On Validation

Black and white photograph of a woman's back as she looks out of a window, for Validation post by Malin James

Photograph, Malin James

There are things that I’m painfully aware of. One of them is my deep, long-standing need for validation.

It’s gotten worse in the past few years. I’ve always had it but, recently, it’s kept me from taking risks. The need for validation has drawn me away from projects that would further my career because long-term gains haven’t been able to compete with that short-term need.

That impulse has kept me safe in the cocoon of a loving community, which is a comforting alternative after years in the less friendly world of literary fiction, but at something of a cost.

It’s a strange thing. On one level, I give zero fucks what anyone thinks. This is the level I try to live on. But beneath that is the fact that sometimes I give way too many fucks, which is why I can’t say that I don’t need validation for my work. The brutal truth is that I do and the same goes for my worth in relationships.

I grew up having internalized the idea that my primary value was in my face and, even more toxically, that the value of my face was arbitrary because I relied on a choreographer, director or photographer to decide whether or not I was right for a call or a role. It’s a conviction that dogs me even now, and the result is an over-reliance on what other people think.

That need for validation shows up in all kinds of subconscious ways. It’s in how I engage social media and how I blog. It’s in what I write about and when. It’s in whether or not I compromise myself in relationships and for how long. It’s what drives my inner sadist – the one who loves to rake my inner masochist over coals.

The need for validation is natural. We all feel it. But the degree to which I’ve allowed that need to dictate my professional, creative and personal choices disturbs me. The primary reason I stopped acting was because my dependence on external (and arbitrary) validation wore me down. Unfortunately, I’ve created a similar framework for myself by reinforcing a comparable need in my writing and relationships.

I’m ok with wanting a certain amount of validation. Like I said, it’s pretty natural. But I’m not ok with needing it to the point where it compromises my emotional autonomy. Validation is, essentially, a salve – an illusory guarantee that everything is ok. In my case, this is what validation usually looks like:

Yes, your writing matters.

No, you aren’t wasting your time.

Yes, he still wants you.

No, you aren’t a disposable fraud. (This one comes with a nice dose of self-loathing. Self-loathing fucking sucks).

The real problem isn’t wanting validation, it’s misunderstanding what validation does. It’s like ointment on a cut – it’ll soothe the surface, but it doesn’t address the bleeding you can’t see. For me, the internal bleeding is the fact that sometimes I give too many fucks, and that those fucks aren’t even the right fucks to begin with.

What makes validation so addictive is that it acts as a short-term guarantee that everything’s ok. And sure, everything might be okay – for now. But what about the next now? And the next? Pretty soon, validation stops being a relief and becomes part of a feedback loop, one that slowly blows everything out of proportion and gets you stuck on a hook, one where your insecurities take over and drive your behavior.

So, when you put all that together, my need for validation is the subjective measure of worries that are way more existential than concrete:

Is everything okay?

Am I okay in the world? (Or this job, or relationship, etc.)

What the hell does okay even look like? I don’t know but please make it okay….

Those worries aren’t something that should shape your work or relationships because the only thing that can comfort them are guarantees, and the bottom line is that there are no guarantees. There is only the fleeting right now, and no amount of validation can get you off that hook.

It’s a big, ugly, exhausting tangle, but I can’t be a productive writer or a fully present person if I don’t stop chasing false guarantees – guarantees that, for me, define okay as the external validation of my value.

I will always need to feel valued, especially by people I care about and respect. That need is carved into me like grooves on a record. But for all that, the fundamental validation I actually need, the one I’ve been chasing my whole life, is my own.

My need for validation isn’t about the story or the editor or the relationship. It’s about me. And because it’s about me, it places pressure on situations and relationships that shouldn’t have to bear it. That’s why self-possession and emotional sovereignty are so important to me. The weight of that need is, ultimately, my responsibility. It’s up to me to decide (logically, rather than reactively) how many fucks I want to give.

