My apologies for not posting in awhile. I am still waiting on my visa and staying with some incredible friends while I wait. My laptop is already shipped to Cyprus and my computer is in storage so I have limited computer access. Bear with me, I’ll be writing more when I get to Cyprus. Hopefully by the first of November.
Recently I was having a conversation with a dear friend about a mutual friend who is having a hard time moving on from her former relationship. This person has been apart from their former partner longer than they were together and yet she still clings to the past. She bemoans that he’s moved on and has a new partner. She is not allowing herself to find successful relationships. She constantly compares everyone and everything to her former partner. It struck me that her clinging to the past gives her no room to be in the present or to plan for the future. She’s stuck.
This is something that many of us do. We live in our past. We base all of our decisions on our past mistakes so as not to screw up again. We are so caught up in our need to not hurt, to punish, to cling or to be right (or all of the above) that we just don’t live.
We should not allow our past to create our present nor our future. We should not look at a potential partner and compare them to a former partner or say “Well, they’ll just cheat on me like so and so did.” We should not expect them to be anything other than their authentic selves. And yet we do just this out of habit and unconsciously. We make up a story about what we think is so, never giving room to what’s really happening. We miss out on so many opportunities because we are so stuck in our past.
That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our past successes and hopefully learn from our past mistakes. Nor does it mean that we can’t fondly remember wonderful things that happened to us or miss those who are no longer with us. That is all part of being human. And that is different than allowing the past to dictate our present and future actions, especially our relationships.
One of the most important parts of having a healthy relationship is to put the past in the past where it belongs: to realize that every new relationship is unique and different and will not be the same as the last one (or two or three) UNLESS we make it so. This means that we must enter into all relationships consciously. That we stay aware and present at all times and when we catch ourselves reverting back to our old habits of living in the past, we pinch ourselves and get back into the present. That we stop making up stories about what we think is so and wait and see what the present gives us. It takes practice and courage and as I said, consciousness and it can be done. Put the past behind you and travel toward the future unburdened and ready for your next adventure.
On August 11, 2017 my Mom, Nadine McCay passed away at the young age of 80. I just spent the last week with my awesome step-dad Allen dealing with post death stuff and of course my Mom has been on my mind a lot lately.
I didn’t know my mother until I was 19 years old. My Mom and Dad divorced when I was a baby and my father got custody of me. For whatever weird reason he had, I was allowed zero contact with my mother. My father’s version of why was pretty convoluted and I know it was because my mother probably broke his heart. He claimed he never loved her and that they were only together so that God would give him me. And I know that I reminded him of her, hence him saying one day when he was whipping me (as he was prone to do a lot) “I will beat the wild seed of your mother out of you if it’s the last thing I do” That was the day I realized the my Dad wasn’t beating me because of me, he was beating me because of his anger and grief at my mother; a weird realization at the age of 11. That was when I know that I wanted to someday find her.
When I was 19 I wrote my Dad’s Mom, Grandma Pearcey and asked her if she knew where my Mom was (I was living in the Bay area like many hippies did in 1972). She wrote back and told me that yes, she did and that over the last 19 years Grandma had been sending her photos and info on how I was doing. She sent me her address. It took me a couple of months to get up the courage to hitchhike (like we did in the 70’s) down to San Diego and knock on her door (that is a story for another day). . The best thing I ever did in my life was to find her. I’m so grateful that my Grandma Pearcey kept in touch with her.
One of the most striking things about my Mom was her resilience. She truly was one of the most resilient women I’ve ever known. From the stories she shared about her abusive mother and father she had no other recourse but to be resilient. I won’t go into details about her early childhood, except to say that she and my aunt were mistreated terribly by their parents and they both survived amazingly.
My mother was 14 when she met my Dad, a 21 year old sailor, at a USO hangout that she and my aunt used to sneak into. To his credit he did think she was 18 when they started dating and he did know that she was 14 when he proposed. She married my Dad primarily to get away from her abusive home. Sadly, she didn’t fare well with Dad, either. He told her on their wedding night that he was going to “raise her like she needed to be raised” and that didn’t go over well with Mom. They lived with my Grandma Pearcey and at least four of my aunts and uncles who were still at home (Grandma had 11 kids).
Mom got pregnant right away with me because according to her — they both thought if you didn’t want to get pregnant you wouldn’t get pregnant. Well, that was misguided. Shortly after I was born my parents split up. Because in 1953 a 16 year old girl had no agency(she was either the ward of her parents or her husband), she had no choice in whether she could have custody or not. My Mom’s mother refused to allow her to keep me and my Dad wanted me completely to himself. Initially my Mom ran off with me but my Dad found her and took me back. Ironically they tried briefly to get back together and that resulted in my brother, Danny, whom my Dad never claimed as his.
