Identity Crisis

This last week, I had a meltdown. The Boy and I almost broke up (twice), communication seemed to be at a standstill, everything was just Too Much. I cracked, and cracked, and cracked again. There was a lot of weeping and then laughing, a lot of talking for hours and not getting far, a lot of uncertainty and confusion.

Most of the time, I feel pretty sure that being diagnosed with bipolar was something that happened because I was a teenage girl, but this last week I really felt it bubble to the surface.

I'm usually pretty clear about who and what I am, but when I peeled all that away to expose rawness I found that maybe I was clinging to parts of myself that were no longer serving me. And that's terrifying, in its way, and amazingly freeing in other ways.

I've identified as nonmonogamous and as a sex worker for almost 10 years. For 10 years sex work and nonmonogamy have both been as important to my identity and existence as being queer or kinky or femme. And this last week, I thought long and hard about if I wanted those things to be a part of my life anymore... and I don't think I do. But it feels complicated to say no to those identities.

Let's start with sex worker. Being a sex worker is a major part of who I am, and honestly, I don't think it'll ever fully leave my system. It can't- I've done porn, and porn is forever. I'll still probably do some porn, and I'll perform with Cum & Glitter, but not for the financial reasons. I think I'm done earning money with my body for a while, possibly forever. I'm sick of always feeling like I need to put up a positive front, that sex work is awesome all the time and has been great for me. In the UK, yeah, sex work was pretty good for me, mostly. There were days where it was incredibly difficult, but I had other jobs that were far worse and more compromising. But here in the US, I feel shitty being a sex worker. I have to make my rates half of what the other sex workers I know ask for, because I'm not under a size 10. I have to put up with way more bullshit, because of my body type, too. I have to worry about getting arrested and losing hold of my dreams, and I'm just not that passionate about it anymore. Hustling made me less than my current job in social media, and I'd just rather do that. It's AMAZING to be admired for my brain and my creativity primarily, and while I don't feel my brain was ignored in sex work, I also don't feel it was as respected. A few clients really shone in making me feel good about working with them, but mostly... I just felt kind of degraded. And it's not really about the sex work- it's about the culture. But I wasn't looking forward to work most of the time anymore, and that's a sign.

I stayed with sex work in part because of the community and the activism. But I've been reflecting, and I realized that I have not really felt part of that community for a couple months. Basically, as soon as I stopped making it to meetings at SWOP due to the new job, the people I worked with there stopped reaching out or spending time with me. It's hard for me to really care about identifying as a sex worker for political reasons when I feel kinda dumped by that community. I just began to feel out of place as soon as sex work was no longer my primary money-earner, and, well, that sucks. So I'm going to pull myself slowly out of sex work, and focus more on having a day job I enjoy. It's just scary to lose something that made me a respected voice- will I no longer be allowed to talk as an authority on sex work if I'm not actively fucking guys for money? Never mind the fact that I feel like a traitor for saying the pressure of sex work has made me really unhappy, and I hate how it's impacted my love of my body by making me feel worthless, ugly, undesirable. There's only so many times one can hear "you're not worth that!" as a sex worker before you start to feel pretty shitty about yourself (again, not the job, but the living in a body-hating patriarchy), but saying that I've felt unhappy at my job feels like letting the side down. I want to let go of it, but it's really, really hard.

Nonmonogamy is the even harder one to let go, because sure, I love sexyfuntimes with other people, who doesn't? I kept hoping that sometime maybe I'd combat my anxiety around it and feel better, but that just hasn't happened. Everything I've tried I've felt more upset and closed off, and so, it's not a priority for me anymore. I don't know why it never occurred to me "maybe you're not nonmono right now" but I have been trying to force myself into that for years now and been miserable about it. Politically, and logically, I'm all for it. Emotionally, it's like digging a stick into my eye.

There's definitely personal sour grapes involved- I think the fact that I'm so devoted to consent culture scares most people off, which is depressing and doesn't give me a lot of faith in the communities I move in. I have never felt as unsexy as I have the last few times I went to play parties and no one flirted with me at all. I'm tired of trying to be nonmonogamous when I'm not entirely convinced I even want other lovers right now- plus I don't want to have to do all the following up, because it makes me feel undesirable. It's a lot of work and chasing and I'm too tired to bother with it, plus I really mostly just want to have sex with the Boy, if I'm honest with myself. I feel like we need to spend a while focused on each other, without a bunch of distractions.

I'm mostly ok with the idea that identity is fluid. Both these things might change at some point. But sitting with my heart, right now, I'm done with being a sex worker, and done with being nonmonogamous. I'm scared that will mean I'm not cool anymore, but I'm more scared of what will happen if I keep trying things that aren't making me happy. Saying all this is like a giant rush of relief, and I just have to trust that.

Categories: breakups, community, fake it til you make it, masochism, mistakes were made, musing, rape culture, sex work is work

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