Flash Fiction: Mrs. Fox & Mr. Wolfe

An oil painting by Jack Vettriano of a man and a woman in a bar for Flash Fiction: Speakeasy by Malin James

Drifters by Jack Vettriano

Mrs. Fox was crying again. Mr. Wolfe let her. He always did. Nothing to do but collect her pale tragedy and take her for a drink. That was the thing with Mrs. Fox. She was beautiful when she hurt; when her glossy eyes gleamed black like dark, rainy streets.

Mrs. Fox loved to suffer. She loved it more than cigarettes and sex. She was made to suffer and she sought it out, collected little bits of pain and pinned them to her breast. She wore larger ones like ribbons on her wrists. He’d known her for ages before he’d realized this – that she was happiest when she hurt. He’d spent years trying to save her, but Mrs. Fox couldn’t be saved. She didn’t want to be. So, he let her cry and he bought her gin and tried not to feel like two different men.

Wolfe lit a cigarette and handed her one before lighting one for himself. Everyone assumed they were having an affair. Everyone assumed everything, but they had never even kissed. Wolfe was a good man. Mr. Fox was addicted to morphine and out of the picture, but Mrs. Wolfe was very much around in Scarborough with a brood he barely knew.

He was a good man and he tried to care for them in a solid, steady way. But his mind lived in the city and that’s where his mind stayed when his body got on the train. He always tried, at least.

He and Mrs. Fox had a tacit agreement. It was the contract their friendship was based on and it protected them from the fact that she was a beautiful mess and he was coming undone, inch by gentle inch. She wanted him. He knew that. And he wanted her. But they would never misbehave. Even without husbands and wives and lovers and her glorious need for misery, they would never misbehave. But that isn’t to say they didn’t want to.

Some nights, like this night, when she was sharp and self-deprecating; when their eyes met and they had a conversation in a glance, Wolfe wanted to misbehave. He wanted touch her face and put her fingers in his mouth. He wanted her juniper scented lips in the middle of the street, where anyone could see. He wanted to make her suffer in the most perfect way. He wanted to do it right.

“Have another drink, Mr. Wolfe. Now that I’ve soaked your shoulder with my poor, bruised heart…. I should at least buy your shoulder a drink.”

She was watching him through her lashes, laying out the bait they knew he wouldn’t take. Wolfe’s hand flexed. He imagined her moving beneath him, arching up, hip to hip, legs clamped around his waist. He imagined how fucking her might finally feel like home…. But then, the morning would come and the awful regret. She would need it to be awful. Exquisite and awful, like a penknife to the wrist.

He almost didn’t care.

His legs angled into hers. And hers angled into his. Their agreement strained between them. One night, it would break. One night…or maybe not.

“Mr. Wolfe?”

Wolfe shook his head.

“Not tonight, Mrs. F. I’m going to catch the train.”

Elust #83: London Love, Identity & Many A Sexy Thing

Elust 82 Header Holden and Camille
Photo courtesy of Holden and Camille

Welcome to Elust #83

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #84 Start with the rules, come back July 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

London Crows and London Kisses

I am Her. She is Me.

You Say You Want to Cook for Me

 

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

Unusual Liaison

Community. Respect. Friendship. Fucking.

~Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

Dirty Little Secrets

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*
All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Poetry

You Know
O

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

My Bed
Secular Submission
My therapy
from “hard limit” to “want”
We Measure the Nostalgia
The Cure and The Cause

Events

Smut in the 6ix – Porn Conference & Gala

Erotic Fiction

Typing Errors
La Belle Dame
Sex and chocolate
The Imprisoned of HIM-HER-THEM
The Gift
audience
Becca’s Story
Rope and Fixtures
As salty as his cum…
Dominating the Doctor

Erotic Non-Fiction

Teen Sex in Woolly Tights with 60s Beat Music
Dear Sadist: Your Cruelty Is Your Love
A male dom, the straight girl and the bi girl
Owned, Leashed, & Beaten
Jan 2015 Owned & Collared by Mistress Claire
Rinse The Days Filth Away
Power On
Keeping tally

Sex News, Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Formative Kink Epic Fail: “Buck Rogers”

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

If it was easy anyone could do it
What’s a service submissive?
Prescient Words

Writing About Writing

What if aspirational meant something else?

