In her introduction for this week’s Sex Bloggers for Mental Health, Catherine links to my post from last week about priorities. As she highlights, I wrote about the need to balance my and our needs with those of others. For this week’s prompt Catherine asks: but how?
For me, the realisation that a rebalance is required, comes after some kind of crisis. It may just be a moment of stress or some kind of over dramatic meltdown (oh yes, I can be a drama queen).
We are lucky. Our lives don’t any longer revolve around the needs of others. Just of ourselves. We don’t have dependents living with us, nor do we have parents or children living close. But there in lies the slight problem. On one hand we don’t have anyone turning up unexpectedly, but on the other hand, we do need to plan. We can live our own lives spontaneously but interaction with others needs planning. And sometimes we either get the planning wrong, get let down or else have to drop everything for the needs of others. This is kind of what happened at Christmas. My careful planning went wrong, because stuff outside of our control happened and then stress occurred.
Many of us try to control everything around us much too much. I and we are no exception to that. It is in my nature to try to please everyone and by doing so, I end up making myself unhappy. Master needs time of solitude and actually I need that alone time too. But both of us also need to engage with others. He claims he doesn’t; but then suggests going to a munch because he wants to be sociable. When I say we are going to spend an evening with my son or brother he pulls a face, but then enjoys it. Certainly before he met me Master spent far too much time alone and admits now that was not good for him. He claims he dislikes people, but I don’t think he really does, but he definitely needs not to be with others all the time.
That may reflect our different personalities. Me, the extrovert who likes to be with people and he the introvert who lives in his own mind much of the time. But, that’s too simplistic. I find meeting new people difficult. I don’t like noisy places as I can’t shut off from people’s conversations. It’s often he who suggests we go out to meet people and I who would rather stay home.
We both have elderly parents, and the possibility of a call is always there. I know that I will be required at some point to go and help out. My mother is frail and prone to falls. But while she is well and mobile I will keep to my fortnightly visits and support my brother who lives nearby as best I can.
My own brush with ill health and the desire to live my best life right now dictates how I makes sure there is balance. That I do the things I want and need. For example that I take exercise, even if Master isn’t joining me. That we go to new places and see what the world has to offer us. I am lucky to have retired from full time work at such a young age, but I know how easily the freedoms I am afforded could be snatched away. So, with that in mind we put ourselves first. But try to remain mindful of those that surround us.
I’ve written a bit about the pressures I felt were on me in the run up to Christmas. I have loved family Christmas’ in the past and mourn their passing. Well, I thought I did. Because this festive period taught me that I need to be clearer about what is important and necessary and what would be nice. I also realised in my end of year reflections the extent to which I have started to revert to type. That is, trying to organise everyone and then being upset when everyone doesn’t welcome my efforts.
Master and I have spent far too much time over the past two weeks discussing what happened and what was wrong with it. For him, the priority is to be as stress free as possible. He says he hates Christmas, I don’t actually think he does. What he really dislikes is conforming to expectations, spending too much money, watching crap TV and over eating. All of which are symptoms of this time of year. He has no objection to spending time with others (i.e. my family members), but he wants to be in control of who, for how long and when.
These events now make me think of the rest of the year. How do we determine where our priorities lie and how do we ensure that we do what we want. We plan to focus much of this year around the knowledge I should have reconstruction surgery in the second part of the year. So we are thinking about what events we will attend, trips and holidays we will take and who else we need to consider in those plans. But those plans will only be for the first half of the year, until around July.
We’ve been fortunate since I gave up work, that we can be flexible with dates. Also that we are able to do so many things we want to do. We don’t have other dependents, though our priorities need to include others. Master, quite rightly wants to see his daughter more often than of late. Likewise I want to spend time with my son and daughter in law. Perhaps in past years we have prioritised ourselves. Plus of course in 2018 I was preparing to move, working my notice and getting diagnosed with breast cancer.
