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Human Rights + Sexual Rights = Sexual Freedom

On this the first annual National Sexual Freedom Day, sponsored by The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, I’d like to propose something quite radical. I suggest that our sexual freedoms, here in the United States, are intricately linked to universal sexual rights. And I contend that the notion of universal sexual rights is at its core a respect for human rights and human dignity.

In a world wracked by poverty, disease and war; where we threaten our very existence with climate altering pollution, nuclear proliferation and extreme population growth; is there room to talk about human rights that include sexual rights and sexual freedom?

I emphatically answer yes! In fact, I assert that sexual inequality and oppression is at the heart of many of the world’s problems. I contend that trying to address human rights without including the essential component of sexual rights and sexual freedom is ultimately doomed to failure.

An absence of sexual rights and sexual freedom leads to domestic and societal violence; human trafficking; suicide; a rise in Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs); unplanned pregnancies, abortion, and sexual dysfunction.

You know how we are always being encouraged to Think Globally and Act Locally? Well while we busy ourselves securing and celebrating our sexual rights here in this nation, I think we’d do well to focus some of our attention on how our struggle binds us to the rest of the human community.

I offer three examples of what I’m talking about. I invite you to consider how a myopic sexual rights and sexual freedom agenda, divorced from the overarching issues of human, economic and social rights, can be ineffectual and even counterproductive.

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In 2008 the research community was all aflutter about ‘conclusive’ evidence linking HIV transmission and uncircumcised males. While I’m certainly not ready to take this data on face value, let’s just say, for the sake of discussion, that the link is conclusive. A massive campaign of circumcision was proposed as the best means of HIV prevention. The medical community would descend on epicenters of the disease, scalpels in hand; ready to eliminate the offending foreskins from every male in sight, young and old.

But wait, there’s a problem. Most HIV/AIDS epicenters are in underdeveloped countries. In these places, access to enough clean water to drink or attend to even the most basic personal hygiene, like daily cleaning under one’s foreskin, remains an enormous chronic problem. Without first addressing the problem of unfettered access to clean water and adequate sanitation, which according to The United Nations is a basic human right, further disease prevention efforts are doomed.

I mean, what are the chances that surgical intervention would succeed—one that would involve significant and sophisticated aftercare—if there is not even enough clean water for drinking and bathing?

These well-meaning medical personnel suggest imposing a strategy that not only works against nature—our foreskins do have a purpose after all: a healthy prepuce is a natural deterrent to infection. But this intervention would also violate long-held cultural and societal norms—circumcision is abhorrent to many of these same cultures. Wouldn’t this proposed prevention effort to stem the tide actually make matters worse?

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Indentured sex work is another indicator of how human rights, sexual rights and sexual freedom are intertwined. Until the economic and educational opportunities for women throughout the world improve—which is a basic human right according to The United Nations—women will remain chattel. Families in economically depressed areas of the world will continue to be pressured to sell their daughters (and sons) simply to subsist.

Closing brothels and stigmatizing prostitutes overlooks the more pressing human rights concerns at play here. Sex is a commodity because there is a voracious market. Men from developed nations descend on the populations of less developed nations to satisfy sexual proclivities with partners they are prohibited from enjoying in their own country. Young women (and boys) in developing countries are viewed as exploitable and disposable, because they don’t have the same civil protections afforded their peers in the developed world. And runaway population growth in countries that deprive their women and girls access to education and contraception inevitably creates a never-ending supply of hapless replacements.

Addressing the endemic gender inequality in many societies is key. Equal access to education and economic resources must come before, or at least hand in hand with any serious sexual liberation effort.

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Finally, people in the developed world enjoy a certain level of affluence and economic stability which allows them to indulge in sex recreationally. Thanks to effective birth control methods we can ignore the procreative aspects of sex and replace it with a means of expressing a myriad of other human needs. Not least among these are status, self-esteem and self-expression.

If we’re trying to prove something to ourselves, or others, by the way we conduct our sexual lives, simple prohibitions against certain sex practices won’t work. If I’m convinced that unprotected sex with multiple partners and sharing bodily fluids is edgy, cool fun, without serious consequence, as it’s portrayed in porn; I will be more likely to express myself the same way. This is especially true for young people who are already feeling invincible.