 

ELust Site Badge

The Love That Destroys You

Fine art nude of a woman sitting in a human sized bird's nest for The Love That Destroys You by Malin James

The Nest by Serena Biagnini

Ages ago, (it was actually just last year, but it feels like ages ago), I wrote the initial draft of this post. A lot has happened since then and my understanding of how love works for me has changed.

So, rather than starting from scratch, I’m inserting commentary into the draft I initially wrote. The italicized bits are me now. Me a year ago is in standard text. It may end up being contradictory, but love is complicated – so complicated that, in the end, it’s fairly simple. If that’s not contradictory, I don’t know what is.

I recently had a conversation about love – specifically, the “love that destroys you”. My initial response (and the one I ultimately hold to) is that, for me, this kind of love can happen once or twice in a lifetime. While some people stay open enough to get destroyed (in a good way) again and again while, for others, the damage incurred makes staying open hard. I fall into the latter camp.

My initial response was impulsive and, quite honestly, defensive. Having been decimated twice, I was trying to distance myself from the possibility that it could happen again. But buried within that anxiety is the fact that, for me, loving means vulnerability, and that’s terrifying because love routinely destroys me, to varying degrees, on any given day. A special kind of super combustible love is not required. 

What is “the love that destroys you”? It’s love on a cellular level – love that hurts in its absence, like a phantom limb. It’s the kind of love that changes you, slowly over time, or all at once. Either way, it alters you. You aren’t the same person you were before you met and loved (and possibly lost) that person.

I do agree with this definition, though I remember thinking purely in terms of romantic or sexual love when I defined it. The truth is that any love can do this to you, from the love you feel for your mother to the friend you can’t live without. It just depends on context and circumstance.

I have loved in that insane, chemically induced, destructive way and, in both cases, I got dismantled and had to rebuild. As a result, I became a more solitary thing. This isn’t to say that I can’t love passionately. I can and do. I just can’t love in that young way anymore. Over the years I’ve developed barriers – the ability to jump in with both feet was burned out of me.

It wasn’t really, it was just safer, at the time, to think so. Loving in any way – sexually, romantically, platonically, maternally – is a fucking risk. There are no guarantees. Guarantees create the illusion of control, but control goes out the window when you make yourself vulnerable. It’s impossible to predict who you’ll love in that cellular way, but regardless of who it is, barriers won’t stop it. You can either shut down and avoid it completely, or accept it and take the risk.

My daughter is the exception to all of this. Loving her destroys me every day because barriers don’t work with her (nor would I want them to). Every time she wraps her hand around my thumb or cries because her “feelings are big”, part of me crumbles and has to rebuild. Loving her is compulsive and holistic. I could never not love her. But there was something in those early experiences that changed me. I can’t seem to stop protecting myself, even (shamefully) sometimes with her.

Which makes me sad, because what I couldn’t consciously see is that nothing in me had fundamentally changed. I was just so used to guarding myself that it felt like a state of being rather than a choice.

The odd thing is that I still feel that crazy love in random pockets. It’s in the way my mom smiled when she bought orange shoes or how my brother limps when he’s tired. I feel an intense pop of love in small, unconscious moments. Those pops get under my heart, and in those moments, my love for them is so huge that it undoes me. But destruction on a grand scale, I suspect I’ll only feel once or twice.

Here’s the thing. Those small destructions, like the orange shoes, are no different than the big destructions, like the attraction that poisons you or the loss of your right to kiss him. Regardless of scale, those feelings reveal, if only for a moment, the true extent of your attachment. Sometimes that awareness is AMAZING. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it guts you. That emotional intensity means vulnerability and loving enough to be vulnerable means loving enough to be hurt. 

I’ve known great love with friends, lovers, partners and family members. But the love that destroys you, that remakes you in some way…that’s happened twice. I’m not saying I couldn’t feel it again, or that others don’t feel it all the time. I just suspect that, for better or worst, I’ve had that experience and won’t have it again.