What I’ve come to realise is that getting my priorities wrong leads to anxiety and stress not only in me but in Master. By choice our life together is busy and because of that we need to build in down time and plenty of it. Time when we may be doing things together, but equally where we have our own priorities. We both like to spend time alone even if we are in the same house, or sometimes even the same room.
This needs to be factored in when we go and visit others. We spent two nights at my mum’s followed by one in a hotel. The two nights with mum were in hindsight a mistake. We struggled to escape from her misery, the TV and her smoking. The night in the hotel was bliss. But it wasn’t alone time, far from it. Instead we lunched with my son and daughter in law and spent the evening with her family.
Although I’ve used Christmas as the example here, this is about a much bigger issue. It’s about balancing my and our needs with those of others. And it is about planning how we better manage times that could prove stressful. I guess you could say that a plan is forming to make sure that happens.
Over the past few years, at the end of December, I’ve looked back over my blog and created a review. The year has, on the whole been a good one, we’ve travelled to new places and done some fabulous things. This is my 235th post this year, up considerably on last year. I’ve discovered that writing about something is better than writing nothing. So it was only when I was away for the whole of July that I didn’t write at least twice a week. I’ll write more about stats when I post about my plans for 2020. But now, this is my year – 2019 in review.
The year didn’t start especially well for me, a hangover as it were from 2018. The unfinished business was radiotherapy for my breast cancer. The treatment itself wasn’t bad, but the cumulative effects – physical and emotional were. This post sums up the month. I haven’t written for the Sex Bloggers for Mental Health meme often and this is something I plan to rectify in 2020.
On 10th January I wrote thisFriday Flash post and although I haven’t written much fiction in 2019 I managed two in January. My goal in 2020 will be at least one piece of fiction per month.
Being mainly confined to home, I wrote 27 posts in January, which set me up pretty well for February photofest.
My 7th highest post / category of all time is my February Photofest one for 2019. I posted 36 times, so it obviously wasn’t all about the images. I began to show bits of my body, and especially noticeable are the radiotherapy burns visible on any photo showing my chest.
Tell me about, which is co-run by Missy and Sweetgirl, have led to some reflective and thought provoking posts in 2019. This one, about showing my own vulnerability, is no exception.
There were 19 posts in March, and two of my favourites are photos posted for Sinful Sunday.This one, Double Exposure was for the prompt week at the beginning of the month and Birthday Breakfast at the very end on Master’s birthday. Both were taken in hotel bedrooms and I am thankful that we have the opportunity to travel both here and abroad and to stay in some fabulous places. In these relaxed environments I have begun to feel able to share photos of my body again.
The other notable event was Eroticon, which I wrote about here. As the conference rolls around again soon, I am really excited to catch up with old friends and to meet new people.
Once again I joined in with the Blogging A-Z, this time using my blog history to examine how my journey has progressed. I found it a useful reflective tool which showed me how I have changed (or not) along the way. I posted 29 times, often combing other memes with the Blogging A-Z one. While I said afterwards that I wouldn’t participate again, I have an idea so I just might!
Favourite posts from this month were this one, of Master in the Swing of Relaxation and this one entitled Kinky. Both include images taken at STOXX which is sadly no longer available to rent.
Of the 22 blog posts for May, several are especially memorable. On 1st I wrote my Confessions of an unruly slave for The Erotic Journal Challenge. Brigit’s prompts are thought provoking and now they are monthly I’m better able to join in with them all. I think that particular post sums me up. I want to be the perfect slave, but often fall short.
Unmentionable has turned out to be particularly popular in terms of traffic. This is in no small way due to being placed in the top 3 posts for Elust #119. I would highly recommend submitting to Elust to help broaden your readership.
At the end of May we toured around Holland and Belgium for a week, during which time we were lucky enough to meet up with Marie Rebel and Master T. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon / evening together which I write about here. I’m looking forward to seeing both at Eroticon in March.
The following day we travelled to Amsterdam where we stayed in the Kinky Suite. My review is here.
