What are the ways that you can experience pleasure even if you are in pain? How can you explore with yourself within the limitations of your body? What is the connection between disability and sex? Hear it all on this episode of the Queer Joy Podcast; where two relationship therapists explore what it looks like to see joy in queer relationships.
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Keely: (Intro - 00:24Updates - 02:53Topic Pt 1 - 09:20Topic Pt 2 - 19:42Topic Pt 3 - 29:03Topic Pt 4 - 33:36Queer Joy - 40:18) [00:00:00] they're not the only ones who struggle with pain but still wanna be sexual, still wanna be seen as a sexual being, still wanna embrace and embody themselves as a sexual person. That that is very real and very possible..
Melisa: Hello everyone. Welcome back to Queer Relationships Queer Joy.
Keely: Hi Melisa. Hey everyone.
Melisa: Hi, Keely. Just us again.
Keely: Just us another week of just us .
Melisa: I actually get kind of excited cause I'm like, so how have you been? I know it's a podcast, but I'm also like, our updates are part of how I like learn what's happening with you?
Keely: Aw, that's cute. Yeah. I know when we skip weeks or when we do interviews, we don't do the updates. So sometimes it's [00:01:00] a couple weeks before hearing updates.
Keely: I will say, I'm not gonna skip ahead, but I know that I know what my queer joy is gonna be.
Keely: We've already talked about, I'm curious if you're gonna use the same Queer Joy or if something else you're gonna introduce, but and for those out there, someone may even be able to guess what my queer joy is if you too got a text from somebody this past week. So, Yeah. Do we have, do you wanna do intros first or are we doing updates?
Melisa: We'll launch into intros if any of you are new. Um, I'm Melisa DeSegiurant. I'm licensed as Marriage and Family Therapist and professional counselor working at Connective Therapy Collective. I'm a white person. I'm bisexual. I am able bodied. I'm polyamorous and I'm gender fluid. I use she and they pronouns.
Keely: My name is Keely C. Helmick. I'm a licensed professional counselor. I'm a certified sex therapist. I am currently the owner [00:02:00] of Connective Therapy Collective. I am a white, non-binary queer person who is working on a back issue, and I am dating non monogamously. That's kind it.
Melisa: Now we've gotten, so afterwards we're like, so now what
Keely: Well, and I, I'm trying to make it succinct and at the same time still have a good amount of identifiers and location of self, so.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah.
Keely: But it changes a little bit each time.
Melisa: It does. I've noticed that, especially when I go quickly afterwards, I'm like okay. Those are the, are those the thing? Those are the things. Did they change?
Keely: Yeah. Did they change?
Keely: Well, updates I think I've told you I'm joining the lesbian [00:03:00] choir. I went to the concert yesterday and of course at the concert run into people I know that I didn't even know that were in the choir and other therapists. So that was fun. Just getting It really emphasized. Cuz I know for you, Melisa, you talk a lot about going on dates by yourself. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm . And for me, I am more challenged by. and I went to this concert by myself, and I met people there, so it reinforces that it's good to go out by myself. And sometimes when I go out by myself, I may not end the night by myself.
Melisa: Right. You might not be alone the entire time.
Keely: Uh, And then the one thing I wanna bring up today from dating is because we talked about this a couple weeks ago, about an episode of Multi Amory that had a dating specialist. Mm-hmm. I want to say. That I took that dating specialist advice and [00:04:00] I had a like meetup pre-screening of a person I'd been chatting with and did a like FaceTime meetup, which was fantastic.
I encourage everyone to do this because what happened, and it was a great meetup, we talked for a little over an hour. What I noticed though is a, I felt a lot less pressure.
Keely: I didn't, it was like at seven or seven 30 at night, so it was dark already, but it was early enough. I didn't feel I didn't have to go out. Mm-hmm. , um, Let's be real. I just had to look cute from the waist up.
Keely: And I didn't have to buy anything and there was no pressure. like whether or not to hug or whether or not to kiss. When I first meet up with somebody, it was just so chill.
Keely: And I feel more confident if we end up, I mean, we left it the option open. [00:05:00] If we meet up in person, it just feels more comfortable to me. And I feel like my time, I spent an hour, that's it.
Melisa: Yeah, totally.
Keely: The travel time, the time you're there, the travel home, all of these different things. So what I imagine recommend,
Melisa: Yeah, I imagine you have such a better idea of what it would be like to be in person, you know, in a way that could make, if you do that, that more enjoyable instead of having the nerves of like, what are we gonna talk about? How's our conversation gonna go? Like, you know, a little bit of that already.
