Love, sex and interminable pop-culture references

Category: Personal (Page 2 of 9)

ILB’s personal posts

Eroticon 2013: …and so it goes.

As I said in my meet and greet post, I was uncertain about going to Eroticon this year. In the end, I did, and although I wasn’t sure if I would, I put a lot of myself into it, and got a lot out of it. Is that a win? Maybe it’s a win. I’m not too sure.

There are a few moments I want to touch on, but let’s do this in a vaguely chronological order.


The Friday night meet and greet was all right for what it was. I was one of the first there (of course), despite having stopped at a barber for a haircut and shave on the way(!); I decided to get a cloudy lemonade and wait, and although it took a while for the steady trickle of people to start coming, come they did. I was pleased to see Molly, Michael and Nick setting up (and nobody needed to ask my name or which colour lanyard I wanted – they knew by rote!), the sparkles on Amy‘s face, the incredible amounts of queer energy emanating from Quinn, and – of course – GOTN. Always a pleasure.

Seeing Olly, however, was a genuine surprise. I haven’t seen him for about five years and had no idea he was coming. He is still a genuine delight to talk to, and we vibed really well. That’s one of the things I love about ‘con – seeing people you don’t expect.


Saturday, for me, was characterised largely by the fact that I woke up incredibly early and got an Über to meet for the first time my dear friend Robyn. Robyn is basically the reason I ended up going to ‘con, as she made a very generous financial contribution that helped with my ticket and I felt like I should ingratiate her into the community (plus, after months of talking and flirting, I felt we ought to meet!). She took incredible amounts of notes in the sessions – I am amazed by her workrate – and, by the time the evening social came around (in which she looked AMAZING – we are talking incredibly stunning here, people), she was contentedly chatting away with people she had never even heard of before. I call that progress!

One of the best moments of entire weekend for me was introducing Robyn to GOTN and laughing at the amount of mutual fangirling that happened. It was genuinely difficult to tell who was more excited!

The Saturday sessions, even though I found it difficult to choose, I all enjoyed. Blake‘s session busted a few myths and gave me some stuff to research. I went to Dee‘s on a whim but really liked not only the content but the way it was presented. GOTN’s first session was great – I’m a little annoyed that I didn’t get to read this year, so this was a chance to pretend I was; plus, Robyn’s husky delivery made me hard, so thanks for that uncomfortable moment, gang.

I wanted to go to Neil‘s session all along and I’m pleased I did, for not only was it informative, he was hilarious! I ended the day with Dr Eleanor Janega‘s session – my one dead cert to attend, as I love what she does. This was a whistle-stop tour of sex history and she is a genuine pro (I wrote “she is a pro” in my notes, so it must be true).


I was fully intending, at this point, to skip out and go home to dump my bag and change my shirt before the Saturday night social. As it turns out, did none of these things. GOTN talked me into being one of the thirteen participants in ElectraStim‘s record-breaking chain. I’ve never experienced electro sensation before, and although I’m a genuine wimp, this was a fascinating and genuinely curious experience. Not altogether unpleasant, either, and I’m pleased to have been a part of something special.

And then we had the Saturday social, which was a sequence of events.

I’ll talk more about this later, I think…

History Lesson

Here we go again
Now I’m not looking back ’cause that pain is dead
If history’s repeating
It’s worth it for the feeling

Earlier today, for no particular reason, I trawled my computer and Facebook photos to find one specific picture of myself. I’m not that much of an egotist (honestly!), but this one certainly speaks to me.

I’m on holiday, standing in front of Blackpool Tower. I’ve got one hand in the air, striking an impressive pose. The wind is blowing back my hair and a bit of the T-shirt I’m wearing. This is the first time I’ve actually worn this tee. I wore it about three times before it mysteriously vanished, lost somewhere in the milieu of clothes I still have yet to be washed.

On my face is a rapturous, euphoric expression. At the time this was taken, I was feeling free.