Once again I joined Every Damn Day in June on Hy’s blog, and while I didn’t manage to post every day I did manage 29 posts. I participated in my first Lingerie is for everyone meme with this post. There’s new lingerie for 2020, so, I will be participating again soon.
We left for France at the beginning of July. Somehow I had run out of steam and was a bit out of love with writing and posting. So, there wee only 4 posts, one of which was Elust. Lazy days and hot nights sums up the month.
We were away for the majority of August too. But despite being on a boat with no Wifi for a week I still managed to write 12 blog posts. My favourite photo, posted for Sinful Sunday was this one – Topless. At last I was getting my mojo back!
On 29th I wrote about some issues I’ve been having with elusive orgasms. I’m pleased to say that the strategies we have been taking since seem to be helping.
This month we returned to CMnf after a break of a year and my mastectomy. I wrote here, about the wonderful reception I received. Sun kissed skin was a favourite photo, posted for Wicked Wednesday. How I love the feeling of the sun on my skin. Something to think about in the middle of winter!
The Smutathon took place at the end of September and while I wasn’t a participant, I wrote this post about abortion to link in with something that I consider a very important cause.
My Kissing Vignettes post for Food For Thought was in hindsight a way of edging myself back towards writing fiction. The post is based on some happy memories, but with a little artistic licence thrown in. The other of my 15 posts during October that I want to highlight is this one.
I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year during awareness month. My Breast Care Nurse warned me at the time to steer clear of the internet and I can understand why. This year, May More contacted me to ask if I was happy for her to write something to raise awareness, which of course I was. She inspired me to write the post above.
My Sinful Sunday post for November didn’t conform to the set prompt. But having the image available to use, I just had to post it. Molly and many others retweeted my post and then it and then it was chosen as one of the top Sinful Sunday posts that week, despite not being related to the prompt. I still feel proud and positive about this image. It has gone on to be the 6th most viewed post of all time (not just this year). And was partly responsible for my best ever blog stats that month.
That Bedroom Talk post inspired me to actually write some fiction. I’m really proud of An Advent Diary and am thinking of making it into a rolling story through the year. Perhaps the next instalment will be around Valentines……
At the beginning of December I was happy and proud to find that I was once again recognised in the Top 100 Sex Blogger List. This year I am at 32. My aim is for a top 10 spot, which will need some work both in terms of content and blog structure. I’m up for a challenge,
As usual I will be posting a few reflective posts in the coming couple of weeks. About my own blogging milestones, as well as shouting out about my fellow sex bloggers and writers. I plan to articulate my goals for 2020 too. But this post reflects on 2019 for me personally. The ways in which I have struggled, but also where I feel I have grown as a person.
The end of 2018 was pretty shitty. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in September and had a mastectomy in October. The very end of the year was somewhat brighter with my son’s wedding on 29th December. But I didn’t exactly feel good about myself. I’m not keen on the photos taken of me on the day partly because my dress definitely didn’t flatter. But also my makeup was wrong my mum caused me a lot of stress. It was a lovely day and I was a proud mum of the groom, but it was that day that set up how 2019 needed to be different.
I have always been someone who puts others first. I worry about what other people need and then consider myself. But in January I was waiting for my radiotherapy treatment to start, so prepared others that I would need to put that first. From 10th January, for 15 days we travelled to the cancer centre for treatment. But the effects; fatigue, soreness and general malaise lasted well into February. The emotional recovery though has taken much longer. It’s only now I can say that I am over the psychological effects of the cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment.
The impact of having one breast
Before I’d had breast cancer, I didn’t understand just how important a complete body is. I’ve been overweight for the past 10 years or more, but can usually find a way to feel good in my body despite it. I’d never had surgery, so other than a few stretch marks, no blemishes. My tits were pretty good for a woman of my age. Losing one of them has at times felt like a tragedy. It has led to me feeling less happy with the remaining breast and in me losing interest in it being touched. Weird I used to be able to orgasm through nipple play. I’m sure this is a psychological, not physical thing. But it does relate to the knowledge that the right breast is missing and that what remains is numb. A physical reality and not a psychological one.
