practice wherein the patient has a negative thought and they must learn first to recognize their negative thoughts. Once the patient recognizes negative thoughts, they begin to replace those with positive or at least neutral true thoughts. It’s common for people who have completed CBT to randomly say positive things. If you ever see me shake my head and mutter “no, I love myself,” then you have seen my CBT at work. I have replaced most of my negative thoughts with this set of actions.
Now, as a dominant, you begin to hit a sub. You feel some guilt because it feels good for you to inflict pain on a sub. But their moans affirm what you know on the surface: they want this as much as you do. So you continue and every time you question yourself, you check in with them. You are now more aware of your surroundings, how you affect them. Every time you question yourself, you check in with your surrounding group and now you find yourself not saying “I’m mean.” Instead you’re saying “I’m fulfilling a need for someone and being aware of the world around me.”
My personal favorite is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. This is an extension of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and they often work in tandem. It focuses on the idea that much of our conflict comes from opposing ideas in ourselves. For example: “I want to go out and meet new people” is in direct conflict with “I am afraid of social situations where I don’t know everyone.” However, both of these are true and valid feelings. DBT seeks to insert the word “And” into our conflicts. You can want to meet people and be afraid of them. By acknowledging that, you have an easier time making decisions, and coinciding narratives.
So let’s imagine this. You’re in the middle of a scene. Your dominant has completely misjudged and pushed you too far. You safeword out of the scene and begin the process of reconciling and aftercare. The dominant is scared to have pushed you and is meeting your care needs with extra love now. Suddenly you realize that your dominant is a good human and someone who makes mistakes. You begin to see the different layers in them, and others in the world who have wronged you. You are now one step closer to achieving a resolution to your inner conflicts, because you have learned the power of “And.”
Play therapy is another favorite of mine. This is primarily geared towards kids. It encourages them to explore their feelings and reenact life events. The hope is that they will begin to visualize what they wanted to happen, or possibly reveal what went wrong. From there, they can find closure or explanation and be better prepared for life ahead. It can also be used as a tool to help create an exposure environment.
As a Daddy dom, you take care of a Little. They are small and cute. You purchase them gifts and care for them. You ensure they always have a good time in your presence and they trust you implicitly. As you look on them, you think of the hamster you lost as a kid because you couldn’t take care of it. You were five and didn’t know better. It’s haunted you since then and you doubt your ability to take care of anything ever again. Even your work sometimes suffers. However, since taking on this Little, you have gained some closure. You can’t fix the past but you can take care of another person and meet needs. After awhile, you’re more confident and you take on more responsibility. Thanks to this role-play, you have grown and improved your quality of life.
Here’s the bottom line: if you are doing kink right, you are gaining positive things from it. It might be cathartic, or healing. You gain closure. You challenge yourself sometimes, and win. Here is the shocking part: even if it’s just fun for you, then you are doing it right. If you are performing BDSM of some kind and it hurts you, you’re allowed to stop and that’s okay. No one should shame you for that, and if they do, that is abusive. But if you find BDSM good, fun, therapeutic, or a combination, that is great. Because all we can do in this world is find coping mechanisms and muddle through. Perhaps eventually, we will be “cured,” but what does that mean? In psychology, cured is usually short hand for “chronically coping with something very well.”
Sometimes BDSM is bad, and you have to leave it. Not everyone has the same experiences as you. And that is what is important here: people should be allowed to do kink when it is good for them. Get out of their mentions and find something good for you instead of berating them.

Indigo Explores: Kink Dynamics and Communication in Them!