This is, of course, history. I can look at this picture and remember the time it was taken; I can also look at it and see things long since gone. Youth I have long since passed. A tee I loved and lost. A place I no longer go to, in a group I no longer speak to. I’m even noticeably slimmer in the picture than I am now. Should I wish to, I could look at this picture and mourn the past, wishing I could recapture that feeling.

But I shan’t.

There’s a lot of pain in my history. Whether of my own making or not. I have issues with school bullies, the mental anguish I went through with the villainous conductor of the band I was in, and the tedious drudge through 2008 – 2010, doing a course I hated at an institution I despised, the only high points being sex and cuddles with my girlfriend.

I’m not very good at letting go, either. The smallest thing can pitch me into a spiral of traumatic memories and sneaky self-doubt. I’m meant to be working on it – of course I am – I’m just not very good at that.

But I think I’m getting better.

Maybe there’s something that makes the past more of a friend. Perhaps there’s a funny blog post I wrote about it – there are plenty of those – or a pleasant memory attached to the otherwise-hideous situation. The school bullies who ended up as friends. The conductor leading a round of applause for me specifically because of my contribution to the contest we won. The time I cried because of what happened at college while my drinking girlfriend stroked my hair and told me that she believed me.

It requires a lot of effort on my part – filtering out what I want to focus on. Bits and pieces are there; it’s just finding them that’s the problem.

But I’m working on it. And, if I really can’t do it – if there’s far too much else there and history is too much to bear – then there are always alternative realities to slip into.

And there’s always porn.

An Explosion of Heat

What does an orgasm look like?


It’s an interesting concept, albeit one without a definitive answer. GOTN ran a competition about it once, as did Erotic Meet back in the day. One of those things where it varies from person to person. Maybe you have a specific image in your head when you orgasm; perhaps an orgasm looks like something from the outside.

But what does an orgasm feel like?

That is, perhaps, a more difficult question to answer. Like anything, it does change according to the individual – but it is certainly more complex than “do they have a penis or a vagina?”. Sex is deeper than such a binary concept. Everything changes according to situation, method, mood, and even time. Every orgasm is different, so even if you experience a similar feeling each time, it may be more possible to try to describe one orgasm than… well, you know where I’m going with this, don’t you?

I know it’s hot. It’s been getting hotter all week, even if it’s a little breezier today than it has otherwise been of late. Going outside means getting hotter, but there’s no reason I can’t do so inside.

It had been four days since my last orgasm, and although I will admit that’s not a huge gap (and there have been much longer ones…), it’s still sizeable enough to be noticed. I’ve had an odd weekend, to put it mildly, and even wondered if I’d completely lost my sex drive until he made himself known. This afternoon I found myself alone, so after a cheese omelette, cup of tea and a Pokémon film, I decided to put him to the test.

It didn’t take long to orgasm. Usually it takes a while (stamina, innit?); this time, however, it wasn’t a huge task. A bit of Emmanuelle, a few minutes’ fantasising and a couple of sexy words, and I was done. A very satisfying orgasm.

The very moment I came (hitting my wrist, thigh and my ankle, if it matters) was like an explosion of heat. I didn’t just warm up; I flared up. Heat burst out all over my body, more apparent with every beat of my heart. Taking in some deep, ragged breaths, I leaned back and let myself bathe. Basking in my own heat, feeling it emanate from my very core.

Beatriz da Costa, also known as Fire, from DC Comics. Possibly having an orgasm.
Beatriz identifies.

I was a mess. Hair everywhere. Tears leaking from my eyes. Cum all over my hand. Blazing with fire.

I wasn’t even all there. All I felt was the heat. For a while, I was just a fireball.

A few minutes later I managed to gather myself together, clean up with a handkerchief I need to put into the washing machine (mental note for later) and pull myself back into the real world.

Things to do, more cups of tea to make, you know.

I’ve been reliably informed that it’s getting much hotter outside. But who needs it? As I’ve demonstrated so gracefully, with my chair, my porn and my dick… I’ve got all the heat right here.

Where’s my sex drive?