Overcoming my fears
Being a sex blogger who posts photos of herself has been useful in my recovery. It’s true I could have shut myself away and not spoken of it to anyone. But that isn’t me. First and foremost I blogged about my recovery for me. I wanted to show others what it looked like and to demonstrate that while a mastectomy is a horrible thing to have to go through, there is life afterwards. At my son’s wedding I felt incomplete even though no one could tell. I bought a dress with a higher neckline than suits me because I didn’t want to show cleavage. I guess it was just too soon.
Eroticon helped my recovery journey immensely. I got the opportunity to take part in a group photo and went topless for it. That was the first time I had shown anyone other than health professionals and Master my new body. That occasion and the response to it helped drive me on. And since then I’ve been back to CMnf, taken my clothes off in a hot tub with others present and been naked at a couple of play events. I have also begun to post photos on my blog that show me breast, scars and all. I feel self conscious when naked in front of people, but am able to forget and be myself.
Weirdly though, while on holiday with my mum, I was very careful not to show her my body. I’m not sure why. But maybe it has more to do with our relationship than the fact I have only one tit. After all it isn’t as if she doesn’t know. I also find I prefer wearing a bra rather than going lop sided. Even though I doubt most people would even notice. This made my holidays this summer hot and uncomfortable at times.
The future isn’t plain sailing
I’m on the waiting list for a DIEP reconstruction. This will mean surgery to my abdomen to taken fat and skin for reconstruction as a breast. A huge operation which will give me more scars and a new breast that looks different from the other. But in clothes I will be able to look ‘normal’ again.
At least this surgery is planned. There will be time to talk to others who have had surgery. Time also to lose weight. My tummy will be flatter afterwards which has to be a great side effect. But this won’t give me my body back and make me look as I did before. I’ll need to have a nipple created later and this will include a tattoo.
Looking back I was feeling pretty fragile this time last year. Even though I’d been told I was cured, the uncertainties around the diagnosis lingered around me. Treatment was physically tiring and emotionally draining. But I was focused on getting through and in coming to terms with what had happened. I might not be wild about how I look right now, but I am in a much better place to cope with whatever the future throws my way and that is a massive achievement.
Thank you to all of my fellow bloggers that have helped me along the way, particularly May More,Molly Moore and Posy Churchgate, all of whom have been there for me along the way.
During the course of this relationship I and we have had some amazing times. It is definitely the case that I have had more sex during the past 5 years than I had during the previous 30. But we have had some lean periods during that time, when my, his or our mind and body don’t work together. Sometimes the body is willing and able but for emotional or psychological reasons sex doesn’t happen. More frequently though, the problem has been physical.
Emotional and psychological health
We are in the fortunate position that we live together and neither of us are working. This wasn’t always the case and certainly until last summer tiredness was a major factor for me. I had spent a couple of years juggling a demanding job, preparing to move and care for my widowed mum. On top of that were the not to be underestimated effects of the menopause. Feeling exhausted doesn’t necessarily mean sleep comes easily and even if you fall asleep hot flashes and night sweats make you wake again. Additionally, anxiety about the end of my marriage and decisions about the house often caused me to lie awake at night.
Master tends not to be troubled by an inability to sleep. Though from time to time he struggles to get enough sleep, he certainly needs far more of it than me.
Tiredness has interfered with my sexual appetite and for a long time I felt I could take or leave sex. Luckily, Master often wanted to take it and has some ingenious ways of getting me in the mood. Being his slave means that I rarely say no to him, even if I don’t feel much like it. Not because I can’t refuse him, but because I have made a commitment with him which I want to honour. In the past I might have said no and turned over. But now I wait to see how my body responds first. Often, I start to become aroused even if my brain is saying no and when that happens, who am I to deny my body?