Keely: Yeah, totally. It, It, it was great. It was great.
Keely: So that's, my updates still hanging with main, Main, their schedule is intense, so very much almost feeling like I have a long distance relationship within living in the same town. So that's quite interesting.
Keely: Other than that, that's what's going on for me.
Keely: Melisa, what would you like to share with folks?
Melisa: What is my update? Um, it is cold. [00:06:00] I'm doing a lot of staying in where it's warm, , uh, which for me means as many may know, a lot of baking and making my place cozy. So a lot of that, uh, continues and I think that's, that's just gonna be a winter theme every year.
Melisa: It's nice and sunny, but it's not warm enough to like get me out for a day.
Keely: uh, You just emphasized another great reason to do a meetup by FaceTime or phone.
Keely: Your cozy home and don't have to put sign.
Melisa: Stay warm! Exactly. Priorities.
Keely: Amen. Oh, Comfort is a priority. Yes.
Melisa: It is. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah. I mean, I would still say relationship with self continues to be a theme. Again, I do think that's kind of a seasonal thing that's probably really good for me, like imagine that every year I focus on relationship with self for a quarter of the year, that feels like a healthy choice.
Keely: What a balance. Mathematically speaking.
Melisa: Yeah. But no, I'm well, my relationships are going well. Um, I would [00:07:00] say, this is going to maybe sound boring, but communication, the thing I always talk about has been at the forefront and, um, that's just really positive. There's a lot of, there's a lot of communication happening, I think at all levels, like with partners, with Metamours, with myself. Like There's just a lot happening and it has felt really productive and positive.
And I think maybe one of the things that feels, um, important to note is I sit here and talk about communication and that's obviously we, we come back to that a lot as therapists, and I think it can, it can give off this impression that like, I'm just an expert communicator in my relationships, which is so far, so far from the truth. That's, if anything, the reason I'm, I'm like, just like can't get off of this communication train is cuz this is my work right now that I am trying to work on.
Melisa: Um, Which that, you know, my own inner critic can really act up around that and be like, you're a therapist, you should know how to do these things. And then a big should statement is attacking me once again. Um, But [00:08:00] I'm grateful for the opportunity to practice and I think, another thing I talk about a lot, um, I've really been slowing down, like even with texting people, I have really been slowing down and, and at this point I am able to recognize what the impulse is to say, which usually is more of kind of the people pleasing. Fawning type language and response. And then when I notice that, I'm like, wait, but it is that authentic. Is that how I actually feel? You know? Or is that me trying to control this situation in a way that feels comfortable? And so it's felt really rewarding to be able to witness those things. So a lot of working honestly, is my update. I'm working a lot on all of my relationships right now.
Keely: Yeah, that's fair.
Keely: Well, speaking of work and relationships, and I wanna tie in today we're talking about [00:09:00] pain and sex.
Keely: But we wanna be clear, we are talking about joyful pieces. Again, not toxic positivity because pain is real and folks that either have pain in an acute way and are dealing with a recent flare up of something or are have a current injury, or for those that struggle intermittently with chronic pain or deal with chronic pain daily, mm-hmm. different kinds of pain. We're gonna be doing an overview and talking about how to really continue having a sexual life and creating your own sexual life within dealing with these added struggles.
Melisa: Yeah. And we, we want to clarify that today we are not talking about the pleasurable kind of pain that some of you maybe, maybe got excited when you are kink. Uh, we'll talk about that in a later episode. Uh, but not, not the focus for today. [00:10:00]
Keely: Yeah, so this is the pain. This can be things from, you know, vaginismus, this can be nerve pain, this can be, like I said, an acute injury or a chronic pain from an old injury. Different ways that our bodies are performing day-to-day, or how our bodies feeling day to day. And this is a very brief, this is gonna be an overview and we're really excited we have some great opportunities to meet with people and talk about more specific chronic pain or specific chronic illnesses. So this is just a very general overview today. And of course, we're gonna talk about, a lot of it's gonna be about communication, whether it's how we communicate to partners, how we communicate to others about ourselves, how do we talk to caregivers or how do we talk to doctors? And maybe how to talk to your therapist about this if, [00:11:00] especially if you're not working with a therapist who's a sex therapist and may not have the same knowledge that, uh, sex therapists do. Which I will say, even being a certified sex therapist, there's a lot of extra training that I've done outside of my certification process, because this isn't something that's talked about a lot. I don't think that people, and yet how many people throughout who we connect with on a daily basis, whether it's a grocery store, it's a coworker, it's a friend. So many people are dealing with some kind of pain in their body.
