CVIndependent

Sun08252019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

I’m a heteroflexible married cis woman in my 40s. I’m also a POS cheater and a catfish. I really fucked up.

One year ago, I met an older man in an online fetish forum. He sent me an unsolicited PM, and we have talked for hours every day since then. My husband, whom I’ve been married to for more than 20 years, does not know that I am having an emotional affair. I have no intention of telling my husband what I’ve done. I have been honest with my online boyfriend about everything except my name, my age and the fact that I have a husband. (I know those are all really big things to lie about.) My boyfriend lied to me early on about his name, age and relationship status, but came clean out of guilt. So I had the opportunity to say that I lied, too, but I didn’t take it.

I know what I’m doing is wrong. My husband would be very hurt if he knew. And my boyfriend, who wants to make a life together, would be very hurt as well. I’m in love with both men, but I’m not leaving my husband. I know the only right thing to do is break things off with my boyfriend. I’ve tried multiple times: I’ve told him that he is better off without me, that I’m a bad person, and that he shouldn’t trust me. Each time, he convinces me to stay. We have not been physical. We have never even been in the same room, much to his dismay. I have thought about telling him the truth, but I am worried about my safety, and I do not want to hurt him any worse than I already have. Plus, I’m a fucking coward. I am in treatment for PTSD. My therapist believes that my actions are a coping mechanism, i.e., it is easier to pretend to be someone else than it is to be me. I don’t think she’s wrong, but I also don’t think it excuses what I’ve done.

How do I end this relationship without doing any more damage to my two partners?

Conning And Tricking For Intensely Selfish Haven

Far be it from me to question your therapist’s assessment—she’s spoken with you on multiple occasions, and her insights are doubtless more informed—but I think her framing falls short.

She describes your actions as a coping mechanism: You told a stranger lies and abused your husband’s trust to escape your miserable life. If you weren’t so fucking miserable—if other people and/or circumstances hadn’t conspired to make you so fucking miserable—you wouldn’t have done this. You wouldn’t be doing this still. But despite your therapist’s efforts to help you down off that hook, CATFISH, you seem determined to hang there. She’s offering you absolution, in whole or in part, while you stand around flagellating yourself (“POS cheater,” “fucking coward,” “bad person,” etc.).

Personally, I think you’re entitled to your feelings. Go ahead and feel terrible. You did a bad thing. It’s not the worst thing someone’s ever done online, and most people know not to take what a stranger tells them on the internet at face value. But if feeling terrible doesn’t motivate you to make changes … well, it’s not for me to question your sincerity. But some people think it’s OK to do terrible things so long as they have the decency to feel terrible about having done them. If you’re not one of those people—if you actually feel bad—doing something about it and learning something from it will alleviate your misery.

Here’s what you need to do: End things with your boyfriend. Write him an e-mail; tell him the truth about your age, marital status and unavailability. Don’t share your real name with him; you’re under no obligation to do so, and if he turns out to be the vindictive type, CATFISH, you don’t want him to have your real identity. Apologize for not coming clean when he did—he lied to you, too, at the start—and thank him for the pleasure of his virtual company and the joy he brought to your life. Then block him.

Here’s what you need to learn: You didn’t do this because you’re miserable—or you didn’t do it just because you’re miserable. You did this because it was fun. We call it “play” when children pretend to be someone or something they’re not; child’s play is also, yes, a coping mechanism. Vulnerable children pretend to be big and powerful superheroes and/or monsters to cope with and momentarily escape their relative powerlessness. And nothing makes a child’s playful fantasy feel more real than a good friend who plays along.

Most adults don’t make time for play—most of us aren’t LARPers or kinksters—but even adults need play, and some adults need play more than others. You found a space where you could play (that online fetish forum), and you found a playmate who helped make your fantasies feel real (a guy you’ve never actually met and who could still be lying to you about all sorts of things). It got out of hand when arousal, orgasms, oxytocin and promises you couldn’t keep got stirred into the mix. The play made you feel better at first, but the dishonesty and stress of deceiving two people eventually wiped out the benefits you were getting.

