This month, I’d like to talk about working with a broken heart, whether it’s due to a breakup, rejection, betrayal, death or any other loss or trauma. Appearing on cam or otherwise doing sex work when we’re hurting can be one of the very most difficult things any of us ever have to do — accessing our sexual selves when we’re feeling a million miles away from our desire or desirability. It takes self-love, self-care, support, and time to heal.
Let’s explore some of the concrete steps you can take to get to the other side of your grief.
Many of us forget to tend to ourselves when our hearts are blasted open, so here is some basic self-care reminders:
— Don’t overeat or starve yourself. Eat healthy food as best you can.
— Make sure to exercise. Moving our bodies when we’re sad isn’t easy, but this is one of the most important ways we process grief.
— As for drugs, alcohol, video games and all the other ways we numb out — some in moderation is fine, but don’t over-do.
— Now is an excellent time to disconnect from social media. Remember the internet is always trying to get us riled up, whether it be envy, outrage or despair. We can choose instead to focus on our real lives right in front of us.
— Practice quieting your mind through meditation or mindfulness, prayer or getting lost in a creative project. For many of us, these sad times are when we more easily connect with deep meaning in our lives.
Additionally, working with pleasure is both a benefit and a liability of sex work when we’re tender. Some sex work-specific self-care advice:
— Try to enjoy your favorite fans and clients, the ones that make you laugh, make you feel sexy, make you feel good about yourself.
— Steer clear of folks who push your buttons. Avoid anyone who makes you feel inadequate. You don’t need people in your life like that right now.
— Don’t use your broken heart as an excuse to relax your boundaries. It might be tempting in the moment to be vulnerable with a fan, but this almost always ends disastrously. Inevitably, they will always want more. Trust me when I say, it’s bad for business.
Be Your Own Best Friend
When going through the hurt and dislocation of a break-up, we might feel disempowered. We want the pain to stop in the moment, of course, but there often doesn’t feel like there’s a place for our minds to rest.
The past is treacherous, because that’s where our moments of happiness live, and we want so desperately to return to them. The future can look bleak, stretching out now and forever with this rupture woven into our story. The result is we might feel helpless and hopeless, like there’s no way out.
Never forget you have choices. Stepping in to act as your own best friend is tremendous heart medicine. Never forget you have power to:
- Reach out to others
- Ask for help
- Tell your story
- Set boundaries
- Disengage from painful situations
As best you can, stay away from aggravation, and cultivate loving contact. Little kids, animals, sunshine, fresh air, exercise and being out in nature are healing.
Additionally, I’d like to say a quick word about managing disappointment when we’re already vulnerable. It sucks when we reach out for comfort from a loved one and they don’t give us what we ask for. This has nothing to do with you. It has zero bearing on your value, lovability or worthiness to get your needs met.
All it means is this particular human is not available to give you what you need in this moment. Give yourself an extra hug, and keep reaching out. Know that there is always enough love in the world for us when we don’t abandon ourselves.
Turning The Corner
I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true: time really does heal all wounds. Whenever I’m feeling devastated, I find it helpful to remind myself of the many past heartaches in my life. No matter how sharp the loss or disappointment, somehow, I’ve always found a way back to a better place where that pain is no longer front of mind.
And finally, after some time has gone by, if and when you are able, try to say a few words of gratitude every day. Feeling thankful for love in your life, even if it’s gone now, means you’ve turned an important corner in your healing process.
I sign off the same way every month, but this time with feeling: For all those broken hearts out there, until next time, be sweet to yourself.
Lola Davina is a longtime veteran of the sex industry and author of Thriving in Sex Work: Sex Work and Money, her followup to the formative Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry. You can get the audio version of Sex Work and Money via Awesound here. Contact Davina at Lola.Davina@ynotcam.com and visit her on Twitter at @Lola_Davina.
Image of Lola Davina courtesy Pat Mazzera.