Case in point: there has been a startling uptick in seroconversions among young people, particularly gay men, which indicates that disease prevention efforts, even in the world’s most affluent societies, are simply not up to the task. It’s not that there is a scarcity of resources, quite the contrary. It is more likely that these efforts are not connected to a fundamental understanding of the role sexuality plays in the general population. I believe that sexual expression and sexual pleasure are the overarching issues here. These too are fundamental human rights.

No amount of safer sex proselytizing is going to prevail unless and until we look at why and how we express ourselves sexually. As we unravel this complex jumble of motivations and behaviors, effective prevention strategies will manifest themselves clearly. We must develop a sex-positive message; one that celebrates sexuality, builds self-esteem and counteracts the prevailing media messages of sex with no consequences.

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National Sexual Freedom Day brings into focus the micro-strategies needed to combat a macro problem. But it also shows that we cannot work for and celebrate sexual freedom in a vacuum. It’s imperative that we see how global health and wellbeing is completely dependent on basic human rights, including sexual rights that include gender and reproductive rights, the elimination of sexual exploitation and the freedom of sexual expression.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Scheduling difficulties prevent me from bringing you the latest installment of The Erotic Mind podcast series today. But with a little luck, that will resolve itself by next week.

Actually, I’m glad I have this positing opportunity, because September, as you may know is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.  And I have something important to say about that.

Curiously enough, I was contacted by another website recently and asked to contribute to a series they were doing on this very issue. They were looking for a unique take on prostate cancer awareness. I told them I had just the thing; and proceed to outline what I think is an exceptionally important, yet universally overlooked, aspect of prostate health — prostate self-awareness. Alas, the folks who run the website thought the concept of prostate self-exam was too edgy for them. After they declined my offer I thought to myself; man, there is incredible resistance, on virtually every front, for us men to become proactive in this aspect of our health.

Name: Gordon
Gender: male
Age: 67
Location: Florida
I guess I have more of a comment than a question. I’m 67, a widower and have been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. I never was very adventuresome when it came to sex. In fact, before my wife died two years ago, I never had sex with any other woman. I never gave prostate cancer a thought, never gave my prostate a thought either. Now I’m mad as hell that I didn’t. You see when I started to go to a prostate cancer support group I discovered I could have monitored myself better with a simple self-examination. Why don’t doctors tell us about this? Women are supposed to examine their breasts why don’t men examine their prostate? It’s so easy actually and yet it’s this big secret. Why don’t people talk about this? It makes me so mad because it could have made a big difference in my own life. Do you know about this self-examination Dr Dick? If you do why don’t you tell other people about this? I think it would help a lot if you could get the word out on this. Now that’s all I have to say. Thank you.

No, thank you Gordon. Thank you for sharing your concern with me…with us.

I’ve been a tireless activist of prostate self-exam for decades. Let me explain. My career as a therapist began in San Francisco in 1981. That was precisely the same year a mysterious new disease began showing up among gay men. Back then it was being called gay cancer, but soon it would have another name — HIV/AIDS.

As it turned out, my private practice focused down almost exclusively to working with sick and dying people. Luckily, I discovered that I was well suited for the job and I liked it very much. So much so that in the mid-90’s I founded a nonprofit organization called, PARADIGM; Enhancing Life Near Death. It was an outreach and resource for terminally ill, chronically ill, elder and dying people. This was brilliant cutting-edge work and I learned so much from the people I was working with. One of the things that struck me most was that regardless of the disease — cancer, HIV, MS, you name it, or even aging process for that matter — there was always a woeful lack of information about regaining a sense of sexual-self post diagnosis, or sexual wellbeing for seniors.

I recall one participant in particular, a man much like you, Gordon. He too had prostate cancer and, like you, he was mad as hell with the indifference of the medical industry toward prostate self-exam. One day during a group session, John was railing against doctors and cancer associations for their lack of interest in promoting prostate self-awareness. He pointed to the success of the cultural campaign to encourage women to self-examine their breasts. There is even a modest campaign to promote testicle self-exams. But apparently the medical industry draws the line at prostate self-exams. I guess no one is going to encourage a man to finger his ass, even to save his life.