Melisa: Right? Yeah. Yeah. And when you name that, that it's not talked about, the first question that pops up in my mind is like, why? Right? And yeah, I mean, we can say ableism, in general, maybe an answer to that question is an answer to that question.
And, And within that, um, in addition to communication with others, I think part of what this topic brings up is that relationship to self. And you talked about, um, as we were planning Keely, like one's own [00:12:00] self image and relationship to pain and relationship to our bodies in pain. Um, Do we give ourselves permission to still be sexual beings? Are, are, you know, do, do we, we don't need that permission, but are we holding ourselves back from even seeing ourselves that way um, in an ableist world? That won't automatically see people who don't look to be able bodied, obviously, um, as being sexual.
Keely: Yeah. And where do we see that? In our media. We don't who is complain. I mean the classic, and this is so cis hetero. What I think of when I think about pain and sex in a general way is the cliche of some, you know, sitcom that's like some cis hetero woman's, oh, I can't have sex tonight. I have a headache. Mm,
Melisa: Yeah, right.
Keely: Like Which a., humans get headaches and headaches can be extremely debilitating.
Keely: But also it's this normalized idea that, oh, if there's pain, [00:13:00] therefore I can't have sex.
Melisa: Right, right. Yeah. Yeah. Not,
Keely: And we are not here to say very big disclaimer. It is always valid. Always consent based. We're not saying in any way, shape, or form to push through pain.
Keely: Or to have sex in spite of pain. What we wanna open up the conversation is this gray area of folks that want to continue to have their sense of sexual self and sexual connection with others in spite of what's going on with their bodies and always checking in with your doctor as well, and understanding, like getting to know your body more mm-hmm. and understanding the limitations, but within those limitations, within those structured boundaries, how can you open up your world to explore and explore with yourself? Find these new ways of connecting with others [00:14:00] And I think queering sex really opens up the ability to do this a lot more than the standard cis heterosexual narrative.
Melisa: That's absolutely right, Keely. That's the foundation I think that we've built at least recently on this podcast to, to that I guess, underlies this conversation because if we're not just looking at sex as penis, vagina intercourse, that's the only thing that is sex or that is a valid way to express oneself sexually then there's a lot of room to work with all different body types, all different responses and all different, um, levels of physical ability.
Keely: Yeah. So the first step, as we often talk about thinking about masturbation or how we are in relation to ourselves sexually in relation to our body, physically doing a quick check-in, like, first of all, yes, do you want to have sex or engage in some kind of sexual thing?
Keely: And if it's something that you haven't been [00:15:00] doing because of pain. What can you do within your body to connect that doesn't increase pain? Or how can you work with your body? This is really talking about working with your body, working with, with what's going on minute to minute, day by day, and finding that connection.
And when I think about pain, You know, the doctor they often have like, what's your level of pain today?
Keely: Whatever vocab you use for yourself to understand where you're at physically that day, and then ranking within that dynamic of the Yes, no, maybe. Yes, I really wanna engage sexually with myself, with someone else today.
Maybe let's, let's test the waters out a little bit. Mm-hmm. , or there's days, it's gonna be a hard no. And so that check-in, and this is useful for anybody, but especially someone who has, again, either like an injury or, or pain, chronic pain or acute pain. Checking in with self is so [00:16:00] important and really mo even like a quick body scan, I would definitely recommend a, you know, maybe a five minute body scan to see what parts are feeling pain, what's the intensity. Yeah, because maybe, okay, maybe certain positions or maybe having intercourse or sex involving genitals doesn't work, but what are the other ways that intimacy or physical connection can work that day? Yeah.
Melisa: Yeah. Are there ways that you can experience pleasure, even if you are also in pain? Are there ways that you can find things that feel pleasurable or even you know, and again, to your point, Keely, if the answer is no, listen to that. Remember, this is from Tuck, but remember the pleasure of saying no no can be pleasurable, right?
Melisa: So that there's a great example of where there may be pleasure, even if there's no, the, the decision is there's no sexual engagement. You know, I don't even wanna be looked at right [00:17:00] now as a sexual being. Great. Let's make that feel really pleasurable.
