The first time I masturbated, it was a revelation.
I don’t remember how old I was or how I knew to do it, but it happened in the middle of the night. Between the delicious folds of blanket and darkness, I learned that a body could make itself feel good. A body could experience relief.
Growing up, I was never told that it was okay for me to be me. I was spoken at but never with. And although I was deaf, it seemed like I was making more of an effort to listen in than those much vaunted hearers around me. They required zero hearing devices in order to hear, but they also gave zero fucks about what anybody else was saying, least of all me.
That was how I learned to save my breath. If none could be bothered to listen, then it was pointless to speak. So I became proficient in the art of passive observation, dwelling deferentially at the fringes of social interaction. I’d close my mouth and lean in, vainly trying to discern individual voices within the cacophony, and reading body language for further clues as to what was being said. I learned to react to mannerisms, facial cues and perceived emotional states with little more than inference and favour currying nods. But really, I had no part to play in any of it. I might as well have been a no-show, for I was invisible.
And so it was that I became the unseen fluffer at the gloryhole of egos. I made myself utterly compliant, inoffensive—bland even. However, being so attentive and doggedly amenable meant that I was only hurting myself in the end. I was enabling others to self-medicate and preen at my expense. I ‘gave good head’, but I was also complicit in losing track of who I was and could have become. Still, none of this prevented me from feeling inside. And I would continue to feel everything.
I felt so much that I learned to hide it out of shame. I hid my face which is horribly asymmetric—that’s why I grew my hair long. I also learned to hide my deformed hands—that’s what pockets are for. Then I learned to hide my voice in silence. And if I absolutely had to speak, I made sure to drape that in shame too. On no account was I ever to feel good about me. And nothing was about me unless others deigned it so. If I wasn’t outright ignored, I was bullied, pitied or used, and tossed aside.
This made me a prime candidate for religious conversion, I think. When I was willingly recruited into the christian subculture, I thought I’d finally found my tribe. I hadn’t, after all, found it anywhere else, not even within the relative normalcy of my own family. I’d made myself complaisant in the extreme for anyone who’d stop and take notice, but this hardly mattered when all was said and done, and it hardly improved my lot. I still simply could not manage to fit in—not anywhere—to find a meaningful foothold within the swell of humanity to which I was desperate to belong. No wonder I was drawn to christianity’s promises of unconditional love and acceptance!
But even in church I’d not belong, for the qualities that supposedly made me special soon became sin that had to be rooted out. It was classic bait and switch. Reel me in with what I’d hoped was real only to find that I was inhabiting the worst place possible for dignity to thrive. I wasn’t to have long hair. Black clothes were an issue, as was my taste in heavy metal music. Oh, and no more wallowing in depression for I had nothing to be legitimately sad about. Salvation was mine, so what exactly was the problem?
I became painfully aware that my innermost thoughts and feelings were nothing more than a nest of demons to my better brethren. And my desires? They were a definitive no-no. I was allowed to be everybody else’s fluffer, but no masturbation for me. I could literally gag for christ’s coming but I wasn’t permitted to seek relief at my own hands. Feel good and burn in hell, or be in emotional agony and somehow ascend to heaven. The choice was mine.
So, like the dutiful fluffer I was, I knowingly participated in this dehumanising game of being shammed and shamed. I dropped to my knees and gave them my all. It was more than mere lip service. It was the full performance. I even spoke in tongues for them. I swallowed absolutely everything—not a dribble or drop was lost—but when it became clear that I wasn’t working out, the true believers zipped themselves up and ditched me on the side of a road less travelled.
It feels like I’ve been hungry since the dawn of time, gobbling to be seen, wanted, explored. But none can keep up with this voracious appetite for connection. It isn’t possible. For as long as I can remember, I’ve necessarily been made an option at best, a non entity at worst, but usually something to be avoided somewhere between. It’s had to be this way. People simply don’t last long in my presence. How could they?
