A few months ago, I packed up everything I own, moved on my own to a new city in a new state for a new job, and started the next big chapter of my life. The entire move was done hastily and quickly turned into a complete disaster: the moving company took a full month to deliver my furniture, so I ended up sleeping on the floor for a few weeks, alone in my bare apartment surrounded only by the few still-packed boxes I was able to fit in my car.
When the rest of my belongings finally arrived, I knew I would have to spend a weekend unpacking and truly getting my apartment in order. Even though I had lived in my new home for a month, it was completely empty. So I did what anyone else would do: put on a great playlist and got to work.
Almost absentmindedly, I searched for London Grammar’s album If You Wait, one of my favorites. When the first song, “Hey Now,” came on, I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I was immediately flooded with feelings and emotions I hadn’t felt for a long time. It was one of the strongest visceral reactions I’ve ever experienced. I felt vulnerable. I was also confused. What was going on?
And then it hit me: That song was a regular in my playlist when I started masturbating for the first time. And I hadn’t heard it for months.
Music has always played a huge role in my life. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember; as a hobby at first, and now professionally in choirs and operas. When I was a teenager in serious emotional pain, my favorite bands were always there for me and showed me that music is a way to, sometimes, make the darkness a little brighter. As an adult, music continues to ground me and consistently provides me with a safe haven and an outlet to create beauty and energy and something all my own.
My masturbation playlist started off as a way to cover up the noise from my first vibrator. Since I had never “done this” before, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted any background noise. Maybe just lying there in silence would be better, I thought. However, I quickly discovered that wasn’t going to work – wands are noisy! At first, I tried putting on a poppy remix of one of my favorite artist’s most recent albums, then tried a TV show to just play in the background, neither of which provided me with the atmosphere I was looking for.
I learned that just covering up the noise wasn’t going to cut it. I needed more – I really wanted to connect with my body. My search for the proper playlist evolved into more of a desire to connect rather than a necessity to drown out vibrations. After trying pump-up music and general background noise, I finally put on an album by an artist I had only recently started listening to, London Grammar. It was perfect. I mixed in some songs by Daughter, some by Broods, and my playlist was born. The deep, atmospheric, haunting songs by these three groups opened the door to the headspace I was looking for; a place where I felt truly connected to my body and my pleasure and ready for exploration.
Everything in my life had a playlist. It only made sense that my masturbation sessions would too.
However, sometime in-between when I started masturbating and when I moved to my new state for my new job, I lost that playlist. I didn’t lose it in a physical sense – I could still open Spotify and start playing it whenever I wanted – but I lost that connection to my body; lost my incredible fascination with sex toys and exploration and discovery and pleasure. About nine months passed in that in-between phase, and a lot happened. I graduated from college, moved away from the place I called home for four years, started my very first job as a college graduate, quit that job four months later, and moved to an entirely new state alone after finding a new job. My mental health plummeted and I found myself back in a deep depression from the turbulence of graduating, cycling quickly through jobs, and essentially starting my life over all on my own.
It’s understandable why masturbation, and especially working on my blog, took a backseat for a while. I also quickly realized why listening to even just the opening chords of “Hey Now” gave me such an intense emotional and physical reaction. I was disconnected from my body for months. Hearing that song reminded me of the vulnerable, intimate place where I first discovered pleasure.
Now, four months after I heard “Hey Now” again while unpacking my moving boxes, I have a revamped, longer masturbation playlist. It still includes all of the favorites I mentioned above, but a lot of new discoveries, too. I’m thankful that my lifelong connection to music helped me discover my body – and that it brought me back to my body when I felt detached from pleasure and exploration for so long.
Do you have your own masturbation playlist? What do you listen to while masturbating, if you listen to anything at all? Let me know in the comments!