Jo is a 58-year-old, cisgender woman who describes herself as white, heteroflexible, and in a friends-with-benefits situation. She deals with ongoing physical issues that make sex challenging. Her preferred relationship style is “none” – as in, she doesn’t want a defined romantic relationship. Before we started recording she said, “I don’t want to be picking up your socks or do your laundry. I may cook you dinner occasionally, but that’s because I want to cook not because you’re hungry.”

While I did my best to maintain my regular sense of equilibrium during this interview, it was a particularly personal one for me. Jo and I don’t really know each other, but our families have been intertwined for a long time. In order to preserve the privacy of others not on this call, we kept the specifics vague, but we were both curious to find out if we would learn new things about our shared history in this conversation.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (CLICK TO OPEN)

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sexual communication coach Leah Carey and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Today, we meet Jo, a 58 year old cisgender woman who describes herself as white, heteroflexible, post-menopausal, and in a friends with benefits situation. Her preferred relationship style is none, as in she doesn’t want a defined romantic relationship. Before we started recording she said, “I don’t want to be picking up your socks or to do your laundry. I may cook you dinner occasionally but that’s because I want to cook, not because you’re hungry.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: She also talks about having had several birth defects and ongoing physical issues that make sex challenging. I’m so pleased to introduce Jo!

I am really interested and excited to see where this conversation goes. So that the listeners know, we have some background together. We don’t actually really know each other but our families are intertwined in a way to keep vague so as to preserve everybody’s privacy. This is going to be a really interesting conversation for me. I anticipate I’m going to learn some things that I didn’t know that may potential have some relevance to my own history, so welcome.

JO: Thank you, happy to be here. Thank you. I’m looking to most of the same things and see what’s relevant in your journey that might overlap in mine.

LEAH: Yeah. Well, let’s start as I usually do with the question, what is your first memory of sexual pleasure?

JO: Playing doctor at about 5 or 6 with a cousin and then getting balled out within an inch of my life.

LEAH: So you were discovered by an adult?

JO: Oh, absolutely. Kids if they’re always quiet, “What’s going on? Go check them.” [LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And how far did those explorations of doctor go?

JO: In my medical history, I was in the hospital most of the first 5 years of my life, so I’ve always wondered if it was me playing doctor to try to see why everyone was so interested in me and fixing me. I still don’t know the answer to that, but I would say it was mostly just, “How do your parts work? This is how my parts work.” So the normal stuff, show me yours and I’ll show you mine, peeing or defecating or whatever. It was mostly just how does this body work? What’s normal to me compared to somebody else?

LEAH: So when you were in the hospital, were doctors dealing with your genitalia?

JO: With everything, I was born with massive birth defects and there are enough birth defects in shared relatives and especially in my branch and the offspring of my branch that I decided never to have kids, because I wasn’t going to repeat the first 5 years of my life spent in the hospital.

My urinary tract had a problem. I couldn’t retain my water so that had to be operated on to tighten me up, which led to problems with sex later in life. And my ribs were deformed so they had to break my ribs three times in order to fix my chest so I could breathe. The first surgery was at 6 months. The next surgery in conjunction with fixing my urinary tract was at about 5 years old. And then the next surgery for the ribs was at 9 years old.

They wanted to again when I was about 14 and wanted to do some work and I’m like, “No, I’m done. It’s bankrupted the family. It’s not there. It’s not worth it. It’s as good as it’s going to get. Everything works, leave me alone.” I come to this from a medical background more than anything else.

LEAH: So when that adult walked in on you playing doctor, what were the consequences? What did they say to you?

JO: I don’t remember. I have a lot of dead sounds in my memory because my childhood was traumatic. I know that I was told it was dirty and not appropriate and everybody put their clothes back on. I don’t remember there being particular consequences more than just getting screamed at.

My mother was very religious. My mother had her own issues with her sexuality and with unfaithfulness in her marriage so that I don’t know really if I’m remembering the full story or if I’ve blacked anything out. I just remember it was sunny and we were in my bedroom and it was a problem.

