Lynn shares her trauma history, and then opens up on a deep and detailed level about hiring a sex worker to save her marriage.  Because no one in her family talked about sex or bodies, for much of her early life, she believed that her vagina was a fatal birth defect.

Lynn is a 49-year-old, cisgender female. She describes herself as white, NOT straight, mostly monogamous, married, and peri-menopausal. She describes her body as “very average.”

How Healing Happens: Sex workers can play a critical role in sexual healing. It’s a safe space with clear boundaries, and without the emotional charge (or baggage) often built up with a partner. A sex worker can help you overcome resistance to pleasure, focus on sensation, and figure out what *does* feel good to your body. And some do work with couples.

Bookmark moments:

  • 4:25 – Lynn’s first memory of sexual pleasure occurs at age 9, with the accidental placement of a blanket between her legs on a hot summer night. Her surprise discovery leads to a serious misconception but she knows not to ask questions.
  • 11:11 – She experiments with touching and kissing with her best friend, trying to figure things out with the benefit of sex ed.
  • 17:56 – As her home life falls apart in her teens, Lynn falls prey to attention of older men.
  • 24:14 – She leaves home at 16 and gets married, in order to escape things at home. Things are good at first, but when she gets pregnant, he gets violent.
  • 34:48 – Lynn meets her second husband. He is wonderful and so is the sex, but life quickly throws a few wrenches into the works.
  • 38:41 – The lack of sex in the marriage destroys their emotional bond.
  • 41:49 – Lynn tells her husband he has permission to see a sex worker to get his needs met. He resists…at first.
  • 45:42 – After some deep introspection, she suggests an alternate set of plans to her husband to celebrate their upcoming anniversary—involving Lynn visiting the sex worker.
  • 53:30 – Lynn discovers her body is not, in fact, broken.
  • 54:00 – They go to the sex worker together for their anniversary. Much unfolds from this and subsequent sessions with the sex worker.
  • 1:03:30 – Lynn shares about the medical help and therapy she sought before turning to a sex worker, and her fears of social disapproval.

The Patreon extras for this episode are:

  • Lynn and I took a deeper dive into the nature of the relationships she was having with older men – was it predatory? Was it healthy?  Is it possible that it could be some combination of both? 
  • Lynn and I talk about how, having had a history of violent homes, she managed to create a home without violence for her son. We also talk about how she approached the topic of sex with her son, and what her relationship with her body is – and how that has changed since menopause.
  • The extended Lowdown Q&A

ALL audio extras are now FREE for everyone!!!!!  They can be accessed at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.  If you’d like to support the work I do, you can make a monthly contribution at that site.

PJ PARTIES!! Information and registration at www.leahcarey.com/PJparty

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

Audio Editor – Gretchen Kilby

Music – Nazar Rybak

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

(Click the “CC” button next to the player for a downloadable version)

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sex educator and 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: Hey friends. If you’ve been listening for a while, you know I get excited about pretty much every episode. In fact, someone asked me recently what my favorite of this show is, and I said that’s like asking a mother to choose her favorite child. It’s impossible because so many of them are so good!

So you’re not going to be surprised to hear that I’m super excited about this episode and the next one, and not just because the conversations are so great. It’s because I’ve finally been able to get someone on the record talking about her experience with a sex worker. And her experience mirrors my own story of healing so much that I can’t wait to share it with you. And then, in two weeks, I’ll be speaking with a full service sex worker about her history, her experience in the industry, the healing she sees clients getting from her work, whether she derives sexual pleasure from her work and so much more.

Both this episode and the episode in the next two weeks are super sized. And that’s because these stories take some time to tell. This week, there’s a lot in Lynn’s young life to process. The situation in her childhood home that sent her into the arms of older men looking for the love she craved, an abusive marriage at age 16, getting out of that marriage with an infant, and then we get to the story of her current marriage and how they ended up seeing a sex worker separately and together, and you’ll hear that story largely unedited and uninterrupted.

All of that storytelling means that this episode runs quite a bit longer than usual and it doesn’t even include a lowdown. I’ll break in a little later to tell you about the audio extras available at Patreon because there’s actually a ton more stuff that couldn’t even fit into this extra large episode. But for the moment, let’s get started. Lynn is a 49 year old cisgender female, who describes herself as white, not straight, mostly monogamous, married and the mother of a grown son. She is currently perimenopausal and calls her body very average. I’m so pleased to introduce Lynn!

Thank you so much for talking with me today. When you told me that you had a story you wanted to share, I was immediately excited because there’s a part of this story that I had been hoping somebody would come forward with. So I’m so excited to have t his conversation with you today.

LYNN: Well, great. I’m excited to be here. I really love what you’re doing and I think it’s a great podcast.

LEAH: Thank you. Well, let’s start as we do with every one of these conversations. What is your first memory of sexual pleasure?

LYNN: When I was about nine or so, it was a hot summer night and I kind of threw my leg out of the blanket and the blanket was kind of up in between my legs and I just remembering coming out of my sleep going, “Oh my God. What is that? It felt good.”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And that was when I found I had body parts between my legs that nobody had mentioned to me.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So this was not a part of the conversation in your home? There’s no like, “This is how bodies work.”