Oh hai, sex drive. There you are. Where did you go? It’s been a while, friend. Let’s catch up. Fancy a cup of tea?

It’s funny that you should turn up, sex drive. I think I saw you briefly the other day, when I saw something on Twitter that shouldn’t have turned me on, but it did. Fair enough, it wasn’t my kink but something about the way it was presented got me feeling things. Something about the guilt-free abandon and amount of glee involved. I noticed you then. You were just sitting quietly in the corner, but you were there. I could have sworn it.

Maybe I had you with me last night, sex drive, when I got up from the nap on the sofa to transfer to the nap in bed. I didn’t see you, but when I got up and stretched, I felt the familiar twinge between my legs and had a fairly sizeable bulge to deal with before I could get to bed. Maybe you were there then. I don’t know.

Sex drive, you are very difficult to pin down. Ask me two weeks ago if I’ve spent any time with you and I’d say I had. Ask me earlier this week and I’d say that I hadn’t. I know that I should be a better friend, sex drive, and that’s my fault. I say that I don’t have the time, or the energy, or the resources to meet up with you. But you always have the time for me, and sometimes you turn up even when I don’t expect you.

Like that time three weeks ago when you said hi partway through the staff meeting at work. Or two months ago when I fell asleep on the bus and woke up very hard and very wound-up. You’ve appeared on long journeys and in my dreams. Sometimes you’ve even been more awake than me.

But I haven’t seen you anywhere, sex drive, at least not recently. I miss you and what your company brings. They say that I don’t need you, the voices in my head. They say that, because I’m not having sex, your friendship isn’t at all necessary. But that’s not true. I love you, I miss you, and I wish you weren’t so difficult to find.

And now here you are once again. Hello, sex drive. Let’s be friends forever.

All thumbs

Yesterday afternoon, just after work, I went for drinks to celebrate one the birthday of one of my colleagues. I found myself, although not for the first time in my life, surrounded by women – as they got progressively more drunk, their conversation varied from the size of their boobs to different methods of contraception.

(At one point, one of them may have had said she hasn’t had sex since December. I didn’t quite hear, but…)

While I did my ILB Thing™ of sitting quietly in the corner making no noise, I did pitch in with a few conversations (I’m not that much of a pariah), especially when the topic turned to autism management and the different ways in which people stim. More discourse happened about the way to centre yourself when you feel overwhelmed.

“I suck my thumb,” said one colleague. “I know I shouldn’t, but I do. It helps me calm down.”
“My ex used to suck her thumb,” I said without thinking. “She did it every night; I rarely saw her sleep without doing so.”

I shouldn’t have said that. Not because it wasn’t true, but because I’d forgotten it up until then.

The Terminator gives a thumb up at the end of Terminator II.
Terminator II reminds me of her too.

As much as things remind me of my second girlfriend (second chronologically; I don’t have more than one girlfriend!), I do have to wonder if there’s anything that reminds her of me. I have a scarily accurate memory, so I can recall things and events from the past with some amount of detail – you’ll know this if you read my blog – but I’d forgotten about this.

I’d forgotten about this although I know so many things I shouldn’t. I know her married name and I know the name of her son. I’ve read her MA essay and even her Ph.D. thesis (I’m not acknowledged, even though we had sex on the floor while encoding some poetry readings, but then again she doesn’t mention her husband either, so…), both of which are very good. I even know where she works now and have to wonder if she is still as angry as ever.

But I’d forgotten about the thumb thing.

The seamstress used to try to justify this to me. It was a comfort thing, carried over since she was little. It happened while she was asleep and she couldn’t control it. Maybe it was a way to centre herself. It once happened when she had a cracked tooth and she couldn’t stop. Once she even told me it was because she wanted to feel like she had a cock in her mouth. The excuses kept coming, and coming, and coming…

But I didn’t care. I liked it. I thought it was cute.