You need to find a way to build some play into your life, sexual and/or nonsexual, that doesn’t require you to lie or hide. It would be great if you could do that with your husband, CATFISH, but if he’s not willing or able to play with you, get his OK to play on your own.


I am a 70-year-old straight woman, and I haven’t been in an intimate relationship for seven years. I feel deprived of physical contact, but I also have some obstacles to pursuing intimacy at this point in my life. My vagina is seriously out of shape. In fact, it was a challenge to have sex with my last partner, because he was rather well-endowed. I had to work up to it, but it finally worked. My libido is on the low side, but it still flares up now and then. I also have herpes, plus I’m taking an antidepressant that makes it hard for me to orgasm. But even with all that, I’ve enjoyed sex in the past.

Would it make sense for me to look for a man who may also have some sexual issues and/or be willing to work with/around mine? Someone who enjoys all the other aspects of sexual intimacy besides penis in vagina? How would I find such a man? I’m not necessarily just looking for sex—a compatible companion would be great.

Need Fresh Input

“NFI can have it all—sex, companionship, orgasms,” said Joan Price, author of Naked at Our Age and The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50. “She just needs to find someone who realizes that partnered sex does not have to mean PIV.”

Your best bet for finding a man these days? Dating apps and websites, including dating apps for seniors. And don’t be shy about taking PIV off the menu, NFI, at least at the start.

“As we age, many of us find non-penetrative sex with hands, mouth and vibrator more comfortable, sexier and an easier path to orgasm,” said Price. “And that includes men with erectile difficulties or decreased sensation. In her discussions with a potential new partner, NFI should explain that she’d like to get sexual in stages—and then explore and delight each other sexually, including orgasms, without PIV as the goal. But if she might enjoy PIV in the future, she should keep her vagina active with solo sex including a dildo or penetrative vibrator. Don’t wait until the right penis comes along.”

Joan Price’s new book, Sex After Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After the Loss of Your Beloved, will be released soon. Follow her on Twitter @JoanPrice.

On the Lovecast, science says, weed = better orgasms: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

Barbara Fosse, 81, has been in the desert for more than 17 years. After selling pharmaceuticals for 30-plus years, the Sun City Palm Desert resident is now program coordinator for Tunes for the Memory, a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based Music Mends Minds, an orchestra and music program targeted to those with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, other dementia-related conditions, traumatic brain injury and stroke, as well as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Carol Rosenstein, a Los Angeles resident and 2018 CNN Hero, founded Music Mends Minds after what she describes as a “freakish moment” in 2014 involving her husband, Irwin, a person living with Parkinson’s.

“I walked in and heard him sitting at the piano,” she recalls. “He had previously played piano and saxophone, but hadn’t made music for the eight years since his diagnosis. I noticed how he seemed to resurrect while playing, responding like a plant that had needed nourishment. A doctor told me that I was watching music change brain chemistry. It’s absolute magic. Playing the piano had caused him to release dopamine. I realized that no medications seemed to be more powerful than the music.

“I got a few of his buddies to come and jam to have fun musically, and I had a big banner made up that said ‘The 5th Dementia.’ We had about 30 people at our launch. Within just a few minutes, some of them were gathered around the piano and starting to also make music. We now have 17 bands nationwide along with five global groups, including many in affiliation with Rotary International groups. We have band kits for those who want to start their own band, and we offer mentoring, all free as a community service. We’re now looking for music therapists to be able to expand our help to those who want to participate.”

In spite of disease progression, the ability to play music and recollect lyrics is often maintained. Participation can increase a sense of self-worth, confidence and identity. People can feel whole again.

“Science does show us today that playing a musical instrument is like a full body workout for the brain,” says Rosenstein. “It pushes natural neurotransmitters. Until science gives us a cure, we have a kind of natural medication available by playing music.”

