Things I Wish I'd Known: #8: It's Okay to Let People Go
At age 22, I started stripping. For the next fifteen years I worked off and on as a dominatrix, porn actress, and escort.
Now I’m 49.
Here are 23 things I know now that I wished I’d known then:
#8: It’s okay to let go of people who aren’t really your friends. This was a surprisingly difficult lesson for me, and I didn’t learn it until my forties. Holding onto people too long caused me a lot of pain and drama.
One of the side effects of the isolation of sex work was I didn’t have a huge social circle that I could be completely out with. So I used to feel an obligation to befriend other sex workers, even if they weren’t... very nice. Folks I’d meet a sex worker rights meetings, or friends-of-friends, or doing doubles or at the dungeon, I’d give them rides to meetings, invite them to my parties, refer them clients or loan them money-- even if I didn’t like them much, or they would do very little to reciprocate.
I did this out of a sort of political loyalty, the feeling that we sex workers have to stick together. The straight world is hard enough on the likes of us -- we have to be kind to one another. And most likely, too, I was working out my low self-esteem issues, with my secret plan to always be nice to everyone, so that everyone would be nice to me. (Spoiler alert — this is not how karma works.) Whatever my combination of obligation and insecurity was, I kept sex worker “friends” in my life long after they stopped doing anything to deserve my friendship.
The thing was, even at the time, I could see clearly these people weren’t behaving well, but I felt guilty at the thought of cutting them off. I feared playing out the script of the ex-sex worker who’s made good turning her back on her less fortunate friends. Or that moving on somehow meant I was ashamed of them, or ashamed of my former life.
Most of my very closest bestest friends I met in the biz, but there are those sex workers who are users and jerks. Finally allowing myself to acknowledge this, and to give myself permission to fire them as friends freed up a tremendous amount of psychic energy.
There is nothing wrong with outgrowing people. Feeling less connected to people from our earlier lives is natural. Don’t beat yourself up for evolving, for becoming the person you are growing into. It doesn’t mean you’re ashamed of your past, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It is so much better to adapt, change, and grow.
Sex work, friendships, and self-care are such important topics, and I write more about them in my new book, Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry, now available in ebook format and paperback.
Until next time-- Be sweet to yourself....
xoxo Lola D.
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