Life without pleasure

It wasn’t until I got my first panic attack that I realized:
“I m actually on to something!”
That me leaving my yoga business of teaching group classes behind, and reinventing it as a private yoga teacher was literally something that was shaking me to my core.
And in a way that was comforting.
Because I had already noticed that I wasn’t going out anymore. Wasn’t seeing friends. Cracking jokes with the one I did still see, greeting him:
“Hello, my social life!”
I just couldn’t be bothered. I was so entangled in making it all work for my new private yoga business. In figuring out a new work schedule including messaging and creating yoga videos for my social media; making all the transfer arrangements for existing groups; closing one location; facing some ancient problems in my yogastudio. Going to a coach and hiring help.
I even put myself on an eating schedule that would fit seamlessly around my private yoga sessions, so that I could work out the kinks if I had to.
And weeks after the decision that I was going to change my yoga business, and took this new direction of teaching privates, I was now in my final week of teaching groups.
And I was starting to feel kind of… I don’t know. Bored?
The social desert, not to mention the sexual drought that was My Sex Life 2018 (I can count our encounters on the fingers of one hand, whilst having spare fingers), the lengthy list of content creation, sales activities, THINGS I NEED TO DO EACH DAY. It all brought me to an honest:
“Jeez! Is this what my life is going to be about from now on?”
I was about to invest thousands in my company, instead of giving it all up and going out looking for a job just to be fucking DONE with “it”. With making money as an entrepreneur. A job would claim me for 40+ hours a week, but at least a normal job would have a guaranteed income and guaranteed free time.
Which meant guaranteed time to write here, as LS Harteveld. Which is the only thing I darn well know is what I need to feel alive.
So if a job was a much surer pathway to create a life that allowed for writing, and I was now taking huge risks betting it all on my company; Then why didn’t I feel absolutely excited? Why was I still so aware of the fact that I didn’t have a social life?
Do normal starting up entrepreneurs have a social life?
Do new mothers and fathers have a social life?
Do writers still at the early hungry stages of their career have a social life?
Hell no.
They know that the first years will be hard. That they will have to give up everything else, in order to make this one thing happen. There is a Dutch expression for this: The tropical years. It’s the hard times at the beginning.
And here I was, at the beginning of my new life, feeling bored and whiny that I wasn’t having any fun anymore. I was fully aware that this wasn’t the right mindset, and yet I couldn’t seem to flip the switch.
Until the anxiety attack.
Two nights in a row in fact.
I might have one tonight as well, I don’t know.
But it was this trembling, and feeling downright awful that gave me the motivation to go all in. Just like the new parents, the hungry writer, any starting entrepreneur and just like I myself had done twelve years ago.
Not for a company but to reinvent my love life.
In 2006 I ended a wonderful long-term relationship, in order to explore my sexuality. As a teen, due to a combination of circumstances, I had developed a hiv/aids fobia, which had prevented me from taking any risks. And had therefor prevented me from exploring my sexuality.
After I had some form of unsafe sex, and I had completely internalized all 80s sex education on hiv/aids so I was quick to find loop holes in safety, I would get panic attacks that could last up to a week.
The only way to deal with it was to keep having new partners as limited as possible, inform them as soon as possible (which I never did, I always waited until I was suffering already), and to then only have one hundred percent safe sex.
Even a fool could see that the chances of my sexual preference being a steady relationship, while using condoms, and not having oral sex, were practically non-existent.
Especially since I had loved meeting new men, and oral sex.
And yet, a risk-free relationship was the only thing my aids phobia would allow.
In my early thirties I realized I was now ready to be single, and explore. And I knew that this path of discovering who I was sexually and relationship wise, a path I had not been able to take as a teenager, would include being confronted with this fear. That the fear was still there.
But it was because of this fear, that I knew I had to do it.
That it simply wasn’t an option, to just let the beast stay dormant, and tiptoe around him for the rest of my life.
So I ended my perfectly good relationship, started reading a lot about sex and relationships, started dating. It was eight years of a few highs, only one real low, but most of all a lot of mediocre stuff.
Emotionally as well as sexually.
But it kept me in the game.
Although I had two panda years – years when I didn’t have sex – I usually chose to have sex in non-perfect situations. Simply because I knew that with my fear of aids, it was unwise to stop having sex.
I needed to expose myself to taking risks, even if they were mild ones.
Expose myself to the decision making moment of not taking any risks at all, for example not giving blow jobs at all. It was okay to chicken out on the spot.
But it was not okay to avoid being on the spot.
And although I had some mild anxiety attacks in those years, it was nothing compared to the ones I had as a teen. It was as if my decision to leave everything behind and confront my fear, had already taken away its power.
After eight years of dating I found my secret lover. The current “desert man” 😉 who I haven’t had sex with for months.
But being his secret mistress gave me the information I had been looking for.
I know now that I am monogamous by nature: my default is having one lover for whom I choose. I am not going to hold back feelings, nor will I play games of non-availability. I will tell a man how wonderful I think he is.
I know that I need a lover be non-monogamous. He needs to have at least one partner, and/or give me the impression there is stuff going on, on the side.
If he wants to tell the world we’re a couple, then I’m totally in. But he’s going to have to “bring in” excitement and sexual energy.
I never want to have the feeling that it’s up to me, to keep that ball rolling.
I’ll do love. I’ll do intimacy. I’ll do affection, admiration and I’ll clean him up, and take such good care of him if he comes home after an adventure.
But I will not be the one bringing in the sexual energy.
That’s his responsibility.
One and two are prerequisites.
I know for a fact that there is no way I can fall in love, let alone stay in love, if any of those two criteria are not met.
And then there’s a third. And this is more like a cherry on top desire. But it helps if he is in a steady relationship, preferably a marriage, and he’s risking it all to be with me. If he puts his marriage, his reputation, his financial status, his rights as a father, all on the line, to see me.