Comforting at the time, but wrong. While not every love destroys you, the reality is that, barring complete emotional shutdown, how a love affects you is out of your control.

People die. People leave. Feelings change. While not every love destroys you, any love could if you experience it fully, (which isn’t to say that’s the mark of “real” love. All love is real love. It’s just one way that it can go down). A year ago, that scared me too much to contemplate, so I wove a self-image that helped me feel safe:

Sure, I love. I love like a champ, but I can’t get hurt because everything flammable has already been burned.

Like I said, comforting but wrong. If I can love, I can be hurt. That’s just the way it is for me. So, rather than tell myself pretty stories, I can acknowledge my vulnerability and get on with it. It’s not exactly comforting but it’s honest and, at this point, honesty, even painful honesty, is better than the illusion that I won’t get hurt again.

Erotic Fiction: Tether

Black and white photograph of couple walking in the rain for Erotic Fiction: Tether by Malin James

Couple Walking in Venice Rain by Jim McKinniss

She’s walking down the street with her hand in his. She knows it’s there—her brain tells her it is – but she can barely feel it. The thread that connects her body to her mind is as thin as a spider’s web, billowing and fine. She’s tethered but only just.

They walk slowly, enjoying the grayness of the day, the rain. They’re soaked, but there’s no rush to hurry home so they continue hand in hand, meandering over the cobbles. She feels them under her feet, slippery, turtle-like bumps. She feels them from a distance, from centuries away.

They stop in front of a window full of posters for theater and half-off drinks. He brings her fingers to his mouth and nibbles at the tips without really thinking about it. She loves the casual way he puts part of her in his mouth. She knows she does. She knows.

She strains into that knowing, strains so hard that she can almost feel the pressure of his teeth. Almost. She leans into his shoulder, rests her temple on wet wool, inhaling his scent. She loves his scent. She knows she does.

They turn from the window and he says something about drinks. She murmurs something like yes. She’d love drinks. She knows she would. But even though her head is telling her this, even though she trusts it to be true, the emotional response she should be having—warmth, pleasure, arousal, whatever—doesn’t come. She just knows.

From high above her body, she watches them walk on, arm in arm, as the rain muffles the city. She knows her hair is plastered to her head, as sleek and dark as sealskin. She knows her boots are soaked. She knows it the way she knows his jeans are drenched and that his skin will taste like rain. Like her body is his and not her own. The tether is getting thinner.

“What are you thinking about?”

He asks her, light and easy, but there’s a gravity in his tone. She shakes her head.

“Nothing much,” she says, truthfully. “My hair. Your coat. How wet I am.”

The words come out with an effortless, flirty lilt.

“Yeah? How wet are you?”

She knows which wet he means. He means the one she implied. It’s automatic and real and true and not. She doesn’t even know.

“Soaked,” she says. “To the bone.”

And that is true—she’s soaked, and not just her clothes. She’s slick between her legs. She knows she is. She knows. She wishes she could feel it.

He squeezes her arm. More cobbles. Dead leaves. Everything is slick. The rain is getting heavier and the street lamps come on. Flash of lightning, like a silent film. He pulls her into the doorway of a pretty antique shop.

She knows his hands are warm on her cold, cold face. His hands are always warm and she is always very cold. She watches them, from high above. What a pretty couple, she thinks. He sinks his hands into the river of her hair. His tongue is hot in her mouth. Her body responds. She knows it will. Her body always responds.

Her thighs tremble as his fingers slide inside her, as sure as going home. Her hips move against his hand. He feels so good against her –  good and warm, solid as an anchor. She knows he does. Knowing makes her feel. Eventually, it does. Knowing makes her fingers fumble with his belt.

The rain is coming hard now, veiling them but not so well that someone couldn’t see. She feels a flutter in her chest. She feels a flutter in chest and pops the buttons of his fly. She strokes his cock he strokes her, two fingers deep, not so distant as before. She feels her body hum and tuck into his.

“Where are you?”

“I’m here.”