Keely: So if you're in the yes or maybe camp for the day, then where can you go from there? Are you able, if you're wanting to, if you're moving from exploring yourself, okay, let's say you, you, you've got yourself down you know, you, you've used, you have sexual sex toys that you enjoy or there you understand body parts and certain sensations, certain intensities, certain types of touch. Well, then going beyond that, you wanna connect with a partner mm. , where does that communication come in? How do you talk to your partner about where you're at that day and use specific communication? And reminder, communication is very sexy. Mm-hmm. Is this something that you wanna schedule and start laying out the foundation in a text or in an email or a phone call? If it's a workday, a phone call at lunchtime or a check-in phone call. Yeah. Like [00:18:00] I'm thinking about, I wanna have sex tonight or this afternoon when you get home. Here's where I'm at today, how are you feeling?
Melisa: Absolutely. And if it's for a with a new partner, this is where I reference now all the time, Dr. Evelin Dacker's STARS acronym. This is part of that conversation, right? This may be part of the turnons, this may be part of the avoids, and it's certainly safety and, and part of the reason that, you know, it is so important to have that communication upfront with new partners, especially is, we haven't named yet, but some people's pain is invinsible to the outside eye. And that is also valid. It's part of your experience and, and the pressure I hear people have to hide, you know, or to minimize for themselves. Like no, it's not really a big deal cuz no one else can see it. No, your experience is valid, it's a big deal. It's, it's worth talking about. Um. and it may be in part of that conversation talking about what are the supplemental things we need? You reference like are there sex toys? Is there special furniture we [00:19:00] need? Are there positions that feel good? Or positions that are off limits that are avoids.
Hey, Hey, it's Cardinal. You're behind the scenes buddy. Yep. The one constant is change. I feel like things have changed in your relationship and you need to check in. Totally normal. But having that conversation can be hard, which is why we made a free relationship check-in worksheet, where you can explore your values and where those values conflict. You can foster vulnerability practice being seen and dive into power dynamics.
Worksheets can be helpful tools to get that conversation going. You can do it alone or with your partner or partners, find the link to download in the episode description. All right back to the show.
Keely: Yeah. And how do you, when you're talking about that, thinking about all the different [00:20:00] ways, I think part of the reason, a big part of why we wanna talk about this today is because there's not the vocabulary for all the different ways to do this and, and if you think about how are you supporting your body in this? And honestly I've been incorporating and I think about what athletes do to prep their body and I, I've been thinking about sex as an athletic event.
Melisa: Mm-hmm. Are you warmed up enough, ready to go?
Melisa: Not, and we don't mean just like have the genitals been like, you know, stimulated like, no, like stretching .
Keely: Have you done your stretches and incorporating a routine. So for me, honestly, sometimes sex is way more motivating than some big physical, like a big a run or a big hike. So it's like how do I prep for sex in the way that I would before I go on a hike?
Keely: And that's changed [00:21:00] so much with my injury. And I will say the medical field as I know it, and as we notice it is not prepared to help people be sexually active.
Keely: With uh, injuries. With, with pain.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah.
Keely: And I'll say cuz I ask them, I will ask them like, Hey, what do we do for this? And their suggestions have always been, and so we'll name their suggestions and then we're gonna expand on that. There One thing they talk about. Okay. So we talk about this idea like stretching and warming up. Mm-hmm. . And I will say, I think that we hear that so much and it's a real thing as people get older. I think that people in their twenties may not, and again, we don't see this in movies, we don't see it in porn.
We talk about porn where there's this like you only see this little section of [00:22:00] the scene.
Keely: And I bet you I wanna find it. I bet they're stretching before they do their sex scenes.
Melisa: I was gonna say, you can make that sexy, like partner stretching. Are you kidding me?
Keely: Oh my gosh.
Melisa: I know I grew up as as a dance kid. But like, come on,
Keely: Yeah. The position, I'm just thinking of the person. There's like one person laying down and you have the leg up and you're like pushing into
Melisa: Let's get those hamstrings stretched out.
Keely: Yeah. Yeah. Or
Melisa: Intense eye contact.
Keely: Putting your hands, stretching your arms.
Keely: So that's the thing to think about. Like we're thinking about the warmup, the consent piece, mm-hmm. what it looks like before sex sexual encounter.
Keely: Obviously. Yeah. We can see her and just like our dentist tells us we should floss every day. Yes. I'm sure the doctor or physical therapist would say we should be stretching just daily. Okay, great. Guess what? Many people aren't doing that. So , [00:23:00] yes. If it's just part of your routine and you stretch morning and night, good for you. I aspire to that and have not done that successfully daily.