LEAH: What you’re saying is so familiar to me, that experience of I remember sort of the feeling around the event, but there are so many dark zones in my own memory. You said that your mom had issues with her sexuality.

JO: She really did. This is my observation because in New England, you don’t talk about sex. You talk about money, but you don’t talk about sex. California, you talk about sex, but you don’t talk about money.

[LAUGHTER]

JO: It’s a difference of the social norms and trying to figure out what we’re allowed to say to people at certain points in our life.

In my mother doing her own healing, I came across things that I was aware of at certain points in my life so I knew more about her fights with her sexual identity and women’s lib and she was married to an abusive man which she did honor. So although she wanted me to know about menstruation and other things, it was a really hard conversation for her because she grew up in a version of don’t ask, don’t tell. It’s just like in New England, this is my viewpoint. But I can remember because of my father’s awful temper. After the divorce, learning things that no 11, 12, 13, 14 year old should know about their parents’ sexual issues.

LEAH: Like what?

JO: She would get dressed and undressed in closets so he couldn’t see her body. They had a walk in closet. He had a real issue with that. I can remember being in Kentucky visiting a relative and she wore what she wore what she considered a scandalous outfit, which was a beautiful outfit. It was a white mini dress with lace sleeves and low cleavage.

It would have been convent wear any place else at that place and time. And yet, she would not wear that unless there was a man on her arm because she felt like she was setting herself up to be prey. So it’s that kind of garbage that’s in the back of my brain of deliberated women fighting to own your sexuality but also not wanting to not make yourself a victim. So it’s a lot of garbage like that.

LEAH: Yeah. And then your dad it sounds like there were a lot of issues that came from your dad’s side as well?

JO: Yeah, because he was abandoned as a kid. His parents had an awful divorce. My father was very concerned over how his life changed when his parents got divorced and was someone hiding the family money from him and why he couldn’t get his hands on that. And so you had money and status and financial issues going on and abandonment issues which led to his need to be very sexual and conquer. They can get naked and have sex but after bed I see you in the morning and I can’t meet your eyes.

It’s just tough and I’ve dealt with that. Also I would say intimacy is the hardest. But because I’m willing to be embarrassed, I think that I’ve done more to healing than would have been possible by I see it on the East Coast or if the Internet didn’t exist. I don’t think I ever would have felt safe enough to date without the Internet. I think women’s lib gave me the opportunity to say I own my interest. I own my curiosity and my girlfriends telling me I don’t need to know stuff because he’s going to teach me, just would make me insane. Where did he learn it? Why can’t I get to that book? Why can’t I get that lesson?

I would say that there was inordinate amount of interest in what my future would be because of the defects and the physical repairs. I was cross-eyed. I had everything going and I was sick all the time. But from a very young age, it was always about when you grow up and get married and get children of your own. And so I’m still trying to figure out if that’s part of society’s conditioning that women aren’t entitled to their own bodies and entitled to their own thoughts of what their future will be or if it’s truly just my father could not handle my birth defects and I was an abomination.

LEAH: So we talked about you being discovered as a youngster playing doctor, what was your next sexual experience?

JO: More violence, still playing doctor. I was with cousins. They’re not real cousins but long term family friends and we were away for the weekend.

LEAH: And how old were you?

JO: Parents were still together so I had to be around 9 or 10. I had to be 9 or 10. And we were out in the woods and it was showing me yours, I’ll show you mine type thing. And I had gone to bed with one of the boys and we were cuddling and fooling around and then we went back to our own beds. The kids were all upstairs so there was no real supervisor.

And so next thing I knew I woke up to the middle boy being beaten with a belt by his father because he was masturbating and got caught. All of a sudden we’re waking up to screaming and this middle kid getting beaten within an inch of his life. It definitely had an impact.

LEAH: Yeah. Was he the one who you were cuddling with earlier? JO: No. I was with his older brother.

LEAH: Oh, okay.

JO: So all I could think of was, “Thank God, it wasn’t us.” Because my parents were really funny, my father tried to kill me a couple of times, beating me because he was so mad. So my mother stopped all physical punishment by the time I was 5.

