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Dear Captain Awkward:

It’s been an interesting week for me. First, I found out that my abusive ex-boyfriend has gotten his new girlfriend pregnant. (Unrelated to the question, but adding to the weirdness: I’m a massage therapist, and she got scheduled with me for a pregnancy massage, I mean, wtf? I did not end up massaging her, but only because I happened to ask a coworker to take the massage.) This threw me for a loop – since I found out, I have been thinking about him a lot more, remembering the relationship, having weird dreams about him/the situation, and generally kind of being triggered? I’m frustrated. The relationship ended over 3 years ago, and the only contact I have with him is when I occasionally Facebook stalk him to see if I can find something to be superior about (mature, I know). I don’t want to think about him anymore, I don’t quite know why I still even care, and I REALLY don’t know why knowing that his girlfriend is pregnant is causing a resurfacing of the crazy.

Secondly. I’ve been in a relationship now for about 2 years with a sweet and gentle man who has made it his business to make me as happy as I can possibly be. He’s kind and sweet and blah blah blah I don’t want to gross you all out – you get the picture. Over the course of our relationship, we’ve discovered that neither one of us is all that sexually possessive, and so our agreement has been that if we find someone we really want to have sex with, we can go ahead and do it. However, until yesterday, I thought neither one of us had really taken advantage of it – I’ve done a bit of online flirting with his knowledge and approval, but nothing physical. And then yesterday happened.

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The Hulk

The Hulk is my patronus.

We’re going deep into the Jerkbrain today, so let’s start with nice things that I love.

First, a safe-for-work, short animated film, Address Is Approximate. It’s so simple and beautiful, and it punched me right in the heart (in a good way).

Next, Holly’s post about Consent Culture:

A consent culture is one in which the prevailing narrative of sex–in fact, of human interaction–is centered around mutual consent.  It is a culture with an abhorrence of forcing anyone into anything, a respect for the absolute necessity of bodily autonomy, a culture that believes that a person is always the best judge of their own wants and needs.

I don’t want to limit it to sex.  A consent culture is one in which mutual consent is part of social life as well.  Don’t want to talk to someone? You don’t have to.  Don’t want a hug? That’s okay, no hug then.  Don’t want to try the fish? That’s fine.  (As someone with weird food aversions, I have a special hatred for “just taste a little!”)  Don’t want to be tickled or noogied? Then it’s not funny to chase you down and do it anyway.

 I think part of the reason we have trouble drawing the line “it’s not okay to force someone into sexual activity” is that in many ways, forcing people to do things is part of our culture in general.  Cut that shit out of your life.  If someone doesn’t want to go to a party, try a new food, get up and dance, make small talk at the lunchtable–that’s their right.  Stop the “aww c’mon” and “just this once” and the games where you playfully force someone to play along.  Accept that no means no–all the time.

…It’s good to practice drawing your own boundaries outside of the bedroom, too.  It can be shockingly empowering to say something as small as “no, I don’t want to sit with you.”  “No, you can’t have my phone number.”  “I love hugs, but please ask me first.”  It’s good practice for the big stuff.  Simply learning to put your mind in the frame of “this person does not want me to say no to them, and they will resist me doing it, but I’m doing it anyway” is a big, important deal.

Go read the whole thing, obviously. She lays out a beautiful case that boundaries make life better and sex better, and that there are a lot of small things we can do to make the world better for each other. She also sets us up beautifully for today’s question.

El Capitan!

I hope perhaps you might have some advice — or the crowd might — on how to stop being obnoxious. See, I’m pretty laid-back up until someone does something crummy to me. For instance! Once a dude forgot about a date with me, and when he remembered, went snowboarding anyway. Objectively douchey, but that’s not the problem — the problem is that once someone does a thing like that I WILL NEVER FORGET. I will obsess over it, picking at what happened like it’s a scab. I will quite likely resent them and want them to suffer, up till I forget who they are. Which does happen — bad memory — but takes too long to achieve. Leaving scorched earth behind doesn’t work that well in a smaller community as I’m likely going to have to interact with these people in the future. Or at least I’d like to interact, in a nice blasé way, and with none of the perpetual RAWWWWWWWWWWWWR that goes on in my head (and sometimes escapes my lips). It’s embarrassing to feel so strongly about stupid things from the past. I don’t want to lose the Dignity Game. Also, it’s tiring to keep the perpetual motion hamster wheel of resentment going in my head. It takes up so much space in there, which could be better used by remembering fun sex or something.

So! The question is: How the hell do I stop my brain from going over this stuff? How do I turn it off, or retrain myself? I’d like to keep my feathers unruffled, and stop embarrassing myself.

Yours sincerely,
Shut Up, Brain

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A big exclamation point.

With great kink comes great responsibility: Use your words!

I’m still posting at Feministe this week, most recently about how The Interrupters allowed me to finally process and write about some of the violent incidents I witnessed in my old neighborhood.  The filmmaker is a personal hero of mine, so when he stopped by to comment I had a little geek-out involving many exclamation points.

Today we have a guest-post from Holly at The Pervocracy.  She writes great stuff like How Not To Be Creepy and a monthly Cosmocking series and this pretty amazing breakdown of Why Does She Stay With That Jerk? from the perspective of someone who patches up domestic violence victims in the ER, and also sometimes about kinky kinky sex.

Hi Captain!

I have a problem. It’s a problem that might just work itself out in time but, being an incredibly impatient person, I’m worrying at it like a dog with a sock.

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