There is no doubt that physical health problems have got in the way of our ability to enjoy an active sex and kinky life. The first issue we encountered was Master’s frozen shoulder. This made it difficult for him to find a comfortable position on top of me . It also made impact play painful for him. We had to adapt our favoured positions, which led to the purchase of the swing. But really it wasn’t until he recovered that things returned to normal.
A physical effect of the menopause was pain during PIV sex. Luckily this didn’t coincide with the frozen shoulder, when I was often on top. There were times when my vagina would go into spasm as soon as his cock came anywhere near me. This caused pain and a lot of upset. I am so luck that Master is a patient man, who happens to love touching me with his fingers and mouth. Also of course there is plenty I can do with my mouth too. Thankfully those, I think menopause related issues have disappeared and sex is pain free.
Strangely my mastectomy and subsequent treatment have had limited effect on us. Within a couple of weeks of the operation we were able to have sex again, though he was scared of causing me pain. For me, position was an issue and I couldn’t lie on my right side of lean on my right arm. These have mostly resolved, though I still can’t lie on my right side for any length of time.
Our ability to play has probably been affected, partly because we haven’t wanted to go to events while treatment was ongoing. But also because I have been very tired over the past months. Daily trips to the hospital and lack of sunlight over the winter months have affected him too.
We intend to grow older together and we now know some of the things we might encounter. His ability to ejaculate frequently is already something that happens. I can come many many times for his once and so we make that one time meaningful. Our bodies take time to recover from exercise and activity. We don’t always have the energy that we think we should.
But recognising the effect of mind and body over our ability to have a fulfilling sex life and relationship bode well for the future. We’ll certainly keep going in whatever way we can for as long as we can.
Over the past few months I have found myself in some strange but pretty serious situations. I have had to take my top off for doctors and other health professionals more times than most models do for a photographer in a whole career. Everyone is very professional and careful to protect privacy and dignity. But we do smile about it afterwards. G comes with me to appointments and even though they think he is my husband they are very careful that he doesn’t see my naked chest behind the curtain. Of course you should never take these things for granted, but it does amuse us.
In the waiting room
Over the past 3 weeks we have been making daily trips to the cancer hospital for radiotherapy treatment. It’s a reasonably big place with about 9 or 10 Linear Accelerators and most have their own little waiting area. The radiography teams are often running late, so you are sitting in close proximity to (often anxious) people for a while. During the first week, there was an abundance of people talking about their illnesses, not only their own but everyone they have ever known. Not so much funny as irritating, especially for G who has to spend longer listening.
Last Monday though we were waiting with a group of 3 women; daughter (the patient), her mother and a friend who had driven them. The conversation was about whether the mother and daughter who lived together should invest in amazon prime. There then ensued a conversation where all 3 called out films that could or could not be accessed on the service. A conversation about the chronological order and quality of the Alien films ensued. Plus the daughter wanted access to ‘christian’ music to listen to all day. I guess it is a measure of our daily lives right now that this was amusing. So much so that we have been talking about it all week. Especially when we were trying to find something to watch on Amazon Prime that was worth watching and at no extra cost.
Our own laugh filled viewing
We don’t watch much real time TV, mainly because we can’t find much to appeal. Recently we’ve been binge watching some old stuff. One from our youth that made us laugh was the Beiderbeck Trilogy – jazz, intrigue and comedy rolled into one. I never watched My Name is Earl when it was on TV, but we’ve been watching some episodes of that too.
At the cinema we saw the new Laurel and Hardy Biopic: Stan and Ollie which we really enjoyed. The bits when they were doing their act was like watching the real thing. It made us laugh out loud. It was serious and sad too, but the funny bits were real belly laugh moments. We rounded off with a couple of original films which added to the fun and laughter.
I pledge my commitment to blog for my mental health. I will write about mental health topics not only for myself but for others. I do this to destigmatize mental illness and to promote mental health awareness & education. I am a sex blogger for mental health. #sb4mh #bfmh #notalone #SexNotStigma