10 out of 10
Pairs nicely with a good draft beer. There’s a huge amount of variety. Sometimes, it takes some getting used to the taste (especially in those microbreweries). And how long you nurse it depends on you.
I want to start this post off by saying that I use the words “vanilla” and “kinky” a lot. To me, kinky is a self-identified descriptor, which is surrounded by blurry lines (and I’ll go into detail on this later in the post). Vanilla sex simply means anything else. I personally feel that vanilla is a great descriptor word for this because vanilla is a flavor itself. It is not a lack of flavor, as I believed when I was a kid. It’s complex and full-bodied just like anything else. So I don’t use vanilla in a disparaging or judgmental way. It’s just a colloquial term for sex that is not kinky.
At Woodhull this year, I had the great privilege of hooking up with someone who I had been flirting with for months. He initiated and it was excellent fun to build up the tension and finally get to actually have sex after that!
However, there was one thing that caught me off guard about this partner; he is not kinky. He has described himself as “kink-adjacent,” which is a fun descriptor that makes sense for him. I have never identified as a vanilla person, but I have had lots of vanilla sex before. My long-term partners have a tendency to start the relationship vanilla, but eventually, I reveal (or possibly install) a kinky side that takes over our dynamics.
After having a partner for two years who I shared an extremely kinky dynamic with, I had forgotten what a vanilla hook-up felt like. If I’m being honest, I don’t think this particular hook-up has really reminded me either. It started out innocently, with make outs and oral and fingering. However, over the course of two separate sessions, he had fisted me, pinned me down (including my head/face), and gotten me off using his foot? So suddenly, this “vanilla” hook-up became some of the kinkiest sex I’ve had (completely on accident).
As I thought about these different descriptors, and how I felt throughout the sex, I began to realize some fun things about sex and kink. Until recently, I would not have called urination a kinky act. However, as someone who is mentally exploring the hypothetical of watersports, I now feel distinctly kinky sometimes as I duck into the bathroom. The same thing could be said of rope, which I saw frequently in the theatre and hardware stores, but now I can’t look at rope without getting a little wet. The lines between “sexy,” “kinky,” and “vanilla” can blur in subtle ways.
I recently saw Kevin Patterson describe himself as “french vanilla” or “kink-adjacent,” so I reached out for a more detailed description of this and got this quote:
“I’ve got lots of partners who are kinky. None of it really sets my soul on fire, but I’m into seeing my partners happy. Their reactions are my kink. So, if that means biting the shit out of someone who’s into biting, I’m into it. If I get to watch my partner melt because I call her a “good girl”, that’s what I’m doing that night. It should still come with some communication, negotiation, and boundaries though. But yeah, for the most part, if it’s not a complete departure from my comfort zone, if my partner is hot for something I can turn it on for their benefit. And their reaction turns me on.”

Kevin Patterson of PolyRoleModels

I commented off-hand that this sounded like a service top to me, and Kevin didn’t disagree. However, I would never place that title on anyone who didn’t claim it themselves.
When I asked about full negotiations and other communication styles usually associated with kink, Kevin told me he had never participated in any of them. I’ve begun to re-frame kink in my mind. It still has to do with fetish and what gets people off, but kink is more than the actions that are taken in the bedroom. Instead, it is a feeling and dynamic that may or may not include sex at all. It has more to do with communication and mental/emotional dynamics. That may sound elementary to some, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it said out loud.
This idea becomes more clear to me as I hear about folx who experience and play with kink, but never involve penetration or stimulation of sexuality at all. I met one couple who enjoyed co-topping new people, but it only ever involved impact and sensation play. It never breached into penetration, genital stimulation or even dirty talk. Their focus was instead catharsis for themselves and their bottoms. It reminds me of the subtle lines that a therapist walks with clients. They can be friends, but it’s only in the loosest definition of it. Anything more would be crossing their professional limits.
At Woodhull, I also had a couple of excellent (extremely kinky) sessions with a close friend of mine, who I have played with a few times in the past. We did a scene that involved a lot of impact, where I did slip into subspace. It was familiar, but still deep and exploratory for me. This scene did involve a lot of negotiation, and a lot of verbal communication throughout. This is the kind of interaction I am used to these days, which makes me wonder how I will ever have a one night stand ever again. In this interaction, I was able to let go more fully and let my partner lead me where he wanted. It was more relaxing for me, because I did not feel the need to check in with myself mentally. I knew he was watching and I completely trusted him. This is partially because we’ve played many times before. But it also has a lot to do with the negotiation. He knew my limits, wants and needs. Because I knew that he knew, I didn’t feel the need to check in during the scene, and could leave that responsibility to him as we agreed.
I played with one other person at Woodhull, who revealed to me an entirely different mindset in kink scenarios. (This is why I love my life: every time I think I know about kink/sex/relationships, I learn something new that I just haven’t seen before.) This partner was amazingly relaxed. We simply did some play with scratching and other sensations. I would not say that I was dominated. Anything they asked me to do, I did it, but it was never from a place of submissive obedience. It was simply playing, in the truest sense of the word. I did not mentally relax through the scene in the same way I normally do because the negotiation was brief and not comprehensive. I needed to make sure I was mentally and physically okay the whole time because the top never agreed to take on that responsibility. We laughed and chatted through the whole scene. It never brought on any subspace, and I never felt like we weren’t equal. In fact, I felt energized and entertained by the play. It was almost like a therapy session in that it left me fully centered and ready for life.
So in one weekend, I had three different partners (hello I am slut). Between those three, I experienced styles that differed wider than I thought was possible. I’m used to each partner having subtle differences. However, this was like having different languages to learn on the fly. Good gods, it was the most fun I’ve had since I discovered puzzle games on my phone. It started me thinking about communication in a whole new way.
So what happened in the first (vanilla) hook-up? Well, there was no negotiation. Though I was at one point pinned down, I didn’t say “I’m okay with this.” Of course, I consented to everything. The sex was hot and the person could read my enthusiastic yes to everything, but I did not verbally say “I like this” until after we were done. Even then, it was in a casual way. We talked about our firsts (“I’ve never gotten anyone off with my foot before,” “I’ve never had a fist that big inside me”), but we didn’t decompress as I’m used to after sex. Though I had been dominated during sex, I did not go into subspace. As a result, I didn’t need that much aftercare, and what I received was exactly what I needed. It was about 20 minutes of cuddling and laughing, just enough to enjoy the sexy afterglow. Then we showered (and had more sex there) and parted ways for the next activity. These are all the things that seem to come with the unwritten rules of vanilla hook-ups.
I looked to my vanilla consultant, Kevin, to help with these unsaid cues and how to navigate them:
Kevin: I just trust my partners to tell me what they like…and to be honest when I check in with them.
Indigo: How do you check in? Words? Physical Cues?
Kevin: Physical to start, but verbal whenever there’s anything even vaguely uncertain.
Indigo: If you don’t mind my asking, what does a physical yes look like versus anything uncertain?
Kevin: Moaning, arching in, eye contact, heavy breathing. Versus still breathing, hand stopping. quick sharp inhalations, wincing.”