Another group member, Clare, a senior woman in her 70’s and a breast cancer survivor, helped put things in perspective. She reminded us that breast self-awareness is a relatively new phenomenon. Her mother, aunt, sister and a niece all died of breast cancer before the self-exam campaign began in earnest. Clare went on to say that it was only through the hard work of individuals and grassroots organizations that actively campaigned for breast self-exams that things began to change. Eventually, this movement changed the medical and cultural mindset. Clare said that it was these individuals and grassroots organizations that helped all of us overcome the denial, shame and embarrassment that was associated with women touching themselves, even to save their lives.

This is an indication of just how ingrained the sex-negativity and body-negativity runs in this culture.

I continue to work with sick and dying people here in Seattle. I had a brief gig at a local cancer center where I developed an NIH (National Institute of Health) funded program for women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At the same time, I was also working with a group of women with breast cancer and group of men with prostate cancer. Again every therapeutic intervention I encountered — government funded or foundation funded — was woefully lacking in any clear and unambiguous information about sexual health, wellbeing and intimacy issues post-diagnosis or surgical intervention.

To remedy this, I decided to produce a series of videos for people experiencing life threatening and/or disfiguring illnesses. Videos that would help them address reintegrating sex and intimacy into their lives post diagnosis. One of the first videos was going to be Public Service Announcement showing men how to do a prostate self-exam and what to look for. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the necessary funding for this groundbreaking work. My grantwriting efforts turned up zilch. I did, however, get a whole lot of, “What a fine idea, Richard. Good luck with that…” brush-off letters though. No foundation would be caught dead funding sexually overt pattern films, even ones with the laudable intent of assisting people with the life-saving information they needed most.

I’m sorry to have been so long-winded in my reply, Gordon. I just wanted you to know that many have preceded you with outrage at the conspiracy of silence regarding prostate self-exam. Let’s face it; our society is so ass-phobic that we’d rather see men die than offer them simple instructions on how to finger their butt, find their prostate and keep tabs on their prostate health.

If we want this to change we all need to speak out…as well as stick a finger in our ass.

Keep up the fight, Gordon! And please, stay in touch.

Good luck

Plan B

Hey sex fans,

Product Review Friday is back again; and today we have a handful of products from our very good friends at SexToy.com.

Dr Dick Review Crew Members — Ken & Denise, Brad and Angie do the honors. So let’s get right to it.

Bsoft Skyblue Rechargeable Massager —— $55.60

Angie
I could hardly wait to get home after Dr Dick handed off the Bsoft Skyblue Rechargeable Massager to me. As he and I talked about the weather, I kept fiddling with the attractive package in my lap. I have to admit, I was completely distracted. Luckily Dr Dick was kind enough to notice and he sent me on my way.

I set the package on the passenger seat as I drove home. I would catch a glimpse of the image of the Bsoft Skyblue on the package and imagine all the fun I would soon be having.

Once home I opened the tasteful package. I discovered an instruction manual, the lovely Bsoft Skybluewith it’s space-aged design and the recharger nestled in a formed plastic holder inside a black carton. As I gingerly removed the vibe from its resting place I inadvertently pressed the power-on button. It immediately sprang to life. Glory be; the Bsoft Skyblue comes already charged. How delightful and thoughtful!

There are two other buttons on the face of the vibe; one marked + and one marked -. These regulate the multifunction and multispeed. The unit itself is about 6” long, made of a hard plastic, which is phthalates free, hypoallergenic and latex free. So far, so good.

A serious problem arose moments after I took the Bsoft Skyblue from its package. You see, there is a small rubbery plug that covers (or is supposed to cover) the recharge port. And this plug absolutely will not stay in place. I don’t know if this is a design flaw on all the units, or if I’m the only unlucky consumer. Either way, it is very distressing.