LYNN: No. There was none of that and in fact, I was so uninformed about it that I reached out between my legs to find out what felt like that and my fingers sort of fell into my vagina and I thought that I wasn’t finished at the bottom. I thought I had a birth defect. I thought I hadn’t formed together properly and since no one had ever mentioned that there was a vagina, I thought they’re not saying anything about it to me, they don’t want me to worry about this birth defect.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: How long did you live with that belief?

LYNN: I don’t really know but I think probably at least around a year or so. The good news was that I also found my clitoris at the same time and I thought since I was dying anyway.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: It didn’t matter.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: I’m sure that my first idea of masturbation and it is wrong came from Sunday school teaching and Bible things. I was like, “Ooh. It’s wrong.” But it doesn’t matter because I’m dying.

LEAH: Oh my God.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And that’s the kind of thing. Well, different kids will react in different ways. But for me, when there’s things like that where I thought, “Oh my God there’s something terribly wrong with me”, I would hide it rather than asking a question so I just lived with the misconception for years and years.

LYNN: I was the same. I didn’t ask anybody. I had this sense that we weren’t supposed to talk about it because nobody was mentioning it to me and so in my mind, it was clearly a sad, sad thing happening.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: Fortunately, I had the rest of me to comfort me so that was really nice. I became an accomplished masturbator pretty quickly.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So you were getting a lot of pleasure from masturbation, it seems like?

LYNN: Yeah. I was having a great time with it after everybody went to sleep. I thought it was swell, I still do.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And you said you were about nine when this happened?

LYNN: Yeah.

LEAH: Wow. Do you remember how you figured out that there was not something terribly wrong with you?

LYNN: I don’t remember how I figured that out but not too long after that, my mom started to talk to me in very clinical terms about periods and so, it was probably in some of that that eventually I figured out that this was a vagina, not a birth defect.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Oh my God. This is a vagina, not a birth defect. I feel like that might have to be the title of this episode.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: Oh my Gosh. Bless me. I was such a cute little kid.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So there was clearly no sex education happening in your home. Did you see your parents being affectionate with each other? Was there any understanding of how a healthy adult relationship might look?

LYNN: Yeah, I would see them kiss and do sort of light affectionate things together. And one of my earliest memories actually is mom and dad are in the kitchen. And my mom is sitting on my dad’s lap and they’re kissing. And I’m only two, so I don’t know why this is making me so happy but I’m giggling so much like it’s bending me over at the middle.

I’m just giggling, and I’m so happy, and they said, “Lynn, why are you so happy?”’ And I said, I’m still giggling right, I go, “I don’t know. I don’t know but it’s just so happy.” And later I realized because it gives little children joy to see their parents expressing love towards each other, that’s a joyful thing. And so, I was just feeling that happiness they had, that my parents loved each other so much, it’s really beautiful.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: That is such a perfect example of compersion, which is a word that a lot of people don’t know but it’s very big in the polyamorous community that when you feel compersion, which is happiness or joy at the joy of your partner or another person, and that’s like a 2 year old beautiful little example of compersion that I feel joyful because I can see my parents being joyful. That’s really lovely.

So you’re around 9, 10, maybe 12, you figure out that periods are a thing and that you’re not horribly disformed. Disformed, is that the right word?

LYNN: Yeah. Deformed.

LEAH: Deformed! It sounded really wrong.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So you figure out that you’re not terribly deformed, what happens next in terms of your sexual evolution?

LYNN: Well, I think the next thing is I started experimenting with touching with a girlfriend of mine. She was my best friend, and we were very curious about things like how tongue kissing worked and how feeling each other worked. And so after a lot of machinations trying to bring up the subject with each other, we ended up doing some really innocent exploration and feeling each other up and trying kissing and that kind of thing. And so, that lasted until she kind of begun to feel guilty about it. And she was like, “I don’t think we should be doing this.” And I was like, “Dang.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Was this for you a period of exploration with the person who was available or was there some sexual pleasure component of this for you?

LYNN: I did definitely feel sexual pleasure with it but she was also the person that was available. But also knowing myself all these many years, I think it was probably also attracted to. She was somebody that I liked. In fact, she was somebody that I loved, she was my best friend.

And the more I know me, the more I know that how I feel about a person is going to determine how sexy they are to me. So I think that the fact that she was my best friend and I cared bout her so much, that was kind of a draw to her versus anybody else that might have been in my life.

It’s not that I haven’t gone out and played around with people I barely knew, but more often it’ll be the feelings. People become more and more sexy to me as I really care about them.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Absolutely. That’s something that is very common. I think it’s very common of people who identify themselves as demisexual that I need to have an emotional connection with someone prior to developing that real intense chemical attraction to them. So you’re best friend decides that this is not something that she should be doing anymore, did the two of you remain friends?

LYNN: Yeah. We did. It didn’t cause any trouble between us at all. She didn’t want to do that. I didn’t push her. And nobody felt like anybody had done something wrong to the other person. We were just like, “Okay. We won’t.”