So part of it was she knew he was mad because of the money I was costing the family. Part of it she knew he was mad because it was frustration in the family. Instead of dealing with the problem, dealt with it a different way, which is just stubborn and she will tell you, if you were on the bus that you rode in on and defy you with what you will kill her and so you can’t touch her anymore. And because I had spent so much time in the hospital on my own dealing with adults, I had no problem taking on anybody and I had a mouth. I didn’t have a good body but I had a mouth and I would absolutely argue to death.

LEAH: So you mentioned that with that cousin, you were fooling around. At 10 years old, how far were you going?

JO: I started my period at 9. I had a fully developed bust line at 9. I was 5’4 at 9 so I had a very early puberty but I knew enough that we couldn’t go more than heavy petting because that was for God. The virginity had to be saved for marriage. So it was more show me yours, I’ll show you mine. We’ll see what feels good and it really didn’t go any further.

LEAH: And did it feel good?

JO: Oh, it felt great. It felt great. That’s been my problem. I’m a very sensual person raised not to touch. One of the things that’s my hardest thing is I don’t like to be touched. To me that immediately puts me in someplace else mentally.

So I’m in California and they’re huggy kissy whatever. It’s like, “I like you, don’t touch me. Just say hello. It’s good.” It has nothing do with you, but I don’t need everyone to know my baggage so it’s just, “I like you, fine, stay right there and we can shake hands or whatever. But I don’t need a hug. Just back off.”

And so I don’t know where that is but I’m pretty good about managing the boundaries so it’s not an issue. In intimate situations, it’s a problem because I can get overwhelmed and enjoy it and then the back of your brain starts talking to you and you have to get out of your own way.

And so my friends with benefits boyfriend, we’ve been together off and on since about 2008 and we have managed to be honest with each other, which is hard. We’ve been together. We’ve broken up. We’ve been together. We’ve broken up, whatever. But we keep on coming back to each other because we truly are friends and we truly are willing to do the hard work to say, “I can’t talk about this right now” or “I want to try X or so, are you comfortable? What do you need to make that possible for you?”

And I mean I had to be 58 years old to get to that point and that’s when my health is failing so now the brain is still interested but the body’s like, “Screw that. I just can’t even breathe right now.” So it’s too late in life to finally get where I want to be but it’s better than never.

LEAH: So you’re still dealing with the aftereffects from the birth defects? JO: Oh yeah.

LEAH: So far, we’ve talked about two young sort of doctor experience with family or close family people. At what point did you move toward a more typical dating situation?

JO: 45? 46? After my mother was dead.

LEAH: Oh okay, let’s talk about the intervening years. [LAUGHTER]

JO: Prior to that, it was hard because the kid that I was cuddling with at 10 or 11 where his brother got beaten, he came back when he was in the Navy and he came to visit and I was about 18, 19. And he always had a charisma, liked him a lot, and he wanted to take me out for dinner. And I was 5’5, 130 pounds, so I was definitely well rounded and I definitely had boobs that would not quit. And he scared me. We went out on a date and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. And I was like, “I will deck you right here. Do not make me do this.”

LEAH: Did you know that it was a date?

JO: I would say that I felt sexually interested because I was very mobile that night. And it’s funny when I’m chemically attracted to someone, oh my God, I’m singing and the chemistry’s going and it’s just zoom!

So I was definitely giving off the availability signals, but he went farther than I wanted. And I think he believed because he was a Navy person, that I would be in love with the uniform and I think he believed because of our previous cuddling experience, I would be an easy port while he was in town. And at that point, I was still living at home with my mother and I wasn’t an idiot. He hadn’t given me any credit for growing. I was still just a thing to him to be conquered. So that was the last time we’ve ever seen each other. I got him and I said, “No, no, no, you take me home right now or I’m walking but this is ending.”

LEAH: And we’re using the word cousin but I just want to go back and pick up, I think you said this was a family friend who was called a cousin.

JO: It was a family friend so anything you do involves everybody’s parents. It involves drama because you’ve been raised together, you visit, you’ve gone away for the weekends, and of course there’s going to be normal touchy feely check each other out in my experience. It may not be for everybody else. But whether they were real cousins or whether they were family friends, all the kids were curious. All of the kids were checking out and the difference was whether or not anybody got caught I think.