-Conversation between Me and Kevin Patterson via Twitter DMs

Though the sex was amazing, and I wrote about it extensively in my personal logs, I didn’t feel the same way I do when I have kinky sex. Kinky sex touches my soul very deeply. I connect with partners in a way that I rarely achieve just through vanilla sex acts. I have been grappling with what it is that I miss with (most of my) vanilla sex. When I compared these different partners at Woodhull, I realized I am missing vulnerability and trust. When I don’t negotiate in any way with a new partner, I can’t really let myself go around them until we’ve had a few sessions together. It takes me longer to release my brain and let the sensations take over. Until that happens, I can’t be in the moment the same way someone else is.
Before I offend anyone, I have had non-kinky sex that was extremely connective and it helped me feel closer to my partners and it was amazing. But that has only happened with established partners who I’ve had sex with a lot. In one night stands, or sessions with new partners, it is unlikely that I will completely relax and be in the moment. When I negotiate a kinky scene, there is more freedom for me to relax because I know we have explored the options and covered limits, boundaries, and cues. The emotional return on kinky scenes is immediate, in some ways. After just a 30 minute conversation, I can immediately relax into the scene, instead of having to wait until I know and trust my partner.
So when kinky acts get explored without using explicit words, it’s often just fine. With very little communication, my first ever sex partner tied me up and fucked me. That went well for me, and I’m still a rope enthusiast. With no verbal communication, my vanilla hook-up concluded with a foot job, and getting pinned down. That ended up great for me, and I hope to have more interactions with this partner.
But it still frightens me a bit to think about hook-ups with other people going the same way. This partner and I flirted online for months, and we read each other’s work, so there was subtle communication, and time to get to know each other. That doesn’t even count the vetting from other mutual friends. During our sessions, I did not know what would happen from one moment to the next, and that was exhilarating. However, if I had met him at a bar somewhere, I would not have let him do half the things he did. I trusted him enough for them because we had chatted for months. And so it scares me when I think about the lines between kink and vanilla beginning to muddle. If someone doesn’t take the time to understand what they are doing in a scene, feelings and physical bodies can be hurt. Trauma can be created or past traumas triggered.
In my lifetime, I have been lucky to experience all levels of kink with my partners, and I have been luckier still that my experiences are all good. I want to learn more about different styles of kink and communication, and how they develop. It’s important to have a good time in this life, but it’s also important to protect yourself and others. This is what I explore and emphasize communication whenever possible. Personally, I feel comfortable in the balance I’ve found. I can give someone my trust, but it has to be earned by them, and I do not regret where I’ve placed my sexual trust so far.

What Happens When Your Femininity Doesn't Fit the Script?