LEAH: Good. I’m glad to hear it. So what happened next? Did you find a willing partner?

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: Well, yeah, because I was about 12 when I did that so, right around the corner were boys who couldn’t wait to pet.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And so it became really easy to find willing exploratory partners, so I had a few episodes of heavy petting and kissing and carrying on, and probably a little grinding but none of us at that point were really ready to take off our pants so we were still in our jeans when we did it.

LEAH: And was that fun for you? Did you enjoy it?

LYNN: It was fun but I was worried about getting hickeys.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: If I would get a hickey and then my mom would know what had happened.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And I wouldn’t have any excuse for myself because I didn’t have a deadly birth effect. so I’d just be like, “Yeah. I just did that.”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: It was fun. But my mom would have not taken it well at all.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So she never found out?

LYNN: I don’t know. I’m sure if she had known she would have said something to me. I just know my mom. She would have been furious and it would have been pretty ugly I’m sure. Mom was not a person who thought sex was natural and was something that children explore and learn about in a hands-on way.

My dad would have been more understanding because he always said and he always taught me that sex was natural and healthy and not something that I needed to be concerned about. And he always taught me that the world was going to tell me it wasn’t okay for me to do that because I was a girl. The world would say that it was okay for boys to do that and he always said, “That’s not true. That’s a double standard and it’s not true. Your body belongs to you and you have every right to use it however you decide.” And the only thing he said was, “If you get married or something, keep your promises. Don’t lie to your partner.” But other than that, your body belongs to you. He probably would have said, “Sure. She’s doing that. It feels good.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. Well I’m glad that you had at least one parent who was giving you some positive messaging.

LYNN: Yeah. That was really the healthy part that I was able to hang on to as sex became less healthy for me in my adolescence.

LEAH: When you say that sex became less healthy, what does that mean?

LYNN: Meanwhile, the quick back story is my family is falling apart and my dad started drinking. My mom I think became overwhelmed, she became physically and emotionally violent. And so, I took to raising my brother and I’m kind of left alone to shift for myself in terms of daily life.

And so, as I come into about 15 years old, I end up with this real strangely bifurcated sexual life where on one hand, I’m still petting with young high school guys and we’re afraid to take off our pants and worry about hickeys. And then on the other hand, there are older men in our small town who are preying on me. And I’m figuring out that that is a place where I can get love and attention and stuff like that that I couldn’t get any more at home.

LEAH: When you say men were preying on you, can you talk a little bit more about what that looked like?

LYNN: Yeah. These were older men. They were between age 35 and 55. And it was a very small town so everybody knew that there was a lot of trouble in my house and it was probably really obvious that I was pretty depressed by that time.

And so they would see me somewhere and start a conversation. And now I recognize that there was a lot of grooming behavior going on, giving me lots of admiration and approval, buying me little things, nothing big. Inviting me to go out and sit by the river and have a beer. “I’ll get you some beer. Meet me down at the river. I’ll bring it to you out there.” And we’d sit and have a beer that kind of thing.

So I thought back then, I didn’t understand the difference in the amount of power that we had than what they understood, I thought I was having affairs and I thought I was a very bad girl for doing that. But I didn’t know how to not to do that because that was also where I was getting love and affection and pleasant touch and things that I was missing out on at home.

And I was raised in a small town I’m supposed to be a good girl. I knew that if I got caught, that there would be terrible consequences. It was worth it to me because I needed love. My parents couldn’t give that to me anymore and I needed that.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: At this point in the conversation, Lynn and I took a deeper dive into the nature of the relationships she was having with older men. Was it predatory? Was it healthy? Was it possible to be some combination of both? I think it’s an important conversation because we talk about how our view of a situation determines whether we feel victimized or not and how the accepted cultural narrative doesn’t always match our experience. It’s a really interesting conversation that we didn’t time for in the regular episode so I hope you’ll go over to patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex and listen there.

We also talk about how having had a history of violent homes, Lynn managed to create a home without violence for her son, how she approached the topic of sex with her son, and how her relationship with her body has changed since she entered perimenopause plus of course, the lowdown Q and A, which we didn’t have room for in this super sized episode.

Audio extras are free to everyone at Patreon.com regardless of whether you’re a financial contributor. If you have a few dollars to pledge in support of my work each month, I will gratefully accept. But if you don’t, I completely understand and I honor you for taking care of yourself. Remember, you can access the audio extras at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkabousex.

To access the audio extras for free, click the link in the app you’re listening on now. Create a Patreon login and follow my account to get updates when I post new audio extras. If you are a financial contributor, you’ve got a special RSS feed in your Patreon account so the audio extras show up automatically in your podcast app. You can find out more and become a community member at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

And remember, if you love what you’re doing and your finances are tight but you still want to support the show, please tell a friend to listen. Send them your favorite episode and invite them to chat about it with you. Use the show as a jumping off point to deepen your own conversations around sex and intimacy. Now, let’s get back to the conversation with Lynn.