I always apply at least some lube to whatever toy I am using on or around my vulva. I will not compromise on that. The fact that this dang plug won’t stay in place gave me pause about using the vibe. If I get lube, during use, or water, during cleanup, in the port it will probably won’t recharge.

I gingerly use the vibe by softly placing it on my vulva. I love the sensations. The vibrations are very strong, which I really like. I would have moved the vibe around more than I did if I used lube, but I didn’t. This is a huge drawback.
Full Review HERE

7 Super Stretch Sleeves —— $16.59

Ken & Denise
Denise: “It must be silly season in toyland.”
Ken: “You can say that again!”
Denise: “What we have here is 7 Super Stretch Sleeves. Six of them are 1.75” long and less than an inch in diameter. The seventh one is just short of 3” in length and only slightly larger in diameter.”
Ken: “They are made of a clear jelly material and each one has a slightly different configuration of bumps, points and nodules.”
Denise: “What are these things for, you might ask. Good question. Originally I thought they were to fit around a dildo shaped vibrator, or the like. The package shows that as an option.”
Ken: “But the package also says that one shouldn’t wear it for longer than 20 minutes. This suggests to me that these sleeves are supposed to be worn on a guy’s cock.”
Denise: “Well I guess that’s true if the said ‘guy’ has a teensy tiny unit. I couldn’t slip them over two of my fingers with ease. And I have slender fingers.”
Full Review HERE

Men’s Pleasure Wand —— $23.52

Brad
Ok, I get what they are trying to do here with the Men’s Pleasure Wand. It’s designed as an anal insertion toy. Of course a woman could also use this, because they have assholes. But I digress.

Anyhow, the Men’s Pleasure Wand is supposed to massage my balls, perineum and prostate; all at the same time. And it does…sort of. But I’m gettin a little ahead of myself.

The Men’s Pleasure Wand is waterproof and comes with a multi-speed controller that is attached to the part that is planted in your ass by a wire. It also has a ring on the base of the vibe that makes it easy to insert and remove. It’s also a very modest size in terms of girth. It’s no bigger than my middle finger. So if you’ve ever fingered your hole; and let’s be honest, you know you have. The Men’s Pleasure Wand will easily slip in your butt. Always remember to use a lot of lube with any kind of ass play, ok?

The package tells me nothing about the materials used in making the Men’s Pleasure Wand. That sucks! There is also a distinct off-gas smell to the toy once you open the package. This tells me that the materials used are of an inferior quality. It probably also means it’s not phthalates free, hypoallergenic or latex free. I happened to have my favorite silicone-based lube handy, so I used that. Didn’t seem to ill-effect the vibe in any way.

I really liked how easy the Men’s Pleasure Wand inserts. I really like the controller, which cycles four speeds. The controller makes it easy to change the vibration in the vibe without having to remove — adjust — then reinsert. The vibration is strongest in my ass, although it’s not all that strong even there. As for the other areas; I couldn’t feel  much vibration on my balls or taint. DISAPPOINTED!
Full Review HERE

ENJOY

Fighting Fair — a Tutorial

I have just the thing for all you folks out there who are in a relationship. If you’re like every other couple I know, you have your share of tension. And let’s face it—tension leads to fighting. And fighting, if not done fairly, can lead to hurting your partner—even if that’s not your intention.

Here are Cheryl and Vern; they have a problem:

Doc,
We’ve been married for 11 years and have two great kids, ages 4 and 7. We both have full-time jobs, so family life is at a premium. Lately we’ve hit a rough patch and we seem to be fighting more than usual. We still love each other very much, but the sniping and bitchiness is getting us down. I know this is not specifically a sex question, but do you know how we could cut down on all this bickering or make it so we don’t lose it with each other?

Every relationship has its bones of contention. And it’s natural and healthy to want to hash things out. I think it’s so much better to get things out in the open, rather than let them fester all bottled up inside. Of course, there is a danger of exploding and letting things just fly in every direction. Someone is liable to get hurt. But if you give your venting some structure—fair fighting technique, for example—you’ll be more likely to get your point across with out bludgeoning one another.