LEAH: Yeah. So how far did he go that night?

JO: Up under my shirt and started removing my bra. And we were in the car and I was not comfortable in the car. It wasn’t consensual. It wasn’t at a pace that I was comfortable with once it got started because it was a freezing cold night in February and we were outdoors in a car. I’m sorry. I’m worth more than this.

And I couldn’t articulate at the time but I could in my own head say, “This is going too fast. This isn’t going to end well. I’ve already seen his bits and pieces years ago. He’s seen mine. How do I get him to understand that we are not picking up where we left off?” I didn’t make a promise then and I’m not making allowances now.

He has to respect me and stop. And he wouldn’t so it ended up being an argument. And then I put my foot down and that was it. But I had grown and physically matured so that I could back it up and he was enough of a close family friend that he knew there would be repercussions if he didn’t stop. And since then, I’ve seen of circle of friends and whatnot where the girl isn’t believed. Never bothered me because believe me or not believe me, my truth is my truth and that’s part of the challenge that I’ve had getting along with other people because I don’t need your approval. I don’t need anybody’s approval. It would be nice. It makes life easier but no. And so when I put my foot down, it was a real problem and that was the last time we’ve seen each other.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: I squeal a little. Okay, a lot, every time there’s a new review at Apple Podcasts. Hearing from you is what lets me know that I’m on the right track with this podcast. For instance, GreatBallOfFire wrote, “Leah opens these women up in ways that is so frank and so real. These are the conversations that every woman wants to have or has had with her closest girlfriend. And now, we get to hear them up close and personal.”

Thanks GreatBallOfFire, I love your screen name. If you want even more up close and personal conversations, we’ve got extras galore at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex for every episode. The Patreon extras for this episode are at the 1 dollar a month level, Jo talks about the violence she experienced as a young girl because she didn’t dress or act according to gender expectations. At the 5 dollar a month level, Jo describes the sexual harassment she experienced in the workplace in the early 1980s. At the 7 dollar a month level, you get those conversations plus the extended Q and A. And at the 10 dollar a month level, you get all of that plus the monthly ask me anything where I will answer your questions about sex, sexuality, and sexual communication. To learn more about becoming a community supporter and to get all of these goodies, visit patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

And do you have a friend who is having a tough time in their sex life or relationship? They might find some amazing support in these episodes. I hear from women and men every week who tell me that listening to this podcast is helping them understand their difficulties and make positive change in their sex lives. So be the hero and tell a friend about Good Girls Talk About Sex!

[MUSIC]

LEAH: There’s still a whole bunch of years where you’re not really engaging in dating and sexuality. I know you’ve said that there was a big internal stigma for you around pregnancy and STIs.

JO: Right. Because I was coming of age in the time of AIDS that we don’t know what causes AIDS in 1983, 1984. So it was no hardship for me to say I’m not ready emotionally and with this death wish going on. My body may be broken but I don’t have a death wish. I’m going to go figure out what this is before I start playing around. And so it was real easy not to be sexually active because I was working on, as probably too much information, but working on myself and what pleasured me and coming to terms with the guilt of self pleasure and this isn’t right but working through my own issues before I even thought about taking this on parade and trying to actually date.

LEAH: So it sounds like you’re talking about spending a lot of time exploring masturbation. Is that correct?

JO: Yes. I had normal sexual urges. I would say I was pretty low key sexually but when Mother Nature kicked in. I went to New York with some girlfriends when I was 18 and one of the girlfriends was sure we’re all going to get killed. Any minute, we’re going to die, got to keep the buddy system going. I’m in New York. I’m going to pick up a Play Girl and it’s Nick Nolte on the cover type thing. And oh my God, they were scandalized.

[LAUGHTER]

JO: “Oh, you slut! You need to learn from the men. You don’t need to be reading this sort of crap.” Because in my peer group, I was also taking risks and sharing who I was and not being accepted by people who loved me, I also got the message reinforced that things were private and you don’t discuss them. And it’s like if I can’t discuss this with people that I’ve known 14, 15 years and I’m 18, 19, 20, how am I going to discuss with someone before going to bed when I’ve known him for 10 minutes or two weeks?