[MUSIC]

LYNN: The abuse at my house got worse and worse and it became a place where people couldn’t live or at least I couldn’t live. So I left home when I was 16 and I actually ended up getting married because I left home and then I was terrified. I didn’t know how else to be okay. I dated occasionally a young man who was a year older than me and we ended up getting married.

LEAH: And how old were you when you got married?

LYNN: I think it was right before my 17th birthday.

LEAH: Oh, wow. And so, how did that go?

LYNN: It was good in the beginning. We had been pretty compatible sexually and then I got pregnant. He was hoping that we would get pregnant and I got pregnant with my son and shortly after that, he became violent. And after he started hitting me, I didn’t want sex at all from him.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: There’s nothing less sexy than getting hit by somebody. So then it became really after that until the day I left him, the only sex that was happening him raping me because I wasn’t willing. But I did figure out like, I don’t know, a couple of months or so after that started or maybe it was longer than that, I don’t remember, but keep in mind I’m pregnant before the first time he hits me.

So as my pregnancy progressed and I needed more rest and I was really tired, I didn’t have the energy to fight with him over it and then he’d smack me around and then by two o’clock in the morning, I’d be too tired to continue to resist so he would take what he wanted. That seemed too much so again, my oddball way of taking care of myself, one day, I’m thinking, “Lynn, why do you fight with him? Let him have it. Be done. Get some sleep. You have a baby in here you got to take care of yourself.” So I began to do that and that at least got me more sleep.

LEAH: Yeah, again this sounds like somebody who is making the best choice out of bad choices like you can either get hit a bunch and resist and be sexually assaulted or you can give in, be sexually assaulted, but not endure the trauma of being hit and get some sleep. If those are your two options, I’m going to say yeah, it makes sense to not resist. I sort of hear you saying in my oddball way this is the choice that I made but that seems like such a reasonable choice to make in that situation.

LYNN: Yeah. I think that was the only choice that made any sense until I got to the point where I felt like I could walk out the door and I was delayed in getting to that point because I was scared that I couldn’t feed my kid. I was like, “I have a baby coming. I don’t know if I can do that by myself.” And so while I worked those other things out, my very problematic choice was that it made sense to just let him have it and then get some sleep because the next day was coming and I had work to do.

LEAH: Yeah. And so how long were you able to be in this situation with him being violent without before you were able to leave?

LYNN: My son was 4 months old when I left him and he started hitting me a week after we found out I was pregnant. So I don’t really recall. We can probably do some quick math, sort of around a year-ish that this all goes on.

And I tried to get help. I tried to get him counseling because another thing was it was the late 80s and the whole public discussion about there was divorce, there was a broken home, and your child would be destroyed. And I didn’t want that for my kid and so, I tried to get him some help. That didn’t work out. And then one day, I just realized I cannot stay. It was like leaving my childhood home. I realized one day I cannot stay here anymore. This is so dangerous for you. Get out and so I did.

LEAH: So when you left your first husband, what was your feeling about sex in general having been through an extended period of sexual assaults? Were you feeling like you would like to find somebody who is going to be good to me and have good sex? Or did you think “I’m out. I don’t want any more to do with this”?

LYNN: I thought I would never have sex again.

LEAH: We’re having this conversation because I know that your story didn’t end here. You didn’t never have sex again.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: It’s true.

LEAH: So at what point did you decide that you were ready to interact with other people again or with another person?

LYNN: It was not nearly as long as I thought. I had several long term relationships. Kind of my pattern would be was I would date a little bit, and then generally kind of make my way back to some kind of long term relationship and then that would go along for a certain amount of time, and then for whatever reasons, it would break up and kind of go again.

You got to remember, all this time I’m busy raising my child. I have this boy and I’m raising him. In those days, if you didn’t have a husband for your children, it was a broken home. It was not complete. And remember this is the [Murphy Brown Dan Quayle] thing.

LEAH: I was just going to say that.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And people were saying to me and people really judged you on the street, in the grocery stores, whatever, you were highly judged for being a divorced woman. Bad things were going to happen to your son and I did not want that and I didn’t want him to not have a father because I did believe was important for him to have other people in his life besides me so I was really just on this quest to complete this family.

And I’m sorry now that I couldn’t see we were complete, we were fine. There was nothing wrong. He was well-loved. He was indoors, warm in bed. If I had been able to realize that then and accept that then, I would have had more fun, less angst. He wouldn’t have had so much angst. But that was not what society said back then. People like me, single moms, we were ruining the country. And it was all going to hell in a hand basket and it was our fault.

LEAH: Never mind that you were single because your husband was beating and raping you.

LYNN: Right. That part wasn’t really taken into account and I was terrified that I was wrecking my son’s life. And that all these things they would tell you, “Your child will grow up to a juvenile delinquent” and all these stuff, right? And I was terrified that it was true and I was worried I was wrecking his life. I was letting him down.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Remember how fun it was to have teenage sleepovers where we’d do each other’s nails and braid each other’s hair and gossip about kissing and relationships? I’m lucky because I still get to have those fun juicy conversations on a regular basis.