Melisa: And it's not accessible to everyone. It's not. Again, that's this ableist idea and whether we're talking about it's not accessible from a physical perspective. I do have clients who literally cannot work out. It is not good for their health.
Melisa: Also, I mean, come on, we're therapists like sometimes in the midst of depression. No, you don't have the motivation. It is not accessible, and the priority is not to get up and stretch every single day. There may be a much different priority that's important for your mental health at that moment. And
Keely: Yeah. So yes, some kind of stretching, communication. There is some extra preparation. Again, this idea though, when I think to now, we're not talking about BDSM today, and I will say the ritual piece of a BDSM scene can be incorporated in all different sex scenes and sexual encounters [00:24:00] and I, and there is some planning and it can be sexy to maybe it's you make sure that you have ice in the freezer ready, or which, you know, ice can be used both to help with inflammation and pain, but can also be used in other sexy ways.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah.
Keely: Maybe there's a heating pad nearby. Uh, Having access to things close by if you have to stop during an encounter.
Keely: And that piece, going back to ourselves is recognizing that this is just part of being a human and sexual encounter. Sometimes that means you stop midway through or it doesn't go exactly as we think it's gonna go. But how do you prepare yourself individually and within communication to have those encounters?
And that may mean having, we know you can have certain pillows, there's certain position. What position works for you? Can you communicate [00:25:00] that with your partner or the person you're having sex with ahead of time? Can you,
Melisa: Me too. Even slowing down the transitions between positions, um, It's, it's interesting even this conversation Keely, because in the past when I was really dealing with my leg injury stuff, um, I remember having a conversation about like, do I call myself able-bodied if I can't walk more than a blo-? I don't know. Right? Uh, and it was acute injury at the moment. That's a flare up of a chronic condition. I know. Even though right now I do use the words able body, I feel like I get to navigate the world as an able-bodied person. At this moment. Part of the way my body works is if certain positions, if I'm going to be thrusting in a certain position for a long extended period of time, when I leave that position, everyone needs to move slowly and carefully and I need like at least 10 seconds to let everything relax again because my joints just stiffen up right away and I, I could [00:26:00] re-injure myself and, and again, part of that is like allowing that to still be sexual. You don't see that again in the movies. You see
Melisa: This position, that position, this clip, that clip and it's like, no, it doesn't go that quickly. We need to like pause. And it's a great time to hydrate. It's a great time to check in on like, how is this going? Am I feeling pleasure? Are there any requests like slow down.
Keely: Totally. And using different tools, whether it is a certain prop, whether it is a positioning with pillows, whether it is using, you know, there's dildos that you can, you can have them on your hand, mm-hmm. you can have them on your thigh. You can strap 'em to different parts of your body. And so that's one way I, it can be really sexy if you're communicating with your partner. If you're the person, if you are a person with injury or pain, but still wanna be sexual, what happens if you stay fairly still [00:27:00] and the other person is using your body to get off?
How sexy is that? You know that, that you're instructing 'em. Oh yeah. Go ahead and sit on my face. Or I'm gonna put my hand out like this laying down and fuck my hand or fuck my thigh, you know? . These ways to incorporate not just sexual positions, but sexiness and orgasms, or not orgasms, but pleasure.
Mm-hmm. and not you can have an orgasm without moving a ton, you know? Mm-hmm. again. This is dependent on a person's specific pain or where their pain is at or where their injury's at. But there's a lot to be said. If you can have genital stimulation in a safe way that's physically works for you, mm-hmm. great blood flow, endorphins, dopamine. So like we're
Melisa: And can in some situations, and I'll be very careful to say some can relief [00:28:00] pain during that moment of all of those chemicals being released.
Keely: Yeah. And I've been pushing, I'm like, where's the research? We do know that the, that our body has natural endorphins that help, uh, reduce pain.
Keely: And so it's not, it, it doesn't stop pain forever. It's like, you know, it's, it's, it's a, a short amount of time, but it does give a sense of relief. And where are they talking about this in the literature. The other piece I wanna make sure on that note is something to be aware of because it can provide some relief from pain.
Be careful. Don't overdo it in that moment, when you are feeling less pain,
Keely: Being aware of that too. I think of the piece of physical therapist always says is like, change positions.
Keely: Change positions. Change positions. Get small pieces of movement in. what you can do and it that, that communication throughout the sexual encounter [00:29:00] or the sexual experience with a partner.