I’m very logical. They laugh and say that I’m a lot like Spock. I’ll think crap to death. But it’s just how I am. Until we’re ready, “No, I’m not doing it.” And I wasn’t ready until the age of the Internet and some portion of it was fear of getting caught so I truly wasn’t ready to act until after my mother died. Then, for some reason, I was free. It didn’t matter.

LEAH: So what happened next?

JO: Internet dating had taken off. And so I started, and again talking amongst the girlfriends, “Who does this? Who does that?”

One of my very good friends is someone who has experimented as a dominatrix and has experimented as a phone sex caller. Certain things that would allow her to safely explore what she wants from a relationship. And so I will bounce things off her. I tend to pick and choose among my friends and we’ll get to know what because you don’t want all the bodies in one basket. It’s just too messy.

So I had said to her, “I’m thinking about it and I’m not familiar enough for eHarmony. I don’t like these men. I’m not Christian.” I can tell you the list I’m not through the roof. And she says to me, “I’m on this other site which is more adult. It’s very X-rated and I’m not comfortable telling you my screen name or what I’m doing but why don’t you go check it out?” And I laughed because it never even occurred to me. And then I checked it out and I was fascinated.

It was my opportunity to blog and I blogged about my sexual explorations and working to stay true to myself while fighting the stigma of being a slut and wanting marriage and the various dates I went on. One was Kendall, the next morning I’m getting up for a different date and it’s like I feel good for James Brown type thing and it was just a way to explore certain parts of my personality while also not making a public commitment. And I required men to be able to form a thought and write to me with more than just text characters. It’s like you’re not going to get my phone number. I will run a background check. There will be an STD check. I was just literally very Spock mode for how we’re going to do sexuality so that I feel safe because the emotional stuff is so overwhelming. I just have a shopping list of things I go down and I work through it.

And so I was able to meet some really nice guys. I had set up some dating rules where another girlfriend would always get the picture of the guy I was going to meet. We always met at a restaurant somewhere where it was public. There would never be sex the first night. I don’t care how horny either one of us is. I want the STD results. There’s going to be an actual conversation. I need to see if there’s any sexual chemistry. But some people you meet and it doesn’t matter how much the sexual chemistry is, they’re in a written form if they smell bad, if the teeth don’t work, whatever. And that’s so shallow and with someone with a defective body, I know how shallow that is but it’s like that’s a real part of making this successful.

So I was on this site and I made it work and then I got a couple of fetish sites and tried that in terms of someone who would actually like my body because of the scars. And that ended up too weird for me but I tried it and it was mostly just dipping my toe in and figuring out and trying to see where I wanted to fall on the spectrum.

LEAH: I think that’s such an important point that there will be people who like your body despite the scars. There will be people who like your body because of the scars but there will also be people who fetishize your body because of the scars, and that is a totally different thing.

JO: And until I experienced it, I didn’t understand it and so I then became a thing. I became a piece of sexual furniture and I couldn’t handle that. There has to be a real FWB, friends with benefits, and the friendship has to be there or the sexuality just isn’t happening.

LEAH: Yeah, so how old were you when you first had intercourse? JO: 46.

LEAH: And what was that experience like for you? Was it enjoyable?

JO: It was very hard because of my genital surgery for my urinary tract as a kid. So because they tightened me up so tight, I am still not sure to this day if it was my mental issues for the early intervention for basically turning my pussy into a vice in terms of you will not enter and tightening up those muscles.

I had a real tough time with OBGYN exams. I used to go to Planned Parenthood so I’d never see the same doctor twice. I would do what I was supposed to do, maintain my health, but don’t expect me to enjoy it and don’t make small conversations with me. This is invasion and I don’t like it.

And I literally was up in the stirrups and I had one female doctor slap my thigh like I was a horse trying to get me to relax. And I looked at her and I said, “Did you hear me say that you need a child speculum? Did you hear me? This is not something I’m fully controlling. Slapping me is just an insult. It’s not going to force me to relax my muscles.”