“Stay with me,” he says.

He breathes the “me” more than says it. It travels over her skin, shivering, warming, raveling her in. His cock rubs against her hip as he works her with his hand. She knows what he feels like, buried inside her, knows how he feels at every angle everywhere. She knows and now she needs more.

She sinks her fingers into his soft, damp hair and tugs until she feels an answering pull. She’s watching from very close now. Her breathing gets ragged and he lifts her up and pins her to the wall.  Stone presses into her back; her legs wrap around his waist; her body tilts and then he’s in her. A puzzle piece that fits.

“Where are you?”

“I’m here.”

She feels his eyes and she meets them, and kisses him suddenly, hard.

“Come with me,” she whispers. “Now.”

She groans. The sound is thick with so much feeling that the feeling almost hurts. But she stays in the doorway with him, with her body and his body and the crash of him against her and her deep tidal pull. For now, she doesn’t know anything. For now, she’s anchored tight. For now, she’s tied down close.

Flash Fiction: La Belle Dame

Black and white image of a woman in a black coat standing in a doorway for Flash Fiction La Belle Dame by Malin James

Photograph by Marco Sanges

He is chained to the wall when I find him. They always are. Strong backs pinioned to cold, hard stone. It’s an exhausting position. I know.

He watches me approach, wary and very proud.

“You will learn to hate me, I think.”

Learn…hate…think.

The words drop into the silent room, as dense as mercury. My voice is strange. A stranger’s voice. I almost never speak.

I get closer. He tenses but doesn’t look away. They never do, not at first. He smells hot and metallic, like coal-covered iron. Sharp ribs. Sharper hips. There is a beautiful vein in his neck. Beautiful and thick.

I bring my face to his. He bares his teeth and lunges against the chains. They pull him up short, but he catches my bottom lip. There is blood when I step back. Laughter tumbles out of me, clean, like ice.

He doesn’t expect the blow.

It lands across his cheek, meant to sting more than hurt. The second one hurts. The third cracks his head back against the wall.

“More.”

I search his eyes, but they are empty. And like that, my interest fades. Had there been something of his presence in that single word, had he shown me something true…. But his more is a hollow defiance. His more will break. I don’t care about his more.

He snarls and rattles his chains. What a sad, ridiculous show. This time, when I hit him, I deliberately draw blood.

He’s still shaking his head to clear it when I chain his legs to the wall.

What follows is routine. There are implements on the wall and I bring one down. A knife with an ivory handle. A slender, elegant thing, sloped like a woman’s back. I bring it to my friend. Now, he looks away. Now, with the blade in front of him, he grasps the position he’s in.

I can tell he’s about to speak.

“No. That’s quite enough.”

I no longer meet his eyes, though he’s frantically searching mine, looking for reassurances I don’t care to give. Not when they’re a lie. I kneel and consider the knife.

Very gently, like a mother, like a woman made of grace, I slice through the rags that hang off his hips, loving the nervous ripple of his skin as the clothing falls away. His defiance is in stasis. The vein flutters in his throat. He’s a delicate, crushable thing.

Be still.

I should say this. Warn him. A good woman would. A good woman would, but I don’t.

I smile and rest the blade against his skin, skin no blade should touch. The metal will be cold against such a tender place. His breath gives a lovely hitch….

His cock stirs, making a final appeal. I wait for him to shift and rattle and beg. It’s what generally happens next. But he doesn’t. He’s quiet and very still. I press harder with the blade. I want to see what he’ll do.

His skin begins to sweat, but the response is autonomic. There’s nothing but silence from him.

I look up and meet his eyes. They are waiting for mine. His breathing is shallow, but otherwise, he is calm. He has great respect for the knife. His eyes tell me this. His eyes tell me things, things that drop through the silence, dense as mercury. There is a person in there now.

And, like that, my interest is piqued.

What May Sound Like a Stand-Offish NB: Though the trajectory of this piece was unexpected, I both stand by and am proud of it. That said, I am not personally into castration fantasies. While I respect them as a kink, please don’t feel obliged to send them to me. 