In fact, I thought a lot of what she did was cute. I liked the patterns on her underwear. I liked the way she pronounced “Ph.D.”. When helping her pick a dress in the shop, I chose the one that showed off her boobs and she giggled. I liked that too. I liked how filthy her sense of humour she was and how she insisted that she used to be cool. When I noticed a chunky pair of sunglasses she had, she lent them to me and I liked that.

But I forgot about the thumb-sucking until yesterday afternoon.

And I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Maybe I’ll never quite move on.

Eroticon 2023: Meet and I Am Groot

Before I get into this, I want to make a couple of things clear.

Eroticon 2013 logo.
I mean, I am, so…

Up until a few days ago I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not I would be attending Eroticon at all this year, or indeed any other year after this. Financially, I am in no position to be doing so; I also felt completely inadequate during the last one I attended and perhaps even more so during the aborted 2020 replacement. I also submitted a session idea that didn’t get taken up (which would have helped with the money… also, I was sort of planning it in my head already).

I’m not even sure I have the faith in the community that I used to, or if I do, it’s not to the same degree. There are always going to be the few that I trust and adore – and there’s one person coming this year who I know I’m going to be spending a lot of time with – but there are always those undertones that I’m not comfortable with. Specifically, there’s a streak of élitism detectable throughout the upper echelons, and that’s what makes me feel uncomfortable.

And yet here I am.

I’m coming for a number of reasons:

one, I’ve been to every ‘con since the first one back in 2012 and I really ought to keep doing so;
two: I made promises to various people and I intend to keep them;
three: my dear friend Robyn made a generous donation to aid my attendance and I owe her a lot;
four: my therapist told me to go.

I will type that again: my therapist. told me. to go.

five: as you may have noticed, I’ve sucked at blogging this year. The intent is there, but the flesh is weak. I’m really wrestling with a creative block. Whatever else Eroticon may be, I’m hoping for it to be a way out of this.

And so here I stand in front of the annual Meet & Greet, wondering if I will get what I want out of Eroticon, if anything unexpected will happen, or even if I am still welcome. I am, as always tentatively excited about this, so I cautiously dip my toe into the waters. Here’s hoping I find them clear, to some extent.

The Meet & Greet

Name (and Twitter)?

Innocent Loverboy, but usually referred to as ILB (pronounced “I’ll be” /aɪel’bi:/, not “illb” /ɪlb/). I have other names too; a few of you know my real name and I’ll answer to that. Frankly, I’m still amazed anyone talks to me at all so I’ll probably answer to anything.

I’m on Twitter as @innocentlb, but I’m not on any other social media platforms. Oh, and please don’t refer to Mastodon as “Masto”. That sounds like a supervillain.

Tell us 3 things you are most looking forward to at Eroticon 2023?

(i) I stole this from Molly wholesale, but it is “it’s finally happening”. Yes, I was a bit dubious of the whole affair as above, but I can’t deny that I am both relieved and excited that ‘con is back.

(ii) The social aspect. I’ve mentioned Robyn above, but I’m sure there will be a few there who I hadn’t realised were coming that I’ll know. There are always new people at ‘con (maybe too many, if I’m being honest, at the last one) and that might be fun. (I’ll also buy GOTN a drink. I don’t genuinely owe her one, but I always pretend I do and she hasn’t clocked this yet.)

(iii) I’m sure some of the sessions? Having looked through the running order, there are very few that move me so far, so I’ll make a choice at the time, but let’s be honest, I’ll end up at all the ones run by my mates. I am genuinely intending to rejuvenate my blog at ‘con, though, and I hope at least some of them help.

If there’s a session I’m not going to and I have no alternative I may well be in the coffee / break room, available for chats and hugs. I’m also willing to talk blogs if you struggle; I genuinely have decades of experience.

And I can do sex talk. Always can do sex talk.

Sadly with a change of venue this year for the Friday night Meet & Greet we won’t be compiling a playlist, but I know that everyone enjoys that bit, so… what is a song that always has you turning the volume up?

I actually don’t know where the Friday night is, but I’ll be going along whatever, so yeah.