Melisa: Yep. Yeah. Absolutely. This, we,
Melisa: We playfully sort of said this as we were planning Keely, but now I wanna just say it like this is part of the reason we need to get rid of judgment about sex and assumptions and the word pillow princess, we can be done with, let's, let's be done with that as a community, uh, because it's not fair.
Keely: Yeah. Or you can reclaim pillow princess if you want. Yes. Or reclaim some kind of phrasing that that can be, that is a very appropriate and. Valid way of having sex.
Melisa: Totally. I like that. Let's reframe it. We don't have to throw it out. We can get rid of my, and throw out my idea. Keep pillow princess, make it yours. It's called royalty.
Keely: It's finding the, [00:30:00] the dynamic that works and working with, that's where the communication comes in. But I will say yes, there, there is a lot of ableism in the negating or making fun of pillow princess, that term pillow princess. And it can be playful, but also, yeah, there is, there's so many ideas out there of like what sex is supposed to look like.
Yeah. And so this is just one of the ways that then people can sometimes unintentionally or purposefully just step away from their connection with their sexual selves because they're like, well, I don't fit this right. Or those negative self-talk. , you know, phrases like, my body is broken, there's something wrong with me.
Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. people, you know, I don't see people having sex or my, I'm in too much pain to have sex. Yeah. or sex isn't good for me and it's [00:31:00] not incorporated, I keep saying this, but it's like it's not incorporated in the medical field as I see it and as as I talk to people. And so it's like, where are people gonna get their information and does it feel comfortable?
Are people comfortable talking to their doctors, their pain management? You know, I know from working it. I have, I don't even know how many doctors I've talked with in the past six months about my back and okay, I'm a sex therapist, so I come from that piece. I dunno if I'd say privilege, but I have a lot of practice of talking about sex.
Mm-hmm. , so that's not the norm.
Keely: People don't have that practice or necessarily feel comfortable asking their possibly white, cis, hetero male doctor.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah. And medical environments can feel very sterile and not sexy, you know, uh,[00:32:00] not that you need to be turned on to bring up that in conversation, but it can feel like we have to put on this front and not be authentic about like, what our goals are.
You know, and I, I appreciate the way Keeley, you've, you've talked about your journey a little bit on here of how you've modeled. No. You talk about that. You've corrected the doctor who was like, oh, well you're not having sex. Right? Like you've been like, oh wait. You know? And having some model of how to do that I think is helpful cuz that can be very uncomfortable for people to do. But it is part of your healthcare. It is important. It is vital.
Keely: It's part of you And something you just said, Melisa reminded me too. There's like, there's the extreme. So there's people that will a partner or someone you're sexually engaging with may just ignore the pain. Mm-hmm. . But there's also what happens sometimes when someone is like overly caretaking and you're like, okay, I'm still like how do you encourage the communication? But also be be like, I still have my own sexual [00:33:00] autonomy.
Keely: Thank you for caring. I'll inform you right of the things that I need. I'm glad that you care about my body, but I don't need you to constantly be telling me to be careful. Unless that's sexy to you.
Maybe you can work that into your dynamic and someone, you know, says, okay, time to change position.
Melisa: Right? Yeah, totally.
Keely: It's gonna be a whole role, gonna be a whole role play.
Melisa: Yeah. Yeah. But it is, it's like communication and it's, it's, I mean, this, I guess makes sense, but it's ongoing because yes, you're gonna learn your own body, your partners learning you, you know, and what you, how you need to communicate. Things may shift over time.
Keely: And you know, we probably should have said this at the beginning, and I just realized as you said, you talk a lot about, we say the word, what is our why, and I was just thinking about how, [00:34:00] depending on where you're at when you're talking about pain, if this is a certain type of pain that you've been dealing with your whole life or it's something new that's happening, or sometimes certain physical changes are correlated with aging, it's how are you, what is your narrative around who you are as a person and how are you talking about yourself to yourself as a sexual person? Mm-hmm.
Melisa: Right? Yeah.
Keely: And how do you reclaim that? And what is your story you're telling yourself? Mm-hmm. , what is your story? I mean, I realized that my dating profile, it took me so long, I feel kind of silly saying this out loud, but I'll say it, that my identity is so wrapped up or how I think about presenting myself as a very physical person around bike riding and hiking and let's be real Pacific Northwest person. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And all of a sudden it dawned on me, I'm like, wait a minute. [00:35:00] I literally cannot do any of those things right now.
Melisa: Yeah. Right.
Keely: And so for me, reshifting not just my dating profile, but reshifting, who am I as a person when I can't do these physical things?
Melisa: Yeah. Mm-hmm. . Yeah.