I have been tightened up so part of this sexual exploration was also finding a way to enjoy that and find a way to relax on my own for all those years. So by the time I got to this stage where I would be sexually intimate with someone, I would say, “I love blow jobs. I have no problem giving you a blow job. I like this. I like this. I like this but please be aware that sexual intercourse is hard for me. I can’t breathe because of my lung issues so it’s going to be doggy style.” This is probably way too much information.

LEAH: No, not at all.

JO: It’s going to have to be doggy style so that I can try it and try to enjoy it. And the closest thing I liken it to is something called vaginismus where your muscles tighten voluntarily. And one of the things that they had said was, “Work on relaxing the muscles by using larger and larger types of dildos.” And so I worked at that for years to try to make it comfortable. It was still very tight.

LEAH: Did it help?

JO: It did. It actually did because part of it was my fear of pain so because I’m being invaded, it hurts. You have to get beyond that just in addition to the hymen and getting beyond that, it was literally it hurt. So I had to figure how my parts worked so I could enjoy sex. And it took a long time and even then, it was like the anal dildos are usually skinnier and smaller, so I tried those.

And my current boyfriend has no problem with that. And he can get vaginal sex occasionally but sometimes I’m just too tight and we can’t get the muscles to relax. It’s just part of the surgery. They tightened me up for reason and if I can get out of my head, it can be fun but if I’m just in the right head space, it’s just, “Let me give you a blow job, it’s so much easier.” And I’m happy with that.

LEAH: In those moments where you are excited sexually interested and you’re not able to relax vaginally, is that your go to, a blow job? Or is there any other ways that he can interact with your body that give you pleasure?

JO: Because my chest is messed up, I don’t know if I am fascinated with breasts because of this early trauma or if I’m just sexually attracted to breasts. I don’t know if it’s breast envy or not. And it’s funny because I don’t like to be touched and I’m very, very ticklish, but I find nothing better than to be hugged from behind in a tight, tight hug and have my breasts just really squeezed. And he likes that from the front but it doesn’t do the same thing for me.

So I really need it that you hug me from behind. If you’re coming at me this way, it’s a different experience. If I’m being overwhelmed and enveloped with you, it’s easier for me. So we do have those conversations but ultimately, it’s me going, “I give up I can’t do this tonight. Can I just please give you a blow job? Or let me give you a blow job first so I can relax.” And so I can feel like the pressure is off. Otherwise, I spend the time thinking that this is a timer and I have to make you cum by X period of time or neither one of us will have fun. It’s you and your head, it’s screwy.

LEAH: I get that. This relationship that you have now is a friends with benefits situation. How is that working for you? Is that your preferred way of interaction with someone?

JO: I would say yes. I’ve had two or three guys that I cared about a lot but I had to kick them to the curb because they wanted marriage and I do not want marriage and I do not want a live in. I am very happy with the path between his house and my house but I don’t want you under foot I can’t deal with that. That’s too much. I know when I’m attracted to somebody, I can get very verbal and luckily, I’m attracted to him without that problem. There’s not that sexual chemistry. Sex would be so much easier if it was with somebody I could fight with but I don’t like me being that person. I don’t want my life to be fighting.

So it’s managing them and managing me and I’m a control freak. I want my life to be peaceful and quiet. I will own whoever I am but I want it to be peaceful and quiet and so living with someone is just not my thing. So most of the guys I’ve kicked to the curb, not because the sex was bad or the relationship wasn’t fun, but because they wanted more than what I was willing to give and they crossed the line. And I don’t want to be responsible for anyone’s broken heart. This guy loves me but loves me as a friend. He doesn’t need me as a sexual partner. He chose me.

LEAH: How has your experience of sex and your sex life changed since menopause?