And then things got even worse for my Mom and her resilience became even more necessary. Shortly after Danny was born, she met my brother, Michael’s dad who she really loved. Sadly, he was from the south and when he took her home to Alabama with him she couldn’t deal with living in the segregated South and left him and went back to California, this time with a toddler and a newborn.
And it got worse. When Danny was 3 years old he fell off the deck of a three-story apartment building and it was a miracle that he survived. He had massive brain injuries and spent several years in the hospital. Then, because my Mom couldn’t afford the hospital bills and the constant attention he needed he was put in a home for developmentally disabled children (which he was not, even with his brain injury). And my Mom persevered.
Somewhere in the midst of this she met my brother, Mark’s father and got married. This marriage didn’t last that long but long enough for him to adopt Michael and for them to settle in San Diego.
I don’t know a lot about her life then as we didn’t talk about it much. I do know that she has little memory of the two years after Danny went into the hospital and that because her husband was in the Navy they moved a lot and it was difficult with two small children and yet she preserved.
When I found her in 1972, Danny had just moved back home and she was divorced from Mark’s Dad. My Mom was single and a bit of a party girl. She self-medicated with alcohol and did her best to raise three teenagers: Danny, who was brain damaged and had been pretty much institutionalized by his living conditions, Michael, who had been in and out of juvenile detention for theft and drugs and Mark, a sweet teenager who tried to do his best. And then I showed up. Things were a bit chaotic and she kept persevering.
My brother Michael continued to be in and out of jail and prison even once convincing my brother Danny to help him which resulted in Danny almost going to prison (his brain injury kept him out). Eventually due to drug use Michael contracted AIDS and that actually was the catalyst for him quitting drugs and for many years staying out of trouble until he relapsed and went to prison again in the mid 2000’s for selling drugs. When he came out of prison his health continued to deteriorate and Michael died a couple years ago.
Probably the best thing that happened to her in the 70’s was meeting Allen, the man she eventually married and who was with her until the very end. He propped her up when things got bad and yes, they continued to get bad (although she and Allen had some amazing adventures together and loved and lived passionately).
It finally looked like things were going to get better for Mom. She and Allen spent 2 years traveling around the US in a 5th wheel and eventually settling down in the 5th wheel in Mason County. Then she fell and broke her leg, so badly that she need metal plates installed. Which meant they needed to move. So 12 years ago they moved to Shelton and settled in their turquoise blue double wide with their puppies (Angel and Jax, the wonder dachshunds).
My Mom’s health kept kicking her ass and she kept bouncing back. She was diagnosed with diabetes, which caused severe neuropathy of her legs and feet which was why she ultimately became 90% wheelchair bound. She had internalized bleeding several years ago and lost so much blood before they discovered it that she should have died (and yet she persevered). She spent time in an assisted living rehab facility recovering from another illness. She dealt with Allen having stomach cancer, my brother Mark getting a triple by-pass, me getting breast cancer and Michael dying. She had numerous falls and trips to the hospital. Then a couple years ago, right when they were moving into a hotel to live for a couple months due to needing to have the floor of their home replaced because of a broken water pipe, she got diagnosed with bladder cancer. She did her initial treatment while living in a hotel without the comfort of her pups and her home. And she persevered.
Over this last year she began to fade. Her short-term memory was a bit fuzzy and she pretty much quit eating more than a couple mouthfuls at meals. She slept a lot and Allen couldn’t leave her alone for any length of time. The bladder cancer meant she needed to wear pads (which she hated) and regular treatment both at home and at the doctors. Just before she died, she fell again and spent a day in rehab. That was where Allen last saw her. I think it finally got to be too much. Her heart just stopped.
My Mom was one of the most amazing women I’ve ever known. I’m going to miss you, Nadine McCay.
I teach a class on Sexuality and Aging. I talk about a lot of things and spend a good chunk of it talking about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Following are the things I discuss. I think it’s important (since I’m 64) that I discuss this here.
A growing number of older people now have HIV/AIDS. Almost one-fourth of all people with HIV/AIDS in this country are age 50 and older. This is partly because doctors are finding HIV more often than ever before in older people and because improved treatments are helping people with the disease live longer.
