[Content Warning: self-harm, aphobia]

As a child, I discovered masturbation accidentally while home alone. I didn’t even understand what had happened until I later tried to replicate things. And when it happened, I had been watching let’s play videos for most of the actual action, but the unexpected (and at the time, distressing) climax happened after I’d moved on to somewhat suggestive commercial compilations. This was after I’d been consuming both written and visual porn for some amount of time, so even though I’d had a non-sexual interest in erotic material before, that climax event ended up tying together masturbation and erotic material for me. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what would have happened if it had happened differently, would I connect gaming to sexuality? Would I not connect erotic stuff with it, despite the seemingly clear connection? What it tells me is that, at least for me, it was arbitrary; I didn’t start masturbating because I was attracted to people or representations of people, it just felt strange and I was curious enough to keep experiencing it until something happened.

And that’s another thing, I don’t know if I ever really thought of it was feeling “good” just “interesting”. It felt like masturbation, and there wasn’t really anything else to compare it to, good or bad. I kept doing it, so probably not too bad, for a time anyway. U to high school, I masturbated regularly, ot really thinking twice about it. I recognized it was something I wanted to hide from my (religious) parents at some point, but there was no real shame inherent to the activity.

Then in high school, I realized I was ace, and my best friend started asking questions about what I looked at when i touched myself, and since my answer was not “nothing”, that was reason enough to invalidate my identity. But the thing is, I don’t really think I used the images or videos to get aroused as much as I had that association, Maybe eventually my body tied those things together and that’s why now I can get aroused seeing erotic imagery, but that’s not how it was growing up. It didn’t matter though, I had reason to doubt my asexuality and I started to be ashamed of how much I touched myself. I wanted to stop completely as far back as grade 10, but it had become such a habit that I never got much progress there.

When i got really depressed and lonely in university, I felt like one of the only things to do in my life was masturbation, and I already wasn’t able to fully enjoy that because of shame that had been in me for years at that point. And Maybe it was a manifestation of taht shame, but evernually it just, literally started physically feeling bad. And after that, I began using it as self harm Like, a lot.

When i got a therapist and worked hard on stopping all of my self harming, I was able to make some real progress on quitting masturation, and when i was abstinant, I felt pretty great, but when i relapsed, the shame was even greater.

I eventually did stop, and I felt pretty good about that.  I reframed things as doing things if they felt ok, and not shaming myself for doing anything at all, recognizing when it was self harm and when it wasn’t, trying to be as sure as i could when which was which. I worked through recognizing that masturbation doesn’t negate my asexuality in any way. But then I found out that because I was transitioning with hormones, if I didn’t keep using my bits, they’d atrophy, and then I would lose the choice to use it. I didn’t like having my choice taken away, so soon after regaining it. I wasn’t ashamed anymore, i clould touch without it just being self harm, and now i have to masturbate whether I want to or not.

At least things are more neutral now. Maybe it’s the estrogen, but i can kinda almost maybe get into mastubation now.