First thing—we tend to fight more when we’re irritable. Stress and sleep deprivation make us cranky. And from the sound of it, you guys are definitely stressed, if not also sleep deprived. Your lifestyle is setting you up for confrontation. So no amount of fair fight training is gonna make a difference until there’s some change in your lifestyle. In fact, I suggest that you not even attempt to embrace these techniques if you’re not serious about integrating them into your lifestyle. It would be like committing to non-violence while you’re stocking up on guns and ammo.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics. The way you word a complaint will make a big difference. For instance, avoid “you” statements as much as possible. “You” statements tend to make your partner feel like he/she is to blame. “You make me angry.” “You don’t trust me.” “You’re not making sense.” “You never take the time to compliment me anymore.” “You are always to busy for me and my needs.”

I suggest that you use “I” statements instead. “I” statements reflect the way you feel. “I feel angry when I hear things like that.” “I want you to trust me.” “I don’t understand what you are saying.” “I don’t hear compliments from you anymore.” “I feel like I’m not important to you anymore.”

You see how in the first instance, the “you” statements blame your partner. They also assume he/she should know better, and that they’re doing this to you on purpose. The problem with assumptions like these is they only make things worse. They also put your partner in a defensive posture. “No, I didn’t.” “That ridiculous.” “I am, too!” “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In the second instance the “I” statements are more open-ended. They invite a response without putting your partner on the defensive. This is also a useful way of soliciting your partner’s feedback. “I’m not trying to make you angry.” “I want to trust you too, but how can I?” “Let me put it another way.” “I know I should try harder to compliment you.” “I’m so swamped; I have a difficult time prioritizing everything these days.”

Another basic to fighting fair is giving concrete examples of what you are talking about. Let’s say you’re talking about money matters. That’s always a big bugaboo in any relationship. Use “I” statements along with an example: “I felt like you just blew off the family budget when you made that purchase. I know you were thinking of the whole family when you bought it. It’s just I would really like some input on major expenditures like this. How are we going to adjust the budget for next month to pay for this?”

You see how the concrete example demonstrates your concern without clobbering your partner? You also suggested that you understood why the thing happened. And, most importantly, you offer a solution—that the two of you pull together as a team to resolve the budget crisis.

You know how sometimes you know exactly what you want to say, but it doesn’t come out right? This is more likely to happen in the heat of an argument. To short-circuit this dangerous hazard, I suggest that before either of you launches into a tirade against the other, you take the time to plan out what you want to say. Jot down some notes, bullet points, if you will. This, of course, also creates a natural cooling off period. The goal of fighting fair is to make the situation better, not worse.

If you guys are prone to fighting, I suggest that you take a cue from those in the kink community. In negotiating a BDSM scene, the participants always agree on a safeword before the scene begins. This safeword is a word that will be out of the context in the scenario, or in your case the argument. This safe word is used when someone is reaching his/her limit in the scene, or in your case, when your fight is veering toward emotional violence.

For example, let’s say you guys decide on the word “pickle.” You find yourself in a spat; things are heating up. You are dangerously close to saying some very hurtful things, things you know you will regret later. This is the time to employ the safe word. Or, let’s say, you are being browbeaten and harangued and you feel emotionally vulnerable. You don’t want to react or turn up the volume, so you use the safe word. If you commit to a safe word and one of you uses it and the other one ignores it, then that person is not only breaking the rules of fighting fair, he or she is guilty of domestic violence. And that ought never be tolerated. Get it? Got it? Good!

Here are some other things to consider when structuring your arguments so as not to devastate your partner. The time to commit to fighting fair must happen before there is a row. So I suggest that you sit down one quiet evening and pound out your own guidelines. You’ll also need to give these rules teeth. If there are no consequences for breaking an agreed upon rule, then what’s the point?

1. Pick the right time and place for the fight. Don’t bring up problems when you don’t have time to talk about them (like right before you or your partner has to leave for work). Don’t fight when you’re drinking. If things are coming to a head, but there’s no time for a fair fight, commit to a concrete time later to take on the issue. Be sure you honor that commitment and not just avoid the fight.