But there may even be many more cases than we know about. Why? One reason may be that doctors do not always test older people for HIV/AIDS and so may miss some cases during routine check-ups. Another may be that older people often mistake signs of HIV/AIDS for the aches and pains of normal aging, so they are less likely than younger people to get tested for the disease. Also, they may be ashamed or afraid of being tested. People age 50 and older may have the virus for years before being tested. By the time they are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, the virus may be in the late stages.
The number of HIV/AIDS cases among older people is growing every year because:
- Older Americans know less about HIV/AIDS than younger people do. They do not always know how it spreads or the importance of using condoms, not sharing needles, getting tested for HIV, and talking about it with their doctor.
- Healthcare workers and educators often do not talk with middle-aged and older people about HIV/AIDS prevention.
- Older people are less likely than younger people are to talk about their sex lives or drug use with their doctors.
- Doctors may not ask older patients about their sex lives or drug use or talk to them about risky behaviors.
Recent statistics from the CDC have shown that the number of new HIV infections is actually growing faster in individuals over 50 than in people 40 years and under, and HIV may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Other STIs aren’t just a problem of the young. Seniors suffer from them, too. In fact, there are several reasons why older adults may actually be in more danger from STIs than their younger companions, including:
- Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show rapid increases in STIs among older people. Between 2007 and 2011, chlamydia infections among Americans 65 and over increased by 31 percent, and syphilis by 52 percent. Those numbers are similar to STI trends in the 20- to 24-year-old age group, where chlamydia increased by 35 percent and syphilis by 64 percent..
- Numerous factors have contributed to the increase in sexually transmitted diseases in seniors, and many of them stem from a single problem. Namely, clinicians and scientists don’t spend enough time thinking, or talking, about older individuals having sex. Not only are seniors usually overlooked in many STI studies, but they are frequently less likely to get screened for STIs than their younger counterparts.
- Also as people age and the assumption that they no longer are sexually active, doctors quit talking about sex and sti transmissions and checkups and women after menopause quit getting pap smears (or at least get less and less) which means an increase in cervical cancer which is caused by the HPV virus
- Retirement communities and assisted living facilities are becoming like college campuses. They cram a lot of similarly aged people together, and when they do, things naturally happen. As well as the lack of condoms and education when they are in Long term care facilities.
- Older people are living longer and are in better health. As a result, they are remaining sexually active much later into life. Several major surveys, including the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project and the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, report that among people age 60 and older, more than half of men and 40 percent of women are sexually active.
- Lack of screening for sexual problems can increase the risk of a disease going unnoticed for years, leading to serious complications.
- After menopause, women’s vaginal tissues thin and natural lubrication decreases. This can increase the risk of micro-tears and of sexual transmission of certain STIs
- Older people are less likely to use condoms, both because they don’t consider themselves to be at risk of STIs and because they were never educated that condoms should be part of their sex lives.
- The immune system naturally becomes less effective as people age, which can also increase the risk of STIs.
Well, many of you might have already heard this and I figure it’s time to write about it here.
This fall I am embarking on my next great adventure and it will be taking me out of the country for at least a year (maybe even longer). My dear friend Llywelyn and his wonderful wife Athena are moving to Cyprus and have invited me to join them! And of course I said yes. I’ll be leaving the end of September or first of October and I hope to be able to say goodbye to as many of you as possible in person.
This will mean more time to work on my books and a chance to visit places I’ve always want go to. I’m so excited!
In August I’ll be taking my Say Goodbye To America Tour, driving across country with one of my sweeties, so if you live in or near Boise, Denver, Bloomington, Nashville, Huntsville, Birmingham, Austin, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Palm Springs and the Bay Area (or places in between) let me know and we’ll try to at least grab coffee if our schedule allows it.
It’s going to be hard to leave Seattle (I’ve been in Washington since 1974, most of it in Seattle) and I’m excited to be able to do some traveling. I’ll stay in touch here and let you all know about my adventures on the other side of the pond.
I hope to continue to be able to present and teach while in Cyprus. If you’re currently in Europe or Northern Africa, or know someone I should know who lives there, please give me an introduction. I’m looking forward to making new friends and taking my mission statement global.
Several years ago I realized that I needed a personal Mission Statement. Nonprofits and many businesses have Mission Statements. A Mission Statement, simply put, is a summary of the aims and values of a company or organization. I believe that we, as individuals, should also have Mission Statements.