Writer

Sepia picture of an old-fashioned typewriter with its ribbon unspooled for Writer by Malin JamesThings have been interesting lately – lots of things in lots of ways. The changes are fundamental and long overdue. Not easy stuff, but good all the same.

It’s a strange thing, feeling your internal landscape shift like stop-motion film. If history were anything to go by, I’d say that this should be a creatively exciting time. In the past, periods of violent transition have always led to a surge in my creative energy. But for the first time in my life, change and transition are affecting my ability to write.

Writing has always been my way in. It’s how I process everything, from emotional nuance to the world around me. It is, quite literally, how I make sense of things. Unfortunately, “things”, both internal and external, have shifted enough that writing taking a hit.  I feel dull and mentally paralyzed in a way that is vaguely terrifying. And, in the end, that’s probably good.

This has happened before – I hit a place of maximum pressure and catharsis becomes inevitable. The energy released by the catharsis usually channels right back into my work, which as been a pretty great silver-lining, especially as rabid creative focus has, more than once, given me the mental and emotional space I needed to deal with whatever I was dealing with.

This time was different though. This time, rather than helping me through a difficult period, writing was part of what ushered in the difficult period (and I can tell you right now that this was one hell of a motherfucking difficult period).

It’s funny – I didn’t see that connection until I wrote it out just now (oh, writing, you clever, wily beast). The story that rocked me (through a combination of timing and my masochistically gleeful tendency to myself for material) was called “Alice in the Attic” and it drew heavily on a trauma (and the resulting experiences) that have shaped nearly all aspects of my life.

Writing “Alice” was difficult, but it poured out of me in a sort of fevered rush. Sitting down at my desk to work on it was, in and of itself, so cathartic that it emptied me out and left me hollow by the end.

That said, I don’t want to misrepresent the situation. This particular pressure had been building for years and the writing of that story was just one of many things that ended up twisting the valves. And yet…I haven’t been able to settle into a larger project since November when it was published.

I am gun-shy like I’ve never been and I’ll be honest – it’s pretty galling. Shorter pieces still come fairly easily (the shorter the better), but I’ve got several longer projects that I just can’s sink into. In fact, I seem to freeze at the prospect of writing anything longer than 1000 words. I think I might be afraid. I wish I knew what of…

I suppose that it, right there. I’m afraid of something, and writing is connected to whatever it is. Maybe I’m afraid of triggering myself again; maybe I’m afraid to trust myself again; maybe I’m afraid of something else. I don’t know. And, in the end, I’m not sure I need to know.

I suspect all I really need to do is acknowledge that I’m scared and write anyway. Because fuck it. I’m a writer. That’s what I do. I’m good at it (sorry – not a humble moment) and I love it and no amount of difficulty is going to keep me from doing what I fucking love.

On Seeing Yourself

A wet plate portrait of Malin James on glass beneath water. Wet Plate Collodian by Nicolas Laborie for On Seeing Yourself by Malin James

Portrait, Malin James. Wet Plate Collodian by Nicolas Laborie

I’ve been bumping up against my own self-image recently, which is a curiously exciting and unsettling thing. It’s been happening in several ways, some easier to define than others, but the overall effect is the realization that I don’t know myself as well as I thought I did, and that that is absolutely fine.

Being photographed by someone gifted is its own kind of gift – one that I couldn’t accept when I was a young, distracted thing. A gifted photographer can distil you with an odd sort of purity. If you’re lucky and the stars align, what you end up with are visual representations of various facets of yourself – shards of personality that often operate beneath your conscious understanding.

Black and white head shot of Malin James taken by Nicolas Laborie. For On Seeing Yourself by Malin James

Photograph by Nicolas Laborie

The self-image I’ve nurtured over the years is that of a controlled, measured woman. I don’t let down my guard unless I choose to and it’s rare that I do. Like most people, I wear a social mask and it’s that mask that I recognize in pictures. I rarely see the person who watches the world from beneath it represented on film. That’s probably why the images Nicolas Laborie took this past week-end pulled me up short.