This is another personal essay that I have poured some heart and soul into. These types of posts are common as I travel, because I’m often spending time by myself. These things are healthy for me to reflect on. By writing them (even in the throes of emotion), I hope to either open a dialogue, or to help someone else not feel quite so alone. 
Trigger Warnings: Fatphobia, Eating/Food/Weight Talk, Suicidal Ideations, Mental Health Problems
I have made no secret of the fact that I was assigned female at birth. I also have often talked about my childhood as a tomboy. As a kid, I always stood out. My parents were older, and when my sister rejected me for the first 15 years of my life, I figured out how to be alone. Despite teachers consistently pairing me with other “loners,” I stubbornly refused to fit in with others. I did what I wanted for the most part, and I liked what I did. I would not let anyone else ruin that for me.
When I started Kindergarten, I was about average weight with the other kids. I was mostly happy to be in school, and even though I didn’t have consistent friends, I socialized well and I charmed many of the teachers. Somehow, for most of my childhood, I hid stress and sorrow, including from myself. A lot of these things had to do with the parenting style I was exposed to. In addition, I was witness to many family fights, and often subject guilt trips from my mother. Growing up, I didn’t have boundaries to set my life on a healthy track, physically or emotionally. It is by shear luck that I am smart as I am, which saved me in school.
However, as a result of this, and some genetics, I was overweight by the time I was in 4th grade. I remember hiding it under clothes as large as I could get. I have no memories of wearing Medium as a size because I moved to Large as soon as I could. I always reasoned that I would lose the weight and wear a Medium when I was in high school, when I was in college, as an adult. I spent years looking at diets, marveling at the before and after pictures. I wondered how those people had so much will power. And what did they have that I didn’t? I was smart and strong and committed. Why didn’t I just shed weight like them?
I was 9 years old.
My father passed the same year I hit puberty. I was 12. My feet grew two sizes in one summer, and the rest of my followed. Soon, I was wearing Extra Large instead of Large. I was taller than everyone in middle school, and I began to hunch, trying so hard to blend in. At the very least, I wanted to be ignored. I had a hard time keeping up with my growth. After 7th grade, all my pants were showing my ankles, so I chopped them into shorts, which also shortened to show my knees.
I learned how to live with unflattering clothes when my school adopted uniforms. Nothing fit right, and though colors didn’t matter, I felt more out of place than ever. I found small ways to break the rules. Colored socks, hats, wristbands. Anything to make myself feel like myself again. Because school was all I did. My depression and family loss made it impossible to be social otherwise. So I held onto my own identity desperately, even though I didn’t even know what it was. One day, I was called out by a teacher for wearing knee-high socks that were brightly colored. My very thin and attractive best friend was standing right next to me with fluorescent striped thigh-highs. She was ignored.
Now that I reflect, I understand my entire identity revolved around NOT fitting in. I embraced my height and my fatness as much as possible. I ate what I wanted and I took no shit from my peers. I became a master at charming teachers so I could be by myself as often as possible. While so many other girls were flirting and chatting, I was reading, or scowling into my lunch. Throughout middle school, a single person expressed interest in getting to know me romantically. He was cute and I would have tried, except that I didn’t believe or trust him. This narrative would be repeated until I was 20.
Physically, I continued to grow. I now stand at 5’10” and I weight roughly 290 pounds. I am intimidating. Friends often looked to me for protection, and I learned how to be the bouncer for us when we went out. These instincts later fueled a joke that I was the Dad-friend. They aren’t wrong. I continue to be intimidating to most people who don’t know me, and this leads many people to leave me alone. I have been cat-called a total of 4 times in my life. Two of those times I was with friends with friends (so I may not have been the target). I have been asked on dates only thrice. All other times, I have initiated.  I hear people complain about being cat-called or bothered at bars, and I am envious. Cat-calling is not okay for anyone and I want it? What the fuck is wrong with this?
When femininity is measured by the response cis-men have to you, it leaves people like me largely ignored, and feeling isolated and unseen. To this day, I still wonder if people interested in me are just playing a cruel joke.
I heard about other women being flirted with, asked out, bought drinks, and cat-called. A lot of them learned to base their worth on these things, and they had been judged worthy (though it was precariously placed in the hands of others). However, without those things to deem me worthy, I adopted “worthless.” I lived my life in as much shadow as I could. No one could prove to me I was worth anything. Anytime one person tried, the rest of the system denied it. Entire social systems against one small, depressed girl.
I wish I could say it’s better now. But wherever I turn, I see more fat hate. I see more messages telling me I’m wrong for being non-binary. People DM me and are mad that I tell them up front “I am not a woman.” I hear friends say “You were a really cute girl, and it will be sad to lose it.” My only question is: By whose standards was I cute? Clearly not most of the men I met. Clearly not most of the women. Clearly not society at large. Because almost no one ever said these things to me when I was a woman. Only seven people in my life had ever visibly and openly demonstrated that they thought I was worth noticing.
My mother consistently asks me about my Testosterone shots. When will I stop them? Why do I need them?
Here’s the truth mom: I need them because I’ve never been a woman. I’ve been Othered even when I TRIED to be a woman. When I tried all the ways possible to be more feminine, I was still ignored. I use Testosterone to help me feel like I belong in my body because my body never fit any mold anyway. And honestly, I don’t have ANY idea what you think will happen when/if I stop testosterone. Will I suddenly be seen as “acceptable?” Will I suddenly find a man and settle down like my sisters?
NO. FUCK NO.
Because I am tall. Because I am fat. Because I am not traditionally pretty. Because even without testosterone, my body was deemed “undesirable” by the world at large. I finally feel at peace with that decision. I finally feel like I have control over that decision. Yes, I am having an even harder time than ever finding someone to love, and that makes me sad. But I finally love my hips and my curves. I love the beard that grows when I don’t shave. I love how my jawline is hardening. I love my hairy legs.
I still haven’t been deemed worthy by society, and that still stings. It always will. But I have been deemed worthy by myself. It’s the one tiny bit of hope that I’m using to stay alive, and it’s still precarious. Why would you ever want to take away that last protection?
 