Music Mends Minds’ website indicates that music directly affects neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change, repair and reorganize itself. It cites research studies showing that:

• Music improves mood by helping one feel happier and less anxious.

• Music may play a protective role against cognitive aging.

• Music improves pain control and reduces pain severity through activation of the brain’s reward centers and by lowering stress hormones such as cortisol.

• Patients with Alzheimer’s may forget certain melodic content of songs, but their ability to play their instrument seems to be unforgettable.

• Music can enhance cognitive functioning and neural processing more than any other art or hobby, allowing people to react and creatively process things more effectively.

Each Music Mends Minds location has its own band name: The aforementioned 5th Dementia in Los Angeles, the Band of Heroes in West Los Angeles, and the Beverly Hills Treble Makers, where Rosenstein says they get about 100 people every week.

Here in the Coachella Valley, Barbara Fosse saw an article in the paper about the Music Mends Minds program.

“I’m an organizer,” says Fosse, “so I called and asked, ‘Do you have anything for me to organize here?’ I had previously worked with Songshine Singers, a group targeted to Parkinson’s patients, and I always believed in the concept of how music can make a difference. But I felt it needed to go to memory issues as well.

“Music Mends Minds (started in) Sun City three years ago. … The Braille Institute in Rancho Mirage agreed to let us meet there. We call our group ‘Tunes for the Memory,’ and famed local pianist Bill Marx helped us kick it off. Now we meet every Friday afternoon from 1:30-3 p.m. from October through April. You’d be surprised how many people have backgrounds in making music. We have some really great musicians and singers.”

Fosse was born and raised In Illinois, and she graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in education, specializing in biology. Her first marriage to a high school sweetheart yielded two sons and a daughter. After living in Northern California for two years, they moved back to Illinois, where Fosse taught for three years and then “retired” to raise her children, working only part-time. After 17 years, the marriage ended, and Fosse began a new career.

“I took a job as education curator for the local zoo,” she says. “Then I became acting director, but when I applied for the director position, they hired a man. I thought, ‘What else can I do?’

“I became the first female sales rep for a pharmaceutical and veterinary medicine company. My by-word was, ‘If you don’t know more than the doctor, you’d better get out!’ I also became a trainer, teaching things like rape prevention.

“I loved working with the doctors … mostly. I do remember one office where one of the doctors asked me, ‘Why isn’t a man doing this job?’ And I said, ‘I’m a divorced mother with three children. Do you want me to go on welfare instead?’ That stopped him. He said, ‘By all means, keep on working.’”

Fosse’s affiliation with Tunes for the Memory has taken on an even more personal importance since one of her sons was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

“I’ve reviewed the literature about the impact of music on patients and their caregivers,” says Fosse. “They all benefit, and that also includes family, friends and the community. The musical environment not only lets people make music together, whether they tap, hum, sing or play an instrument, but it’s a way for them to express themselves, often when they don’t communicate in other ways.

“After participating in making the music, people are more connected, even more conversational. Their mood is elevated; functionality improves, and the impact can last for weeks.”

The impact of Barbara Fosse and Carol Rosenstein will last for a long time.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show That’s Life airs Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to noon on iHubradio, while The Lovable Liberal airs from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with members of the military, but the problem extends well beyond soldiers and veterans: According to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America, more than 7 million Americans currently suffer from PTSD.

Dr. Jill Gover, of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, explained the difference between general trauma and PTSD.

“A lot of people experience trauma,” Gover said. “It doesn’t mean they have PTSD. Most of us associate PTSD with war. War is such a huge, catastrophic event that is outside the general course of human experience. That’s one of the definitions that distinguish that kind of trauma as post-traumatic stress. Most of the time, it’s associated with war, extreme abuse or torture. The other large category (consists of) people who’ve been sexually or physically abused, especially as children.