But I know that a lot of you might find it hard to make the time and space to have these intimate connecting conversations with your girlfriends. So I’ve created a space where you get to have that same fun again. It’s an adult PJ Party!

It’s a whole luxurious evening of girl talk. I’ll lead you into a no holds barred conversation with your girlfriends talking about sex, relationships, toys, kink, orgasms, anything you can think of, we can talk about it! Even better, we’ll do it in a way that preserves social distancing and gives you a night of connection and intimacy with your favorite people.

Or, if you prefer, join a group where nobody knows each other in advance so you could be completely open and honest without worrying about revealing too much to people you see every day. So let me help you create a space where the conversation can be easy, sexy, and fun. Visit leahcarey.com/pjparty for all the information and to book a party for you and your friends.

Again, that link is leahcarey.com/pjparty and it’s in the app you’re listening on right now.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Let’s dive into the next piece, which is you met your second husband.

LYNN: He’s pretty excellent in the sack and he’s a very nice man.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: How has the sexual relationship between the two of you developed?

LYNN: The first year, it was great. We were having a blast, man, like we always do. But we ran into a snag. There were some big life events that happened several years ago like major life events. The death of a parent, we’re working on step parenting stuff. It seemed like there was something else. There were some major life events and during that time, there was a lot of acute grief because it was my parent who died, my dad. I didn’t know what complicated or complex grief is and I was not doing very well with that.

And so anyway, at some point, I had to just let him know that I didn’t feel like having sex right now and we need to take a break from that. And unfortunately, he took those words as “I don’t love you and I’m going to be leaving you. And so I’m not having sex with you in preparation for that.” He flipped out, got really angry, and ultimately, punishing with me. I flipped out. I was terrified as a kid who came out with a lot of violence on the home. And he didn’t hit me, let me be clear. He wasn’t being violent but just like yelling and carrying on, and I became terrified and reverted back to that 9 year old who suddenly had her home erupt in violence.

To say that there was great emotional unhealth is an understatement and on top of that, I’m going through menopause and so my libido went away at some point. Like completely away, I couldn’t really feel my skin. Sex was really repulsive to me. I would try to have sex. I wanted him to feel loved but even my muscles, my internal muscles would just stand up against it. They would just, “No. We’re not going to do this.”

So there was a lot of pain. It was very bad and I didn’t know how much of it was physical and how much of it was the emotional problem, and how much of it is just me getting older. Because people tell you things about getting older and how it affects your body and your libido but it’s not like there’s a gauge you can read to see like, “Oh. That’s just menopause.” So I didn’t know. I had no clue why this was happening and it was so different for me because I had been pretty happy about doing sex all my life.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And suddenly, not only did I not want it, I never got horny. Desire would not show up and I thought I was broken and the clearest indication to us that I wasn’t lying I really didn’t want sex was I didn’t masturbate anymore. It didn’t work. I couldn’t have an orgasm from it, which I have always been able to do since I was 9. And so things got dysfunctional, sexual dysfunction, right?

LEAH: Yeah. And how did that turn in your sex life affect the emotional part of your relationship?

LYNN: It destroyed it. We went from being best friends that we talked about everything and we went from that to just, we kept working on day to day stuff but I couldn’t depend on him to back me up. And I’m sure he felt the same.

There was a lot of punishment. He tends to stonewall or be emotionally punishing. My way of emotional punishing is I criticize. I get very critical. Just nasty, God. There was a lot of very bad behaviors going on and we continued to work on our relationship but we had a lot of trouble and we did not make any strides in our sex life. Our sex life was smashed pretty much throughout that time.

We did figure out how we were going to handle our family, our blended family. We ended up learning how to live together and to do these like pay bills. But getting back into bed with each other, we tried everything. I read all the books. I’ve tried the techniques.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: I’ve tried different toys. We had done all the things and it all just kept failing and it was miserable. And he didn’t feel very loved and I didn’t feel very safe or at peace. And that’s not good.

LEAH: Were you sharing a bedroom?

LYNN: Yeah we were.

LEAH: That’s hard to have that much tension and resentment built up and to still be sleeping in the same room because it’s always there. It’s not like you go to your own separate bedrooms and you can relax for a minute.

LYNN: Yeah. And I got to the point where I would just hang out, let him go to bed and try to get some sleep. Like all the classic things you hear people doing, pretend that you’re asleep so they think you’re asleep. Let them go to bed first. All the things, I did everything and he did all the other classic things where he tried to pursue it this way, try to pursue it that way, forever doing something and then asking, “Does this make you randy?” “No. It doesn’t.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Because asking that question is the least likely thing to make you randy.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: Even if this had worked, you asking will wipe it. Anyway, you should not ask that. That’s not a good question. Don’t ask it.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So what was the turning point for you?

LYNN: We kept working on it and then one day, so I had told him for some time because he is a very physical person and he has his needs to be touched, cuddled, loved I get that but I couldn’t do it for him.

So I had been saying forever, “You can go to a professional. Don’t go to some place where there’s clearly somebody’s being trafficked. Make sure this is a person who has agency. But I don’t have a problem with you doing that because I’m not able to give that to you and I want you to have what you want.”