I don’t need to have those things.
In fact I ll root for him that he gets to keep it all.
But I want him to bring that in, and trust me with it.
A man who is in an open relationship with someone else, would be way less attractive for me to be with. Because such a man is not risking anything. Just like a single man who’s just dating me. There’s nothing at stake there.
There’s no energy to any of it.
So the third requirement, being a secret for some reason – the most logical reason being that he has someone else, but it could have other reasons as well – that is not a prerequisite yet, should I be looking for another relationship.
Maybe it should be though.
I feel there’s so much energy in the secrecy. So much excitement.
Maybe I was wrong labeling it a cherry-on-top-desire.
But all in all, the three criteria have given me a very clear picture of who I am sexually. And I know that if this relationship would end, that I would be able to create a new one just like it.
I have even come to the point where I don’t need sub-par sex to “stay in the game”. I ve outgrown my phobia to such an extend that I don’t need to expose myself to new men, just for the sake of it.
It would certainly explain my laissez faire attitude to our affair being put on hold by him. I don’t need to do anything to maintain my current level of being comfortable with my sexuality.
It’s like those writers who diligently promise to themselves they’ll write each day. I always feel that’s kind of silly.
Either you’re a writer.
Or you’re not.
You only need yourself make do something each day, if you have not internalized it. Unless you want to grow and achieve higher levels at it. But you don’t need to do it each day to BE it. You either are, or you aren’t.
Just like my love life.
When I knew that my fear of aids was still an issue, and I wanted to maintain my level of handling it, I had to keep exposing myself to dating.
But now that I know exactly who I am sexually, and I know that I will take sexual risks for the right exciting, non-monogamous man, who is okay with me worshiping the ground he walks on?
Not dating, or not having sex, can not jeopardize my level of achievement anymore. This is a locked in level. Even if my lover would end things, and I would not date for three years, I still would not have any aids fears coming back if I would then choose again to be with a new man who meets my needs.
You don’t have to practice what you ARE.
You need to practice what you are not. YET.
So bringing this whole analogy back to my new business, and my lack of excitement there- the moment I started having panic attacks was a relief.
It made things interesting.
It showed that this whole business stuff ran way deeper than a simple financial decision to get a job or to put those hours into my own company instead. And the most exciting thing was that in that decision, I had chosen the path that SCARED me!
I had chosen the thing that gave me the exact same panic attacks that had “convicted” me to safe long-term relationships for twenty years.
The same panic attacks that could have easily made me choose for a real job.
I was having pressure around my heart, couldn’t sleep, trembling, strange nasty pressure in my head, as if my brain was falling out.
All because I had done the exact same thing as twelve years ago:
Walk away from safety and step into facing my fears.
The anxiety attacks proved I had fears around this topic. I was scared of leaving “it” all behind. Even though the thing I was walking away from was in no way capable of giving me what I needed.
My boyfriend and me had started out super great. Even sexually, within the limits of my fear. But after fourteen years my boyfriend was not going to be the one to explore my sexuality.
I waited for as long as I could.
And if it had been up to me, we would still be friends to this date.
But it’s exactly the same scenario with my company. I love my students to bits, but after fifteen years my business is no longer financially fulfilling.
I feel like friends to them and I don’t want to lose it, but at the same time I am no longer going to deny my own needs.
So as of July 1st, their classes will become friend groups. It’s a behind the scene thing, in very much the same fashion as the way I would run them if I really did have another job, and just did it for fun.
And that’s totally okay for me.
We don’t have to part.
But ultimately, just like with my partner, it’s up to them to decide if friendship is enough for them. If they are okay with me developing myself and my business, and with the group classes no longer being my bread and butter.
It’s a shift as profound as ending the relationship, even though nothing really changes.
My boyfriend and I were already behaving as friends before the breakup.
Same thing with my classes: it have been a friend groups for years.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the panic attacks are starting in this week: my final week as a regular yoga studio owner.
So many goodbyes.
Mainly from the location I had to close, but I already had the first student walking out on me because I am stepping up my game outside of class.
Someone who had paid for the whole year, so that’s a costly breakup too, because I am choosing to pay it back.
It’s like my boyfriend walking out, when I basically had not changed anything about the relationship. All I did was saying: “I m taking responsibility for developing myself in areas that are no longer a part of our relationship. But nothing has to change between us.”
So now here I am.
A business owner in transition. Investing thousands of euros into my company. And I am still unsure if this (making money as an entrepreneur) is as important to me as developing my sexuality.
I can’t see myself juggling this for eight years!
I really still might shut the yogastudio down, get a real job, and enjoy my free time writing.
But I do know that the anxiety attacks mean I made the right choice regardless. That this exposure to the insecurity of an entrepreneur, is something I want to learn to deal with. That I would find it so cool, if I get to know myself, my quirks, my strengths, my two prerequisites and my cherry on top desire, in the field of career or making money as an entrepreneur; with the same certainty as I know all those things about myself in love and sex.
That I would nail this to a degree that I can say:
“Even if I would lose it all, I can build it all back up from the ground again. I got this. ”
And that is something so alluring, that I can’t be bothered with not having a social life, or a sex life. Or even if my current students want to stay on as a friend or not.
Because for the first time in twelve years, I am doing something that scares me shitless and haunts me at night.
And that’s always the right path.

See yA!

Want to know how I’m going to juggle writing and my new business…?
So do I!
Anyway, I do feel writing is my bread and butter for the SOUL! So I am blocking time for this.
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