2. State your feelings honestly, without sarcasm or insults. Jot down the points you want to make. Delete anything that is intended to hurt or humiliate your partner.

3. Stick to the issue at hand. Don’t go bringing up things that happened in the past, even to make your point.

4. Fair fighting is not about placing blame. It’s about solving problems.

5. Stick to “I” statements and stay away from “you” statements.

6. Avoid words like “always” and “never.” “You always do that.” “I never get what I need.” This will help you avoid criticizing your partner’s entire personality.

7. Don’t mind-read. If you don’t know how your partner feels or what he/she thinks, then ASK.

8. Incorporate positive statements and compliments along with your complaints. Make a sandwich: complaint—compliment—criticism. Like this: “You’re a lying sonofabitch!” “I love your shoes!” “You should eat shit and die!”

Okay, I’m kidding on the last part up. But you could say something like: “I sometimes feel so alone. I know you’re trying to be more present. Is there any way we can work it that we have more quality time together, to love and nurture one another?” This sandwich technique will soften the blow of any complaint and your partner will be less defensive.

Remember, you are not alone. All couples have their share of problems. No couple will see eye to eye on everything. But if you know how to fight fair when fighting is called for, you’ll be able to structure your arguments so that you can resolve the issues without damaging your partner’s ego.

Good luck!

Come As You Are

Name: Valeri
Gender: Female
Age: 38
Location: Dubuque IA
Dr Dick: I just went through a very painful divorce. My husband of 18 years up and decided that he wanted to start over…in a new job, in a new state with a new girlfriend, someone 12 years his junior. I must be completely blind, because I didn’t see any of this coming. Sure we had our problems, what marriage doesn’t? I want to move on too, but I feel so stuck. I feel like this big loser. The few tentative forays into dating have been horrible. Every guy I meet is this lying sack of shit. Sorry, does that sound too bitter? HELP!

Damn girl, that’s fucked…big time! It’s hell when relationships go belly-up, and I don’t care if they are business relationships or relationships of the heart. If there’s an established bond of trust that is broken it’s gonna smart. And when the bond is broken unilaterally, it’s even worse. But what can you expect when you’re dealing with humans.

Surviving a break-up is not unlike surviving a death. In fact, the demise of a relationship is very much a death in every sense of the word. I believe that any relationship worth talking about has a life of its own; you see, it’s greater then the sum of its parts. I gotta tell ya, I see a lot of this in my private practice. A couple drags in their relationship and it’s immediately apparent that it’s on life support. They’ve actively throttled the relationship to within an inch of its life, and they want me to fix it. Most of the time the option to “fix” has long passed. All we can hope to do, at this point, is preside over the death of the thing, providing its passing with as much dignity as possible. But to tell the truth, when a relationship is in such grave condition, and there is very little good will left between the partners, sadly there’s not gonna be a lot of dignity when the thing finally expires. It breaks my heart, but what are ya gonna do?

Many years ago a therapist working with sick and dying people wrote a book called, On Death and Dying. In it the author, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, identified five stages of dying — 1. Denial: The initial stage: “It can’t be happening.” 2. Anger: “Why ME? This is so unfair!” 3. Bargaining: “Just let me live to see my son graduate.” 4. Depression: “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” 5. Acceptance: “It’s going to be OK.”

I find it helpful to use these same identifiable stages to talk about the end of a relationship, particularly a relationship that ends unilaterally. If you don’t mind I’d like to walk through these stages with you so that you can see how applicable they are to someone in your situation.

Grieving the death of a loved one, or a relationship, involves the whole of us — our physical, emotional and social selves. We have to relearn, or cognitively adjust to, our new self without the loved one or relationship. Moving through the end of things is hard to work. And to survive it; we need be patient with ourselves. You, on the other hand, seem to be having a particular problem with this since you say you feel like a loser. That kind of mindset is not going be particularly helpful. So, if you can please jettison that kind of thinking. Or at least try to have a bit more compassion for yourself. Maybe you could shelf that self-deprecation for a while, until you get your bearings once again.