At work recently we have been playing a lot of dance music (there’s a reason for that; it’s not just random) so, even though I don’t dance as well as I used to due to my increasing disability, I’ve been enjoying the rhythms. How about Don’t Stop Movin’ by S Club 7?

Don’t laugh; you like it too, don’t you?

At my wedding last year, the final dance was to SHUM by Go_A, so maybe that’s an option.

What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?

As I told my educational psychologist during my genius diagnosis (yes, really), I wanted to be a film director. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I wanted to be a cartoonist, a magazine editor, a computer programmer, a journalist, a peace campaigner, an English teacher, a campaign organiser based in Japan, a rock star and a comedian.

I am none of those.

What does your joy look like today?

A Vine compilation. I didn’t really catch the zeitgeist when Vine was a thing, but people are still making compilations on YouTube and they never fail to make me smile.

What is your favourite musical?

As anyone who’s paid attention knows, I am a massive fan of musical theatre, and it’s one of my greatest loves. It’s an unfulfilled ambition to end up on a West End stage (or any stage) and sing in a musical… and I have a fantasy about it, if that’s your sort of thing.

In any case, my favourite musical is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – it always has been – but I know all the words to Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, The Producers and several others. I’m still working on Hamilton, but I almost have that too.

If you were the captain of a pirate ship, what would be the name of your ship?

The Sea Cucumber. Yes, that’s a Monkey Island reference, but I’d steal adapt it for my ship too. At school, we once had a challenge to build a seaworthy craft out of paper, and my group’s went through several changes before we named it #4.

As soon as you have finished writing answering these questions, what are you going to do?

Oh, boy. It’s been a very long and difficult week full of unexpected challenges. This is written with the very last of my energy. I think the appropriate verb is “collapse”.

Complete the sentence:

I need… £2,500 in order to clear all my debts and have some money left over. Or, if that’s too much, maybe some cake.

Porn King

Blam. Blam. Blam blam blam.

Screenshot from EarthBound about a letter being delivered after a knock.
At least it wasn’t Picky delivering this.

I blearily opened my eyes. My digital alarm clock showed a time of 02:30. That was chucking out time at the union bar plus half an hour for a kebab and possibly some more drinks. Usually I’d stay at the club until 01:45, duck out before everyone else and get chips and cheese before heading back to my room alone.

Always alone.

But this was the night where I’d decided to go back to my room at midnight and get some sleep. (If there was one thing I needed, I reasoned, it was sleep.)

Blam! Blam! Blam!
“Oi mate, got any porn?”

Evidently, however, some people had other ideas. I was in my pyjamas – a rare occurrence, but a fortunate one. I thought, vaguely, of making no noise and pretending I didn’t exist – which would have been easy, since most people on my corridor seemed to assume I didn’t – but, since the knocking would have probably broken down my door eventually, I opened it.

“PORN!” shouted a very large, very drunk boy I had never seen before.

I blinked. There in the corridor stood an assemblage of large, drunk boys. The only one I recognised lived in room 1, which was the large room on the corner where we usually watched movies. I was in room 3, which was about the size of a matchbox.

“Hey, ILB,” said the boy I knew. “We were wondering if we could borrow your Emmanuelle porn disc.”
“I have an Emmanuelle porn disc?” I said. I wasn’t fooling anyone – in fact, I had two. One of them had been fast becoming my favourite thing to watch. The other less so. (In fact, one of them had arrived while my parents had been visiting. I said it was a book and didn’t open it until much later.)

I didn’t know how he knew I had one.

“PORN!!!” shouted one of the other boys, in a voice which probably woke up most of the city. Maybe all the lights went on at the same time, like in the last scene of Diana.

“Sorry about him. Could we borrow your Emmanuelle porn disc?”

Obviously the answer was no. Last time I’d lent someone something it had come back broken. I’d even paid for a £30 flight to Germany for the guy in room 2 who brought back a different girl every night. I never got that back either.

“Uhm, no…?” I ventured. “It’s not, not, not… good,” I lied. “It’s very baaaad porn; I think I’m going to… sell it…”

And I shut the door before any of them could say anything.