JO: It’s sad. Sex has actually started to hurt again. There is a lack of stamina because I hit menopause at the same time I went on disability. There’s a lack of lubrication because of the menopause and I’m also finding this a lack of interest. I don’t know if it’s oxygen deprivation that I’m just tired all the time because I’m exhausted or if it’s part of menopause. And frankly I haven’t discussed it with any of the doctors because I don’t want to go there.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Before we finish up, let’s get the Lowdown, the questions we’re dying to know but would usually be too polite to ask any good girl.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: What kind of touch do you enjoy most?

JO: Soft and firm. It depends but mostly it has to be something that I’m expecting. If I’m not expecting, I can’t enjoy it.

LEAH: Wow, I think that’s not something I’ve ever heard anybody say and yet I think that it is common for so many people.

JO: I think it’s a PTSD thing because I was subject to peer violence. I was subject to physical abuse. I am not willing to give up that rapid fire trigger to protect myself, but by the same token, I’ve had to learn not everyone is an enemy. Not everyone is going to hurt me. So it’s better if I know what’s coming because otherwise if you touch me, I’m immediately freezing and getting ready to jump. So much in my life was controlled by touch. If you’re not supposed to speak, someone pushed their hand on you. If you’re doing something that they don’t like, they tighten that hand. Well, I’m a reactive person, you’re going to get your hands off me, so I think it’s that. I need to know it’s coming.

LEAH: Interesting. Approximate numbers of sex partners you’ve had? JO: Twelve. I wasn’t going for quantity.

[LAUGHTER]

JO: And it was more about who could withstand the screening process. If you can’t write me a note, if you can’t talk on the phone, if you won’t let me do a background check, and I did a background check on everybody.

LEAH: Do you enjoy receiving oral sex?

JO: Not really. I don’t know whether it’s a control issue or if it’s just he likes to watch me and I’m uncomfortable. It’s too much focused attention. But I have a real problem with the lights being out. He wants the lights out every time and I want to be able to see what’s going on. And he’s only comfortable with the lights on if I’m getting oral. And so there’s scars and whatnot so I still haven’t figured out what my issue is about that. He loves it. I’ll let him do it as long as he wants to do it but for the most part, if I can distract him, because he gets hard a rock, it’s like, “Good now you’re hard. I’m going to do what I like.”

LEAH: Do you know why he doesn’t like to have the lights on?

JO: He’s never discussed it. I turn the lights and he shuts it off. It’s one of the few things we don’t discuss. He’s had the computer monitor on so there’s some light in the room but he’s very body conscious for himself. He keeps a t-shirt on which drives me crazy because I like the feel of skin. I like the hairy chest. I like the smell of him. He’s always very clean but it’s like he’s not confident in his own body so I don’t push it.

LEAH: how do you feel about receiving ass play?

JO: I’ve done it to him. He’s very interested. That was one of his best orgasms. For me, because of my incontinence in other issues, because I have issues at both ends, I have to be incredibly clean or I can’t enjoy it. And then I’m always worried that it’s not normal lubrication, it is anal leakage, so it just hits my gross points. I let him do what he wants as part of my willingness to still grow and try to adjust to it. I don’t hate it bodily. I hate it mentally. So it’s still something we try and work out.

LEAH: Do you enjoy dirty talk during sexual encounters?

JO: I don’t mind what he says as long as it feels original. If it doesn’t feel original and it feels scripted like,

“Honey, baby, whatever.” It’s like, “That’s it. You just took me right out of my zone.” [LAUGHTER]

JO: It’s just stupid. It triggers the sexual furniture issue for me and I don’t know why.

LEAH: I don’t think that’s stupid at all. I think that if you feel like you really need to be seen. JO: I do.

LEAH: You really need to know that the other person is firmly present and in the same room with you, then feeling like they’re just repeating words would trigger that, feeling like maybe they’re not actually here with me.

JO: Exactly, but then I also intellectually understand the importance of fantasy and time it into foreplay. So it’s still something we’re trying to work out because the list of my triggers is just endless but we’re able to at least talk about it, which is a big thing.

LEAH: That’s awesome. What is a myth about sex that you’ve had to unlearn?

JO: Oh God, that you’re going to die, God’s going to get you.

[LAUGHTER]

JO: That Catholic upbringing is just good girls don’t. I can’t tell you. It’s probably stupid if you don’t watch The Bachelor, because I normally don’t.

