Toronto
3 min

Fucking with self-perception

I went shopping for a new dildo this past week. I hate how it’s still awkward to buy one even after using one for all this time. Maybe it would get easier if I did it more often, if they were cheaper and if the staff would vacate the store for the duration of my visit and just trust me to leave the money on the counter.

I carried it home in that tell-tale brown paper bag, that bag so discreet that it screams, “There’s a secret up in here!”

There wasn’t enough purple tissue to quite cover it. I dropped my transfer into it and had to fish around inside the bag on a crowded subway car. I felt like everyone knew what was in there. Thank God I was wearing sunglasses. I figured they hid my discomfort, although they probably just gave the guys across the aisle more of a licence to stare because they assumed I didn’t see or didn’t care. Oh well.

Sometimes sex is hard for me (pun intended). I am 100 percent top in the bedroom. It’s nearly the only thing about me at this point in my life that is not in question, not engaged in an internal struggle, not subject to my moods or mental health.

It is one of the few aspects of my sexuality I am close to comfortable talking about. It’s something I am, for some reason, proud of.

Topping makes me feel strong. It makes me feel powerful, boyish, cocky, a bit feared. I love it more than I can probably describe.

The insecurities that plague me during so much of my life remind me of how much I love to top. The “butch in the streets, femme in the sheets” moniker, or its opposite, doesn’t say it right. It’s not about gender. I think it has to do with power, and what purpose our sexual selves serve.

Our sexual selves are like dreams, fucking with our self-perception, keeping us growing, keeping us in some sort of mysterious spiritual balance.

I am reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, which is making it glaringly obvious that I have spent so little of my life thus far truly in the present and actually in tune with my essential self. The Power of Now attempts to teach you to turn your thinking off, distancing your essential self from your thinking mind, which judges, intellectualizes, denies and disassociates all day long. The idea that I am “not my thoughts” leaves me stranded. Who am I then if not my thoughts? When am I anything if I think all the time?

One of the few times I know my thoughts take a bathroom break is when I am topping. My sexual self is trying to save me from the curse of my own thinking — Am I good enough? What do I want? Is this wrong? Blah blah blah? Just top, for Chrissakes. Take this achingly beautiful, independent girl, throw her on her back and top her. There, wasn’t that easy?

Just because the role is an easy call doesn’t mean the role is simple to fulfill. There was this book on the shelf called The New Topping and it wasn’t about cherries or whipped cream. Wouldn’t you know, my ego allowed me not only to skim it but to spend $20 on it. Smart people still go to school, don’t they? Damn right.

I have been feeling like I should have it all figured out at 29 years old — all of my desires, all of my skills, all of my moves licensed and trademarked and ready for print. What’s that about? Who do I think the books, the workshops, the demos are for — people who don’t know how to have sex? So I know I like to top. I know I’m good at it, I know it feels right. My first girlfriend was an absolute top too. We taught each other that the match was all wrong. I know I am perfectly matched with a 100 percent bottom. Does the quest stop there? Of course not. Not rocket science, but I have been struck by the insight only this week.

There are oceans of tools, techniques, reasons, realizations and there are books for that, toys for that, spaces in Xtra for that (for which I am exceptionally grateful). I’ve got the big part down. The rest is a lifelong exploration that should be exciting, not awkward, hard as I want it to be. It starts with a new dildo, my first that isn’t multicoloured. This one matches my skin, challenges me to imagine that it’s mine, more an extension of me than a tool I am using.

I saw rapper/poet K’naan this week. He’s got a beautiful albeit gender-exclusive line that says, “Every man who knows a thing, knows he don’t know a damn damn thing at all.” The exploration starts each time I realize that every bit of knowledge I gain gives me the power to keep learning, which is really the greatest power of all.

So I am learning to be me. And learning to be. And learning.