“PORN!” somebody said.

I went back to bed wondering how anyone had managed to find out I owned any porn.

And I sold it in the end anyway, so…


It was my birthday yesterday, and as a result, I’m now officially in my late thirties. I’m feeling very old.

Last night I had a nice meal with my parents; tomorrow, there is a family thing in the afternoon. I got a book from my wife and I’m assuming there are more presents forthcoming.

Box art for the Nintendo 64 game "Paper Mario".
This is what I’ve been playing. I missed out on it first time around, so…

Is what I assume. What I’m also assuming is that I’m a relatively difficult person to buy for, insofar as I never really know what I want. Younger ILB never had this problem, as every Christmas and birthday was an opportunity to get a new Nintendo game. This is still a nice thing to get, but when one considers that I have five unfinished Switch games on the go and there are many more being added to the retro console emulator thingies, it’s more or less apparent that I don’t really need one right now.

I sometimes get things that I might use, but more often than not they become little more than ephemera. I’m more likely to use a stick of glue than I am my Stylophone, but then I like the fact that I own a Stylophone. I am a contrary boy.

I’ve decided, in these calm moments, that what I want the most is some quiet time. Time like this, with no distractions, no noise and no other responsibilities. The time to sit in silence and write my blog, or read a book, chatter on Twitter or play the aforementioned Switch.

Time, in short, to just be.

And, since you can’t package that and hand it over as a present, I’m having to find it for myself.

Or, if not, new porn is always welcome.

Celebrity, crushed

It was mid-spring last year and I was at my parents’ house with a pad of sketching paper and a bold marker pen. On the other side of the table was my sister – our erstwhile maid of honour – with a handwritten list of questions.

“It’s very simple,” she had explained. “I’ve got a list of questions here about them. You write down what your answer would be. Since they’re about to be your wife, you should know them all.”
“Why don’t you just ask them?” I had queried.
“Because it’s a quiz,” she had replied. “I don’t know the answers and neither do any of the bridesmaids. We all give an answer, and so do you, and then they tell us what the real answer would be.”
“But I’m not going to be at the hen party.”
“That’s why you write your answers down. I’ll take pictures of each.”
“You are a very strange person; did you know that?”

And so we had begun. What seemed like a daunting task at first was turning out to be quite fun. As it turned out, I knew a lot off the top of my head – favourite food, favourite film, favourite book – and some I could confidently guess. We decided to skip the question about the first thing they did in the morning since my answer was “cry”.

The next question threw me.

“Who’s their celebrity crush?”

A milieu of names flew through my head. Oscar Isaac, Pedro Pascal, Mads Mikkelsen, and Jason Statham. And that’s just the men. Having a queer pansexual enby for a fiancée meant that they could fancy basically anyone of any gender. And I don’t deal too well with that.

What’s the point?

Remi Himekawa from the eroge game True Love. Possibly my true love.
I adore that little plait. That, and her eyes, and the rest of her.

I appear to be totally immune to celebrity crushes. I’ve never even had one. There are, of course, people who are attractive; none of them I’d ever have a chance with. They are either too young (Greta Thunberg), too attractive (Rita Ora), fictional (Remi Himekawa), hella problematic (Rachel Riley), or all four (Hermione Granger).

But I can’t, hand on heart, say I’ve ever actually been attracted to anyone famous. I grew up around famous people (having an actor dad makes this happen), with Kiera being a childhood friend and Paul Whitehouse wandering around my mum’s piano teacher’s house, signing things for me at random. My crushes at school were all on civilians – people in my year who I was still never going to get.

I never saw the point in fancying someone famous. Nothing’s ever going to happen between you two anyway, and I saw how dangerous obsession could be, girls wasting away thinking of nothing but Mark Owen and boys putting down Britney as their main interest in life.

It didn’t affect me, and while unrequited love was fairly traumatic, at least that was realistic.

Celebrity crushes hurt

And then there’s the other thing.