LEAH: I watch every episode of The Bachelor.

[LAUGHTER]

JO: To me, that’s Survivor. I’m addicted to Survivor. It’s psychological crap.

But The Bachelor just makes me crazy. But I can’t tell you how much I hated the current blonde Hannah as the beauty queen stereotype whatever and when the thing erupted in the last week or two over, “Who are you to tell me what I can’t do? I had sex in a windmill and I did it twice. And Jesus still loves me.” And yes! Yes! Yes! The ownership of a woman is still a big, big issue and I don’t know any other way to label it other than ownership. People want you to go through life as a pair and they want to be able to defer to someone and say clean this mess up. And I don’t feel like a mess, I don’t feel like I have to go through life as a pair.

LEAH: Jo, thank you so much for having this conversation today. It’s been such a pleasure to talk with you and to learn. I think you know I was a little bit nervous during this conversation.

JO: You and me both. And we’re like, “Do I want to send that message?” Well, nothing ventured. Nothing gained. Go for it.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. So thank you. I really appreciate it.

JO: No problem. This was fun. It was very educational and informative. Thank you. [MUSIC]

LEAH: Thanks for joining me today on Good Girls Talk About Sex. If you’d like to be a guest on this show, please email me at leah@goodgirlstalkaboutsex.com. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at IamLeahCarey.

I was only able to step outside my good girl box when someone I respected told me it was possible. If you’d like to step outside of a box that’s no longer working for you, I’m here to tell you it’s possible and I’d love to work with you. I have lots of tools to help you name your desires and communicate them effectively to your partner or potential partners. For more information, visit leahcarey.com.

I’m Leah Carey and I look forward to talking with you again next time! Here’s to your better sex life! [MUSIC]

Major themes in this episode include preferring to not have committed relationships, navigating sex with physical difficulties/birth defects, internet dating, and sex after menopause.

Here are some of the great moments she shared with us:

  • 2:52 – Jo’s first memory of sexual pleasure
  • 5:00 – Jo’s early medical history, including birth defects (Jo’s language for her physical challenges) and surgeries to correct them
  • 13:00 – Jo’s sexual experience with a family friend, then listening to his brother getting beaten for masturbating
  • 17:00 – Being pushed into sexual interaction and having to say no
  • 25:00 – Learning to self pleasure; also having no one to talk about it with, and the fear of AIDS
  • 25:40 – Her fears about sex easing after the death of her mother, and starting to explore internet dating
  • 29:55 – Having sex with another person for the first time at 46, and her difficulties with intercourse due to childhood surgeries
  • 32:20 – Jo’s techniques to learn how to have intercourse pleasurably, if at all; necessity of mentally relaxing for it to be possible
  • 34:00 – Using blow jobs to take pressure off of her during sex
  • 35:00 – Insisting on a friends-with-benefits structure for relationships
  • 38:00 – Jo’s trauma response, including needing to know when touch will be coming

The Lowdown (37:40)

  • What kind of touch do you enjoy most?
  • Approximate number of sexual partners
  • Do you enjoy receiving oral sex?
  • How do you feel about ass play?
  • Do you enjoy dirty talk during sexual encounters?
  • What is a myth about sex you’ve had to unlearn?

The Patreon extras for this episode are:

  • At the $1/month level, Jo talks about the violence she experienced as a girl because she didn’t dress or act according to gender expectations.
  • At the $5/month level, Jo describes the sexual harassment she experienced in the workplace in the early 1980s.
  • At the $7/month level, that conversation plus the extended Q&A.
  • At the $10/month level, all that plus a monthly Ask Me Anything!

Learn more and become a community supporter at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

If you like this show, please leave a rating and review at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/good-girls-talk-about-sex/id1436501617?mt=2.

Want to be on the show? Visit www.leahcarey.com/guest and let me know that you’re interested. I’d love to talk with you!

To learn about Sexual Communication Coaching, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching

Host – Leah Carey (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, email)

Editor – Gretchen Kilby

Music by – Nazar Rybak