LEAH: So to be clear, when you mean professional you mean sex worker?

LYNN: Yup. You can go to a sex worker. But he kept saying, “I don’t want to. I don’t want to. I only want to have sex with you. I don’t want to.” But then at some point, he felt okay about doing it and so he went out. Unbeknownst to me, he did some looking around and he found a sex worker that he felt comfortable with and he went one afternoon. Again, unbeknownst to me, visited her and he comes home all lit up and excited and he wants to tell me about it.

And I’m just sitting in this chair, and I see him, and I remember my thought was, “Oh. This went really well for him and he wants to tell his best friend and that’s me.” And he was so excited like eyes all shining and he’s telling me about it. And I’m like, “This is good, right?”

But then he says to me, “And she has these boundaries. She sets these boundaries and I was respecting her boundaries.” And I’m thinking in my head, “The fuck? You don’t respect my boundaries. You’re respecting someone else’s boundaries?” And I kept my mouth shut.

I let him tell his story and then I was like, “Oh. Well I’m glad that you found someone that you liked.” And he goes off to do whatever he went off to do. And I went off to my office and shut the door to sit with my feeling of unease about the fact that he had respected someone else’s boundaries and he wouldn’t respect mine because I want him to respect boundaries and I would be really angry if he didn’t respect hers, but I was like, “How come he’ll do that for her?”

So one of the things in the emotional work that I’ve been doing is I had been learning to ask myself, “What do you want?” You’re displeased by this situation, so what do you want? And so I started to journal about what do I want and I came up with three things I wanted.

I wanted to know for sure that this person was not in any way being trafficked or any of that, but she was good with this and was a person who had her own agency. And I wanted to ask her, “Can you show me how you’re getting him to respect your boundaries because he’s not doing it for me?”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: So I would like the sex worker’s course on getting him to respect my boundaries. And then the other thing is I wanted pleasant sexual touch. In doing that, I thought, “All we did was talk about is how he hasn’t gotten what he wanted in bed for ten years, but I haven’t either.” Nobody has touched me in a pleasant way. It’s always had this problem on it for all this time.

I want to be touched in a pleasant way. So I want to go see her. And so later, when I saw him again, I said, “I want to talk to  you about something.” Our anniversary was coming up because I also thought about that. So I said, “You know, our anniversary is coming up.” And he goes, “Yeah.” And I said, “Do you really want to go to a cabin for four days with me and we sit there and we’re frustrated together and we just spend all that money to just be irritated as shit that we’re not having sex or enjoying each other’s company?” And he’s like, “No. I really don’t.”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And so I said, “Okay. What I’m thinking is I want to go see this woman that you went to see by myself. And if all goes well with that, I will see if she will see the two of us together for our anniversary. What do you think of that?” So it took him a little while to respond because he’s kind of like, “Wow. I didn’t think this was how this afternoon was going to turn out.”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: “I’m in favor. However, I need to gather myself to make a response.” And so he was like, “Yeah, that sounds good. And I got to think about it.” And I’m like, “Okay. You think about it. Can you please contact her? Put the two of us in contact. And please, when you do that, make sure to say to her my wife would like to avail herself so she doesn’t think it’s an angry wife calling to yell at her.” So he does that and she told me later, she was like, “I thought it was going to be an angry wife yelling at me.”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: I’m not that wife. So I got a hold of her and she was agreeable. So I went over there and I told her a bit of what was going on and I told her I wanted to know what I was doing wrong with setting boundaries. And I told her that I wanted to be touched. I want pleasant touch and I haven’t had that in years.

So she was pretty awesome and she said, “This is not the first time I’ve worked with couples in this situation. I’d be glad to work with you.” And she said, “It’s not your boundary setting, but you don’t have the same consequence I have because if he doesn’t mind my boundary, I can kick him out the front door and that’s what I do. And they know that and that’s why they listen to me. So this is not you not doing a good job, but you don’t have the same consequence. So you need to teach him the importance of those and that if he wants to have a good relationship, he’s going to mind your boundaries the way he minds my boundaries.”

When I got to my third thing where I was saying, “I wanted to be touched pleasantly. Nobody has done that. All we do is focus on how he didn’t get what he wanted physically.” And she goes like, “Well, my God, let’s go!”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And so we went upstairs and man, I learned a lot about myself now.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: Over the last ten years as my body’s changed with menopause, I’ve realized that also my sexuality has changed but I had no idea what that looked like because I wasn’t having sex. I wasn’t having fun sex I was just having this strained thing in the bedroom so I didn’t know what I liked anymore. And I was just amazed at what I learned about what my body likes now and it was really nice.

LEAH: What is your body like now?

LYNN: My body first likes to be completely relaxed so that we can shut off the 82 tabs in my brain that are all open and searching for something. My brain needs to divorce itself from my day to day. So she does that. She is giving me this hot oil massage which is so relaxing and when I’m completely relaxed, she starts doing things to warm my body up which is the next thing I learned.