The DepressiOnion

Trigger warning: Talk of deep depression, brief mentions of fat-shaming.
This article is a late-night musing. I hope that it gives you a new idea of how my brain works, and I hope you can use this idea to relate to others. If this model works for you, I highly encourage you to use it too. 
This week, I had the opportunity to attend Playground Conference in Toronto. I had an amazing time, met a bunch of new people, and this will all be covered extensively in a blog post later. Right now, I want to focus on one moment that particularly stuck with me: I was talking to someone at length about personal philosophies and how their mind works through life. When it was my turn to share, I was at a loss to describe my own brain despite thinking about it almost every moment of every day.  I’m a Psychology student and I think about thinking a lot. I was shocked to realize that I couldn’t have this conversation. Some of it is because I’m too close to my own brain to summarize it properly. It’s hard to see everything at once. However, there is another layer at work here. I didn’t want to explore my brain because it scares me to talk about it.
The Problem
My brain is a hellish landscape of depression, anxiety and grief. My father passed away at a very important time of my life. My family was a wreck throughout my growing up. I didn’t really understand this until recently, but now I feel it very acutely as I try to work though my own mental problems with a professional. I begin tracing back the problems I have now to things that happened years ago, and were subsequently buried under life.
Someone recently described their default mode as “quirky and looking for innuendos.” At the time, I was baffled because that is the farthest thing from true for me. As I begin to think about how my brain interacts with the world around me, I am realizing that my default is “isolated.” I am consistently seeking out ways that I am special and different from others. I want to be seen as a commodity because I am unique. I also want to be independent, because my freedom is so important to me. However, I also default to a sense of loneliness. My brain automatically sees differences between me and the people I love. The differences that make me good come with other differences that (as my brain sees it) make me not-so-good.
The negative side of this primarily comes from a side of my depression that actively hates me. For every “Leo moment” where I love my hair, my skills, my humor, there is a moment where I feel obnoxious, annoying, awkward, or downright asinine. I play up my “Leo moments” because I want to believe them myself. I know this hateful part of me has existed for a long time, and I’ve learned to live with it. It got buried under careers, relationships, and other life. But now, I am working through those piles so I can live a healthier and fuller life. As this hateful side of me becomes more accessible, it becomes louder and more harmful.
If my default state is so easily tipped into the negative, what does that mean when I have social interactions? Well, thanks to insecurity, and a lack of being able to recognize social cues, I very often second-guess what I do, and the information I think I know. For example, I have a hard time believing that someone would be flirting with me. I let things go over my head because I’ll never be sure if they really were, or if I just wanted to believe that because I want to make sure I stay in a positive space that day. I usually walk away from parties and conferences fearing I missed opportunities (at best), or was downright awful to be around (at worst).
The New Idea
All of this sounds like very typical bad self-esteem. That certainly plays a big part. Why would I be sharing this when it’s nothing new? Well, there’s a new idea that came into my brain as I recover from Playground Conference.
The word intersectionality refers to a concept where differing identities cross, creating a more complete picture of someone. This most commonly gets applied to different types of oppression and/or prejudice. This concept is what I’m going for, but with depression. I refuse to use the word intersectionality for my depression concept because that is already associated with a movement and concept which is much bigger than my mental health. But I would like to borrow the basic principles and apply them. This is why I use the word DepressiOnion. It’s a really great pun (which is on brand for me), and it conveys this idea very well.
Let Me Explain
Imagine me holding a tiny onion sprout. It’s little with maybe two or three layers. This represents my base depression. It’s small but manageable enough. Not very trusting, a little less secure in attachment. With just this, I’m moving through the world differently already. I default to a feeling of loneliness, even when with a lover. I struggle to keep my head up on some days. But overall, I’m doing okay; I check in with a professional regularly just to make sure I’m on track.
Now add in some chronic issues like fat-shaming, transgender identity, weird non-monogamy spectrum, whatever applies. The onion is a bit bigger with a few more layers. It’s still easy to hold and work with, but it takes up more room and I have less space to hold other things (heh). I take on less of the outside world, and I need to check in more frequently.
Now, add in a life event, such as the recent break-up that I went through. The onion is even bigger, with more layers now. It’s still manageable, but requires much more energy than the first iteration. It’s takes up much more space than it used to, and now I have to spend all of my energy and space in one hand holding this onion. Each layer is built upon and working with the others. Again, my world view is different than before.
Now, with these three sets of layers, it’s much harder to feel good. I have a hard time feeling desirable. Maybe I’m better off alone, but then why am I lonely? Perhaps I’ll never be loved again. I worry that any time I date someone, they won’t see me for who I am. I worry that if I click with someone, I won’t be in a good headspace to date them at that time. I think that I am too much work/hassle/etc. But this is me, and I can’t get rid of it. I can’t change these identities.
So what if something else happens? Con drop? A new potential affection for someone? A friend being revealed as someone you’re not sure you can trust? All three in one week (which is what has happened)?
Well this onion is joined by more and more layers. That con is more isolating because I’m coming home to an empty bed instead of a partner. The new affection is highlighting how infrequently I feel seen (and loved) in my entirety. My untrustworthy friend reminds me why I don’t trust my own judgement in the first place. All of these layers are now related. They are intimately involved in one another. It’s hard to get to the core of the onion now. It takes up all the space and energy just trying to hold it.
Oh and you can’t put it down either. Because it’s you.