I recall a childhood friend telling me one time—outside the main school gate—just where on his impossibly long list of buddies I fell. Towards the end as it happened. That wasn’t good enough for me, and so we never spoke again after that, opting instead to occupy different parts of the playground at recess. Everyone leaves. Or I leave first so I won’t be the one who gets hurt. But this never works. I’m always getting myself hurt, and I’m always hurting others. I don’t mean to.
I desperately wanted to date, but never did. I didn’t have the balls. I wasn’t a real man; my face was all wrong, and I had nothing else with which to impress the girls. Youth and possibility were flowering everywhere I looked, damn them, and I was a withered old bud before my time. I was going nowhere fast. So, I learned to stand still and be alone, and loneliness would become the theme that underpinned my life. I was never an introvert by choice. Genetics and circumstance forced me into that mould. It’s one that I’ve tried—unsuccessfully—to break out of since.
This is why I’ve had to discover pleasure on my own. I never did quite understand what it was I was feeling. No one guided me through this. I only knew that it felt good, that it made me feel human, and that I shouldn’t be doing it. For reasons that no one ever adequately explained, masturbation was branded a highly transgressive act, and yet… I couldn’t stop. Not even when my mother caught me in bed making love to my pillow. She never could look at me the same after that, and we sure as hell never talked about it. I wish we had. I might have found some answers. Some guidance perhaps. And I possibly wouldn’t be so fucked up now.
So, I grew up, a burning hot hormonal mess that wanted to fuck every girl in every room. But suicidal ideation, unrequited horniness and acne would be my only bedfellows. I never got used to girls, and I became the teen that time forgot. It was left to me to make myself feel good, to do more of the thing that only I could do on my own, to self-medicate. The world outside would make me feel truly utterly awful, and when I finally couldn’t take any more, I’d retreat to my room and masturbate. And then the shame. And then the crying. Where did I learn that seeking relief was so bad? Why was it such a crime? Why did I always have to feel like shit? Why was that the law?
The number of women I’ve been with can be counted on the hand with no thumb, with fingers to spare. I know well enough to be grateful to them. They were loving, sensitive, and they took great care with me. I, unfortunately, was crap and needy. I just wanted to feel good, and I wanted them to feel good so that I wouldn’t feel like I was just taking. I hope they felt good. I’m not adept at feeling pleasure—sexual or otherwise—in the company of others, so it can be extremely confronting when I see others sharing pleasure so freely.
The sad truth is, I fail at lovemaking. There is no getting around that. One of the most intimate connections I could ever share in life quickly becomes an onerous task that I simply cannot deal with. When the women I worship most willingly open themselves to me, I can scarcely believe it. My mind simply will not accept that this good thing is happening. I cannot possibly deserve this, so I choke up, I go numb, and my dick goes down. And they’re left genuinely wondering if the fault lies with them. (Is this why I prefer foreplay?)
Neediness is the engine that drives me. I’m empty on my own. I need other egos around me, spilling themselves over me, filling me up like I’m a one dollar whore. Hell, they can degrade me if it means I’ll have their attention for a while. (Can you see how fucked up I am?) Show me a little kindness and I’m tempted to fall in love with you, for mine is not a monogamous heart. Nope, my heart is a glutton and an idiot. It’s a total starving slut. And I will be your slut… if you let me.
I still masturbate, though this no longer enchants as it once did. The shininess has rubbed off, one could say, and relief has left the room. I’m not permitted to be a burden on others, but I am required to be the graveyard for all that imbues me, for I am a dead end. That is my function. Naturally, my idiot heart doesn’t comprehend this—or desperately doesn’t want to—and so it continues to inhabit the fringes, waiting, hoping, hungry for a tidbit of connection.
I’m ashamed of my emotions. I’m ashamed of the things they make me want to do just to connect. I’m ashamed of being a fluffer and a slut. A sexless masturbator. An echo of a dream. Am I just a thing pretending to be human?
Idiot heart, your narrative needs to change.
by TONY SINGLE
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