I didn’t use to have a response or desire, but now if you relax me and then you start doing the sexy things, my desire turns on. Keep in mind I haven’t been able to feel my skin and my head was kind of divorced from my body and so I found out that I’m not physically broken when I’m with her. She’s got me oiled up and she kind of glides on my body at one point, and I just felt my skin come online like a reboot or something like, “Whoa!” And it felt so good.

And then she starts doing the different things she’s doing. First my legs, my arms, my stomach like giving me all these pleasurable touch. Oh God, wow! Oh my God, I can feel this! And then, she asked me if I liked toys. And I did reply, “Yeah!” And so she started using a toy on my clitoris and just working that and I’m there.

My skin’s online but my genitals aren’t really fully online and it takes a long time and I remember thinking, “Oh dear, she’s been doing this a lot. I need to cum. She’s doing a lot of work. She’s going to feel bad.” Then I realize, “No. No. She knows the deal. She’s a professional. She knows how this works and she already said that sometimes it takes longer than you think for a woman and me to just hang in there and let her let this happen.”

And I thought to myself, “You don’t have to take care of her ego.” That’s why it’s been part of sex for me like I had to take care of my partner and my partner’s ego. I was like, “I don’t need to care about her ego. She knows what this is about. She’s good. You need to just go back put your mind in between your legs.”

LEAH: Not only that. You’re paying her to not have an ego in this.

LYNN: Right. She got taken care of. And so, I let go of this idea of I had to take care of her ego and within a few minutes, several minutes, I don’t know it’s not like I’m looking at a clock, but a little while later not very long, it starts to happen. And I’m like, “Oh my God. Here we go. Orgasms.” So she goes like, “That was hot.” And I’m like, “Thanks.”

Wait, it’s usually a dull feature or more and so she just hangs in and lets me kind of ride that a little bit. And I felt still a little bit overwhelmed because this is the first time that this has worked well for me for a long time.

Well, my body works. I’m not broken. Maybe it works differently than it did but the important part I know physically I’m not broken. That piece is taken care of, it works. It was pretty exciting and so, we did schedule to go for our anniversary. And in the beginning, we’re kind of sitting down on the side, left her to start to relax me, and then she started talking to him about “What if you did this? What if you do that?” She started showing him little techniques and he was interested.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: Again we focused on getting me relaxed which wasn’t as easy with him in the room but I was able to do that. And both of those two were working on me.

There’s this funny moment where she’s working on getting me relaxed and I don’t really remember what was happening, I think I was completely relaxed and she was warming me up like she’s getting my body all warmed up and she’s doing something around my legs. And at some point, I really relaxed and my knees kind of fall open. And I hear, she gave him the big thumbs up, my eyes were closed, I didn’t see it but she was like, “When her legs open up, you’re home free.”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: “Now you know she’s relaxed.” And he was like, “Great. Let’s do it.” So they worked on me and she and I were working on giving him some pleasurable touch and some goodness, and then he and I ended up together as we tend to and then we all ended up in a nice, warm soapy shower.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And it was an awesome anniversary date. It is way better than a cabin.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. So what have you learned about your sex life with him from this experience and what ahs he learned about his sex life with you from this?

LYNN: We’ve learned a lot.

LEAH: Because this is all fairly recent. So you’re still processing this.

LYNN: Yeah. And we’re also running really fast because it really started flipping switches. One thing we’ve learned, I’m not physically broken. We don’t have a physical problem here. We have an emotional problem.

LEAH: Yeah, huge.

LYNN: Yeah, and we were able to start talking about, “Look. Our bodies are going to change the rest of our lives. You may wake up one day and your thingy just doesn’t work ever again. But do we want to have a good sex life or not?”

We began being able to talk, really see and talk about how important emotional safety is to both of us. And how yucky it feels when we have sex when we don’t feel emotionally safe. So we had just before this had this new rule where if I didn’t want to have sex and I didn’t want to enthusiastically have sex, the answer was no. And so I really stuck to that.

And early on, he began to realize, “Hey. You only have sex with me with another person like that’s a band-aid like you just don’t want to have sex with me.” And I said, “No. That’s not true. I just am able to be successful over there because our emotional baggage doesn’t come with me, right?” which is a thing he knew early one when I had said I was going to go and visit Ms. B, we’ll call her.

He had said, “I think that’s good. I think the first time you come back to having sex after this long period where we had been sex is off the table, I think you should go with somebody that’s not me because all of your emotional problems are with me.”

LEAH: Smart man.

LYNN: So you’ll come and try to get in my bed and there’s going to be all the problems. You should go do this with someone else. And it worked as he predicted. I didn’t have those problems but then afterwards, he was like, “Wait a minute. You just need this person as a band-aid.” And then he goes, “I realize that there’s safety in numbers and everything for you girls, but I don’t feel good about it.” And I said, “That’s not at all what this is.”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: That’s not at all what it is. This is working for me because I can just focus on what we’re doing in that moment and it’s no problem and learn how my body works and learn how to re-carve those neural pathways and instead of freaking out when something happens that I find sexually relevant, I can relax.

