Good sex is freeing. We’ve all been forced to face some demons and develop new habits during COVID. Maggie’s just so happened to produce a lot of buzz.
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Maggie McCleary 00:00
So, I am married. My partner and I have not had sex in over three years, or pleasure of any kind really, because of my own trauma and masturbation and things like that. So for almost three years, I went without orgasm. But I was in a place where I needed to start figuring that out differently. I had purchased two different sex toys. One was a just like a vibrator, and the other one was a vibrating dildo. I was really embarrassed, they got delivered. And I was like, trying to sneak away cuz I didn’t want my spouse to know about it. He was like, “Oh, what’s that?” And I was like, Oh, no, I have to. I have to share this. Oh, no. And I was like, so I bought some sex toys. “Oh, cool. That’s awesome. Congrats. I’m excited for you.” Oh, cool, cool, cool, cool.
My spouse and I had come up with a system like classic college dorm, put a sock on the door. And so that’s what I would do. I would put a sock on the door, I’d go into the bedroom, I’d pull the sex toys out and I just have them laying next to me and do this sort of internal dialogue. Come on, give it a shot. Trust me, you can do it. And I’d put them away. I’d take the sock off the door. And one day I did get to play around and see what happened and sock stayed on the door a little longer.
Hi, I’m Maggie McCleary, my pronouns are they/them, and you’re listening to GOOD SEX. I am a mental health therapist focusing on LGBTQ clients kink BDSM. And non-monogamy as well as trauma, and good sex is freeing. My relationship to my body and sex and pleasure has always been a rocky road. Being like a non-binary, agender person, there was always some discomfort with my body, I was also raped at 15. And so that from a very early point sort of started to link my body and my pleasure to other people. And I am only allowed to experience pleasure if it is for somebody else. It was not the only sexual abuse or relational trauma that I experienced; I have been in three abusive relationships.
Maggie McCleary 02:40
I think for a long time it was repeating patterns of behavior that sort of reinforced messaging. You are only around for other people; you are only allowed to experience pleasure. If it is for somebody else’s. I can’t orgasm without somebody else being there to take pleasure from it. You are a sex toy, a living sex toy that other people could take advantage of as they saw fit. That kick started a very long process of undoing for me for sure. At 19, I did my first real trauma therapy. That was really profound for me, it was the first male therapist I had ever worked with. Besides my father and my brother, it was the first safe man that I had a relationship with. We played a game where basically; he would give me a compliment. And I had one of three choices. I could either accept it, wholly reject it or at a contingency.
So as an example, if he said, you are smart, I would say I am book smart. But I am not common-sense smart. And he would go you are book smart. I am book smart. And over time we got to this place of you have value. I have value in this way, but not this way. Or he would say you’re a good person. I’ll go No, no, absolutely not. That’s when I first started that work. I wasn’t able to say that. And I remember the first time I was able to say I’m a good person was not even in that game. We were, I don’t even remember what we were talking about. But I was like and I know I’m a good person like bah bah, bah. And he goes what? No, say it again. No, I’m not gonna say it again. Flipped out the first time. Say it. And he got me to say it like nine times in a row. I’m a good person. I am a good person over and over again.
And then I just broke down happy tears of like, oh my god. I believe that to be true. That was the initial work was just grounding into like, I am a good person. I have value outside of my body and what I can offer people sexually. Since then it’s been on and off therapy work to connect to my body viewing my pleasure is mine to do with as I see fit, as opposed to giving it to other people as they see fit. My therapist and I do a lot of what’s called parts work or internal family systems that channels sort of inner child stuff. At the baseline internal family systems believes that all people have parts and different experiences puts parts in roles that they aren’t supposed to be in.
And so the goal of parts work therapy is to get our parts back in their preferred role. I found this 15-year-old part who, you know, binds up accurately with when I was raped. And that part felt a lot of shame around experiencing sexual pleasure on my own. And so I did a lot of internal work to understand what that part of me needed in order to feel like it was okay to explore self-pleasure. It was really interesting to give myself permission to be like, I’m not having self sex as a 26-year-old, I am having self sex as a 15-year-old figuring out what that’s like for the first time. And it was so profound for me.
Maggie McCleary 06:42
The pressure towards orgasm comes up so often, especially with people with vaginas, it’s hard to have orgasms. This concept that sex is over when a penis finishes. One places a lot of pressure on people with penises, but also can sometimes cut sexual intimacy and pleasure short because it’s over when it doesn’t have to be. If I was working with a client who came in really hyper focused on orgasm, I would want to explore where they got that messaging. How did you come to that understanding that orgasm is the end all be all of sex? What would it be like for you to engage in sexual intimacy, knowing that orgasm is explicitly off the table, you get to play with different types of touch, sensation, different mediums of pornography, all of these different things. And really figuring out what feels gratify, what feels pleasurable in ways that you may not have even defined pleasure for yourself before.
One of the big things that came out of COVID was giving myself permission to explore masturbation in a way that felt safe. I had purchased two different sex toys. I was like, I’m just gonna do it. I’m just gonna play around, I’m gonna, you know, use the vibrators on different parts of my body, like click through the different settings, see what happens. And so I just played around with different sensations. And I did orgasm, which was a lovely surprise, I genuinely didn’t expect myself to because I had that mindset of I can’t unless somebody else is there. And so I yeah, it happened. It was great. I called my best friend afterward. And I was like, I’m not ready to tell my spouse yet. I needed to tell somebody. And she was like, that’s so exciting. Tell me about it. Are you gonna do it again? Like, what? Oh my gosh.
Maggie McCleary 08:49
To overcome that kind of trauma. And just like I was gonna say in like one fell swoop. It wasn’t like that actually. That took me 11 years to get to that place, but there was just such a freedom to it. And then for the next like four days in a row, I masturbated again. And it’s been no weird feelings about it since. And then there was probably the third day in a row that it happened. I didn’t orgasm. And so there was this sort of like, huh, still good though. I guess I’ll try again tomorrow, right? This sort of like no worries, we don’t need the orgasm. And that reinforces that idea that like orgasm doesn’t have to be the pleasure goal. To just be like, alright, that’s okay. Keep it moving. We’ll try again and see what pleasure happens next time. And that feels really freeing. Thanks for listening to GOOD SEX.
GOOD SEX is a Lemonada Media Original. Produced by Claire Jones and Matthew Simonson. Our supervising producer are Kryssy Pease and Xorje Olivares, and our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Music is by Dan Molad with additional music from APM music and sound design is by Matthew Simonson. If you like GOOD SEX, the show, not you know, why don’t you rate and review us on iTunes. And you can follow us on all social media at @LemonadaMedia. Thanks for listening!