Indigo Tries Edging!

10 out of 10
This pairs nicely with a good light beer. If you’re trash like me, you use a domestic like Budweiser. But if you’re classier (god I hope so), then any light craft beer will do nicely. It has that sneaking up on you, prolonged effect. Great for a day when you have a lot of time to kill.
So first, let’s define edging for those who don’t know it! Edging is the act of pleasing your partner to the edge of an orgasm, but not to the point of orgasm. You could play this in an orgasm denial perspective, or a teasing perspective. I like both approaches and they feel very different for me! Sometimes, you physically pleasure them. Other times, you could order them to pleasure themselves or tease through text. All of these are great ways to experiment with edging!
So my first experience with edging involved me and a fantasy. Since I was still exploring, I edged myself almost to orgasm and then I stopped. However, I had nothing else to distract me, so after playing around on my phone for maybe a minute, I gave in and resumed masturbating. The orgasm was lack-luster because it lost momentum and I didn’t have enough time to gain it back. However, I was still intrigued by this idea. I’m very submissive, and it’s easy for me to love the idea of someone making me (or preventing me from) reaching orgasm. It’s jut so…out of control.
So I attempted it with my boyfriend at the time, but as it turns out, he’s a real nice guy and also got off on seeing me orgasm. So it didn’t really work. I gave up on edging for a long time. And then…I started texting a domly dude from Tinder and he asked the magic question: Are you into edging? So I gave him a rundown on my feelings, experiences and a strong “PLEASE GOD YES LET’S DO IT RIGHT NOW.” And we did.
So that night, he sent me a text. I had just gotten high and fucked myself like 6 times. I was truly out of control. And the he said “I hope it’s not too forward to ask, but I have an assignment for you. I want you to edge yourself 4 times at 10 minutes each. And then (and only then), you can have two orgasms.”
“…yes professor. :peach emoji; winking emoji:”
With my roommate on the couch downstairs, I went upstairs, grabbed my Doxy and edged myself for 10 minutes.
“One. That wasn’t so bad.” “Good.”
And then I watched an episode of the TV show my roommate and I were watching. I let her know I would need a break to edge for my new dom friend and we paused between that episode and the next.
“Two. Okay, that was tougher.” “Very good.”
One more episode. Food. Sex scene. I’m starting to feel my vulva swell easier than before. My pot is wearing off too.
“Three… Jesus this is so hard now.” “You’re doing great, kid.” “Woof.”
And because it was bedtime, I didn’t have TV to distract me. I sat down to do some work on a review. It was so hard to focus with my clit throbbing. But I said I would do it. It’s the last one, and I need at least 10 minutes between each session.
“Four. Oh my god I’m so ready to cum.” “Great job. A+. You can cum very soon.”
So I waited for 10 more cruel minutes. The clock slowed down. My work was half-assed. And then, I was finally able to crawl into bed with a vibrator and a dildo. I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t feel my legs for 20 minutes. I texted this new dom after each orgasm.
“Heck. I did it. I can’t feel my legs.” “100% completion. Great work.” “Thank you, professor.” “I’m glad I could help my student succeed in their goal.”
And at this point, we lose the thread because Indigo fucking melted into a puddle.
When I solidified again, I began to think about what I got from this kink. Well, I got what I expected. I got a great couple of orgasms. I got a really good submissive feeling. However, what I didn’t expect was a huge blossom of self-love that I experienced right after receiving the praise I was due. At first, I thought it was the praise that did it. Simple pride would be a good feeling.
This was different, though. I felt calm and at peace with my body and myself. I felt like I had meditated through physical mediums and I looked for why. As it turns out, in order to edge yourself, you have to be aware of your body. You have to learn it’s signals, and respect them. Since I’ve been going through Dialectical Behavioral Training, I recognized this as mindfulness (where my psychology geeks at?). I had listened to my body and my wants. I helped them align with my needs. As a result, I built a trust in myself just a little bit. It was more than I bargained for, but in the best way.
I immediately texted my dom about this and we de-briefed about the whole experience. What was good? What could be better? What terms felt natural? What terms felt forced? I told him about my mindfulness, but he isn’t a psychology nerd like me, so it went a little unnoticed. And instead, I texted some other sex geeks, and I got what I needed from them.
Being the type of person who wants all sides to an action, I immediately went to Twitter to ask about Edging from other folx. Specifically, I wanted some negative stories. Sometimes, when you don’t let yourself orgasm, but continue to stimulate, it can create an orgasm that is less fulfilling than if you just rush headfirst into the orgasm. Several people talked about losing orgasms completely from edging. A few folks even talked about feeling frustration or pain from edging. I want to point out that it’s important to listen to yourself. Edging may not be for you, and that is okay. I know that I can’t edge continuously for very long without experiencing frustration. I much prefer edging that lasts 10 minutes and then lets me back off. With this method, I have stronger orgasms because I feel paid attention to without being tortured. (I do love torturous play, but it is different.)
Even with all the bad parts of edging, I’m still a really big fan. I hope that my future partners will give me similar tasks, or edge me in person. Not only does it feel kinky and pleasant, but it also came with so many affirming emotions. If you enjoy teasing and being teased (which I certainly do), you may find yourself enjoying edging as well!

