Welcome guest blogger Vita Eya Cleveland!
Vita Eya Cleveland is a phenomimal woman! She is a poet, a composer and musician. She is the founder of TWOC Poetry, a brand/YouTube channel she created to increase proper media representation and knowledge for marginalized groups, focusing primarily on experiences as a trans woman of color. Her series, “Tea (T)ime,” touches on subjects from racism to respectability politics, and everything between and outside.
Vita E’s talents have taken her across the country in a very short span of time, performing at Campus Pride in North Carolina, competing as a finalist in “Capturing Fire Queer Poetry Slam” in DC, and doing work with Black Lives Matter in the Midwest. She has recently formed a duo with J Mase III, known as #BlackTransMagick. When she is not performing, she spends a great deal of her time as the Social Media/Communications Coordinator for awQward Talent Agency, the first agency of its kind to specifically uplift the work of trans and queer artists of color.
Vita is one of The HEAL Project’s Advisory Board and created the opening music for the upcoming Heal Project’s Pure Love online talk show set to debut March 15, 2017.
TW: Sexual abuse/Sexual assault
You ever find the weirdest revelations in places that likely wouldn’t make sense? This is definitely one of them. For the record, this won’t necessarily be safe for work, and if you’re a family member reading this, I love you, and you’ve been warned.
I’ve been masturbating since I was about 11. By then I had already had some version of “the talk” with my mother, which was capped off with the threat of beating me within an inch of my life if I ever got anyone pregnant. So needless to say, until about 8th grade, I hadn’t learned much else about sex I was definitely not allowed to have. When I finally learned what masturbating was, I was literally the personification of, “if you shake it more than twice, you’re playing with yourself.” For a while, I never stopped shaking it.
I’d get myself off around 2-3 times a day, and it only left me wanting more. But as a young person, and even as an adult, there was one activity I could never manage to make work: I have never, and I mean never, been 110% comfortable with receiving anal sex, from anyone, or from myself. The part that bothers me the most about it, and the part that tells me the most about how I’ve managed to heal from prior abuse (or more accurately haven’t), is the realization that even when I’m alone, the idea of being inside myself always terrifies me before it pleases me.
There are a few reasons for this.
When I was a teenager, I came out to my loved ones as bisexual, and for some strange reason, the topic of me masturbating would involve itself in the conversations I had with others. People would ask me questions about if I did, how I did it, blah blah blah. When I answered the questions, the most grossed out faces would meet mine and I would hide in my own closet of shame – I’d almost never have fulfilling orgasms. Fast forward a couple years to the more unfortunate reasons, and I’m being molested by a classmate and gangraped by an ex partner in the same year. I never tell anyone – why would I? Back then, I was a “man,” and men don’t get raped, right?
A few years of repress, repress, repress, quite a bit of drinking, a lil’ bit of therapy, and a few heteronormative relationships later, and I’ve had no one push my buttons. Now I exist as a Trans Woman with an overwhelming desire to feel a partner love me in one of the most vulnerable ways I could imagine, with way too much baggage to allow it to happen. I want to feel that softness, that full relinquishing of my guard, falling into the safety and pleasure of my lover. I get close sometimes, and with the right partner in bed with me, I’ve even managed to like it. It usually took a massive panic attack and a lot of crying, which only a couple of lovers would entertain. The rest would mostly be as repulsed as the people who asked me about it when I was a kid, or impatient enough with what it took to make my dream real and stillit hasn’t really happened.
I figured my answer was simple. I’d do it myself! I’d make this an investment in my ability to love ALL of my body, so I could eventually share that part of myself with someone on a regular basis. So I bought toys, bought the special lube that makes it easier, bought a dildo that I realize in retrospect was waaaaaaay too ambitious, lit the candles, played the music, and had a go at it! Except, it’d never go anywhere…..until recently.
The right glass piece, the right music, and a night of patience gave way to tears. Inch after inch, a dream came true, and I came so hard on my own, I literally cried. As my body shook, I felt myself being forgiven, for all the times I wasn’t strong enough to stop the pain caused to me by others. As I screamed, I felt tears of thanks from the flow of the night, and the full feeling of wholeness inside my body. I remembered what it meant to breathe through the motion of loving myself, slowly with intention, no pressure or shame, no more hating how long it takes, but embracing the victory of an orgasm that feels like therapy.
I told myself that night, that I would always take note of how understanding and self compassion played a role in what I could easily call one of the most important pieces of my sexual liberation. When I share my body with a partner, I know to expect no less than the love I gave myself that night, or any of the other nights I’ve gotten up the courage to love myself in this way.
I still have a ways to go before I can share that part of me with someone I have feelings for, but I guess that’s the whole point of this. Remembering that I have time -and that my body is mine to please before it is anyone else’s- gave me something back that was stolen from me long before I could love it, long before I could love me. In a lot of ways I still don’t, but in this way, I’m learning, slowly and steadily, inch by inch, tear by tear, smile by smile. I am learning, and I am healing, and I’m doing it by myself, at least for now. 😉
Thank you Vita for your words, bravery and for your existence.
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