Mac McClelland is a journalist who went to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. After the assignment ended, she was diagnosed with PTSD, and later went on to write a book titled Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story.

“I noticed I had symptoms while I was still there,” McClelland said. “… When I was having symptoms, I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this is post-traumatic stress disorder’—I was freaking out. When I got back to San Francisco, I was there for a day before I saw my therapist, and she was the one who said I had symptoms of PTSD. It was very obvious and clear that something was terribly wrong.”

McClelland said she never thought her profession would expose her to PTSD.

“Like most people, I associated PTSD as being related to combat veterans,” McClelland said. “… I didn’t know hardly anything, which I think is true for a lot of people, but I think awareness is better now. I thought it wasn’t even possible for people to have PTSD other than combat veterans, when, in fact, rape victims, sexual-assault survivors and abuse survivors are a way bigger population of people with PTSD than combat veterans are. It’s just not in our cultural knowledge or understanding.”

McClelland said she took a holistic approach to her treatment.

“I was going to a lot of therapy. I was seeing a somatic therapist, which focuses on a lot of sensations in your body,” she said. “I went to that for years, and I still see a therapist who does that. I never took any pharmaceuticals. For me, that was really helpful. I also do yoga, and there’s a lot of research that yoga is very useful in treating PTSD. (I’ve taken) kind of a holistic approach and changed what my life looks like, which not everyone has the option to do. I make a lot more time and space for self-care, which I’m very lucky to be able to do.”

Gover said one of the most effective treatments for PTSD is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “EMDR is a psychotherapy for PTSD. EMDR can help (patients) process upsetting memories, thoughts and feelings related to the trauma. By processing these experiences, (patients) can get relief from PTSD symptoms.”

Gover used plumbing to make an analogy. “Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is like Drano: It just flushes that memory. That’s the easiest way I can explain it. Looking at the clinical trials that the Veterans Administration has done with it, it’s very effective.”

Gover said there is no typical recovery process or timeline for PTSD.

“It really depends on what the trauma was,” Gover said. “You might have somebody who had a very horrific one-time sexual abuse experience as a child, and afterward, there were PTSD symptoms. But let’s say that person came from a healthy and intact family system, and the child was relatively healthy, and nothing else about the personality development was disturbed in any way. That would likely take a lot less time to heal from than, say, a child of the same age who came from a very dysfunctional family where there’s substance abuse, and then was repeatedly raped in a family system for years. That healing of PTSD would take much longer. It depends on who the individual is—the resiliency, the environment to support them, and how intense the occurrence and frequency is.”

McClelland said she urges anyone with trauma-related issues to seek help.

“I went to see a professional on day one. It made all the difference,” McClelland said. “Otherwise, I’d be flailing and struggling the whole time. I’d definitely advocate seeing a professional, especially someone who has a trauma-specialty background. I live in a really small town in Oregon, and we have amazing trauma-focused therapists here … but not all therapists specialize in trauma; it is a specialty. But therapy is expensive, and not everyone can access it.”

Gover said there are definite risks when PTSD goes untreated. “Somebody with PTSD who doesn’t have it treated is more likely to have problems later on in their relationships; problems professionally focusing on work and employment; and problems with substance abuse.

Fortunately, there are a lot of good resources available locally for those suffering from PTSD or trauma-related problems.

“There’s a good amount of therapists in the Coachella Valley who have expertise in treating trauma,” Gover said. “We’re very fortunate that the Riverside County Public Health department has evidence-based, trauma-informed therapy available. … Of course, we have the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, which has clinicians trained in trauma-informed therapy. (Many) of the therapists in private practice in this area have some training in PTSD. I would recommend any therapist with a specialty in treating trauma.”

For more information on the LGBT Community Center of the Desert’s Scott Hines Mental Health Clinic, call 760-416-7899, ext. 1, or visit thecenterps.org/index.php/services/mental-health-clinic.

Published in Features