The wet plate above is recognizable insofar as I recognize the interiority it caught – that particular mixture of nameless emotions is essentially my resting state. I’ve just never seen it on my face, not even when I look in a mirror. I’m not entirely sure how the wet plate caught it – maybe it’s just having to stay perfectly still for the exposure – but it’s the first time I’ve seen an accurate visual representation of my internal life.

Black and white portrait of Malin James taken by Nicolas Laborie. For On Seeing Yourself by Malin James

Photograph by Nicolas Laborie

The other three were taken after the wet plate and they do something a bit different. When I was younger, I longed for self-possession. When someone photographed me, I very consciously cloaked myself in imitation poise. The problem was that I always knew it was fake and I didn’t like seeing that gap between reality and aspiration caught on film.

As I got older and grew increasingly uncomfortable with what I saw in images of myself, being photographed stopped being a pleasure. It was too much of a personal minefield. Participating in Sinful Sunday has helped me enjoy photography again, but only to the extent that I control the image, and I rarely let down my guard.

But these are different. These are just of me being me in the moment because I no longer know how to be something I’m not. That’s why they mean so much to me.

Black and white portrait of Malin James taken by Nicolas Laborie. For On Seeing Yourself by Malin James

Photograph by Nicolas Laborie

The person in these pictures is the woman I wanted to be when I was a confused mess of a girl. I wanted to be calm and hungry and strong, so much so that I tried to pretend to be something I wasn’t and failed every time.

It’s magic to me that I became someone I could respect. I never trusted myself – I never gave myself a reason to – but the person I see in these pictures is someone I respect and trust. That’s why these photos are a bit of a revelation. In many ways, it’s the first time I can say that seeing myself on film is comforting rather than proof of the gap between my reality and everything I want to be.

To see more of Nicolas Laborie’s work, please visit his site, and follow him on Twitter. He’s brilliant. 

NB: I nearly didn’t write this post. Ironically, there’s still something uncomfortable about talking about myself, especially in what could be perceived as an arrogant light (and let’s face it, talking about pretty pictures of yourself skates that boundary uncomfortably close). Ultimately, the fact that the experience was so unexpected and revelatory in its way was the reason I decided to go out on a limb and write it. It was an amazing experience and I hope other people are able to experience something similarly positive in front of a lens.

Elust #82: Polyamory, Expectations, Fishnets & More

Elust 82 Header
Photo courtesy of Teachers Have Sex

Welcome to Elust #82

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #83 Start with the rules, come back June 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

Take Me

How Do I Love Thee:On Comparing Relationships

Asking all the questions…

 

 

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

Erotic Fiction: Fishnet Queen

I Manage My Expectations

~Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*

Wanna Have Sex With Me? – Here’s how
All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Sex News, Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Maybe I’m not a pervert after all
Bad Excuses
Engaging with Sexuality: A Personal Perspecti
I wish there were more porn
Cock Size: Does it matter?
Blue is not a “boy color.”

Erotic Non-Fiction

Watching My Wife With Another Man Story
Afternoon Cunnilingus & Birthday Sofa Sex
Why You Should Shave Your Partner
Oct 2014 Session – Mistress Claire
Two Days Later
Roping a cougarling
Divining Rods
Dorabella’s pink-velvet spanner

Erotic Fiction

Puppy Love
Quick & Dirty
She Says My Voice Changes for Her
THE BLINDFOLD – fear of the unknown
U is for undress…
Stay Baby…Stay.
kink of the week–glasses

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

Slutfest Reflection
Love and Fairness
Winnowing
V is for……..
My heart turns blacker: the new rules

 

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

Blast from the Fetish Video Past
The whole person approach to Submission
Down on my knees
Dominant Doppelgangers, Dominant Opposites
Four eyes
BDSM and Depression: Therapy or Self-Harm?

Poetry

Eden, Revisited: A Lusty Limerick

Writing About Writing

Stepping Stones
Centering Disabled Characters in My Erotica

 

ELust Site Badge