Celebrity crushes have made it very difficult to trust anyone I’ve ever been in a relationship with. I don’t do ‘compersion’ particularly well, and even then it hasn’t been intentional. Couple that with my crippling self-doubt and tendency towards self-destruction as a coping mechanism, and you get a few reasons why I felt that way.

I remember my first girlfriend hollering at squashy-faced Sum41 frontman Deryck Whibley to fuck her and then ignoring me crying afterwards. My second girlfriend being openly sexual about comedian Jon Richardson, and how much sex she wanted to have with him, failing to notice the fork I was jabbing myself in the thigh with. I even still have the scars from all the self-harming I did throughout my late teens: one for every time she cheated, one for every celebrity crush she had.

Unlovable as I’ve always believed myself to be, I’ve gone through every relationship with the constant fear that they are going to end given any viable alternative. One word from [insert random celebrity here] and they would be out the door. I didn’t have a job, a car, a house, or the fame, so I clearly didn’t compare. Any interest from [insert random celebrity here] and I wouldn’t even be a factor any more. They’d be gone.

So how did I answer the question?

“They… they don’t have one,” I lied (at least, I think it was a lie). “We… we don’t talk about it. I don’t have one…”
“Well, you don’t do them, do you?”
“No, not at all. Can we skip this one?”

My sister gave me a Knowing Look™ and kindly skipped to the next question.

“Okay. If they were to have a dinner party, who would be all the guests?”

And I already had a list in my head.

I didn’t sleep easily that night.

Depression (or: What’s Good, Bro?)

Sometimes I have these moments.

They’re not all good moments. Case in point: last night I had a dream in which I was having sex. The person I was having sex with (my wife, truth be told) told me it was boring, left, and just sort of wandered off, sending me into a sneaky hate spiral.

Is this really the reason? Dream ILB wondered. Am I the problem here? Is this why all my previous relationships ended so badly?

And then I flashed back to how my previous relationships ended, and how traumatic they may have made me feel at the time. I remembered being cheated on, and working it out beforehand but never saying anything. I remembered being jettisoned, without warning, unceremoniously – just before a year in which I was going to work on my life. (If I think about it, I still don’t have a reason for that one. Part of me thinks it boils down to “I don’t have a car”.)

I was responsible for how badly my third relationship ended. I still feel guilty about it, and I wasn’t honest about how our relationship had been ending for a long time before it officially happened. The train ride home was one of the worst times in my life, and she made sure I paid for it, too.

In all these cases, my brain tells me, the repeated factor is me – I am the lowest common denominator and I am genuinely not good enough. Why? Is it because I don’t have a six-pack, or a high-paid job, or a driving license, or an intact trapezius muscle? If I work hard in a job I like, does it really matter if the thing I take most pride in is a blog that makes no money, and music with no discernible talent?

If I have to use a stick to walk and say “Oof!” when I stand up, am I even capable of having sex? On the off-chance it ever happens again, will I be able to perform? Or will it be something else to add to the sneaky hate spiral?

Dream ILB wanted to talk about all of this to his wife, who had just left because the sex was boring. When Real Life ILB woke up this morning, he also wanted to talk to his wife about this. But then he also wanted to stay in bed. He wanted some quiet time to himself, just to think, to reboot, to decompress. Maybe just be alone for a while.

In the light of the day, it all doesn’t seem so bad. The worry is still there, of course – maybe there is something genuinely toxic about me? – but, with the sun peeking through the window, it all seems a bit lessened. Easy though it is to say that “everything will be better in the morning”, there’s a certain degree of truth in that.

I can’t look in the mirror and see something I like. I can’t even do that on self-reflection, even in the most positive of moods. Part of me will always feel like things are made a little worse by having me involved. People have told me this, and who am I to disbelieve them?

But sometimes, I forget. I forget to be unhappy with myself. I forget that I am a completely unsatisfying person. It might be someone saying something, or doing something, or even something I’ve seen or read which takes me out of everything for a while and gives me the space I need to forget how I feel about myself.

And that’s all right. That’s okay. For now, that will have to do.

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