What are our aims and values? After much thinking I came up with mine — to bring joy to sexuality and to make a difference in the world. Even before I created my formal Mission Statement I realized I’ve been living within those aims and values for most of my life. I just needed to put them into words
For the last 25+ years I’ve been teaching at colleges and universities around the country as well as sex, poly and BDSM conferences. I’ve been creating sex positive events and classes for the greater Sex Positive Community. I am one of the founders of the Center and the Foundation for Sex Positive Culture (two organizations that create space and education for the sex positive communities)and the Seattle Erotic Art Festival. I’ve been on many boards (like the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a sexual advocacy org; Roots.org, a young adult homeless shelter; Common Meals, an organization for feeding the homeless; to name three). These are just some of the ways I’ve brought joy to sexuality and made a difference in the world.
I love it when some random person comes up to me and says “you spoke at my human sexuality class 10 years ago and now because of you I’ve found the BDSM community and my life’s been changed (I’ve had this happen in some form or the other dozens of times). I love that I can make a difference in the world, even if it’s one person at a time.
It is powerful to put words to what I am about. When I speak at colleges, teach classes at conferences, do keynote speeches I try to always remember to mention my Mission Statement. I want to inspire others to create their own So I ask you. What is your mission? What are your aims and values as an individual? I’d love to know what you came up with.
I’ve been struggling with writing this all week. I’ve been dismayed at the hatred and vitriol that is coming from my friends, colleagues, and the politicians I support, in the last few weeks. The shooting at the baseball field was kind of the last straw for me. WTF?
If we begin to act like the worst of them we are no better than the then worst of them. My wise friend, Maggie McNeil said several months ago (when we were talking about the rise in hate speech and hate crimes from the right, immediately after the election) that anger and fear when allowed to ferment becomes hatred. And that’s when I made a choice to not hate, no matter how unhappy and tired and fed up I was with the current political situation. And I’ve stayed true to that (it’s why I started posting jokes every day on my Facebook page). It’s not been easy.
I have to constantly remind myself that no matter how despicable an action is or hate-filled someone else is I cannot be part of that hate rhetoric. I remind myself that those who are spouting rightwing hate speech were babies at one time and were innocent and pure until something or someone twisted them (even Trump as hard as that is to believe at times). I remind myself that while many on the right are committing hate crimes and inciting violence (and now it’s even something many on the far left are doing) that there are more people who truly want to find a way for us to work out our differences and to move forward as a united country, not the divided one we currently inhabit. I remind myself that some of the Trump supporters are people I love (much of my family) and that while I can be sad or even angry about their actions and support of this man, I don’t hate them or quit loving them. I remind myself that my left leaning friends who are currently spouting hate and are wishing the other side would just go away (or die as one of my close friends said recently) are good and loving people who are just so caught up in the fear and anger that currently encompasses our world (not just our nation) that they are filled with that fermented hate and are not speaking from a rational place.
Oh, and the various communities I belong to and the people who I care about, oh they are breaking my heart with the horizontal violence which seems rampant these days. The fighting and anger over the pride flag; the shit that has gone down at Evergreen College; the cis vs trans conversations happening all over Facebook; the feminist who are against decriminalization of sex work; POC marginalizing other POC because they don’t all agree; our elders chastising our younger community members for not treating them with respect while disrespecting the younger members current journeys; our younger members negating the perilous journeys their elders took that got us this far in civil, LGBT and women’s rights. I could go on and on.
I don’t know the perfect solution and I have a few suggestions.
I wrote a keynote speech for International Ms. Leather Contest where I talked about horizontal violence in the BDSM community (you can find it here on my blog). I proposed that one way to stop the horizontal violence was for us to talk. To get to know each other. To realize that we are all humans. To take the time to talk to each other. To listen. REALLY LISTEN! We have to quit the infighting and horizontal violence and realize that we (I’m speaking about liberals here) all have many common goals and that while we have some differences we have more similarities. We have to work together to change the world.
We also need to talk to those who differ politically from us. We need to find our common ground (and believe me, no matter what you think, we do have common ground with many who we deem on the right). We lost the last election because partly because we did not reach out to those in the Midwest who were fearful and angry. We have to not allow that to happen this next election cycle. We have to reach out and make sure that those less liberal voices are heard and know that there are solutions for the problems the face (or think they face).
I fear for my country and even for my world. The populist movement seems to be taking over everywhere and yet, I am confident that it is still only a small (although seemingly very powerful) minority who support the racist, xenophobic, sexist and homophobic ideologies that are on the rise. We need to work toward dis-empowering them and we can’t do that with hate speech, violence and infighting. We can only do that with unity.
Peace and love