I don’t have to protect your ego. I can let this thing happen. And so what I think is that every single time I have a success with that, I think that sex is going to get better. And he goes like, “Well. That kind of makes sense.” And that’s kind of how it’s gone. The more I do that and the more we practice, I’m more and more able to relax with him like he’ll do the hot oil massage for me now and use some of the techniques she taught him.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And the first time we did that, we must have worked on it for about an hour and I get sort of 70% relaxed and we ended up just cuddling. I still judge it as a success because it was our first time. Then after we went to her together for our anniversary and we tried this again, I was watching the clock and it was maybe 20, 30 minutes and then I was like, “I’m kind of hot for you. Why don’t we just do stuff and have great sex?”

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: So he was happy about that. And more and more, I’m able to just want sex without having to have the relaxing massage. I’m just like the sex turns on and I’m like, “Hey. I want sex. Let’s do it.”

LEAH: Nice. That is amazing.

LYNN: So I think good things are happening.

LEAH: Yeah, I’m so happy for you and I think there’s so much better about this story that I love. I think that it is incredibly important for so many of us who have felt that we are broken to hear the words or hear the messaging that we are not broken from someone who we’re not involved with. From someone, even better, we have no baggage with whatsoever. And I also heard that message from a sex worker and that was a huge part of the reason why I was able to believe her.

She had no horse in that game whatsoever. And then, also, that the whole bit about ego that you don’t have to protect her ego because you’re paying her. The payment is not a sign of shame. The payment is a  sign that we’re on equal footing here because you’re providing us a service and it is a hugely beneficial profoundly healing service.

And I hope that over time, we can as a culture begin to shift that in our minds. I think sex workers across the board deserve to be respected and treated well, especially sex workers who do this kind of healing work are angels on Earth and we really need to pull them out of the shadows. Because right now, technically she could get in trouble for what she’s doing, which is why we’re not naming her and unfortunately, I will not be putting a link to her website or any of those things because unfortunately, she carries some serious liability for doing this profoundly healing work.

LYNN: Yeah, I hope that that will change one day because I think that if we could let go of some of the stigma and certainly the danger, there’s just a lot of things that we’re able to work with someone in a professional way that can help you with. Eddie and I are back to being the best friends we used to be.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: There’s just been this huge profound shift in our relationship with each other and we’re kind of like regaining our trust and that kind of things in leaps and bounds. I just don’t see that happening this way for us. We would have still been tripping over sex which is a huge part of being in a committed relationship usually. It is giant and many, many relationships end when sex gets derailed.

LEAH: And the majority of therapists are not only not trained in dealing with sex, they actively push those and say, “I can’t and won’t talk about that.”

LYNN: Yeah, we actually went to a couple’s counselor. I went to an individual’s therapist. I have talked to doctors because I was concerned is there something wrong going on physically. Do I have an endocrine system problem that we need to address?

I could not get any answers to any of that. Basically, the therapists were not really interested in delving into what was happening and what could be done about it. And so that’s part of why it took so long and I was really concerned about talking to people about it because I really felt like people would be disapproving of us not having a good sex life together and I thought that they might be disapproving because things were so bad that I think most people would have told me I should leave the relationship.

And I did not want to hear that at all. In fact, the people I was really close to and talked to about that, I would say upfront, “I am not interested in leaving him. I got to find a different way to solve this. It can’t be leaving him because I’m not interested in leaving him.” But I thought a lot of people would judge me for staying under these circumstances and at the same time, at its most base, we were not getting to have good sex and I wanted to have good sex. We enjoy good sex. We’re actually a lot of fun at it.

[LAUGHTER]

LYNN: And I think it’s a part of a healthy life.

LEAH: Yeah. I agree and the reason that I was so excited when you came to me with this story is because I know that there are a lot of couples out there, maybe not a plurality certainly, that there are a lot of couples out there who have used those services of sex workers in a positive way to benefit their marriage whether it’s in the way you’re doing where you’re actually re-learning each other through the work of a sex worker or if it’s a pair who have a significant libido mismatch.

And so the higher libido partner utilizes the services of a sex worker so that they can then come home and have the romantic and emotional relationship with their lower libido partner without it getting in the way. There are a lot of ways that sex workers can and do help to improve and even save marriages. And I’m just so thrilled that this is working for you and that you are willing to tell this story. So, thank you.

LYNN: Well, thank you. I’m pretty thrilled it’s working for us too.

[LAUGHTHER]

LEAH: Well, Lynn we have done it. Thank you so much. This has been absolutely amazing. I’m so grateful to you for showing up and sharing this story with us.

LYNN: Well, thank you for having me. I love your podcast. I’m so honored to be on it.

[LAUGHTER]

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LEAH: Thank you for joining me today on Good Girls Talk About Sex. If you’d like to be a guest on the show, please e-mail me at leah@goodgirlstalkaboutsex.com. You can also me find me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at GoodGirlsTalk.

I was only able to step out of my good girl box when someone I respected told me it was possible to do it. If you’d like to step outside 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. Join my mailing list to receive tools that help you name your desires and communicate them effectively to your partner or potential partners. Sign up at leahcarey.com.

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

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