Being "Good For You" and "Good To You" are Different Things

Not a review! Op ed pieces don’t have ratings from me!
So I am currently post-break-up with my longest-term partner, and I’m in a lot of pain and self-reflection. In the middle of one long conversation late at night, I had a revelation about my life and the folx who come through as partners.
Chess
My mother has often said “If you find someone who is good to you, don’t let them go because that’s rare.” I have a lot of issues with this. For one, I have had many many partners and people be really good to me. It’s hard NOT to be good to me, so why does my mother find it so rare? But the more important question is: What constitutes “good to you?”
I have experienced a few partners in my time, and they covered the spectrum. So I’m going to show you a new idea: Being “good to you” and being “good for you” are very different. And they are both important.
What is Good to You?
My first ex (let’s call him Ex A) was someone who did not make time in his schedule for me. Here are other examples of what our relationship was like:

  • I would hear from him once a week if I was lucky.
  • About a month before we broke, he got mad because I told two of his friends we were dating. (He was worried that he would be called “a breeder.” I can’t believe I didn’t break it off then, because I felt so awful about myself. He was ashamed to get me. ME.)
  • I always had to visit him and not the other way around. (We lived five states away, so this is no joke.)
  • He told me multiple times that he would pay me back, or pay for dinner and then never had the money for it.
  • Had little or no sympathy for my sadness and lonely feelings.

This ex was not good to me at all. Ex B who WAS good to me acted more like this:

  • Supportive when I cried, expressed sadness or otherwise doubted the status of my life
  • Supportive when I was mad, overwhelmed or otherwise doubted the okay-ness of my life.
  • Paid for things equally whenever possible, and paid for extra things when I needed it.
  • Helped with housework when I asked.
  • Listened and made an effort to change when I felt unappreciated.

Being good to you is something that is measured in small, everyday things that get overlooked when someone thinks about partnership. It’s a general feeling of wanting to help and care on a daily basis.
Sand Equation
So what is Good for You?
Let’s use examples again. I find they are the best way to illustrate these concepts.
So I had an ex (we’ll say Ex 1) that was good for me. He looked like this:

  • Pushed me to get my career on track.
  • Lived in an exciting place by his choice and on his dime.
  • Didn’t take my bullshit when I tried to throw it.
  • Happy to share opinions and suggestions with me, either about his life or mine.
  • Didn’t lay all his problems on me and ask me to fix them.

And I had an ex (Ex 2) who was not good for me. He looked like this:

  • Never pushed himself towards a goal.
  • Happy to stay in one place unless pushed by someone or something else.
  • Rarely had suggestions. About activities or life. Let me lead every conversation, big or small.
  • Not strongly opinionated, happy to go with the flow.
  • Got frustrated easily over small things and make large impulsive decisions to counter them.
  • Often didn’t prevent small issues from popping up through lack of foresight.