Keely: And who am I as a person sexually when I am having to shift or interact differently? and rearrange certain things and it took, I have to change that about myself to know how to communicate that to others, especially if they're new people that don't know me.
Melisa: Right. Yeah. I love that. Updating the narrative about yourself and with that, going through and processing all of the emotions that come up with that.
Melisa: There may be joy, you know, it may be this reclamation of like, this is who I am now. Likely there's going to be grief. That's something that, I mean, gosh, grief comes up all the time too. [00:36:00] We talk about that one a lot. But, um, grief, especially in that, our identity can very much be wrapped up in this physical ability.
And I've, I've had clients even catch themselves in sessions on saying, wanting to express some, like, some gratitude for the body. And it, it comes out actually very ableist of like, well, I love my body because I, I can't love the shape of it right now. And I'm not really a fan of that, but I love that it can do things for me and at least I can do this and at least I can do that. And it's like, well, what if your body can't do those things? Can you love your body? Because it's a body?
Melisa: Because you have one and it's here for you right now, you know? But there may be grief there, especially if you've gone through a change in how your body feels and how you feel in your body.
Keely: And this is also where I really wanna make sure and incorporate that there are sex surrogates and sex coaches that really specialize. This is actually a lot of the work where sex surrogacy comes in is someone really being their hands on, cuz it can also, it [00:37:00] can feel like a lot of pressure to a partner if, especially if it's a new injury or a new thing happening where, you know, working with someone who really specializes in this.
So yes, self-exploration, yes, communication, but also if you have the resources, there's some really awesome people out there who who can really support you hands-on with this and support your partner outside talk therapy. .
Melisa: Right. And the nice thing about going to someone who does have expertise in these areas, sex is on the table automatically as a conversation topic.
Melisa: It takes away that weirdness of bringing it up with someone who you don't know how they're gonna respond, if they're going to respond, if they're going to shame you or be uncomfortable themselves. This is like, no, here's what we we're gonna talk about today.
Keely: You know? So I wanna just make sure, because we talked a lot about a lot of different things today. I wanna recap a little bit. So, because, and maybe this is just my therapist workshop, brain.
Melisa: What are the takeaways?
Keely: [00:38:00] Yes. Like what are the takeaways? So yes, looking at self recreating a new narrative of self, if this is something new or just really breaking the myth, like pain, you're still a sexual being. Guess what? You're still a sexual being, even if you're choosing or that point in time not having sex for whatever reason, you're still a sexual being as you see yourself a sexual being and noticing working with yourself, what still feels pleasurable in spite of the pain or when you have, having that pain management and incorporating sex as part of pain management.
Yeah. Then there's the communication with your partner and then trying things utilizing, whether it's a swing. There's chairs you can use that help support. There's swings. There's props. There's all different types of sex toys. There's [00:39:00] certain sex toys that have like bigger buttons or easier grip depending on, you know, if it has to do with your, you know, hands or wrists or arthritis, certain changes. There are, you know, ch understanding certain positions talking to your doctor
Melisa: And then updating your narrative.
Keely: Yeah. So I hope that was helpful for everyone and I, I hope that's helpful. I found it. I actually cried when I listened to uh, Chosen Family when Ashley mentioned, her chronic pain with her hip and how that's changed.
And I do think that even just bringing this up and someone else hearing that they're not the only ones who struggle with pain but still wanna be sexual, still wanna be seen as a sexual being, still wanna embrace and embody themselves as a sexual person. That that is very real and very possible. Yeah. So [00:40:00]
Melisa: That's the takeaway.
Keely: Yeah. Yay. Well, that's just the beginning of our conversation around this. We will be having more people to come talk and provide their insight with their specific chronic pain or chronic illness or other disabilities. Yeah.
Keely: Onto queer joy.
Melisa: Queer Joy.
Keely: I feel like this medium, I don't feel sad, but I'm like, I'm in this moment of maybe, I don't wanna say triggering, but I think that this topic was certainly very vulnerable and feels like it hit really close to home. So I'm taking a moment to transition and I wonder
Melisa: Slow about the transition between positions of the podcast.
Keely: And I wonder if sometimes it's something I want to take note [00:41:00] of, actually, I wonder how that comes across our transition, because sometimes, even today, it's about embracing sexuality in spite of, or within the dynamic of having pain mm-hmm. but the transition. It wasn't like, I don't know. It wasn't super happy.
Keely: It was just kinda real. It was just like middle ground, like this is human, this is real. Ah, yeah. Joy in spite of, or joy incorporated within.
