About a month ago, I made the decision to go back on anti-anxiety/antidepressant medication.

The decision was both easy and difficult, because I was at least cognizant enough to know what I needed, but I already knew what the side effects would be:difficulty crying and difficulty reaching orgasm, not to mention that ever-so-slight fog that comes with these kinds of meds.

Jace and I had talked about it. I thought about the immense pain I was in, the feelings of despair and drowning. Simultaneously wanting physical contact and rejecting it. Feeling utterly inconsolable to the point where my default position was a ball on my bed. I resented happiness and craved it. Something had to be done. I couldn’t stomach making an emotional connection to a therapist, so meds were the next best thing, especially because I had already been on some successfully in the past. I remember Jace scooping me up in his arms while I cried into his neck, saying through sniffles, “It would be nice for sex to even be on the table again.” In typical Jace fashion, he responded with a light giggle, and nuzzled his nose into my hair.

Before restarting medication, we had sex maybe three times during quarantine. I couldn’t handle being touched in that way. I wanted the intimacy, but not the physicality. We talked openly about it. Jace was more than understanding each and every time I declined, and was extra gentle about asking. Sometimes he would say “I just miss you,” while moving over and inviting me onto the couch or his lap.

This really stuck with me, because I missed me too. I didn’t recognize this dark person I was becoming. My own feelings were scaring me. Masturbation was not a thing for me during this time, either. I tried a few times to see if I could still feel something, anything other than shapeless pain, but it left me feeling empty and colorless.

Fast forward to two weeks later. I’ve been taking my pills as best I can. I’m still forgetful as fuck, but have managed to get enough of them in me for them to work. And boy do they work! The disassociation I remember is manageable and mild. I smile more. I’m laughing again. I’m overcome by…joy. And I’m a little bit manic. The pendulum had swung from one side to the other.

My libido came back with a vengeance, but with a few twists. The first was that sex was painful. I have a bladder condition that already causes this sometimes, but it wasn’t that kind of flare up. I like to think of myself as a person who can handle myself in bed, but after two months of nothing (and carrying stress in my vagina, apparently), I couldn’t handle shit. So sex was noisy, messy, chatty. But also delicate. Movements more intentional.

The thing that gets me every time about Jace is his hands: They are so big and lightly calloused, but so, so gentle. Warm. I feel so much love from that man’s hands.

I won’t even say Jace was being patient before. He didn’t complain once, but it was more than that. He genuinely didn’t see what I thought of as a huge set back as anything out of the ordinary. He made it so deliciously normal. So really, I had to overcome my own guilt and frustration.

The second, and hopefully final, twist, was that orgasms were now work. Can G-spots move? Is there a reset button for clitorises? I felt stimulated, but the release was not the same. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. Despite the lack of orgasm, I’m having fun. Getting fucked in the kitchen while doing dishes. Those gentle hands slapping the inside of my thighs. Laughing, smiling, kissing again. Quarantine has blown up what sex looks like, what sex should be like. And I’m really just grateful to have Jace along for the ride.

A crafty New Jersey native, Julie will talk (or knit) you under a table, but also still knows when to listen. She is passionate about education, philosophy, and linguistics, and when she's not teaching, she can be found awkwardly roller skating in empty parking lots.

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