I’d like to play a game. Of these two situations, is Ex A (bad to me) Ex 1 or 2? Ex B (good to me)?
Well, it’s designed to trick you. Ex A and Ex 1 are the same person. This ex was awful to me on a personal level. He lied often and didn’t respect me as a human. Here is how it felt to me: His confusion about his sexual orientation (mostly gay) was thrown off by my gender identity (at the time). This confusion in him (plus our being poorly matched on a lot of other things) made him not good to me. However, his employment and living situation was really under his control, if a bit tight on money. That inspired me to do the same. I pursued my career more vehemently and got my feet under me, financially speaking. I owe him a lot of good in the broad strokes of my life. And I owe him a lot of bad, because his actions spurred a great deal of my second-guessing and self-esteem issues.
On the other side of that, Ex B and Ex 2 are the same person. He took care of me when I presented a problem. Sometimes he could anticipate when I was sad, and did nice things for me. He was really open about communication. He texted me Good morning and Good night every day. In short, he thought about me a lot. And when it came to his life, he thought about me too. His decisions were always to impress me. He came to me for lists of ways to improve. In a lot of ways, I felt like a therapist, and a mother figure. It was great for a long time, and then I was tired of making decisions for two people, and I needed to end it. He was great to me, but he wasn’t good for me.
Being good for someone is hard. It really involves more focus on yourself so that they don’t have to focus on you. It’s less of entwining your lives together and more spending time together. Fixing problems from one side is done by that side. Problems that come up on both are tackled evenly. When you hold yourself to a standard, you’re holding them to a standard and vice versa. When all of this happens, you are good for someone.
Being good to someone is as easy as being smitten. Think about them often. Notice the things that change each day. Did their patterns shift? That might mean something is wrong. Did they say the same thing, but in a different way than usual? That’s another indication. Make sure you pull your weight on daily interactions. Do they text you more than you text them? Either step it up, or break it up, because being evenly matched is important.
Divorce paper
“Not Good for You” is NOT the Same as “Bad for You”
This is really important to me. I want to differentiate between experiences that don’t help you and experiences that actively harm you. What is the difference and how can it change your decision to stay or leave? Ex B was in no way a bad influence on me. He didn’t impair my life in great big ways or discourage me from my career and efforts. He tried to do everything for me, and it was just exhausting to make all the standards. But he was NOT bad for me.
So what is Bad for You, if it isn’t the same as Not Good for You?

  • Discouraging your self-improvement.
  • Contradicting your self-knowledge.
  • Abusive in ANY way.
  • Holding you back/impairing your progress in life (on accident or on purpose).
  • Competition mindset.

So there’s a few things I want to address here. I am not a victim of abuse in a relationship. I have experienced parental abuse, but no other kinds. I would speak on it more, but I don’t know it, even from an academic stance, so I won’t address it further.
There is a difference between wanting to be good for your partner and wanting to be good enough. If you struggle to be good for your partner, it implies that you are improving yourself and finding ways that you can make life better. Being good enough for a partner implies that your accomplishments up to this point aren’t good enough. They are. You are good enough. That should be assumed. If there is a question, it’s time to work on yourself. Your partner will have a hard time helping you accept yourself.
I also want to talk about Competition in relationships. When I saw what a partner had (like their own place), I realized that I wanted it too. However, I didn’t want THEIR place. I didn’t want a place that was BETTER than theirs. And I did not think to myself “I will earn my place MORE than they earned theirs.” I said “This is nice. I want a place that’s good for me.” If you go in trying to one-up your partner, you will create a bad atmosphere, and often, it’s tied to a need to be good enough. Again, work on yourself. It will do wonders for your mindset.
The Successful Relationship
When I look at successful couples, I notice that they challenge each other. I’ve watched two people push each other through school when things got hard. I have seen a very successful couple fight about a comment that was not appropriate, and the one who made the comment accepted the education they received. Respect is held on both sides of the relationship. There are standards held for themselves and their partners. Their own standards are always more important (and usually higher). There is an equal desire to spend time together. I have watched successful couples look at each other and strive to be good enough for one another, without judgement or self-depreciation.
It’s possible to achieve successful relationships regardless of any mental health factors. It requires communication and a desire to connect. But if you want to achieve and maintain a relationship, be open to some suggestions. If you aren’t helping yourself, or actively rejecting the help of others, your partner won’t be able to help you, and it gets exhausting. So listen to how they feel. You may not realize what you are doing. That’s okay. Help can start anywhere, including in ignorance.