Melisa: Simultaneously. Gosh, we've talked about that with relationship transitions, haven't we? Like you might be grieving and like having new relationship energy at the same time.
We can. We can both be in the depth of the topic of pain and also find joy.
Keely: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I know I'm ready. I have been ready to say my queer joy.
Melisa: Yeah. See your queer joy. Cause I, we had, we had the same queer Joy add my flair of like, which part is especially joyful for me. [00:42:00] But yeah. .
Keely: So, uh, Ashley Gavin is coming to Portland in May and get who got the tickets?
Melisa: Yeah. I texted you as soon as I got the text from her, I was like, oh my God, it's happening.
Keely: Yes, it's real. It's actually happening. She's actually coming to Portland, Oregon. Hell yeah. So yes, I got the ticket and that's part of my queer joy too. So I got a ticket, of course, got the V I P ticket. Mm-hmm. . The other, some of the other joy was like you texting me and saying that you got the ticket.
And then we were coordinating, like did, did you get the VIP as well? Are we gonna the same show , same show? Is it the early one or the late one? Like all that coordination was like joyful. And then I had some friends because oh my gosh, I, it's like so embarrassing, but like people know. That I've been listening to Ashley Gavin show forever.
Keely: And so they're texting me being like, oh, I thought of you , [00:43:00] like the tickets went on sale, and I thought of you. And I'm like,
Keely: Okay. Yes, yes. It's, it's a little, oh, well, it, it's fun. But that's that's my, that's my pure joy. And it's a, it's a,
Melisa: It's a lot of joy.
Keely: So much joy. And I feel like my mouth hurts right now from smoking so much
Melisa: Totally, totally. I feel that, yeah, that, that is also my queer joy and I the energy that I felt like to slow that moment down of getting that text and then getting to text you. I just, it was a wave of excitement of like, we have talked about this for months, months, we have talked about this. Um, So immediately bought my ticket and that's the piece I'll share.
And I talk about solo dates a lot, but I don't know that I've actually named this particular perk. But because a lot of my solo dates recently with the colder months have been going to shows and things like that where you have tickets. Y'all look at those seating charts, especially for something like this, it sells out right away.
Keely: Oh my gosh. Yes. [00:44:00] I was to have someone go with me for the VIP and I could only get one ticket.
Melisa: Yep. So that's, that's the thing about solo dates. If you all look at that map and you see that best seat right in the middle, right in the center, but it's only one. That's where my ass will be sitting. I get the best seats because I only need one. And it's like the leftover is somewhere, you know? Um, so I, I, I didn't get to see the floor map. I do. I might be off to the side in the section I'm in, but I think I'm upfront. I think I, I think I got a good seat.
Keely: Yes, I know. I, and I hope that, I mean, if anything, you and I will be texting and then like meeting up after the show and
Melisa: Oh my God, yes.
Keely: I'm very happy to have the early show because I'm gonna need that time after the show to like chill and like process to come down.
Melisa: The aftercare.
Keely: The aftercare of after a show, Yes.
Melisa: Of a comedy show? Yes.
Keely: Oh my gosh. I can't even, I can't even, Ima I, if [00:45:00] she ever heard, I was like, oh my gosh like I'd be so embarrassed if she heard this, but also like I kind of want her to hear it. So I don't know. Ashley, I know you're not listening, but if somehow you were, yeah. All right.
Melisa: Pretty cool.
Keely: Cool. Lots of luck.
Melisa: You could bring Alayna too, and I'd be very happy
Keely: There's a real hook. and sending out. for this episode for all of those, Ashley, for your vulnerability in sharing about your pain because you are so known for like having gay sex and being vulnerable, to talk about your journey of caring for yourself and for all of everyone, whether it's something you've been dealing with for a long time or just recently just sending out lots of love and care and wellbeing. And otherwise, I hope you all have a queer and joyful week.[00:46:00]
Thanks for listening to queer relationships, queer joy. A podcast by Connective Therapy Collective. Hosted by Keely C. Helmick and Melissa DeSegiurant. With audio edited by me and Ley Supapo Bernido. I'm your producer, Cardinal marking. Intro music is by bad snacks. If this episode made you smile or think, tell us about it. If you hated it, tell us about that. Review us on iTunes or Spotify.
Or send us an email at media at Connective Therapy, Collective dot com. [00:47:00] For more queer joy, visit our Instagram at queer relationships. Queer joy. Love ya. Bye.