A person is faced with a fact that is too painful to accept and so she rejects it instead, insisting that it can’t possibly be true despite overwhelming evidence. This is Stage 1 — Denial! “Honey, I’m moving out. I’m getting a new job in a new state. Oh, and I have this new, much younger girlfriend too.” “This can’t be happening! Sure we’ve had our troubles, I’ll grant you that. But so does every relationship.” Denying the reality of the unpleasant fact may actually serve a purpose. It’s a coping mechanism for dealing with something overwhelming and too shocking to take in at once.

We have a gut-wrenching emotional response to the injustice, humiliation, and betrayal. This is Stage 2 — Anger. Depending on the kind of person we are, we may actively express our anger by lashing out verbally or physically. Or we may passively express our anger — turning it inward becoming silent, sulking or passive-aggressive. We may even consider harming our self as a way of punishing the other.

We try to fix what’s wrong. This is Stage 3 — Bargaining. “We can make this work! I’ll change, I promise! I know I can make you happy. Stay for the sake of the kids. What will the neighbors say? This will kill your mother! What does she have that I don’t have? You’ll never be able to show your face in this town again.” Hmmm, does any of this sound familiar, Valeri?

All our efforts to reverse the inevitable course of things leave us emotionally drained and exhausted. This is Stage 4 — Depression. Why bother with anything — family, friends, work, personal appearances, whatever — life as we knew it is over. We can’t seem to project ourselves beyond the ending of things. In the bleakness we often begin to self-medicate. A little too much food, booze, drugs? As if depression is not punishing enough, we often pile it on. I’ve heard some many people say; “hurting myself is the only thing that makes me feel I’m still alive.”

Slowly we begin to regroup. Maybe it’s through sheer willpower, or the interventions of friends and family, or maybe it’s just time itself. But we stop resisting and move toward acquiescence. This is Stage 5 — Acceptance. We stop resisting what we cannot change. Even if the end was un-chosen, undesired and inescapable, we can still willingly choose to accept it.

I hasten to add that these stages are guidelines. They are not presented in the order that they always happen. Nor is one stage predicated on the other. How long a person is in one stage or another is situational. However, I do hope this was helpful. What is certain is you will experience a wide range of feelings and emotions.

Some suggest the therapy of keeping yourself busy as a means of healing and moving on. This may sound elemental, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Most of us tend to wallow in our misery. We are way too indulgent with sitting on the pitty-pot. While you definitely need time to recover from the divorce, this period of heartache will have an end. And ends of things always led to beginnings of other things.

You now have certain freedoms that you may not have had while you were married. Once the initial period of grieving is over, it is important to jump back into life. Become more involved in your social group. Going out might seem unappealing at first, but it’s better than staying home and feeling sorry for yourself. If you’re only dating assholes, I’ll bet you’re fishing in the wrong holes, so to speak. The internet makes it so much easier to connect with quality people of ever stripe. Use this tool wisely. May I suggest that you start by connecting with people with similar interests as you, rather than posting a profile and photos on a dating site.

Of course, it is necessary to have some time with yourself to realize that you can survive and even be happy without your dick of a husband. The secret to successful grieving is that you need to feel the pain in order to get through it. Therefore, using drugs (prescription or recreational) and alcohol to numb yourself only make things worse.

You might consider working with a therapist to help you understand why your relationship ended. With a little luck you’ll learn how to avoid blaming yourself for the demise. No one is without fault, and your husband definitely has more than his share. But blaming him for everything will do you no good. You are neither totally to blame, nor are you the helpless victim. Lingering at either extreme will rob you of your self-esteem.

At first, being single might seem weird or even unappealing. But being single has its perks. Being single allows you to focus on you and take better care of yourself. And what better way to do that then by reconnecting with your sexual-self. Masturbation is gonna be your best friend during this transition period. Lavish time and pleasure on yourself. You’re worth it! Indulge yourself; instead of chocolate, get yourself a supped up vibrator and kick that thing into first gear, maybe even second! By spending more private sexual time with yourself, you’ll reconnect with who you are and what you want. This will make it easier for you to later choose a partner who can and will satisfy your needs.

Good luck